Anna is a first-time surrogate who brings a unique perspective to the journey as a professional birth worker. She has six years of experience as doula and is currently training to become a midwife’s assistant. Anna first connected with Egg Donor & Surrogate Solutions three years ago to learn how she could serve as a resource for gestational carriers in the Oklahoma City area where she is based.
In November 2020, Anna felt the timing was right to become a surrogate herself and began the application process. “The more I learned [about surrogacy], the more I felt like it was something I could and should do,” she says. Anna’s first embryo transfer was successful, and she is due in July 2022.
In the below Q&A, Anna shares how her experience as a birth worker has impacted her personal surrogacy journey, what she is most looking forward to, what she has learned and her advice for other surrogates.
Surrogate Solutions (SS): What inspired you to become a surrogate?
Anna: In 2015, I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks. I realized there are so many people who struggle with infertility issues – some with multiple miscarriage situations and others who are not able to get pregnant at all. It broadened my view to see what a lot of people are fighting against.
SS: How did you get into birth work?
Anna: I became a doula because it’s what I needed with the birth of my first child but didn’t have. In hindsight, I wished I would’ve had someone to walk me through it so I would have known what to expect, all the options available, what questions to ask and how to choose a care provider. I had a doula with my other two children, and it made a difference during the deliveries. The physical support aspect, help with pain management and having someone there to cheer me on were all really helpful.
SS: How has your experience as a birth worker impacted your personal surrogacy journey?
Anna: It had a big impact on the match process because I wanted a more holistic and natural experience with the pregnancy and delivery. There are things I knew I wanted and didn’t want included in the contract…mainly body autonomy issues that I wanted to make sure were respected. Because of this, we didn’t have a traditional matching process. The intended mother and I matched on our own criteria through a Facebook group. I was already working with Surrogate Solutions, and the intended mother had spoken with Gayle [Surrogacy Program Director], and it was the only agency she felt comfortable with.
As a birth worker, I feel well-equipped to walk the intended parents through the process [of pregnancy and delivery]. It’s nice to know I can answer their questions or easily find evidence-based research about what different scenarios hold. Like most people who have dealt with infertility, they are cautious, but I feel like they trust me in this process.
SS: What are you most looking forward to as a surrogate?
Anna: I’m looking forward to seeing the intended parents’ excitement at each milestone and with all the little things they haven’t gotten to experience yet. They haven’t had a positive pregnancy test on their own up to this point. Everything will be new and exciting, and that makes me happy.
SS: As a birth worker, what advice do you have for other surrogates regarding pregnancy and delivery?
Anna: As a birth worker, you see the process in its entirety. You recognize that pregnancy has many parts that need to be supported and in balance – your physical health, spiritual health and emotional health are all important. I recommend childbirth education, as well as having a doula. Both are really important in making sure you’re prepared all the way around no matter what kind of birth you are choosing.
With clients, I focus a lot on nutrition and physical preparation for the birth. It’s like training for a marathon! My role is to empower them to make their own choices and to encourage them to have the conversations they need to have [with their care providers] in order to increase the chances for the outcome they desire.
SS: Do you have any final thoughts or advice to share?
Anna: I was prepared for the sacrifice of being pregnant, but the level of sacrifice up front has been pretty significant with all the screenings, medical appointments and travel. We also had a canceled cycle that I wasn’t expecting. I think the sacrifice starts early, but it’s still incredibly worth it. This experience has given me a lot of insight into what my intended parents have gone through, and that has been the best part so far. Even my husband cries whenever he talks about the intended parents. He’s overwhelmed by how badly they want kids and how happy they are to be at this point.
I think there is truly a match out there for everyone. If you are feeling called to be surrogate, do it. I don’t think there are going to be many things in my life as rewarding.
Anna Rhodes is the owner of First Embrace Birth Services in Oklahoma City. She trained as a birth doula through Birth Arts International, then completed an apprenticeship with a local doula. She is currently training to become a midwife’s assistant through another local apprenticeship. For more information about the services Anna offers, please visit her company’s Facebook page or contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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