The COVID-19 pandemic has taken us all on a rollercoaster ride of emotions over the past year. While the experience has left many people feeling uncertain, Ashley and her husband decided to move forward with their surrogacy journey, and are making their dream of becoming parents a reality, in spite of the global pandemic. We spoke to Ashley about her decision, how COVID has impacted their pregnancy, and why she believes other couples should not press pause on their own dreams of a family. Here’s what Ashley had to say:
What made you decide to move forward with your surrogacy journey during a pandemic?
I had spent all of three minutes thinking about whether or not I would postpone my goals and lifelong dream of becoming a mother because of the pandemic. In those three minutes, I thought: “This will be hard, it will be challenging logistically to travel, and it will put all of us at risk and potentially compromise our health.” Then, I thought about how this entire process in general is a challenge. Nothing is easy. My husband and I came up with alternatives for how we could be “present” during the process from a distance, and we decided to take the risk of moving forward. At the time, there was a ban on elective procedures that was expected to be lifted right before our planned transfer day, and we were not willing to miss out on this small window of opportunity before something could potentially happen again... Luckily, our superstar surrogate was totally on board with us!
How has COVID affected travelling during your surrogacy journey? Were you able to meet your surrogate in person, do your transfer in person, etc..? How have you been handling pregnancy milestones?
With the timing of our pregnancy, our travel schedule was minimally affected by the pandemic. We always planned to be present for the 20-week anatomy scan, which we fortunately were able to attend. We traveled with all of our PPE, and tried to minimize our risk of exposure as much as possible. It would have been nice to be at the 12-week appointment, but we knew there would have to be some compromises on what we could and could not do, especially since this pregnancy was happening during the pandemic, and in another state.
I feel that even without COVID, it is really hard to feel truly connected to the pregnancy milestones when you are not the one who is pregnant... I felt like I couldn’t “nest” because I am missing the physical part of carrying the baby. We are approaching 30 weeks in a few days, which is a huge milestone - and still, it is a distant feeling of excitement when you are not able to do it on your own. I must admit, this part of the journey has been a constant challenge for me.
How has your birth plan changed because of COVID?
Before the pandemic hit, we had a scheduled c-section planned. When we discussed the details with our surrogate’s health care provider, she let us know that during a c-section, only one person is allowed in the room. However, we were also informed that for special circumstances there is SOME flexibility, and sometimes both intended parents are allowed to be present in the room for the birth. Now with COVID, those special circumstances are unfortunately few and far between. My husband and I both feel the desire to share this experience together, with our surrogate, being that this is the one milestone we can actually participate in together. Not knowing if he will be able to be in the delivery room with us makes my husband and I feel like we are being stripped of our rights as parents. For us to not witness the most important moment of our lives together would be devastating.
What are you most anxious or nervous about?
I am most fearful that my husband and I will not have the opportunity to share the special moment and beautiful experience of our first child being born. At this point in time my surrogate has chosen me to be the one person that she has in the room with her, and we hope that on the day of the c-section they will allow for us to both be present. We surely will not give up without a fight!
What advice do you have for other families considering surrogacy during COVID?
While there are many ups and downs and compromises to be made, don’t push off your dreams of becoming a parent because of the pandemic... Nothing in life worth working for is easy, and in the end, the risk is very much worth the reward!
March 4, 2021 update: see Baby Katzen's birth announcement here! 🍼🎉
We'll continue to follow Ashley and her husband's surrogacy journey.