We've been profiling mom-to-be Ashley Katzen and her journey to build her family through surrogacy. In a series of blog posts we heard Ashley's story, how her surrogate is giving her the ultimate gift, and how she and her partner are navigating surrogacy through a global pandemic.
Today, we hear from Ashley about the matching process, and some of the unique aspects of having a long-distance surrogate.
What were your expectations when being matched with a surrogate and what have you learned since your match was made?
When my husband and I started the surrogacy process, we were not really sure what expectations we should have - It was very new to us. All we knew for certain was that we wanted to find a surrogate who was totally open, honest and willing to be flexible and understanding. We also both felt it was very important for our surrogate to come from a nurturing home with a supportive and loving family. When we started working with ConceiveAbilities, we were told that matching with someone is like dating, and when you know you know. That is exactly how it happened when we matched with our surrogate! The moment we hung up the phone, we knew what our expectations were, and that she was everything we had hoped for. We learned that this whole experience is not only about our needs because it is our baby, but it is also about the gestational carrier’s needs which are just as important.
What has made your relationship with your surrogate work so well?
We got to know each other’s personalities fairly quickly, including how we each prefer to communicate and how often. We both work full time and therefore have a mutual respect for each other's schedule, however we always make time to discuss pertinent information, and check in as often as possible.
I believe that the little bit of separation we have between Florida and Minnesota has, in fact, brought us closer together. Because of the distance, any time we catch up on FaceTime or over the phone, we try to truly live in the moment and appreciate the conversation that much more!
Did you have reservations about matching with a surrogate from another state?
After we matched with our surrogate, I did have some reservations... I thought there would be no way we would be able to make this whole thing work while being so many miles apart. However, I very quickly learned that distance literally plays no part in the grand scheme of things. Travelling to Minnesota has actually been a fun and exciting part of our journey! My husband and I had never visited the state before, and we have been fully embracing the time we get to share in a new place with our superstar surrogate and her wonderful family.
Can you give any pros and cons of working with a long distance surrogate?
The pros of being long-distance is that it forces you to be less controlling. I know that if our surrogate was local, I would feel the need to “check-in” often. With our situation, I don’t have the ability to do so, and honestly, it’s a blessing. I have also found that we cherish our relationship with our surrogate more, since our visits are limited - when we do see each other, we truly embrace the moment.
For me, the biggest con is feeling a little bit more disconnected to the actual pregnancy. Oftentimes, I wish I could see our surrogate more just so that we could experience the growth of her blossoming belly bump and have the opportunity to talk/sing to our baby boy while in utero. Another con is having to be OK with a birth plan that could change. It is logistically challenging to plan when you live in different states, even with a scheduled c-section. You kind of just always have to have a backup plan and be on standby for the big day!
How have you maintained a long distance relationship with your surrogate?
My husband and I have maintained an amazing relationship with our surrogate, and mostly because we are on the same page. We know when we need to communicate and what about. We are both very understanding of each other’s expectations and respect the time (or lack thereof) that we have in our busy days.
What advice would you have for people who are worried about a long distance match?
There will always be pros and cons for being either long distance or nearby - Remember that. The priority should always be to just match with someone you feel truly connected to. As we have learned, the rest will fall into place.
March 4, 2021 update: see Baby Katzen's birth announcement here! 🍼🎉
Matching with Intended Parents is one of the most exciting parts of the surrogacy journey - did you have a long-distance match? What were some of the challenges/perks of the situation?