Surrogate Andrea Brenes profiled in Chaotic Commute

Submitted to Surrogacy Stories

You've met Andrea in the Surrogacy Learning Center before. Chaotic Commute recently profiled her surrogacy journey.

Name: Andrea Callahan Brenes
Pronouns: She/Her
Instagram handle(s): Instagram handle(s): I have three Instagram handles, one for my personal life andreacbrenes, one for my surrogacy journey surrogacy_diaries, and my side hustle cake business thecakeboxmiami.
Kid(s) name/age: I have a beautiful daughter Juliette Nicole who is 10 and a rambunctious 7 year old son, Noah James 
Official work title and company: Gestational Carrier @ConceiveAbilities. Since November 2020 I have been a CareTeam Specialist at Royal Caribbean Group.
Where you live: I was born, raised & currently reside in Miami, FL 

So proud of my surrogacy journey.

Tell us more about your work: I started my career in the cruise industry a year after my daughter was born. Joining the workforce was both exciting & intimidating at the same time. Never working in a corporate office, I wasn’t sure what to expect and boy did I have a lot to learn. After almost 10 years in the industry and moving around several different roles & departments, it would be hard for me to leave. For six year I worked within the Food & Beverage Operations team at Celebrity Cruises where I grew from Executive Assistant to Sr. Analyst. I did leave that position to move to another company for the sole reason of needing to be with my family and children more often. My role required a lot of traveling, my children and my marriage needed me home! For the next two years I worked on a start up project at The Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection. I started working side by side with the CEO as his Strategic Assistant before moving on to running the Corporate Incentive Groups & Charters Sales Department. When COVID hit, it got me thinking about my life as a whole. I loved my job, but it didn’t bring meaning to my life. I set out to find something still within the industry that I loved but that would allow me to help people. Lucky for me, I found the perfect position back at my previous company under the CareTeam. The CareTeam is an extremely special team that takes care of our guests when they are disembarked from one of our ships due to an illness, injury, medical emergency, etc.. We ensure our guests are well taken care of from the moment they step off the ship until they arrive back home. It is a HARD job, but so rewarding.

What inspired you to become a surrogate?
Helping people has always been something my mom ingrained in me while growing up. My aunt actually almost became a surrogate when I was younger – and that sent me in motion. As I got older, I used to always offer people my womb when the conversation of kids came up. I had hoped to do this for someone I knew, but no one in my family ever struggled with infertility and the friends that had struggles pursued other routes.

When did you know the time was right to be a surrogate?
My husband and I had our kids young and our family is complete. My mother in law reminded me the other day of a conversation we had a few days after I had my daughter. I was 23, caring for this itty bitty little baby, I looked at her and said "I want to give this gift to someone. I want to help a family have a child". I believe God placed this purpose in my heart. I prayed a lot about it over the years and if 2020 gave me anything good, it was the time to reflect on my life and what legacy I wanted to leave my kids. If they learn anything from me, I hope it's compassion & genuine kindness to help others. I found the Surrogacy agency, ConceiveAbilities and knew I was in good hands.

How did you match with the family you are helping?
I was very involved in the matching process. The process was super simple thanks to my agency, ConceiveAbilities. They put all the thought into matching. At the match meeting, the matchmaker facilitated. She asked questions of me and the intended parents so we could get to know each other and each time it was a perfect match.

Who specifically (on Instagram) is in your support village / which are your favorite accounts to follow? Honestly, I don’t follow too many “influencers”. I love my family and friends and that is who I mainly follow! But when it comes to my surrogacy, I do love to follow others who are going through or have gone through this journey. Thetravellinggays (Doug and Sanjay) are expecting a surro-babe in 20 weeks or so! I also follow my incredible surrogacy agency, ConceiveAbilities, because they are just incredible partners and have been a godsend through this journey.

Where do you think working mom guilt comes from and how can women overcome it? I think Mom guilt comes from social expectations. We have this mentality that if we don’t “have it all” society will judge us. I’ve had to come to terms with not being able to be super woman some days, the house will stay a mess, my kids will eat junk all day, but we will be happy!

What advice would you give to other working moms when it comes to balancing a career, family, and self-care? The best piece of advice I could give is to don’t forget to evaluate YOUR life on a weekly basis. Have you given yourself YOU time at least once! 

What advice would you give to a mom questioning her career/job? If it doesn’t make you happy, if you wake up not wanting to go to work, if you regret the time at work, look for something different. 

What song/artist do you listen to while working? I love me some Michael Buble!   

What is in your work bag, purse, luggage, diaper bag, that you use every day, that you live for/need, in your life in order to make it a little less chaotic? I can’t live without my planner! I know we have a phone that has reminders and calendars, but something about writing it down and carrying it with me makes me happy.  

If you go back in time and give one piece of advice to yourself as a new mother, what would it be? I’d tell myself to ask for help. In those first few years of motherhood, I tried doing it all by myself. Even when I was drowning, I never spoke up and I think a lot of mothers out there do that. We put all the pressure on ourselves and forget we have a partner in this parenting life! 

What about motherhood took you most by surprise? The biggest surprise about motherhood must be the amount of love that I have for my children. Everyday it just grows more and more. I could spend hours just watching my children and be in awe of them. 

How do you manage summertime when kids are out of school? I am thankful we have a pool where I can send my kids out to play while I work. We also have a routine in the morning where the kids have to read two chapters of a book, get some online homework done & a summer workbook before they are allowed any screen time. 

What do you do after the kids to go bed? Once the kids are in bed, I love to snuggle into my bed and watch really bad tv! Lifetime movies for the win.   

How has your perspective on work/career changed since the onset of the pandemic? Working from home during the pandemic, home schooling, being a homemaker all at once made me appreciate life more! I realized I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids when I was in the office everyday all day. Shortly going into the lockdown I realized I needed a change in my career to one that I could truly have a good work life balance.    

Who knows you the best? My girlfriends, Raissa, Missy & May know me best!

What is your favorite item you’ve bought this year? We recently remodeled our backyard & pool, so I’ve gotta say that’s my favorite thing we’ve purchased this year.