BIG Baby!

We are 8 months this week!  The weeks are flying by!  

Our appointment this week went great.  Surro babe is head down (yay!) and looks perfect! His heart rate is 155 which is awesome. He is measuring 6.6 pounds already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  No wonder I feel so huge and squished! Check out his adorable chubby cheeks:  


I will be seeing my OB weekly now for the remainder of the pregnancy. Whenever a baby is on the bigger side, my OB does weekly ultrasounds and fetal non stress tests just making sure that the baby is thriving. Because of a marginal placenta we’ve been watching surro babe making sure he’s growing enough and now we’re watching him because he’s grown so much! Oh the irony! 

R and E are busy getting everything ready for their stay here (flights, short term rental, all the newborn gear, etc.).  So exciting!!!

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Bonding From Afar 

We are 31 weeks!!  My babies all came 1-2 weeks early so we are anticipating the same for this birth.  That means that surro babe will likely be back in his daddies’ arms where he belongs in just 7 to 8 weeks!  In the meantime, surro babe spends his evenings listening to voice messages from his daddies and big sister (with the help of Belly Buds).  I play the messages every evening when surro babe is most active so he can bond with his family and know their voices when he’s born.  ❤️

Happy Father’s Day

Celebrating my husband today – our family adventure leader! He fills our lives with adventure (even though it’s a challenge with our big crew)!

I’m especially thankful for his support of our latest adventure, my crazy idea of becoming a surrogate. He didn’t hesitate to make my dream his dream. Never complaining about having to be home every single night to give me my hormone injections.  Picking up the slack at home when my first trimester exhaustion and morning sickness was in full swing.  Patiently listening to me whine during all the delays and frustrations we endured throughout our journey.  Making sure all my cravings are satisfied, no matter the time of day.  Making me feel beautiful throughout my hormone induced acne flare ups and weight gain.  Never complaining from being woken up at night as I toss and turn, trying to get comfortable with this big belly.  Putting up with all of my overly emotional dramatics that come with these pregnancy hormones.  Laughing with me when we’re out as a family and people stare at us like we’re completely insane, thinking we’re pregnant with our 5th.   And most importantly, for loving being a dad so much that he, too, can’t wait to help someone else become a father.

I love you Shane!  Thanks for being on this adventure with me!!!!!!!  xoxo

Advocacy!!!


I spent another day, recently, at our state capitol advocating for families.

I attended a press conference that announced a new Gestational Carrier Act which seeks to reasonably regulate surrogacy in Minnesota, keeping it as a safe and beautiful option for families struggling with the disease of infertility or involuntary childlessness.

Click here to view the Press Release.

I also met with each of my legislators, discussing infertility in Minnesota, surrogacy, and the new Gestational Carrier Act.  One of my legislators was incredibly supportive of the new Act.  He kept asking me what he was missing because he couldn’t fathom why someone would be opposed to such an incredibly pro-family act.  He admitted that he had very little knowledge on surrogacy.  I was thrilled to be able to educate him on the topic!  And what better avenue for him to receive the information than from one of his own constituents that’s intimately involved in the process.

I was nervous to meet with my other legislator, she seemed unsupportive of surrogacy in our past meetings.  Surprisingly, she seemed more open to hearing what I had to say this time.  Her concerns about surrogacy had to do with the surrogate potentially changing her mind and wanting to keep the baby.  I explained to her that women choosing to be surrogates do so when their own families are complete; they are done having children of their own.  Surrogates tend to be very fertile women who had easy, uneventful pregnancies and births – if they wanted to have another child they would just have one themselves!  In addition, in surrogacy you set out with the sole purpose of helping this other couple have their child.  All the injections, and appointments, and preparations are all for the intended parents, it’s all for them from the very beginning.  A surrogate suddenly wanting to keep a child that isn’t hers is no different than a nanny suddenly wanting to keep the child she is caring for.  It doesn’t happen!  Finally, I talked about how the new Gestational Carrier Act would require medical and mental health evaluations of the surrogate to ensure that she truly understands what surrogacy is and is capable of such a generous act.

The legislator’s other concern about surrogacy had to do with compensation.  She worries that compensated surrogacy will lead to desperate women turning to surrogacy as a way to make money, which could lead to potential exploitation of these women.  I explained that the Gestational Carrier Act would help protect women by ensuring that they have proper mental health screenings to be sure they are doing it for the right reasons; women receiving government assistance would not qualify to be surrogates while receiving assistance; and the Act states that all parties need to have separate legal representation to protect everyone involved.  I also talked with my legislator about how even though my choice to be a surrogate comes from the heart and my intentions are altruistic, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t also be reasonably compensated for my time, commitment, and potential risk.  Pregnancy is magical and beautiful but it’s also hard work.  Even in an easy pregnancy, there is still some pain and suffering.  Nausea, fatigue, heartburn, headaches, constipation, hemorrhoids, childbirth, vaginal tears, episiotomies, engorgement, etc.  Those are all normal parts of pregnancy and childbirth.

I talked with my legislator about how I had originally planned that once I had kids, I’d stop teaching and be a stay at home mom.  I didn’t realize how much I’d love teaching.  I LOVE connecting with my students!  I love sharing my passion for my subject with my students.  I took a year off from teaching after my third child was born and I missed teaching, I missed my students that year. I couldn’t wait to go back.  I am not a teacher for the salary.  I teach because I truly care about students and because I love sharing my passion for the content, but no one would expect me to do it without pay!   I asked my legislator if she thought I should not be paid as a teacher, since my motive to teach is altruistic.  Of course, she said yes I should still be paid.

Overall, I felt like my meetings went well and it felt really good to stand up for families!  I am proud that I am able to dispel some of the stereotypes and misconceptions that surround surrogacy and help others see what surrogacy is. Surrogacy is all about family and is based on kindness, empathy, and love.  Those are things the world can always use more of.

I gave the following letter to each of my legislators as I left our meetings:

“Dear Legislator,

I am a 38-year-old mother, wife, and teacher.  I am also a gestational surrogate.  I am currently carrying for an incredibly genuine and kind-hearted couple.  I am thrilled to be a part of helping them complete their family.

I grew up in SW Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Family Social Science and a Master’s degree in Family Education.  I have been teaching part-time at Edina High School for the past 15 years, I teach our Child Psychology and Elementary Education classes.  My husband and I live in Eden Prairie with our four young children.  My husband is an investment consultant.  We are an upper class family.  I am not poor.  I am not uneducated.

I heard about surrogacy when I was a teenager and knew that someday, when my own family was complete, I would be a surrogate.  I always wanted to be a mom and I would have been completely heartbroken if I would not have been able to have children. I would have hoped that someone would have been willing and able to help me.  The days that my children were born were the best days of my life.  My dreams came true, I got my happily ever after, and now I am helping another family get their happily ever after.  When I think back to the moments when I held my babies for the very first time, the complete and utter happiness that I was feeling, the feeling of my heart exploding with love; and I think about being able to help someone else have those feelings and experience that life changing moment; that’s why I want to be a surrogate, that’s why I am doing it.  

Some might wonder how I could give up a baby that I’ve carried for 9 months?  Won’t I feel like it’s my baby?  Gestational surrogates are not genetically related to the baby.  The embryos are created by the parents and/or donors and then transferred to the surrogate via IVF.  So, no, I won’t feel like it’s my baby because it’s not my baby.  I won’t be giving the baby up; I’ll be giving the baby back.  Will I love the baby?  Yes!  The same way that I love my friends’ babies and my nieces and nephews.  I love them, I love hearing how they are doing, I love visiting them – but I certainly don’t want to keep them!

I am not motivated, nor do I need the money paid for my services as a surrogate.  I am performing a service from the heart and my motivation is altruistic in nature.  I will be paid a reasonable amount for my time, obligations, expenses, and services during the process of becoming pregnant and carrying the intended parents’ pregnancy for them.  Just as you are performing a civic duty by serving in the legislature, you are still paid for your time and service despite your altruistic motivation.

I am not being repressed or taken advantage of.  My intended parents could not have a child without my help and I sincerely want to help them, just as I would have wanted someone to help me if I hadn’t been able to have children.  I am an intelligent, independent woman who is perfectly capable of assessing the risks of a surrogate pregnancy and making my own decision of whether it is appropriate for me to take those risks.  I do not need the government to intrude on my personal right to make decisions for myself based on the mistaken perception that I am especially vulnerable simply because I am a woman.

When I began my surrogacy journey, I did an enormous amount of research, I discussed it with my OB, and I met with multiple surrogacy agencies and reproductive endocrinologists.  I completed a psychological and medical evaluation.  Based on my research and results, I chose to move forward.  I feel very competent in my ability to make this choice.  I do not need the government to “protect me from myself”.  I take great offense to the thinking that I am not capable of educating myself and making my own choices and decisions.

I view surrogacy as one of many family building options for the millions of men and women who want to have children but can’t.  Having children is a fundamental life function and anyone struggling with the disease of infertility or childlessness should have options as to how they build their family.  Families choosing surrogacy have often gone to incredible lengths and many have endured so much heartache on their path to parenthood.  All to have a family; to love their child.  Infertility is not going away; surrogacy is not going away.  Therefore, it is important to have legislation in place that protects those involved.  As a legislator, I know that you work to protect your constituents. Reasonable regulations surrounding surrogacy is the best way to protect intended parents, surrogates, as well as the children involved. I strongly believe that gestational surrogacy should be a protected and reasonably regulated process in MN.

Surrogacy is based on kindness, empathy, and love.  The love the intended parents have for their unborn child – they love them so much they’re willing to move mountains to bring their child safely home.  The love a surrogate has for being a mother – her heart breaks for anyone that wants to be a parent but can’t.  She loves being a mother so much, she wants to help others become parents.  I hope that you can see what an amazingly beautiful thing surrogacy is. And I hope that, as my legislator, you will support this important family issue.

If you have any questions or would like to speak with me further, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you.”

There’s me at the press conference.  😄

Me and another surrogate standing up for families!

Standing Up For Family, Surrogacy, and Women

I recently spent the day at our state capital, attending a meeting of the Legislative Commission on Surrogacy. Currently, Minnesota has no laws regarding surrogacy. The purpose of the commission is to gather information and data on surrogacy, then make recommendations for policy and law.

The anti-surrogacy commission members are claiming that all surrogates are mentally unstable, poor, uneducated, desperate women being repressed and manipulated by the wealthy. They equate surrogacy with prostitution and claim that surrogates are brainwashed and forced to detach themselves from the pregnancy in order to “sell” the baby to the intended parents after birth. They claim that “surrogacy turns economic and emotionally vulnerable women into a breeder class, subjecting their physical and psychological health to the whims of the wealthy. The practice also treats human life as a commodity that can be bought, sold, or eliminated when no longer desired.”

The first half of this meeting of the commission was spent listening to testimony from witnesses supporting the above position. It was beyond frustrating to have to sit and listen to these inaccurate and ridiculous testimonies and not be able to respond. To sit there and be equated with a prostitute and essentially that I can’t possibly be smart enough to understand what I’ve gotten myself into and that I clearly need the government to protect me from myself was INFURIATING.

Fortunately, the second half of the meeting was spent receiving testimony showing how inaccurate all of the earlier testimonies were. More than 40 Minnesota surrogates filled the room, waiting to give testimony, to tell their personal stories. We were also able to provide real scientific data from a recent US study on surrogacy, showing that surrogates are not poor and uneducated. We also heard testimony from 3 amazing teens/young adults born through surrogacy.

Overall, the meeting was eye-opening as to how frustrating politics can be. I can’t believe that inaccurate and false information can be presented as truth. When did truth and fairness just go out the window? I felt very proud to be there, standing up for family, surrogacy, and women, as well as the truth.

Here is my testimony for the commission:

Madam Chair and Commission Members,

My name is Sarah Irons. I am a 37-year-old mother, wife, and teacher. I am also a gestational surrogate. I am currently matched with an incredibly genuine and kind-hearted couple. I am thrilled to be a part of helping them complete their family. We have had two unsuccessful embryo transfers so far and are now preparing for our third embryo transfer.

I grew up in SW Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Family Social Science and a Master’s degree in Family Education. I have been teaching part-time at Edina High School for the past 15 years, teaching our Child Psychology and Elementary Education classes. My husband and I live in Eden Prairie with our four young children. My husband is an investment consultant, we are an upper class family. I am not poor. I am not uneducated.

I heard about surrogacy when I was a teenager and knew that someday, when my own family was complete, I would be a surrogate. I always wanted to be a mom and I would have been completely heartbroken if I would not have been able to have children. I would have hoped that someone would have been willing and able to help me. The days that my children were born were the best days of my life. My dreams came true, I got my happily ever after, and now I am helping another family get their happily ever after. When I think back to the moments when I held my babies for the very first time, the complete and utter happiness that I was feeling, the feeling of my heart exploding with love; and I think about being able to help someone else have those feelings and experience that life changing moment; that’s why I want to be a surrogate, that’s why I am doing it.

Some might wonder how I could give up a baby that I’ve carried for 9 months? Won’t I feel like it’s my baby? Gestational surrogates are not genetically related to the baby. The embryos are created by the parents and/or donors and then transferred to the surrogate via IVF. So, no, I won’t feel like it’s my baby because it’s not my baby. I won’t be giving the baby up; I’ll be giving the baby back. Will I love the baby? Yes! The same way that I love my friends’ babies and my nieces and nephews. I love them, I love hearing how they are doing, I love visiting them – but I certainly don’t want to keep them!

I am not motivated, nor do I need the money paid for my services as a surrogate. I am performing a service from the heart and my motivation is altruistic in nature. I will be paid a reasonable amount for my time, obligations, expenses, and services during the process of becoming pregnant and carrying the intended parents’ pregnancy for them. Just as you are performing a civic duty by serving in the legislature, you are still paid for your time and service despite your altruistic motivation.

I am not being repressed or taken advantage of. My intended parents could not have a child without my help and I sincerely want to help them, just as I would have wanted someone to help me if I hadn’t been able to have children. I am an intelligent, independent woman who is perfectly capable of assessing the risks of a surrogate pregnancy and making my own decision of whether it is appropriate for me to take those risks. I do not need the government to intrude on my personal right to make decisions for myself based on the mistaken perception that I am especially vulnerable simply because I am a woman.

When I began my surrogacy journey, I did an enormous amount of research, I discussed it with my OB, and I met with multiple surrogacy agencies and reproductive endocrinologists. I completed a psychological and medical evaluation. Based on my research and results, I chose to move forward. I feel very competent in my ability to make this choice. I do not need the government to “protect me from myself”. I take great offense to the thinking that I am not capable of educating myself and making my own choices and decisions.

I view surrogacy as one of many family building options for the millions of men and women who want to have children but can’t. Having children is a fundamental life function and anyone struggling with the disease of infertility or childlessness should have options as to how they build their family, just as I did and just as most of you did. Families choosing surrogacy have often gone to incredible lengths and many have endured so much heartache on their path to parenthood. All to have a family; to love their child. Infertility is not going away; surrogacy is not going away. Therefore, it is important to have legislation in place that protects those involved. As a legislator, I know that you work to protect your constituents. Reasonable regulations surrounding surrogacy is the best way to protect intended parents, surrogates, as well as the children involved. I strongly believe that gestational surrogacy should be a protected and reasonably regulated process in MN and I urge the commission to make that recommendation.

If you have any questions or would like to speak with me further, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you.IMG_5101

Do I look political?  😉

Great Job Uterus!  

Everything looked great at both of my monitoring appointments!  Hormone levels are where they should be and my uterine lining is extra thick with the desired trilaminar pattern.  Our RE wants the lining to be at least 8 mm thick for transfer and my lining is currently 14 mm!  Great job uterus!  

Meds: So far, I’ve been taking prenatals three times per day, as well as daily baby aspirin, DHA, folate, and vitamin D.  I’ve also been taking oral estrace three times per day and delestrogen injections every three days.  We will add progesterone next week – vaginal inserts three times per day plus nightly injections.  And I’ll start a round of medrol several days before transfer.  

One week from today we will be transferring R and E’s bun into my oven!! Yay!  We are all very excited!  

Standing Up For Family

I recently spent the day at our state capital speaking with legislators about surrogacy.  It felt really good standing up for what’s important.  And what’s more important than family?!

Here is an article about my experience at the capital:

Growing Generations’ Surrogate Speaks with Minnesota Legislators About Surrogacy
  
Sarah Irons, a first time gestational surrogate with Los Angeles based Growing Generations, travelled to Saint Paul, Minnesota this week to speak with state legislators about surrogacy.

Irons, who holds a Master’s Degree in Family Education from the University of Minnesota, visited the state capitol with nonprofit group Resolve: The National Infertility Association for Resolve’s Advocacy Day on April 13, 2016. The group, spearheaded by Jill Wolfe & Betsy Campbell, is appealing to legislators to form a large, inclusive task force to consider the state’s stance on gestational surrogacy. Currently the state has no legislation surrounding gestational surrogacy.

The concern for Irons, as well as for Resolve, is that conservative activists would rather form a small committee which may or may not include experts on surrogacy, and may exclude those with real life experience with gestational surrogacy, to consider what legislation should be formed. The appeal of a larger task force would ensure all voices are heard, and common misconceptions about surrogacy can be debated on even ground.

“I told the legislators about myself. How I’m married with 4 young kids, carry multiple degrees, that I’m a teacher, and that I’m in the process of becoming a surrogate. They would look slightly surprised when I’d get to the surrogacy part, because the misconception is that surrogates are poor, uneducated women,” Irons said of her conversations with legislators, “Then I’d talk to them about the new bill being proposed to create a more inclusive task force and I’d ask if they agree that’s it’s only fair to include all stake holders in developing legislation like this. I asked ‘All voices should be heard, don’t you think?’ They agreed.”

Irons says speaking to legislators was scary, but that it was a fear she had to face, “Knowing that they have this stereotype of surrogates and feeling like I’m the opposite of the stereotype – I felt I had to go!”

Irons becomes one of several Growing Generations’ surrogates to take action in Minnesota and fight for fair legislation. In 2015 Claire Neilson, who delivered twins via gestational surrogacy, also appealed to state law makers in favor of surrogacy.

The new legislation to create an inclusive task force will be formally proposed on April 14, 2016. An official vote on the matter is expected sometime in 2017, with formal legislation expected to follow in the subsequent several years.

Gestational surrogacy is a form of assisted reproduction wherein a woman, the gestational surrogate, is implanted with an embryo created from the ovum (egg) of another woman and sperm from either an intended father or sperm donor. The embryo is created through In Vitro Fertilization and grown in a lab before transfer into the surrogate’s uterus. The result is a woman who carries a child to whom she bears no genetic link for nine months before returning the child to his/her intended parents upon birth.

About Resolve: The National Infertility Association

Established in 1974, Resolve: The National Infertility Association, is a non profit organization with one goal; promote reproductive health while ensuring equal access to family building options for all men and women experiencing infertility or other reproductive disorders. Quite simply, Resolve improves the lives of those living with infertility. RESOLVE is a member of the National Coalition for Oversight of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (NCOART), the National Health Council and is a founding member of the International Federation of Infertility Patient Associations (IFIPA).To learn more, please visit http://www.resolve.org

Just In Case…..

Our RE decided that since my OB saw a gestational sac in my uterus, even though it was an empty sac, he wants me to continue my IVF meds until my follow up appointment. If we still see an empty sac at that point, we can all feel with absolute certainty, that it’s not just a late implanter or a slow grower and I will then stop my meds and hopefully miscarry naturally.  My follow up appointment with my OB isn’t for more than a week but, fortunately, I’m on vacation with my family this week so this wait will be easy.  We’ve left behind the cold of MN and are spending the week at Universal Studios in sunny Florida.  So, while we are here on vacation, I’ll still be taking oral meds three times a day, plus vaginal inserts three times a day, plus nightly injections.  I can’t help but feel that it was all for nothing.  Thankfully, our vacation is distracting me from those thoughts.  And, I’ll do it all over again, in a heartbeat, to help R and E grow their family!