My Journey through Surrogacy

What it feels like to carry someone else’s baby.

My Journey through Surrogacy

I’m currently five weeks pregnant with a baby I will not keep. In fact, it’s my fifth pregnancy--and my third as a surrogate.

My first surrogacy journey is as vivid as if it was yesterday. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of surrogacy for quite some time, after learning that my sister-in-law might not be able to get pregnant or carry a baby to term on her own. I thought of her and all the others that might need help creating their family. The choice seemed obvious.

Once we decided to move forward with it, I got in touch with Family Source Consultants, a surrogacy agency based in Chicago. I filled out the 20-page application and expected things to take some time. I was shocked to get a call the day after I submitted the paperwork. The coordinator said she already had a couple in mind for me. All of this was moving fast!

I went in for an interview a week later. I was nervous. What if I did everything that was asked of me, and was then told that I was not going to make a suitable surrogate? But once I sat down with the coordinator, my mind was at ease. She gave me two Intended Parent profiles to review and I knew immediately that Xavi and Xavi were my couple. When I got word they accepted, my heart was overfilled with joy.

Xavi and Xavi lived in Barcelona so we set up a Skype meeting. I didn’t know what to expect during my first meeting with these fathers-to-be. Despite the language barrier, all went well. I couldn’t wait to start our journey together.

After a medical screening and extensive psychological evaluation, we started preparing for the transfer. I was vigilant about my schedule of what medications and made sure to do everything by the book. I wanted to have a successful outcome. All the while, the Xavis and I kept in contact through email and Skype. They were becoming part of our family. It was as if we had found family members we never knew about.

We agreed to transfer two embryos, one from each father. A week later, I learned I was pregnant with one of the embryos. I told Xavi and Xavi the news. “Estoy embarazada!” It was the one thing I knew in Spanish. They were thrilled. They had already been through 3 transfers with another surrogate, none of which took. Things were finally looking up for them.

At my 21 week ultrasound, with both of my daughters there, I learned we were having a girl! When I Skyped with the guys to tell them the news, they had tears of happiness. They told me her name would be Bruguers.

As my belly continued to grow, so did the bond between our family and the Xavis. I took weekly pictures of my growing belly and posted them to Facebook for all to see. I wanted to include my friends and family and their friends and family in our journey.

My girls, 2 and 5, affectionately started calling the baby Bru. They would both talk to her all the time. I told both of the girls from the beginning that I would be growing a baby in my belly, but the baby would go home with Xavi and Xavi, and not with us. But I began to really think about how this all would work itself out once I gave birth. Would they wonder why Bru wasn’t coming home with us? Would they understand what happened to my belly? How would I be emotionally after I gave birth? I knew this experience would be different because I knew the baby growing in my belly wasn’t mine.

A week before my due date, the Xavis arrived in Chicago. They went to my appointments, and it was touching to see how emotional they were now that they could be part of the process.

On my due date, my doctor scheduled an induction for a few days later. But the next day, I started having contractions. I sent Xavi and Xavi a message to let them know I was heading to the hospital. They asked if they should come, and I said yes.

My husband and I went to the hospital and were quickly joined shortly by Xavi, Xavi and a translator. The Xavis promised to stay quiet and keep in the background until they were needed. The nurses asked them questions about the important things for after the delivery, like who was going to cut the cord, if it was okay to give Bru medications and likewise. The doctor asked me where I wanted Bru to be placed after she delivered her, and we all agreed that she would be placed on my belly.

Finally, it was time to push. And then Bru was out! I looked over at Xavi, and asked, “Can I touch her?” He nodded his head through his tears and replied, “Yes.”

Moments like this remind me what a precious gift I have given Xavi and Xavi, and the gift I have given to the other couples since. The gift I hope to give another couple shortly. These moments aren’t the end; they’re just the beginning of something wonderful. Being a surrogate has introduced me to a new part of my family that fills a part of my heart that I never knew was empty.

Image source.

Written by Megan Steinecke, who is now program coordinator at Family Source Consultants.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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