by Anna Buxton
In Part 3 of her journey, Anna Buxton tells us about her journey to parenthood through surrogacy in the USA.
What led you to the USA to continue your surrogacy journey?
When we started to think about a sibling for Isla, India had stopped allowing foreigners to have children through surrogacy. The UK was not an option because one charity had closed their books to intended parents and another was only taking on intended parents who didn’t have children. We felt that the US was our only option and we specifically wanted to go to California – largely regarded at the most surrogacy friendly state in the US and therefore the world.
In the US, you need an IVF clinic and separately a Surrogacy Agency, as in the US it is legal for an agency to match surrogates with Intended Parents. We were recommended a wonderful IVF clinic in San Diego, the San Diego Fertility Center, and so also looked at Surrogacy Agencies in that area as well.
Finding a surrogate in the US is a bit like dating! Surrogates write a profile, you write a profile, and if you match, you go for it!
Obviously it is much more complicated than that – much of the profiles are about finding someone who is aligned with you on pregnancy-related factors such as do you share the same views on invasive tests if deemed necessary by a doctor or views on terminating if advised. And then also, your expectations for your relationship during the pregnancy and after the birth of your babies. All these are really important, but the most important factor is ultimately respecting each other.
Once you’ve seen a profile, if the surrogate agrees you meet over Skype. We spoke to a number of women but when I first met Holly, I knew she was the one. You can’t tell from one phone call if someone is perfect, but I knew I liked her, I liked her reason for doing surrogacy, her husband joined the call and was supportive, and her children knew – for them it was a family affair. She had a large support network of friends and family who all supported her. Given how far apart we were, that support network was really important to me. On our trip to San Diego to create and freeze our embryos we were able to meet Holly and her family. On the surface we didn’t have much in common but once we got chatting we didn’t stop for hours!
After that first meeting, we were all excited to move forward and committed to doing so. It is a complex process but we were surrounded by highly experienced medical and legal professionals in surrogacy and about six months later our embryos were transferred to Holly.
What was the experience like in the USA, throughout the pregnancy and then ultimately the birth?
People often talk about the two week IVF wait, from transfer to the blood test to finding out if you are pregnant. It is very hard, and with surrogacy, you have two couples waiting on that result and your friends and family who are also waiting. Day of the test result, the email came through to me and Holly – congratulations we are pregnant! A few more blood tests all of which were looking very positive and then at eight weeks we had our first scan, two babies and two heartbeats!
For most appointments, the doctors were happy for Holly to call me during the scan so that I could hear what was happening in the appointment, hear the heartbeats and just feel connected throughout. Compared to our pregnancy with Isla, in the US it felt closer because we had more means of communication but this also meant more stress! Holly was amazing at managing me and my need for constant updates and reassurance.
One of the things that Holly and I loved to talk about was our birth plan
We had it all agreed and worked out. Holly and I would be together, Ed and Isla would be waiting next door and Holly’s husband and children would be nearby. As soon as the babies arrived, me, Ed and Isla would get to spend time with the babies, Holly could be with her family and then as soon as she was ready we would bring the babies back to her to meet her and her family. It would be the two complete families of five in one room!
Then at 34 weeks, the day I’d stopped working and a week before we were due to fly, Holly went into labour. I got a call from the doctor saying, “Anna I don’t want to alarm you but we are doing a c-section in 20 minutes”. An hour later, two nurses called to say they were the NICU nurses responsible for our babies that night and did they have a names. I managed to get a flight out to San Diego the next morning and was with Olive and Art about 18 hours after they were born. It was so far removed from what Holly and I wanted, but both the babies and Holly were healthy, and for that we will be forever grateful.
Our family of five
As a new family of five, we stayed in San Diego for two months and enjoyed life in Southern California. Although surrogacy is a well trodden path in California, the paper work is still very complicated, from agreeing the medical insurance to applying for American passports. The stay also gave us the opportunity to spend time with Holly and her family. We all felt it important for her children to see us with the babies, the family they created, and appreciate the magnitude of what their mum had done.
In the final part of her story, Anna tells us about the important things she has learnt from her journey through parenthood to becoming a mother of 3 children.
Anna has given up her 20-year career in investment management to help others on their journey to parenthood. Working with San Diego Fertility Center, the clinic where her twins were conceived, Anna supports couples navigating surrogacy. For more information, you can reach Anna on Instagram @anna3buxton or email directly at email@example.com