Fertility

A week in the life of a surrogate – lifting the lid on the gestational carrier process

Team TRB & Shanda Anderson at Pinnacle Surrogacy  |   13 Mar 2024


Curious about the gestational carrier process? 

Whether you’re an intended parent looking to get an idea of what family building with a surrogate might look like, or you’d like to become a gestational carrier yourself, we think the best and most valuable insight comes from those with real, lived experience. 

We picked up with Shanda Anderson, an incredible first-time gestational carrier at Pinnacle Surrogacy, for a peek into her life as a surrogate – 17 weeks in.

Want to learn more from Pinnacle Surrogacy? Start by getting up to speed with all things surrogacy in the US, and connecting with their expert team. Each of their coordinators has previously been a surrogate themselves, so you’ll be in the most experienced and empathetic hands, at every stage of your journey.

Now, over to Shanda, as she walks us through her experience of the gestational carrier process. Keep reading for the mini Q&A!

Hi Shanda, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a mom to four kids, one girl and three boys and I am married to my high school sweetheart. We live on a little hobby farm that is always changing it up – from chickens and goats to Scottish Highland cows and donkeys! 

I just started a full-time job in 2023, working as a secretary for an accounting and tax firm. Before this, I was a stay-at-home mom. 

My hobbies include anything that lets me spend time with my kids and husband – my favorite is probably taking side-by-side rides in the countryside (and ending up at some kind of ice cream shop!)

I also enjoy fishing, going for walks, and playing volleyball with my daughter.

week-in-the-life-of-a-surrogate

What drew you to become a gestational surrogate?

I honestly knew I wanted to be a surrogate before I even had my own kids. My mom will tell you that I was a junior in high school the first time I mentioned gestational surrogacy!

Since becoming a mom myself, I just absolutely love being a mom. I watched people close to me long to be mothers too, and have seen the pain of it not working out. 

I’ve had pretty simple pregnancies and labors, so I kinda figured it was the least I could do for someone. 

I am currently 17 weeks pregnant with our sweet surro babe. The process has been so smooth and easy so far, and it’s nice that Pinnacle Surrogacy has been so helpful at every step. 

A week in the life of a surrogate – what does a typical week look like for you?

I typically wake up between 6-6:30 on weekdays. My alarm goes off, I check my daily Facebook memories and then I wake our kids up. While they get ready I get ready, then we have breakfast and we are off to work and school! 

Here’s a feel of what the rest of my weeks can look like.

Attending appointments 

The appointments have been a little different and more frequent, compared to a regular pregnancy. 

We had a few lab draws early on to be sure I was pregnant. And then we got an eight-week scan and saw baby’s heartbeat for the first time! So exciting! 

After that, I had a doctor’s appointment and ultrasound at 12 weeks where they discovered I had placenta previa (basically, my placenta was covering my cervix) which then led me to another ultrasound at 16 weeks where they saw my placenta had moved into the upper part of my womb.

Now, as long as the rest of the pregnancy goes well, we will just have the typical 20 week appointment and ultrasound, and again at 24 weeks, 28 weeks, 30 weeks, 32 weeks, 34 weeks and then 36 weeks, and each week until baby is here.

Keeping on top of medications

Since I’m in week 17, I am finally done with all of my estrogen and progesterone, right now.

However, I do have a thyroid medication I take daily, along with a prenatal.  

Connecting with the intended parents

I have met the intended parents only once, and that was for embryo transfer.

We text often during the week though, and send pictures back and forth, but it was so nice to see them in person! They are the sweetest, and I truly couldn’t have picked a better couple. 

Taking decisions with our doctor

When it comes to appointments and lab draws, I trust my doctor, and my intended parents trust her as well. 

We communicate about every milestone, and usually all agree on the same thing.  

Leaning on my support network

Coming from small-town Minnesota, gestational carrier surrogacy is really new to everyone around us! A lot of people ask questions, and our kids talk about our intended parents and the surrogate baby to everyone, which I love! 

I have a great support network – my husband is there every day and he’s so kind and gentle and so mindful of the pregnancy. 

My sister is super excited and always wants the latest appointment details, and to hear what the intended parents have to say. 

My mom is nervous for me, but she checks in often and asks how I feel and if my belly has grown! My mother-in-law always ensures I’m not overdoing it and keeps an eye on me. 

the-gestational-carrier-process

The gestational carrier process – mini Q&A

1. How did you prepare yourself emotionally and physically for the journey?

I am so content with our four kids and how life is for us right now, and I think that helps a lot with the journey. I have no desire to be back to sleepless nights and changing diapers, but I love this surro babe for his intended parents. 

For people who can’t seem to wrap their heads around gestational carrying, I explain it like having a leased car. You love it while you have it, and when the process is over, you are happy to give it back! 

I just can’t wait to see the look on the intended parents’ faces when their sweet little one is born.

2. What are the main milestones on a surrogacy journey, for a gestational carrier?

I felt like having our surrogate profile go live was a huge first step! 

Here are some of my favorite moments that followed;

  • matching with our intended parents 
  • the medication working and getting the clearance from their fertility clinic to transfer 
  • watching the HCG numbers rising post-transfer
  • seeing baby’s heartbeat at 8 weeks 
  • seeing him again and 12 and 16 weeks, knowing he’s growing and doing good

3. Looking towards the future, what happens after the birth?

So in both my profile and the intended parents’ profile, we’ve said we don’t really know what to expect after delivery! This is the first time on the journey for both of us. 

I hope to have a little contact and wish him a happy birthday every year, but if the intended parents would prefer not to, I am absolutely okay with that too!

4. What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a gestational carrier?

Becoming a gestational carrier has been the thing I am most proud of. It has completely opened my eyes to the fertility world, and I feel so grateful for being able to support others.

If you are considering it, you should do it!

Thinking about building your family via surrogacy? Head to Pinnacle Surrogacy to get started. Make use of their really handy online chat tool for any more quick-fire questions, and browse to find a clinic near you

Looking to become a surrogate? Skip to Pinnacle Surrogacy’s support hub. You’ll find the application right up top, plus lots of information on the screening process, and more. 

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