'The most rewarding thing I've ever done': Surrogate opens up about carrying a baby for strangers

·4-min read
Heather Regan found being a surrogate hugely 'rewarding'. (Supplied: Heather Regan)
Heather Regan found being a surrogate hugely 'rewarding'. (Supplied: Heather Regan)

A surrogate has revealed how it feels to carry a baby for strangers.

Heather Regan, 34, from Arizona, gave birth to her "surro-baby" Jasper on 11 June, 2020.

The mother-of-two has never met Jasper's "intended parents". The couple lives in China, where surrogacy is illegal.

The coronavirus pandemic meant Jasper's intended parents could not be present for his birth. A nanny looked after the newborn for the first six weeks of his life.

Regan is trying to become pregnant with another couple's embryo, however, the first attempt "didn't take".

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While she awaits the second attempt, Regan has described carrying Jasper as "probably the most rewarding thing" she has ever done and explains she feels "grateful" his intended parents trusted her with carrying their son.

The mother-of-two (pictured while pregnant with her 'surro-baby') gave birth to Jasper on 11 June, 2020. (Supplied: Heather Regan)

Regan became interested in surrogacy while working at an infertility clinic.

"I saw so many couples struggling," she told Yahoo UK.

"I felt if I could help one couple have their dreams could true, how awesome would that be? That was my biggest inspiration.

"My pregnancies were easy. I thought 'why not?'"

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A local surrogacy agency, where Regan now works as a co-ordinator, introduced her to the couple.

"They match you with who they think will match your personality and what you're looking for in terms of what you want the communication to be afterwards," she said.

"You do a video call and see how you mesh."

The couple's frozen embryo was stored at an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) clinic in the US.

Once pregnant, Regan communicated with the intended parents "throughout the journey".

"Anytime I felt him kick or had heartburn, I would let her [his mother] know," said Regan, who works with the Egg Donor & Surrogacy Institute.

"It wasn't just my pregnancy, it was hers."

In the US, intended parents pay a surrogate between $30,000 (£21,644) and $60,000 (£43,289), depending on the state, on top of medical care expenses and an allowance for maternity clothes.

Surrogacy UK advises intended parents budget for up to £30,000 ($41,580) to cover surrogate expenses, insurance, wills and clinic costs.

"A surrogate's expenses can be from anywhere between £7,000 ($9,701) and £15,000 ($20,788), depending on her personal circumstances", according to the organisation.

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Regan, who has an 11 and 12-year-old of her own, had the easiest delivery with Jasper. His intended parents could not be present, however.

"That was probably the hardest part of my journey," said Regan.

"They had hired a nanny to take him as soon as he was born.

"I went home the day after I delivered. He stayed at the hospital for one more day and they [Jasper and his nanny] went out to California." Jasper's intended parents have family and a home on the west coast.

Regan, pictured with her children, hopes to be a surrogate once more. (Supplied: Heather Regan)
Regan, pictured with her children, hopes to be a surrogate once more. (Supplied: Heather Regan)

Regan has stressed surrogacy is not for everyone, with some women not necessarily being "mentally okay" with handing the baby over.

"It was pretty surreal to be able to compartmentalise those feelings," she said.

"He's technically not mine. He's not a part of me at all."

Regan has not seen Jasper since the day she left hospital, however, he is still a huge part of her life.

"I wish him a happy birthday," she said. "I have pictures of him in my house."

Jasper's intended parents are planning to visit loved ones in California at the end of 2022.

"They're going to fly me and my kids out," said Regan.

Regan is hoping to be a surrogate for another couple, which she expects will be her last pregnancy.

"My body is telling me 'no more'," she said.

While surrogacy is physically challenging, Regan feels "grateful and thankful" that she was "able to help a family".

"For them to trust me and allow me to carry their child for them, that's huge," she said.

"It's also showing my children that it is okay to be selfless and put other people first. That was a huge gift for my family.

"Surrogacy is probably the most rewarding thing I've ever done."

Watch: Ollie Locke and husband set to be parents via surrogate

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