By Venessa Dase; Photography by Freepik
“Seeing the look of adoration on those fathers’ faces when they saw their son for the first time was incredible.”
Tanya van Wyk explains the reason behind her decision to be a surrogate, what the experience was like and why she’d consider carrying another child for them in the future.
Why I chose to be a surrogate
“Being able to help give the gift of life to people who can’t have kids of their own has been a lifelong dream of mine. I used to think about it a great deal, even when I was at school. When I came across a link on Facebook pointing to Nurture — an egg donor and surrogacy programme — it didn’t take long before I’d registered and agreed to become a surrogate for a gay couple. I have two boys of my own — Dylan, six, and Corné, three — who I carried to full term without any complications. Having two easy pregnancies had some sway in influencing my decision.
“Before meeting the couple for the first time, I felt incredibly nervous; I knew very little about them and worried what they’d think of me. Thankfully, we connected immediately.
It’s a boy!
“Roughly 12 weeks into the pregnancy, we discovered I was carrying a boy. His parents came with me to all my scans and were very supportive. They included me in everything baby-related and made me a guest of honour at the baby shower, but didn’t interfere in my personal life or try to control what I was eating or how I was exercising. As they’re both men, I think they felt I would know best.
“I had the four-kilo baby boy by natural delivery in August 2008. The birth of my two sons (who weighed in at 3.8kg and 3.9kg) prepared me in some way for the experience. I was induced at 10 o’clock in the morning and the little boy was born just before midnight.
“Seeing the look of heart-melting adoration on those fathers’ faces when they saw their son for the very first time was incredible. I’d begun the surrogacy journey with the clear knowledge that the child I was carrying was not mine (the egg was from another donor), so I didn’t feel maternal ties. I did feel a sense of accomplishment, but not the emotional connection that a mother has with her own child.
“I see the little boy now and really enjoy spending time with him and his parents. The surrogacy experience has been a wonderful one and I’ve gained so much from it. Not only has it enabled me to fulfil my desire to carry a child for someone else, it’s also given me a very special relationship with two wonderful people and their child. We’ve even discussed my carrying a second child for them in the future.”
Check your own fertility
Get tested. Don’t wait until you’re ready to have a baby to start thinking about fertility. Do it now. A well-balanced diet, caffeine and alcohol avoidance, as well as a good multivitamin supplement that contains folic acid (to protect against neural tube defects), will go a long way towards safeguarding your fertility, says Dr Saleema Nosarka, reproductive medicine specialist at the Cape Fertility Clinic. “If you’re concerned, there are many tests to exclude various causes of infertility,” she says.
Blood is taken to test ovarian reserve and egg quality, an ultrasound can assess the uterus and ovaries, and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an X-ray that evaluates tubal patency (Fallopian tube health). “If in doubt, get tested sooner rather than later,” she warns, and suggests that women 35 or older who have been struggling to fall pregnant for more than six months seek advice from a fertility specialist as soon as possible.