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Toyin and Olu met in college and were married soon after graduation. They started trying to conceive a child shortly after their wedding, but they were unsuccessful. They tried for several years and even underwent fertility treatments, but nothing worked. They went from pillar to post, and after many tests and examinations at various fertility centers, Toyin was found to have what is called Asherman syndrome.

Worse still, she had an endocrine disorder that was affecting her fertility. It was later identified as low thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism). A diagnosis of fallopian tube blockage was also made. Fallopian tube blockage can occur due to infection, inflammation, or surgery. Because her tubes were blocked, sperm could not reach the egg, and fertilization could not occur.

After several consultations and referrals, the couple decided to explore the option of gestational surrogacy, which is a process in which a woman carries a pregnancy for another woman who is either single or married. The couple provides the sperm and egg, and the surrogate mother carries the pregnancy to term and gives birth to the baby. Essentially, the gestational surrogacy process involves several people, including the gestational carrier, intended parent(s), a surrogacy agency, a fertility center, lawyers, pregnancy care providers, mental health providers, and genetic counsellors, among others.

What it all entails is that the gestational surrogate bears the pregnancy and gives birth to the child on behalf of the couple or individual. In gestational surrogacy, pregnancies are created by in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is the process of developing an embryo in a lab from the intending parents’ or a donor’s egg and/or sperm. The surrogate’s uterus receives the embryo after that. There is no genetic link between the gestational carrier and the child because she does not contribute an egg. Toyin and Olu did their research and found a reputable surrogacy agency with whom they worked to find a surrogate mother who was a good match for them.

The surrogate mother, Beatrice, was a 32-year-old healthy woman with a good medical history. She was happily married and a mother of two children—a boy aged 5 and a girl aged 3. Interestingly, Beatrice had been a surrogate mother before, and she had a successful pregnancy and delivery.
Once they had found the right surrogate mother, Toyin and Olu began the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in earnest. But first, they had to sort out a few details.

Although she found having another woman carry her own pregnancy emotional, time-consuming, and challenging, Toyin was prepared to take the chance because Beatrice was giving her and Olu an option to build their family even when it was otherwise challenging. So they signed a legal contract before the fertility treatments began, stating clearly that Beatrice would give the baby to Toyin and Olu after delivery. The contract also specified that the surrogate mother would have absolutely no biological connection to the child and no parental rights or duties at any point or under any condition whatsoever. So with the contract signed, they were set.

Their healthcare provider did OPU (Oocyte pick up) for Toyin and fertilized them with Olu’s sperm in the lab. This was after Toyin had taken fertility medication to produce as many eggs as possible. Prior to this, Beatrice had been given fertility medication to prepare her uterus for an embryo or embryos to be formed after the fertilization process and then implanted in Beatrice’s uterus. The whole IVF process went like clockwork and was successful, a little over two weeks later, Beatrice became pregnant. The pregnancy progressed normally, and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy that they named David.

Toyin and Olu were overjoyed to finally be parents and were so grateful to Beatrice for giving them the gift of a child. It was not all plain sailing, though; there were some challenges that they faced on their journey to parenthood through surrogacy. The emotional challenges were there for Toyin and Olu on the one hand, and for Beatrice too on the other. The intended parents had to deal with the fear of the unknown, the hope of becoming parents, and the possibility of failure.

The gestational surrogacy arrangement was an expensive process because Toyin and Olu had to pay out of their own pocket for Beatrice’s medical expenses, legal fees, and other costs. They had to work with a lawyer to ensure that they were in compliance with all applicable laws. Despite the challenges, however, they persevered and were able to achieve their goal of becoming parents. They are now living happily ever after with their son, David.

For other couples who are considering surrogacy, the lessons are clear: do your research, find a reputable surrogacy agency, and work with a lawyer to ensure that you are in compliance with all applicable laws. Surrogacy can be a successful way to build a family, but it is important to be prepared for the challenges involved. Be prepared for emotional, financial, and legal challenges. Take note that it may take some time to find a surrogate mother and complete the surrogacy process.

But rest assured that through patience and persistence, you will have a breakthrough. If you are struggling to conceive, it is important to talk to your physician, who can help you identify the cause of your infertility and recommend the best course of treatment.

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