A Baby of Your Own: When to Consider Surrogacy

Are you dreaming of becoming a parent, but are now past the prime age for child bearing? You are not alone. Many couples delay parenthood until their mid-30s or later and sometimes face the heartbreak of infertility and the challenge of undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments. Some couples enjoy success after a few fertility treatments, while others aren’t so fortunate.

Infertility Can Happen to Anyone

In their quest to have a baby, celebrity couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic underwent several cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments without success. They also endured a painful miscarriage. The television couple, who star in the Style Network’s “Giuliana & Bill,” allowed the cameras to follow them on their sometimes painful journey toward parenthood.

They were embarking on another round of fertility treatments when Giuliana was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although Giuliana’s cancer treatment was successful and she is now cancer-free, she must continue taking medications that would not be healthy for a developing fetus. What next?

How Surrogacy Worked for Them

Despite their obstacles, Giuliana and Bill were still determined to become parents. After considering all their options, they decided to try gestational surrogacy. This form of ART involved using his sperm and her egg to be fertilized into an embryo and implanted into a surrogate’s uterus. Success!  Their child is due in summer 2012. Surrogacy allowed Bill and Giuliana to be the biological parents of the child, but ensured a safe pregnancy and healthy baby.

Finding a Surrogate

There are agencies that can match couples to an appropriate surrogate, if this is the route they choose. Bill and Giuliana used an agency that was recommended by their IVF physician. Couples may choose either traditional surrogacy or gestational surrogacy, as Bill and Giuliana did.

Traditional surrogacy is usually an option for couples when the woman has no eggs or her eggs are unhealthy (i.e. from disease or medical treatment). In this case, the child can be produced by the male partner’s sperm and the surrogate’s egg. The surrogate becomes pregnant after the male partner’s sperm is used to fertilize her egg and produce an embryo that the surrogate will carry and deliver. The baby will be genetically linked to the male partner of the couple, and also to the surrogate. After the baby is born, the surrogate agrees to give up the baby to the couple as the legal parents.

Gestational surrogacy is the more popular form of surrogacy, and typically involves using an egg and a sperm from the couple. With this method, IVF treatment is used to retrieve eggs from the intended mother. In some cases, the intended mother’s eggs were already retrieved and stored from previous IVF treatments. These eggs are fertilized with the intended father’s sperm in the laboratory to produce embryos. Some of these embryos are then implanted into the uterus of a gestational surrogate. The impregnated surrogate carries the baby to term and delivers it, immediately releasing the infant to its biological parents at birth.

In addition to Giuliana and Bill Rancic, other celebrity couples who have opted to use gestational surrogacy include Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick. In 2009, a gestational surrogate successfully delivered their biological twin daughters, Marion and Tabitha.

To learn more about surrogacy, or to find a fertility specialist near you, click here!

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