This isn’t your typical business. There isn’t a display window to peek through as people walk by. I don’t get clients by parading profiles off like shoes you can choose from based on their bright colours and bling. This business isn’t really a business for me – it’s a Life Project. I capture the essence of human nature at it’s finest, but also at its most challenging. No road to miracles is flawless. There are ups and downs and ins and outs that twist emotions and make it difficult to breathe at times.
I spend thousands of dollars each month on advertising and marketing so I can make myself visible online not only to people who are struggling with fertility, but also to women who may be pondering what being a surrogate would be like. It’s hard to get seen against companies who have been in business for years and who make millions. But what I want more than anything is to offer a service that stands out from the big players by being unique. I pride myself on the intense level of support, which I provide from the beginning of the process through to the finale, and sincerely appreciate the genuine friendships that emerge. Building a community of people who can truly empathize is pertinent, because without it I’m just running another business.
From my grand dream evolved something new – something better than I could possibly have envisioned. I was able to build a business that allowed me to be friends with my clients – the Intended Parents who paid me to guide and support them. They trusted me so implicitly that it became obvious I could run my business the way I wanted without having to sacrifice integrity or scruples to make the business viable.
With each new surrogate that I was blessed to meet, I began to realize that it didn’t matter if I helped five or fifty women reach their potential. Every one of them had their own story and their own reasons for wanting to explore surrogacy. They deserved to be supported and encouraged for the entire journey, not just until they signed on the dotted line with the agency. I am very fortunate to know every single one of those women. No matter what amount of support they needed from me, they always knew I was here for them. They also knew I wasn’t leaving them until THEY closed the cover on the book they were writing. Fact is, I can’t fathom not knowing any of them now. And this is where I will tell you how I met Pamela Martel – a surrogate from Cobourg.
*I have Pamela’s full permission to post this story.
Pamela contacted me through my website, asking for information about surrogacy. Over the course of a few weeks, Pamela and I chatted via Facebook and got to know each other as much as you can through online conversations. She was finishing her nursing degree and wasn’t prepared to chat with any couples (IPs) for half a year as she wanted to finish her exams and get a nursing job before she offered to help anyone have a family. It was her commitment to herself and her own family first. I respected that and didn’t do anything but answer her questions and chat casually through Facebook.
One day, I placed my treadmill for sale on my Facebook wall. Pam messaged me to ask a few questions about it, and before long she was buying my treadmill for her hubby Rich. She knew the drive was going to be over three hours, but she was willing to hop in her car and make the long haul to me so we could officially meet as well as pick up a treadmill I didn’t want in my garage any longer.
As luck would have it, a few days earlier I messaged Pam to tell her I had a taekwondo tournament with my oldest daughter on the Saturday she was coming and I wasn’t sure when I would be back. Pam almost canceled. Then she decided literally that day that she was coming and messaged me a time. I got home with only an hour to spare before Pam arrived.
When she knocked on the door, she looked frazzled. She did the quick hellos and asked to use my bathroom. Of course I steered her in the right direction and she disappeared for awhile. Now, when she finally emerged she went on to basically tell me that she had been feeling ill the entire way to my house and thought she was going to poop her pants in the car.
I can’t begin to tell you how hilariously this scenario played out the rest of the evening. The kids first told Pamela she looked like a teenager (she’s a tiny woman) and then they insisted she play Twister with them. I told Pamela she didn’t have to, but even with a potential mess on her hands she played Twister like a trooper. She was taking major breaks to use the washroom, occasionally feeling like vomiting, but she did manage to eat a few bites of the roast beef dinner I had prepared before having to leave the table. Unfortunately, I think the delicious smell was adding to her tummy aggravation. I’m told that I am an amazing cook, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t anything else!
Fast forward to after supper when Pamela and I finally tour to the garage where the treadmill is kept. I haven’t used it in a year, and of course I didn’t check to see if it even worked before I put it up for sale. So to my embarrassment, when I plugged the machine in and tried to turn it on, nothing happened. I was sweating at the thought that Pamela drove 3.5 hours to my house to get this treadmill and it didn’t work. We had some good laughs about the ridiculousness of the situation and she took the news pretty well that it didn’t work. However, I wasn’t giving up, and after some investigation we discovered the magnetic card that goes into the machine to get it to start, was missing. (I’ll blame my kids for that one!) We tested it out using a magnet off my fridge and jammed it in the hole. VOILA! It ran! I was so excited when it turned out well in the end and I didn’t look like such an idiot. I quickly ordered up a new card right away on eBay for it and we loaded it up into her car.
After the kiddies were in bed, Pamela and I relaxed on the couch and chatted about surrogacy and life in general in between Pam’s trips to the bathroom and her trying not to complain about her gut-wrenching stomach pain. Finally, I tucked her into my king-sized bed and told her to sleep. Yes, we slept together in my bed. This complete stranger who was virtually dying in my home was curled up beside me in my bed. This likely gives you some vivid insight as to my personality!
I strongly believe that as humans we are meant to help each other. Maybe that means pulling over at the side of the road to help with a flat tire or giving some change to a homeless person. Maybe it means hosting a sick woman in my bed. But regardless of the situation, I do truly believe that most people are good at the core and we just need to let them shine.
Pam left the next day early before the kids woke up. It had snowed in the night, her car was covered and Pam was still very sick, but she braced herself for the drive home with a hug, a smile, and a plan for Tim Hortons coffee. I knew the moment I met Pam that she was a force to be reckoned with. She was determined and had a strength in how she lived her life. Her convictions as a mother matched mine, and I liked how she was just real. When you do this job long enough and are surrounded by so many different personalities and life stories, you become quite adept at gauging how people will react and the kind of journey they will have during surrogacy. I can even usually predict now who a surrogate will match with and how much communication and support they will need. I pride myself on knowing people well. I do this job because it allows me to build genuine relationships that exist because of women who truly are amazing, giving human beings. What else could I possibly ask for?
Since this encounter with Pamela we have become dear friends. We have laughed long about the first time we met. She has also matched with an amazing set of Intended Parents who I know will respect and honour what she is doing as much as I do. Pamela will make an amazing surrogate.
My birthday happened on a glorious weekend in May. My boyfriend strapped his Honda African Twin Motorcycle in the back of the truck and we drove down to see Pamela and Rich. We got there and jumped on our motorcycles like old friends and began a six-hour tour to Prince Edward County and then to Lake on the Mountain – one of the most beautiful sights ever.
We had drinks when we returned to their place later and a sleepover (we had separate beds this time), but it was honestly like two very old friends getting together and enjoying a catch up. Pamela is a friend for life. The fact that I’ve been blessed enough to help her with a surrogate journey is just a bonus.