IOWA — Jenn Waters gave birth to two sets of twins in three years. Her pregnancies were amazingly easy. “We were blessed and I thought how amazing if I could help another family,” she remembers thinking, “and I had blogged my feelings on all of this.”
A friend of a friend read that blog post and reached out to Jenn about it. “I distinctly remember I was feeding one of our girls and I said to my husband, ‘I just got a text from a friend of a friend who wants me to be a surrogate’ and he said, ‘What’s that?!?’” she remembers with a laugh. “I had textbook pregnancies so I thought how awesome would it be if I could do this for someone else? And he’s like, ‘Ok,’ and that was that!”
The friend of a friend and her husband lived about 30 minutes away. The two couples set up a time to meet. “My husband and I went over and knocked on the door and I knew him! We went to the same high school,” Jenn recalls. “Probably within a couple of months we had attorneys and a contract.”
The two couples got to know each other well. Megan and Mike went to appointments with Jenn. They had maternity pictures taken together. They were all in the room when it came time for the babies to be born. “My OBGYN was great,” Jenn says, “he didn’t care how many people were in the room. It’s a party, come on in!”
For the third time in her life, Jenn had carried and delivered twins. It wouldn’t be the last. “I was in for my postpartum check and my doc said there was a couple that might be interested in my ‘services,’” she chuckles, “well I had only planned on doing this one time.”
That was in January. Jenn and her husband met Heidi and Spencer in February. The couples hit it off and a few months later Jenn was pregnant with twins again. When she was moving on after being a surrogate for the second time, she heard from the first family she’d helped. “Megan said they wanted me to carry for them again because they had few embryos left.” Jenn agreed and another set of twins was born. “I don’t broadcast that I’ve had ten children,” she laughs, “or five sets of twins!”
Things didn’t always go as planned. One of the couples had embryos that didn’t make it to transfer. Jenn was shocked at the rollercoaster of emotions. “It really opened my mind,” she explains, “you don’t really hear about people who experience infertility, and then to experience that with them, and that was just a small snippet of what they went through. They’re so strong.”
Jenn gets emotional talking about what it’s like to be the person fulfilling dreams for families longing for children. “Seeing the families together now and to think I helped do that is overwhelming,” she says through tears.
One of the things that surprised her about the surrogacy experience was the bond that formed between her and the families. “I knew that we would always be in contact in some way but I thought everybody will get busy with their lives,” she says. “When I see them it’s like, you’re here because I was a part of your mom and dad’s life.”
It’s important to Jenn that people understand that though she was compensated for being a surrogate, she didn’t do it for money. “It’s something I just felt I was called to do,” she says while tearing up, “I could help these families complete their families and it seemed like what I was here for.”
Find more stories from Erin Kiernan’s The Infertility Struggle series here.