"Dr Venkat is always so thorough and helpful. Nothing is too much trouble.”
Meet Nathan and Luke, who’ve been together for 16 years, now the proud parents of baby Euan. The couple went through their fertility journey with a help of a surrogate friend, who helped complete their family. Here is Luke and Nathan’s story to have baby Euan.
Luke starts off our interview by saying, “I’ve always known I’ve wanted to have a family, but as a same-sex couple, it’s not as straight-forward.”. Nathan adds, “once you decide you want a family, you have to take the next steps and be pro-active and learn about the routes you can take.”
Finding a surrogate
The couple were approached by a friend’s partner who was really eager to help them become parents. Both Luke and Nathan were very cautious about using a friend as they both believe it is not something to take lightly. Luke says, “There’s a friendship there and you don’t want to cross the line”. Eventually the couple sat down with their surrogate-to-be and discussed what this would mean for all parties involved. “We told her, it’s such a big commitment, you have to talk to your partner and see if you really want to do it,” says Luke. Naturally the couple were very cautious about starting the journey and the surrogate having a change of heart half way through. It took Luke and Nathan a year to come to the decision of using their friend as a surrogate. Nathan adds that both their surrogate and her partner “were very supportive, amazing people.”
The egg donor
The couple knew that they wanted an anonymous egg donor and went through the options with the clinic. They told us that clinics have options available where you are able to seek out profiles whereby the egg donor has similar characteristics to yourself.
We asked Luke and Nathan how they came to decide that HSFC would be the right clinic for them. Luke tells us that the clinic was recommended by family friends who had twins with HSFC, he adds, “Dr Venkat was highlighted online for her fertility expertise. Time and time again Dr Venkat’s name kept reappearing when we were doing our research.” The couple came along to an open evening at HSFC and they got to meet with Dr Venkat. Luke recalls that, “Dr Venkat impressed us with her confidence in the mechanisms of the business and the way the clinic works. She is always so thorough and helpful. Nothing is too much trouble.”
The couple recall how from day one, Dharshi Kiruba, Head of Egg Donation, was the main point of contact. “We were always made to feel so welcomed, which was a reason we chose HSFC.” They recount staying at the clinic until 9 pm one evening with Dharshi. “We were never asked to leave, even though the clinic was closing, we were just given the time and space we needed”, they said.
Fertility check-ups and treatment
Luke and Nathan tell us that they both had to have fertility check-ups, ranging from semen analysis to blood tests. The surrogate and her partners also had to have necessary checks too. They made sure that all necessary checks and policies were adhered to.
Luke says that, “One of the hardest parts for me was waiting for the blastocysts”. After fertilisation the cells are left and monitored in the lab. They are checked on Day 3, where they are at the cleaved stage and then again at Day 5 and 6 where they will have hopefully made it to the blastocyst stage, ready for transfer and/ or freezing. Luke says, “It was so hard because each time they called, you felt like your numbers were dropping. This is a very normal part of the process. You may start with 15 fertilised eggs, but only end up with a handful of blastocysts. Fortunately, in the case of Luke and Nathan, they did have enough for a fresh transfer and some to be frozen too.
The time came for the first transfer, but unfortunately it did not work. They had a fresh transfer and Luke admits it was overwhelming, emotional and hard to deal with. Luke continues, “We had a piece of paper with a picture, but then it was gone.” “You get quite attached to it,” adds Nathan.
The couple were devastated but not beaten. Luke says, “The surrogate wanted us to carry on, but we wanted to make sure everyone was happy and ready.” Luke and Nathan’s attitude was, as they confessed, “Let’s just throw everything at it. We’ve had quite a few conversations with Dharshi, to give it another good shot. “
The time of the second transfer came and Nathan and Luke say this time it felt different. Somehow everything just felt ‘right’. The surrogate started testing for this pregnancy right after transfer and she herself said she felt different. The all came to the clinic on official test day, but the surrogate had already taken a test that morning which had showed to be positive. The clinic called back a few hours later and confirmed the wonderful pregnancy news.
The Surrogacy to birth process
We asked Luke and Nathan about their experiences of making their baby. “It’s a lengthy process, it doesn’t just happen”, says Luke. He mentions all the checks that both him and Nathan had to undergo, as well as how the surrogate’s journey which was managed and monitored continuously by the clinic. The surrogate had to go in for scans to check the lining of her uterus and take medication to prepare her uterus too.
A feeling I’m sure many couples who embark on this journey feel is frustration due to the lack of control. Luke recalls, “Sometimes we got a bit frustrated because we didn’t always know what was happening. This wasn’t because of the clinic, they did their job perfectly, it was just because something was happening that was outside of our body and our control.
The baby was born by C-section, and Luke and Nathan were present in the room at the time of the delivery. “After she gave birth, we took the baby and the surrogate stayed in the recovery.” Luke and Nathan spoke with the surrogate and her partner to see if they wanted to meet the baby. Nathan adds, “It’s a difficult situation, you get the attachment. We did want her to meet him, she carried him for 9 months, she knew him better than we knew him at that point.” Luke says, “At the same time both the surrogate and her partner were conscious and putting us first, it really is a gift!”.
Luke and Nathan have remained very close with their surrogate and her family. They have two children of their own who can’t wait to meet Euan. They are currently arranging a time for all of the children to meet.
We thank Luke and Nathan for sharing their story to becoming parents, as a gay couple, via surrogacy. We hope that their story inspires and gives other people in similar situations hope that they too can have the family they want.