When you decide to be a surrogate for someone, it is a big decision that requires a lot of thought. Pregnancy takes a physical and mental toll on your body, and it’s much different when the child is not yours. Nonetheless, surrogacy is an amazing process that has allowed couples to have a biological child when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. This alone can make all the side-effects of pregnancy worth it.
Shaniece Sturdy was just a young 21 years old when she decided that she wanted to take on the life-changing role of being a surrogate. She wanted to help someone, but she was not expecting this turn of events to occur during her pregnancy…
During her second trimester, she started feeling very different than she felt was normal for this time in her pregnancy. Shaniece constantly felt extremely hungry, experienced debilitating back pains, and suffered from all around body discomfort- more so than what should be normal in pregnancy. What was the reason for this?
The nurse lathered her belly with the ultrasound gel and proceeded to check her out. “These symptoms are absolutely normal for a first pregnancy,” she said calmly to Shaniece. The screen they were looking at was showing a color somewhere between black and gray.
Calling For The Doctor
All of a sudden the nurse froze up. Shaniece looked right at her and asked, “Is everything okay?” She did not answer Shaniece’s question, but rather, she called for a doctor to come in immediately. Not surprisingly, this made Shaniece quite nervous, but she had no choice but to sit and wait patiently for the doctor to enter.
Shaniece knew that she always wanted a big family to call her own. Her parents were high school sweethearts and had been together since the age of 16, and her sister had just gotten married to her childhood sweetheart right after they graduated from college.
Shaniece never would have expected to see so much pain and suffering after such a short time of someone’s marriage. Her sister seemed to be so upset and distraught every time Shaniece saw her or spoke with her, and she just wished there was something she could do to help her out.
Linda Moved Out
Shaniece was only 14 years old when her big sister Linda moved in with her boyfriend. As a 14-year-old, Shaniece thought this would be awesome for her. She no longer had to share her space with someone or listen to her big sister yell at her all the time.
Must Be Better
A young Shaniece was convinced that her life would be so much better now that her big sister was out of her way; she was so excited to have her own freedom now. What could be so bad about it? She no longer had to share her space or be mindful of someone else in the room!
As time went on, Shaniece started missing living with her big sister Linda. The house was too quiet for her liking, and she found herself feeling like they were drifting apart. When they spoke or saw each other in person, it just wasn’t the same as it once was between them.
Shaniece decided that it had been too long since she’d spent some quality time with her big sister, so she decided to pay her a visit for the weekend. She packed her bags and got on the first bus she could. When she finally arrived at her sister’s home, she found something that she was not expecting.
When Shaniece was pulling up to their house, she noticed that her brother-in-law was getting in his red truck and driving away. When she stopped walking to wave hello to him, she was expecting him to stop and wave back at her, but he didn’t.
When she tried to give her sister’s husband a friendly wave, he did not even look in her direction, let alone did he say hi back to her. This was the first time that she saw him looking upset for any reason, and this was definitely the first time he was giving her the cold shoulder. What was happening here?
Josh did not even pay any attention to Shaniece standing there! Maybe he had a tough day at work and needed to go blow off steam. She proceeded to keep walking until she arrived at their front door, and when she rang the bell she could not have been more surprised to see the mental state that her sister was in.
Not Looking Good
The first thing Shaniece noticed was that there was mascara running down Linda’s entire face, along with her bright red eyes and paled face. Shaniece blurted out, “Did he hurt you?” and then ran to get a wet cloth to wipe off her sister’s face with.
How To Proceed
Linda immediately snapped back with, “No, don’t be silly. I asked him to leave.” Shaniece didn’t really know what to do in this situation, but she did know that she needed to be there for her sister and comfort her, regardless of what was going on or why she asked Josh to leave.
Not A Lie
Shaniece and Linda were very close, so Shaniece could always tell when her sister was telling a lie. She studied Linda’s face very closely and realized that her big sister was completely telling the truth in what she was saying to her. Perhaps their parents were right this entire time…
Maybe They Were Right
Ever since Linda and Josh got engaged, her parents said that the couple was simply too young to get married, and after witnessing what was going on now, Shaniece started to think that maybe they were right all along. Shaniece put these thoughts aside and tried to be helpful. She asked her sister in a soft voice, “Why did you ask him to leave, Linda?”
“You know we’ve been trying for a year now, Shaniece,” Linda started crying again as she told her sister this heartbreaking news. She continued to tell her, “He wants to take out another loan for IVF, but we can’t afford it.”
“We couldn’t afford the first treatment.” Linda tried her best to take a deep breath before she continued by saying, “We can’t keep doing this.” It was evident to Shaniece that her sister felt hopeless and lost, and she just wished there was some way that she could help her out.
Shaniece didn’t want to sit around and feel bad for her sister, but she couldn’t help but feel this way about her situation. In her entire life, she had never seen her big sister act like this before. Regardless, she completely understood why her sister would feel such a way about this topic. Shaniece decided to put on a hot kettle of water, grab a blanket, and cozy up with her sister.
Throughout the weekend, Shaniece was able to talk with her sister and convince her that she and Josh should give it one last fighting effort to have a baby. She had no idea that her words of encouragement would have such a big impact on Linda.
After almost two years of IVF treatments and waiting for what felt like forever for this moment to come, Linda finally got pregnant. She wanted to keep it a secret from all of her friends until she safely reached her second trimester, but unfortunately, she suffered from a heartbreaking miscarriage before that could happen.
Change Of Heart
For the longest time, Linda felt like she had no energy or motivation to ever try again for another baby, and she needed a lot of time to grieve the loss that she had just experienced after such a long time of waiting for this moment to come at all. One day, though, she had a change of heart about the whole thing.
Falling Into Depression
After Linda’s horrible loss of her baby, she became numb and didn’t even know how to feel proper emotions for quite some time. Even though Shaniece did her best to help her sister. Everything changed in Linda’s mind after Josh thought about another option they could try out.
Josh’s plan was not something that Linda ever would have thought about on her own, it was very unique, but it could be the key to the couple finally getting the baby they’d been dreaming about. This could be their final shot at having a biological child together. After her miscarriage, Linda was not herself, but Josh’s idea shined a small amount of hope back into Linda.
For this plan to be able to pan out properly, Josh needed to reach out to his sister and ask her for the biggest favor of their entire lives. This was not any simple sort of favor, and it would require a lot of work and sacrifice on her end to make it work. What was this idea?
Time To Ask
Josh and Linda met his sister out for a cup of coffee and they sat next to each other across the table from her. She could tell that they were getting nervous about whatever request he had for her since they were shaking their legs and moving their hands the whole time, but she was willing to listen. They weren’t sure if she would agree to their request, but did she?
Of course, they would not try too hard or guilt her into agreeing to their huge request, but they had their hopes up that she would agree on her own. This, however, was a huge decision for all three of them, particularly his sister the most, though. They truly weren’t sure what her response would be to this.
Right after hearing the request, Josh’s sister gave a firm, “I’ll do it.” Right, when she knew this was going to happen, Linda felt a strong sense of excitement, yet also fear. Finally, after all this time, it seemed as though Josh and Linda would finally have their child!
It was all because of Josh’s brilliant idea that his sister would act as their surrogate to let them have their very own child. She agreed to carry Josh and Linda’s child for them, which was the biggest decision she could ever have made. Shaniece felt so inspired by this turn of events; more inspired than she ever expected to feel about this.
She wondered whether this woman had considered everything that goes into deciding this, but regardless, she had agreed to the task at hand. Shaniece had no clue that such an act of kindness and selflessness would have such a lasting impact on her for the years to come.
Even though Josh’s sister agreed to be a surrogate for the couple without any hesitation, Linda couldn’t help but feel hesitant to get the process started, which was understandable. She had already been through so much heartbreak and disappointment in the process of trying to have a baby, and she did not want to keep getting her hopes up. Still, she was going to try.
If this option ended up not working out for them and they were still left without a child, they talked about considering the option of fostering a kid. Many children are facing difficult situations and need a safe and loving home. Every day and night, Shaniece prayed that this surrogacy would work out and her sister would finally have a baby of her own. What happened?
Nine months after the surrogacy processed started, Josh’s sister delivered a happy and healthy baby. When Shaniece found out, she couldn’t help but burst into tears of joy; she felt so much joy for her big sister! She felt like her sister deserved a baby of her own, and she finally got one. Shaniece made a big promise to herself after this; what was it?
Shaniece promised herself that one day she would also make someone else’s lifelong dream of being a parent come true. Shaniece felt so inspired by what happened with her sister that she felt she needed to give back to the world somehow. When her time came to do this, however, it did not go as she had imagined.
When Shaniece had just turned 21 years old, she met a couple, Steve and Joanna, who were facing the same difficulties as her sister once did. When Shaniece explained her story to the couple and told them that she wanted the opportunity to deliver a baby for them, they were over the moon. This was Shaniece’s chance to give back.
Shaniece got on a plane to Los Angeles to complete the procedure, then flew right back home afterward. Shaniece and the couple were all hoping that things would go smoothly and stress-free, but unfortunately, that is not how things turned out here.
A Gut Feeling
“I was only 21 at the time, but I wasn’t interested in partying and drinking. I wanted to help another couple fulfill their family dream,” she explained later on. When Shaniece found out that the procedure was successful and she was pregnant, the couple was ecstatic.
Needed A Check-Up
Even though the procedure was successful, Shaniece could tell that something just wasn’t right with her. Something felt very wrong about what was going on in her body, and it wasn’t something like a normal pregnancy side effect. She knew that she needed to get herself to a doctor soon.
Shaniece only knew one other person who had gone through the surrogacy process: Josh’s sister. His sister had side effects like sickness, nausea, and insomnia until month eight of her pregnancy! Shaniece felt lucky that she didn’t have these side effects, but she was worried about what was going on with her body.
Luckily for Shaniece, she said that her pregnancy didn’t interfere with her daily life at all. That is until she noticed that her belly was growing much too quickly for a normal pregnancy beginning at the start of her second trimester.
Shaniece knew that she needed to reach out to her doctor immediately. She was lucky with the fact that she didn’t experience some of the horrible side effects that many women are plagued with throughout their pregnancies, but she still knew something was very off.
Shaniece was beginning her third trimester when she went to the doctor’s office for a routine scan. She was sitting as patiently as she could while waiting for the doctor to come in; she found herself shaking her legs and tapping her fingers.
When the doctor walked back into the room with her paperwork in-hand, she grew extremely nervous. The doctor remained silent for a while, which only made her think even more that something was going wrong inside of her. What did the doctor have to say?
Every bad thing was running full-speed through Shaniece’s mind. Was the baby okay? What was going on? Why was the doctor sitting there in silence? If something happened to the baby and she had to disappoint Steve and Joanna, she would never be able to live with herself. She needed to know! Then the doctor gave her the update.
Doctor Ryan looked right at her and smiled, right before he blurted out the sentence, “You’re having triplets.” Shaniece felt her whole body go numb for a minute. Was he being serious? Steve and Joanna wanted one baby; she had no idea how they would react when she told them they would be having three!
Shaniece felt an intense sense of relief when Steve and Joanna were overwhelmed with the excitement of her news. As the weeks went by, Shaniece’s stomach kept growing unbelievably quickly and her body started to feel more and more uncomfortable, but she knew this was part of the pregnancy experience.
Just a few weeks later, Shaniece gave birth to three beautiful babies- two girls, and one boy. Steve and Joanna decided to give them the names Daisy, Willow, and Harrison. Shaniece couldn’t believe that she was able to do this and help a family in such a life-changing way.
“Even though I was only 21 and it was a huge responsibility carrying their babies, it was one of the best experiences of my life,” Shaniece stated with a huge smile on her face. She said that there is not one thing throughout her experience that she would have changed.
A Physical Toll
Many psychological worries are surrounding being a surrogate, and this is emphasized when it’s for someone you aren’t particularly acquainted with. Not only this, but there are also many physical side effects. One child is hard enough, but imagine carrying three!
Had To Be Strong
Shaniece was rather young but she started to notice the physical effects particularly fact. She knew all she could do was keep her head up and stay strong. To get through it she told herself that what was she was doing what helping someone else, and that was motivation enough.
After she gave birth she spoke about the physical changes her body went to being a surrogate mother. She then added that she is currently in a relationship and is hoping to have children if her own in the future.
After trying to get pregnant she had unfortunately suffered a miscarriage. She has considered whether this has changed her body some way, but still, she remains motivated and inspires others to do a similar experience.
She spoke out to surrogates everywhere with a piece of advice. She recommends that before volunteering for this position, to always do research beforehand and make sure you have enough support to take on this project.
Trying To Help
However, that’s not all. She also says that when thinking about being a surrogate there are many things to consider. After going through this 9-month experience she has so much to say and feels confident in speaking about it. She hopes to inspire others to do the same.
She always was determined to make one thing clear. Being surrogate is not a job and you don’t get a salary. While you get money for travel and bills, you are not getting money to live so those who are looking for a paid job should surely go somewhere else.
She was aware that there are people who would approach the idea excited to make a lot of money. She wanted to make sure that they knew this wasn’t the cause. However, for those with a heart like Shaniece, this is irrelevant. Helping another person is a reward within itself.
Given that Shaniece had such a remarkable experience, it makes sense that she was interested in speaking out against the surrogacy laws in her home country. She was strong-headed and was not happy with the laws regarding surrogacy in the UK. She felt like the laws should be modified to give the biological parents more control over their situation.
Fighting For What’s Right
UK has laws surrounded surrogacy that is not nearly as advanced and just, like the ones in the US. Shaniece had her own experiences with this and wanted to establish fair rights for those interested in surrogacy.
Shaniece was inexperienced when it came to pregnancy and she wasn’t completely aware of how to explain her situation to others. Being a surrogate, everything was told to her and she was informed of everything. This must have been extremely overwhelming.
A Good Team
Shaniece would never have gotten herself in this situation if it hadn’t been for Joanna and Steve who wanted to form a family but couldn’t. She was overjoyed at their support and felt extremely grateful to have them.
Time For A Change
She spoke more about the subject by saying, “…it was my body, but they weren’t my babies. If the law could change so parents could make the decisions it would be much easier on both parts”. We do not doubt that other surrogates can relate to her in this situation.
The day came and Shaniece gave birth to two girls and one boy. The three remarkable babies were named, Daisy, Willow, and Harrison. Shaniece was over the moon that she was able to make this family’s dream a reality.
She was so happy with the whole situation that she felt like there is nothing she would have even changed. Despite being 21 years old, Shaniece confidently says that this experience is one she will always remember.
Shaniece spoke about the pregnancy like it was a breeze. She said she had no issue of morning sickness and didn’t even have crazy cravings. Having Joanna and Steve by her side was truly a blessing and she said she would tell everyone to be a surrogate if they can.
Wasn’t A Goodbye
After carrying these babies for 9 months, Shaniece felt like she had a bond with them. She knew she wasn’t their mom but she still wanted to have somewhat of a relationship. Now it was up to Steve and Joanna to decide if this was okay.
The triplets were in intensive care for two weeks before they could finally go home. This is quite regular for children who are born in multiples. The parents wanted to take their babies home, but at the same time, they were just happy they came out healthy.
Those two weeks weren’t easy for Joanna and Steve. The days dragged on and they patiently waited to bring their babies back home. However, they knew that it was strictly protocol and the important thing to do. The moment they were finally at home with Daisy, Willow, and Harrison, was something they will never forget.
Joanna and Steve were accepting of the fact that Shaniece wanted to somewhat be involved with her babies’ lives. So much that they allow her to visit every year on the triplets’ birthday. Shaniece always flies to Los Angeles to visit them and celebrate.
Happy To Share
Many people in their lives questioned her motivations behind doing this, so she opened up and started talking about it. She did not feel like she had anything to keep or hide from anyone, so she was okay with opening up.