So, this whole surrogacy gig has a defined process… you go to the fertility clinic and say ‘Hey, I have found this incredible woman who is prepared to lend us her uterus, (rent free!), and give us the biggest gift of our lives’, and the fertility specialist says ‘Yep, she’s a goodun, let’s move forward’, and he signs you off as eligible for surrogacy in accordance with the Surrogacy Act of Qld, 2010. Step One, very straight forward.
Then Step Two, they send you to the psychiatrists… and for some reason, the big fertility clinics are referring people to the biggest, most expensive, but very experienced, surrogacy psych in town. A wanker named Michael Condon. The only reason I know this man to be a wanker, is because the surrogacy groups on Facebook and the Surrogacy Australia Forum are only too happy to share their good and bad experiences. Michael Condon has a widespread reputation for being a complete arsehole – arrogant, full of wankery, making people sit an entire personality and mental health questionnaire of 500 odd questions. Yes, that questionnaire, the one they usually reserve for seriously fucked up people with serious mental health problems containing questions like : “You have difficulty ignoring the voices in your head” – True or False… yeah, try answering that. True: ‘I have difficulty ignoring the voices in my head’, OR False: ‘I have no difficulty ignoring the voices in my head’… but where the fuck is the, ‘There are no fucking voices in my head‘ option?! You can tell I have done this test before and found it traumatic and somewhat ridiculous the first time round, so I was keen to avoid wasting another hour or so of my life on that sort of psychobabble bullshit. Anyway, based on the info and feedback from the surrogacy forums, I was planning to avoid the wanker, Michael Condon at all costs (and hells yes he is pricey – by all accounts he charges up to three times what others charge).
We ended up choosing a psychologist named Nicole Wimmer who specialises in relationship counselling, grief and loss counselling, pain management, infertility issues, and of course surrogacy counselling. Well, I think she sounded right up our alley… and will wonders never cease, she has actually been down the IVF road herself and actually ‘gets’ it. I have seen several counsellors over my years of dealing with pain, dealing with IVF and dealing with grief over IVF, and not a single one of them really ‘gets’ what keeps driving people like me to have a child/children. People for whom these things come easily just literally have no idea what it is like – they don’t get it. They just don’t.
Fortunately our first counselling session went really well. She bought up a lot of things that we have already been talking about with our surrogate – apparently I am allowed to call her ‘our surrogate’ rather than ‘the surrogate’… which feels weird to me, as there are connotations of ownership with that turn of phrase, that I am not really all that comfortable with. I am sure I will get over it, all the other IPs on the forums use the term – and usually with a great deal of affection. Anyway, so we had our session this morning and Nicole was great – easy going, very approachable and intelligent and understanding. She raised a few issues we had not thought about – like the fact that we needed to update our Will to reflect our wishes in the event that we both karked it in the middle of this process – but nothing major leaped out at us as having been overlooked in our discussions with our surrogate (yeah, that’s going to take a bit of getting used to).
Next step is counselling for our surrogate – tomorrow afternoon as it turns out, and if that goes well… onto a group session sometime next week.
Now that this is all happening (I have the bills starting to come in to prove it!) – I really feel like I think I need someone to pinch me.