Surrogate Sam talks about why sharing her surrogacy journey on TikTok and social media was so important.
Sam Mathews felt a calling to become a surrogate and give the gift of family. Sharing every step of their surrogacy journey (the good and the challenging), she and her husband Dan quickly became surrogacy influencers amassing a social following of nearing a million curious people wanting to learn more about the surrogacy process. Sam successfully completed her surrogacy journey in late summer 2022 giving birth to a family’s little boy and continues to share her experience on @wearedanandsam. Sam says using her voice to share the facts about surrogacy and inspire other women to become surrogates is a gift she intends to keep giving.
Listen to Nazca Fontes, our CEO and Founder, interview Sam about her experiences as a surrogate, and as a surrogate influencer in the latest edition of All Things Conceivable: A Surrogacy Podcast.
NF: When did you first become interested in the idea of becoming a surrogate?
After our youngest daughter Ember, we felt our family was complete. We had a boy and a girl, but I still desired to be pregnant. One day my friend asked me if we were done with our family; I told her yes, but I would love to be pregnant again and asked her, “Is that a weird feeling?” She said “No, you need to become a surrogate.” I had actually thought about it and hadn’t looked into it, so I took this as a sign. It is definitely a calling. I thought if my body is able to carry a pregnancy, then why not help someone else? We get one life on this earth and I want to use it for good. Feeling led to do something and following through with it is such a great feeling.
NF: Your husband, Dan, also does content with you. How did you talk to him about your desire to be a surrogate?
When I brought it up back in 2018, I reminded him that we were done with our family and that I really liked pregnancy and labor. He said “Yes, I know,” and I asked him his thoughts on me being a surrogate. His first response was, “We’re not giving our baby away.” I told him that was a surrogacy myth and I explained the differences between traditional and gestational surrogacy and that it is not our baby. He did some more research and after about a week of talking about it and praying about it, he was on board! I needed to make sure he understood what he was getting into, because I knew that I would need his support in not only labor, but also throughout the journey. Plus, it’s an emotional journey and I needed his strength for that. Whether one has a spouse or partner, a friend or sibling, having support is so important.
NF: How did you explain surrogacy to your own children?
Our kids were three and four at the time that we matched. We explained to them that mommy and daddy had some friends who couldn’t have a baby and that mommy was going to carry their baby for them in her tummy. Every time we talked about the pregnancy we reminded them the baby was for its parents. Meeting the parents was very helpful for them. At the end of the surrogacy journey, the kids were also able to meet the baby. This was something we wanted to agree on in contract too, so the kids had that closure. I was nervous of how they would handle it, but it was a very easy transition for them.
NF: How did you decide you wanted to share your journey on TikTok?
We were already sharing our life on social media. We were renovating RVs at the time and sharing that life along with motherhood so it just made sense to continue sharing it. We’re very big on sharing the ups and downs, because life isn’t always peaches and cream. I thought how great it would be for us to share our surrogacy journey from matching to delivery and just share the good and the bad, you know, the shots, the appointments, the feelings, the emotions, the excitement, the joy to share it all in hopes that it would be encouraging to someone else.
NF: What were some of your most memorable moments during your surrogacy journey?
Before this, I would never post myself in my underwear online and I spent my surrogacy journey posting milestones in my Calvin Kleins. I said I would never give myself a shot because I would not be able to handle it. And oh my gosh, I had to do it one night when Dan was away at an event. I went live on TikTok and 800 people were watching me as I did it. I almost passed out, but I did it. I talked about condoms online and how awkward it is buying them and pregnancy tests at the same time while everyone in the store stares at you. Like what are people thinking? In real life, it is always funny when people congratulate you on your pregnancy and you’re like, oh actually it’s not mine. And then they look at my husband and he is like, it’s not mine either and then everyone is just confused!
NF: What is your most important lesson when it comes to a surrogate’s relationship with the intended family?
Navigating a surrogacy journey is complex and then adding those relationships and different processes is a lot sometimes. My best advice is to be receptive to each other’s feelings and have open communication, just like a marriage. You want to talk about it and learn from each other as you go.
NF: You’ve mentioned your faith in the podcast. How has your faith guided this process?
From the beginning when we felt that calling on our heart, I did feel like it was the Lord that placed surrogacy on my heart. Every step of the way we prayed to find peace with matching, for transfer, we prayed for that baby to stick and that everything would go well. I did have a miscarriage scare and just praying in those moments like, “God, we believe you called us to this. We believe this is the couple for us in this journey.” Our faith and Dan’s support definitely got me through the process.
NF: We love busting surrogacy myths. What were surrogacy misconceptions you heard?
A lot of people asked, “How can you give a baby away?” And then we explained the baby was not genetically related to me. People were curious on how transfer worked and to be honest, when we first pursued surrogacy, I didn’t know. And so explaining how IVF works is helpful; others need to know that the pregnancy occurs through a catheter in a clinic, overseen by a doctor, to understand the surrogacy process.
People were also curious on how the transition would go with handing the baby over. Would I be sad about not bringing home a baby for ourselves (no, it’s not our baby) or if the husband would be in the delivery room (yes he was). There are so many different questions about surrogacy because it’s not widely talked about.
NF: A lot of people asked you about your feelings about the baby?
Emotionally we were definitely invested in their life and in the pregnancy. Maternally, I wasn’t invested because I knew going into it being a mother wasn’t my role to this baby. The baby had a mom and had a dad and those are their roles to fulfill. Knowing that it’s not your baby changes your perspective so much. Every step of the way, you’re excited for them and for their baby.
NF: What was the moment of delivery like as a surrogate?
That moment when they held their baby and seeing their eyes filled with so much joy and gratitude and thankfulness was such a memorable experience. I turned to my husband and said, “We did it. WE did it!” And I’m so thankful we got it on camera to document our journey coming to completion. In that moment, we did what we set out to do, what we vowed to do, what we agreed to do for this couple. We brought them their healthy baby boy and I’m so thankful for that.
NF: How was your Fourth Trimester recovery different with a surrogate pregnancy?
I started feeling back to normal probably three and a half to four weeks later. We didn’t have a baby to take care of so I was able to focus on myself and my healing. We set so much in place to prevent any postpartum depression and anxiety. I didn’t have any postpartum, but I didn’t know how this one would go with the transition. Emotionally and mentally, I know that baby’s not mine, but my body doesn’t. We wanted to be proactive and prepare for that.
What advice do you have for other surrogates after they complete their journey?
Dan and I did a ton of research on how to prepare and plan for the post journey transition. One of the reasons why we decided to hit the road in the RV was because I read an article that said to spend time with your family, focus on your kids, make memories, or go on a vacation. We’re very thankful that both of us can work remotely and we are able to hit the road in the RV and go wherever life leads us.
NF: What would you tell someone who feels called to become a surrogate?
If you feel called to be a surrogate, don’t be discouraged by what you think will disqualify you. Get your medical records reviewed by a doctor to determine if you would qualify to be a surrogate. Some people think they can’t become a surrogate if they have had a miscarriage or their tubes tied. I learned you don’t actually have to have your tubes, because the baby is placed inside your uterus. Don’t let the fear of being disqualified stop you from trying. There are so many intended parents out there that are waiting for their miracle, for someone to help them create a family. You could be the one that completes their family, so just look into it.
NF: You’ve completed a journey successfully and brought so much joy to your intended parents. You’ve set out in this great adventure with your husband and family in an RV while homeschooling your kids. What’s next?
Everyone wants to know if we are going to do another journey! I wish sometimes that I was Oprah and say, “You can get a baby, you get a baby, you get a baby.” When we first started looking into surrogacy, we did not set out to do multiple journeys. We have loved sharing our life and inspiring so many people and because the journey went so, well, why not do it again? Right now, we’re just waiting on the timing of it; maybe you’ll see another journey in the future.
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