You may remember last year we met Cat and Gail, two women whose lives have been inextricably linked by the gift one hoped to give the other. Now host mum Cat and intended mum Gail are expecting Emma Oliver caught up with them again, six months in to their pregnancy.
Writer Gail Winter, 38, is now decorating a nursery. But when she and husband Pete, 40, bought their Wimbledon house two years ago, they weren’t sure if there would ever be a baby to go in it.
After several rounds of failed fertility treatment, they were told that surrogacy was their only option of having their own genetic child.
Surrogate host Cat Buxton, 26, from Ripley, Derbyshire, a senior care assistant said, “I was only to happy to try and help Gail and Pete. The drugs I had to take had nasty side effects but Gail and I soon became great friends and I intended to see it through.”
Eventually the two women had the result they both wanted. Gail recalls how she felt at the first scan.
“Pete and I felt sick with anticipation. We held on to each other behind a curtain that divided us from Cat. It was an intense moment that was ultimately filled with wonder as we were called in to join her.
“I could see the heartbeat on the screen, and my first thought was ‘that’s my baby’. I hugged Cat and then Pete.
“As we left it dawned on me that I had only prepared myself for either an ecstatic reaction (if there was a heartbeat) or an awful reaction (if there wasn’t).
“What I wasn’t prepared for was the pang of sadness I felt on the return trip to London as I realised another woman was doing the job that ought to have been mine.”
As the pregnancy progresses Cat’s very well. She says she is not attached to the baby, “It is nice to feel it moving inside me and I do touch the bump when I feel it kick, but I don’t talk to it or rub my tummy in a bonding sense. I have put myself in the mindset that it is someone else’s baby for so long now that I can’t change that perspective.”
What is interesting is that Cat is more protective of this pregnancy than she was with either of her previous. (Cat and fiancé Michael, 25, have two young children, Rosie, age five and Megan, age two). She said, “It’s as if I’m babysitting. I feel a responsibility that I never did before. I’m consciously trying to take more care.”
As far as the surrogacy, reactions are mostly good. Cat thinks it helps she hasn’t let anyone think it’s her baby. She added, “Fortunately once explained the general perception is one of admiration and amazement. Obviously not everyone understands completely but all seem to find some form of empathy. I believe it helps that most people know someone that’s struggled with fertility; they can then equate that to mine and Gail’s being a positive pregnancy.”
Not coming up against prejudice has clearly made life easier for Cat. Gail and Pete too have found a lot of support, but that doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing.
“There are still a few people out there who believe that IVF is wrong and that if you can’t have children the normal way, you’re not meant to have them,” Gail said.
Happy to change the subject, she added, “We’ve hit real highs with each scan. Recently we had the five-month scan. I’m thrilled to say it’s a boy we are expecting. Pete and I can now start concentrating on a name. Finally, the end is in sight and we can at last imagine our baby in the nursery at home. Goodness, I can even go shopping for baby clothes!”
I ask Gail if the hospital has handled the surrogacy situation with care? She told me, “The staff are always welcoming. They have all our records and are familiar with the set-up. I suppose surrogacy is far more common these days.”
Regarding the birth, Cat knows she will need her partner Michael with her for support. She hopes for a natural birth with Gail and Pete also present.
Cat said, “The days following the birth are something that will unfold as they happen. I’m well aware that I can’t control how I’ll feel but I can endeavour to put as much in place beforehand to try and make it as straight-forward as possible.”
Cat has clearly thought about the moment she will hand the baby over, and rather than distance herself from it, is facing it head on. She and Gail have had numerous chats about it.
Cat explained, “I want to give birth and have the midwife hand the baby straight to me. That way I can then hand Gail her baby and therefore give her and Pete the gift I always planned to give them. It will not only finalise the journey for me, but it will complete what all of us set out to achieve.”
Baby London magazine hopes to follow Gail and Cat’s story as it continues.
If you are interested in surrogacy or perhaps think you could be a surrogate, then the COTS website has details. To find out more visit: www.surrogacy.org.uk or contact them on
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01549 402777
If you would like to read Cat and Gail’s story from the start visit the article: All that she wants.