By Laura Keil
When Melanie Smith tells people she is having a baby and it’s not hers she sometimes gets an odd look.
Smith is beginning her ninth month of pregnancy with a little boy. The baby’s parents are two men, a gay couple from France, who currently live in Montreal.
Smith’s story starts when she was still in her 20s. She became an egg donor and now has a biological son who lives in Vancouver. Since donating her eggs, she has mulled the idea of becoming a surrogate mother. Recently her biological son’s family put her in touch with friends who were looking for a surrogate.
“I wanted to meet them and make sure we got along,” Smith said. “Once I knew they’d be good parents I thought ‘Yeah, I’ll have a baby for you!’”
Smith says it’s been a little bit of a rocky journey – they lost their first egg donor and had to find another and their first egg transfer didn’t adhere so they had to try again. She said travelling to all the doctors’ appointments can be tricky living in Valemount. Despite the distance from Montreal, the couple has come to several appointments including the ultrasounds. This baby will be their first child.
“They are getting so excited.”
Smith said she has never wanted her own kids, but has often thought of those who want a child but can’t have one.
“I’ve never had that desire to be a mom and raise a family. To go through this just for myself has never been a priority, but I see so many families out there that need help. And in my mind, my pieces all work; so why not help somebody with it?”
She said a surrogate is usually a family member helping out another family member.
“It’s sort of odd thing for a stranger to just step in and say “Hey I’ll have a kid for you!” But it is something that’s needed. There’s just so many people struggling and any little bit helps.”
Surrogacy is legal in Canada, but mothers cannot be paid any kind of wage, only have their surrogacy expenses paid. It is referred to as “altruistic surrogacy.”
When we spoke to Smith she was on a train headed for Vancouver where she will go to her last doctor appointments and await the delivery.
Smith says the baby’s parents will be in the room when the baby is born and one or both will cut the umbilical cord. She plans to pump breast milk for the first 10 days or so before they head back to Montreal. They already have their name picked out.
“The family is so excited. I’ve been getting emails and messages from the family in France so Google Translate has been my best friend now. No, it’s really fun.”
As a side-benefit, she gets to spend the next month and a bit with her son in Vancouver.
“I’m staying with them while I wait to have this baby. So it’ll be nice to visit with them.”
Smith says her pregnancy has been pretty good – a journey – and she may just do it again.