BBC1, Tuesday 23 August 2011
The documentary 'I'm Pregnant with Their Baby' shows three women's experience of UK surrogacy. They are among a rare group who became surrogate mothers for altruistic reasons.
Louise, 22, already had a son when she decided to become a surrogate to Dave and Lin, who had been trying to have a child for 13 years. Louise was introduced to them by a friend. She donated her own eggs to the intended parents and conceived using an artificial insemination kit they bought on eBay.
Lyndsay, 23, has two children and is in a long-term relationship. After being given couples' profiles by a surrogacy agency, she was so moved by Joy's battle against cancer and Joy and Dev's emotional story of trying to conceive for seven years that she wanted to be their surrogate.
Shannon, 20, was too young to become a surrogate under UK law, but was searching for the ideal couple for whom she could be a surrogate when she turned 21.
Louise described her experience being a surrogate as not feeling pregnant, but ill. She started to resent carrying the baby when she experienced pregnancy complications. Louise said that - apart from the 'warm fuzzy feeling' - she wasn't getting anything out of surrogacy.
Louise feared she would become emotionally attached to the baby. Lin and Dave, the intended parents, were nervous that Louise would change her mind, as surrogacy agreements are not legally binding.
Louise did not want the birth filmed, refused to let the midwife hand her the child and demanded Lin hold it first. She described the birth as a moment of clarity that this was not hers.
Lyndsay did not want to be biologically linked to the child: Joy and Dev provided the gametes. She struggled to maintain her employment and had to take the maximum expenses allowed under UK law for surrogates. This made Lyndsay uncomfortable - she did not want to take money off Joy and Dev.
She injected medication daily to stop her body rejecting a pregnancy that was not biologically hers. She was unaware of this issue before she became a surrogate and wished she had done more research.
The moments after the birth were particularly important to Joy, Dev and Lyndsay who wanted to make sure Joy was the first the bond with the child. Worried this would not happen, they opted for a home birth. The birth was filmed and was not pleasant viewing.
Lyndsay and Joy were put on the birth certificate. Then, after six weeks, the couple applied to the court for Dev to be substituted for Lyndsay. Joy and Dev expressed a desire for more children and - despite the problems she'd had - Lyndsay was willing to discuss being a surrogate again in a year's time.
Shannon met with a couple who did not want to be filmed. She was extremely anxious before meeting them and wanted them to like her. She was not happy with the couple after they failed to form a relationship with her; she did not want to feel used. Shannon wanted to be 'friends' with the couple; I felt she may not be emotionally mature enough to be a surrogate.
After she cut contact with the first couple, Shannon met another couple who wanted to use her egg in the surrogacy. Shannon and her boyfriend discussed how he felt about her being pregnant with another man's child.
The documentary raised many controversial and difficult issues and I felt uncomfortable watching in places. Overall, the director Gillian Pacther captures the complex nature of surrogacy and the difficult emotional journey all the parties went through. This was captured at the end of the documentary when Louise said: 'It's not all as perfect as I thought it would be'.