Interesting read: Labour of Love

Labour of LoveLabour of Love

by Shannon Garner

Simon & Schuster Australia

At the age of 33, Shannon Garner was happily married and living on the north coast of New South Wales, 6 hours from Sydney. She had natural water births for her two children – Jaxon (4) and Kiera (2) and she decided to become a gestational surrogate to “help someone else realise a dream they might not otherwise have the chance to fulfil.”

Sydney couple Jon and Justin had been together for 8 years they had a friend who heard of Shannon’s desire to be a surrogate. They also had a friend who was willing to donate her eggs and the four of them embarked on a year that would change their lives and the lives of everyone they cared for forever.

Shannon writes an extremely detailed account of the journey of that year, from the initial discussions to a happy reunion 7 weeks after baby Elsie is born.

She obviously has a strong spiritual connection and utilised acupuncture to help with the success of the IVF and yoga during her pregnancy. She also communicated to “her passenger” all the time and encouraged her to do the right thing so she could have a natural birth.

Her incredibly positive outlook didn’t prevent difficulties from occurring along the way and she shares her doubts and insecurities with great honesty.

It was a time when Thailand’s Baby Gammy was all over the media and there were considerable discussions about the ethics and difficulties of surrogacy.

Under Australian law, a surrogate mother cannot accept payment but they can change their mind and keep the baby, even if it comes from a donor egg. Current laws vary from state to state and record numbers of childless Australian couples currently go overseas to pay a surrogate.

Calling her experience a “collective love”, Shannon had the support of a whole network of people and she has several friends who are pregnant at the same time, including some who are also surrogate mothers.

Shannon considers that she is just an ordinary person who undertook and extraordinary journey. Shannon had the absolute support of her family and they need to be admired for their altruistic belief that along with Shannon, they were “compensated by love and the knowledge that they’ve changed a couple’s lives for the better.”

Lezly Herbert

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