Tell us a little bit about you and your family...
I’m Ashley, Dancer, DJ, Dad, Fiancé to my better half, Liam and the Twist in dance duo, Twist and Pulse. Myself and Liam have been together for 9 years, living in our family home in Kent and will be officially tying the knot in May 2024. We can’t wait! Our darling little daughter, Tillie came into the world in January 2023 and stole our hearts instantly. It’s been the perfect start to 2023 and we still can’t believe she is here with us, remembering to be grateful every single day.
How did you know it was time to start the surrogacy process?
Myself and Liam always discussed about wanting to become a parent one day during our early dating stages. We didn’t really know too much about surrogacy at all, we only really knew the word, surrogacy and that it meant somebody that would help carry a baby for somebody else. Once we naturally got settled into our relationship and house, the ‘starting a family’ conversation was a definite topic that become more frequent and what our potential options were. If we could conceive naturally, we would have been pregnant sooner for sure and once we both made that clear to each other we knew we had to actually do something about it and start to plan/research.
Did you undertake lots of research beforehand? Were there any resources that were particularly helpful?
We were so lucky by the time we jumped into the world of surrogacy. Our friends, a same sex male couple announced they were pregnant via surrogacy and we instantly were over the moon for them. Quickly after our excitement we had so many questions. We had the best phone call with them both and they let us pick their brains, which really helped us get up to speed. We also watched tv programmes, looked at every google page, listened to every podcast and tried our best to gain as much surrogacy knowledge as possible. One of our pivotal moments of our surrogacy journey was joining private Facebook group: Missing Piece Surrogacy Community (UK) Run by an incredible group of admin that have gone through their own surrogacy journeys themselves. With hundreds of members in the group you really do get all the help and guidance you need to start and be with you all the way on your surrogacy journey. Super supportive and so helpful!
Can you share with us the type of surrogacy you decided to go for and the steps and processes involved?
We chose gestational surrogacy (GS.) After a lot of research, this was the type of surrogacy that felt right for us and if for some reason it didn’t work out then we could always explore the other options. So for us, we had to get an egg donor and a separate surrogate (Not our surrogate’s egg.) As we were taking the GS route, we were able to create our embryos before we had even found our surrogate. Myself and Liam both made embryos with the same egg donor and were lucky enough to have multiple good grade embryos that we could freeze. We then were chatting to our surrogates via the private community groups and attending social meet ups with other IPs (Intended parents) and surrogates run by surrogacy agencies. We were so happy we got to experience this part of the journey as again, we got to meet other people that were or had gone through their own journeys. Lots of sharing stories and connecting with so many different people, we loved it. We clicked with a very special person and she ended up becoming our surrogate. It just felt so right and we started off like we already knew each other from a different life, we just had that instant connection and friendship for each other. Once we discussed everything in detail and potential deal breakers from either party, we made sure we were all on the same page and started the process for transfer. I know I keep saying the word ‘lucky’ but there’s always got to be a bit of positive thinking about luck thrown in there too. But yea as I was saying we were LUCKY enough for our transfer to work first time and our team were so excited to officially say we were pregnant.
Tell us about your relationship with your surrogate?
We have the best relationship. Probably sounds like I’m being biased and of course I’m going to say that but, it really is. Myself and Liam still don’t believe that we were so lucky so find someone like Abbie (Surrogate.) From the very beginning we clicked, that exact same click you get with your partner, work college or school friend, it just worked. We have always kept honesty at the front of our relationship as we knew we were going into a long, personal, life changing journey together and wanted everyone to feel as comfortable as possible. We’re so lucky that surrogacy allowed us to meet Abbie and her beautiful family, we now have them in our lives forever and we can’t wait for our daughter, Tillie to grow up with such amazing people in our lives.
How did you feel when you had a positive pregnancy test?
Absolutely shocked and grateful. Probably mind blown as well from what I remember, I couldn’t actually believe it had worked. The whole process and science fascinates me. We were told to wait 12 days to test and we waited 5 and then Liam and Abbie caved and wanted to test, I didn’t complain though. I clearly wanted to know too. Pure enjoyment and love, we just felt so grateful this journey was starting to become a reality for us.
What did it feel like bringing Tillie home for the first time?
The BEST feeling! As we stayed in hospital for 6 days due to Tillie’s early arrival, we couldn’t believe we were finally going back to our home for the first time as a 3. It was most definitely one of my favourite moments, just being in the comfort of our own home but this time as a 3. We also had that moment of, are we allowed to have Tillie in our home? Ha! We were looked after so much in the hospital for pretty much a whole week that when we were discharged and got home it almost felt like we had to go back the next day. That first night sleep and waking up the next morning was when it all started to feel real and we started to settle in.
What are your favourite things to do as a family?
It’s definitely the simple things like just being together as a 3 makes us the most happy. Going for a family walk is always a winner, that proud moment of pushing our daughter in pram for the very first time was so incredible. Thanks to iCandy, we’ve got the smoothest wheels in the game, we love our iCandy Peach 7 Designer Collection Cerium so much. We’ve also recently just got a baby carrier and Tillie loves bobbing up and down in that, especially now she can face forwards and take it all the scenery and different noises.
Have you introduced Tillie to the world of dance yet?
Tillie has already performed in her first TikTok when she was just 2 weeks old. I perform to her everyday and myself and Liam are constantly singing nursery rhymes, often remixing them because I don’t know the words and she always gives us a wriggle and her biggest smile. There is always music on in our household and the car so I’m sure she will have some moves when she hits the walking stage.
What advice would you give to anyone who is considering having a baby through surrogacy?
Be strong, keep going and don’t rush. We all get impatient and especially when it comes to starting your own family. The process is quite a long one from start to finish and I think if you rush in to something like surrogacy and make decisions out of desperation then it just isn’t going to end nicely for either party. Take your time, build that trust and be as honest as possible. And lastly, try your best to enjoy it, it’s such a beautiful, life changing journey and at times you can loose your way so try your best to recenter yourself and keep positivity and enjoyment at the forefront.