Makiing babies: Truckee woman becomes a surrogate mother –but twice
Sonya Retzlaff enjoys being pregnant – a lot.
She is the mother of three boys of her own and is currently expecting her second surrogate birth.
Retzlaff had been interested in becoming a surrogate mother since she was in high school. Her favorite aunt and uncle from Germany were unable to have children after several attempts ended in miscarriages, and fertilization technology then wasn’t what it is today.
“I used to pray that somebody would just carry a baby for her. That was my inspiration,” Retzlaff said. “That’s what I’ve been thinking about all these years – 25 years – that if I can have my own children, and I had good pregnancies and good births, I would want to help another couple.”
After the successful birth of her second son, Thor, Retzlaff was reminded of her promise to help couples like her aunt and uncle in an advertisement.
“I saw it in a family magazine where I think the simple words were, ‘Can you help an infertile couple?'”
The ad was for the Walnut Creek fertility clinic, where she went through the tests, physical and psychological, and recorded a video for prospective parents. Retzlaff was connected with a couple and nine months later gave birth to a baby girl named Rachel.
After giving birth to Rachel, doctors at Tahoe Forest Hospital asked a seemingly improbable question.
“Because when you have such a good, positive experience and they know the women that deal with (infertility), they would ask me, ‘Well, Sonya, would you think about being a surrogate again?'”
Luckily for Sofie and Ed, a couple from the Bay Area, Retzlaff’s answer was “yes.”
After giving birth to her third son, Wulfe, Retzlaff was speaking at the Walnut Creek clinic where she met Sofie and Ed.
“I came there to talk about all the wonderful experiences that I had carrying Rachel. I was going on about the good side of the wonderful conception of the heart,” Retzlaff said.
The positive message of her speech won over the Bay Area couple.
“We went to the center and we saw Sonya and we were very magnetized,” Sofie said.
For Sofie, the option of surrogacy is vital. After five years of trying everything from fertilization drugs to in vitro fertilization, a surrogate mother was her last chance at becoming a parent.
For Retzlaff, surrogacy is something different.
“It’s a blessing – the ultimate gift.”
Both times Retzlaff carried for another couple, it was gestational surrogacy. The DNA of the child comes from both parents and Retzlaff was just a “vessel.” An operation is required to insert an embryo from the two parents into the birthing mother. Both times Retzlaff went through the operation, the embryo took on the first try.
“It depends on the embryo when they thaw them out – how they look,” she said. “They don’t always look that good but there’s always a good one, hopefully.”
Retzlaff said her husband Craig has a wit and humor that makes it easy for him to be positive and supportive of her during her pregnancies.
“My husband is my biggest support. If he wasn’t supporting me 150 percent in all of this, I couldn’t be a surrogate,” she said. “For me, I’ve never had morning sicknesses. I have really great pregnancies.”
At 39, Retzlaff is unsure whether she will be able to surrogate another child, but that doesn’t mean that she won’t enjoy pregnancy again.
Craig and her plan on having two more children of their own.
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