'Babysitting to the extreme': Why a former Islander became a surrogate mother

Amanda Grady, formerly of Summerside, says she's just one of those “lucky women that really loves being pregnant.” So after delivering her own two sons, she decided to be a surrogate mother.

Amanda Grady says she didn't give the baby up, she gave it back

Surrogate mom Amanda Grady holds baby Hedda after giving birth in August. (Submitted by Amanda Grady)

Throughout her pregnancy, Amanda Grady never wondered if the baby would have her curly hair. Or if it would have her husband's blue eyes.

There was no need to look through books of baby names.

This was different from her first two pregnancies, when she carried her sons, now seven and eight years old.

That's because this time, the baby growing inside her wasn't hers. Grady, who grew up in Summerside, P.E.I.,  and now lives in Milton, Ont., was a surrogate for a same-sex couple from Sweden.

So when she gave birth in August, she knew as soon as the cord was cut, the baby girl would be handed over to her real parents.

"For me, or for most surrogates if you ask, they will say I did not give the baby up, I gave it back," said Grady.

"This is essentially babysitting to the extreme."

Grady says she will never forget seeing the two dads holding their newborn baby. (Submitted by Amanda Grady)

Grady said seeing the fathers holding their baby by the hospital bed, shirtless to provide skin-to-skin contact with the newborn, was a moment she will never forget.

"It was like, I did it, I did this. Because of me, this baby is now in the world and they get to hold her and love her."

I just knew there were so many families and so many couples that struggle, many for years and years, just to have their own babies.— Amanda Grady

Surrogate mothers in Canada can be reimbursed for their expenses, such as maternity clothes, medications and time off work needed for appointments. But it is illegal in Canada for surrogate mothers to get paid for their services.

So why do it?  

Grady, 35, said she's just one of those "lucky women that really loves being pregnant."

"I just knew there were so many families and so many couples that struggle, many for years and years, just to have their own babies."

Grady says she frequently receives pictures and videos of Hedda, like this one, from Sweden. (Submitted by Amanda Grady)

She said her husband was on board from the beginning, and they spoke to their sons about it.

Sons 'always knew that she was not ours'

"They know that families are not all the same like ours," Grady said. "They always knew that she was not ours."

Grady registered with an agency in June 2016 and about a month later they were matched with Christian and Anders Quaglia from Sweden, who had previously found an egg donor.

It took about a year — and five attempts — before an embryo was implanted successfully.

Grady's sons, eight-year-old Xander and seven-year-old Rohan, hold Hedda the night before the Quaglias returned to Sweden. (Submitted by Amanda Grady)

After the baby was born, the Quaglias spent a couple of weeks in Ontario near the Grady's home in Milton, Ont., waiting for paperwork to be completed. Over those first two weeks, Grady would pump milk for the baby, and breastfeed her when they came to visit.

Grady said she frequently receives pictures and videos of Hedda from overseas. But she knows it won't be the last she sees of the family. The Quaglias have told her they want to have another child, and now they know where to find a willing surrogate.

"They asked me if I would do it again and it was an immediate yes, absolutely let's do this again."

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With files from Island Morning