Saskatchewan women sharing surrogacy story to inspire others to consider the option 

Amber Peters offered to be a surrogate for Marie Schultz not long after they became coworkers and close friends. Now, they are urging others to consider the option.

Amber Peters is carrying a child for Marie Schultz, who had struggled to conceive

Amber Peters (left) and Marie Schultz became quick friends after becoming co-workers. After Schutz struggled with infertility for seven years, Peters offered to become a surrogate so Schultz could have a child. (Submitted by Marie Schultz)

Two Regina women are sharing their surrogacy story in hopes other struggling couples will consider the option. 

Amber Peters and Marie Schultz met at work in 2019 while Schultz was in the middle of fertility treatments. Schultz and her husband, Taylor, had been trying since 2013 to conceive without any luck. Schultz started sharing her struggles with her new friend. 

"After just a few weeks of getting to know each other, like we really clicked," Schultz said. "She just kind of asked like 'Have you ever thought about surrogacy? Could you think about not having that pregnant experience?' But I was like honestly … I just want a child." 

In June 2020, Peters, backed by her husband, Jeff, offered to be that person for Schultz. 

Schultz (left) and Peters were masked and in medical wear during the embryo transfer. (Submitted by Marie Schultz)

"I always thought I could be a surrogate, but I never thought it would actually happen," said Peters, who has two sons, aged nine and six. "I had really great pregnancies and I enjoyed being pregnant, and I was a good labour and birther and all those things. 

"So when I met Marie and was just watching her struggle, it was just struggle after struggle … I just asked the question."

Schultz and her husband said they were on board, and after two tries Peters was pregnant with sperm from Schultz's husband and egg from her cousin.

Peters says throughout the pregnancy she remembers the child isn't for her. 

It's just that it's been seven years of a million different trials and it's just like, 'Wow, this is happening.'- Marie Schultz

"It doesn't feel like my baby. I feel very much like this is my friend's baby. And I think about a lot after birth and in my mind, I see them with this baby and bonding and falling in love," Peters said. 

Schultz says their family and friends have been incredibly supportive, calling Peters a miracle and awesome person.

"It's so surreal. Like I've been pregnant before. It didn't work out, so I kind of miss that side of it," Schultz said. "And it's just like, 'Oh my God, this is actually happening.' Like, it's just that it's been seven years of a million different trials and it's just like, 'Wow, this is happening.'"

Schultz (left) holds the ultrasound images of the child being carried by Peters (right). Due to COVID-19 rules, Schultz was allowed in the ultrasound room but not her husband. (Submitted by Marie Schultz)

However, Schultz says, there have been some challenges with the legalities behind the process and lack of government support. 

"In Saskatchewan, the person who gives birth is legally the mother, so that would be Amber in this case," Schultz said. "So we have to go through the court system to have her name removed from the birth certificate and mine added … it's a long process. 

"Another thing is that you have to do a legal agreement before we even start trying to conceive with her," Schultz said. "It's just those legalities are just some things that I guess people don't think about."

Schultz and her husband Taylor are preparing to welcome their baby into the world thanks to their surrogate, Amber Peters. (Submitted by Marie Schultz)

One in six couples in Canada struggle with infertility, but not enough people talk about the issue, Schultz says. 

"There is a stigma around it, and I really wish there wasn't," she said. "I felt ashamed as a woman that, you know, that's what my body's supposed to do and I can't. So please do reach out to somebody."

The two women hope by sharing their story it might inspire others to consider the same path.

Schultz says that since she and Peters started talking publicly, many women have come forward to say they wished they had done the same but the opportunity didn't come up. 

"I think it's because nobody talks about it," Schultz said. "So if you are interested, make that known. Or if you are seeking help, make that known … [because] it's still very new to Saskatchewan. So I think just be open with the people in your life."

With files from The Morning Edition