Saskatchewan

'In the end, there's no going home with it': Estevan woman says mindset key to being a surrogate mother

A baby born in Estevan is starting her new life in Australia, as her surrogate mother reflects on the strength it took to ride out the hormonal and emotional waves of carrying a child that will be raised by another family.

Even so, she says the delivery room was filled with unexpected emotions

Surrogate mother Lisa Beaulieu said 'on my end it's a very close bond' formed between herself and the two new fathers, Tim and Chewn Bangsund. (AngylRavyn Photography 2019)

A baby girl born in Estevan is starting her new life in Australia. 

The child's surrogate mother is reflecting on the strength it took to ride out the hormonal and emotional waves of carrying a child that will be raised by another family.

Florence Juniper Pham Bangsund, weighing six pounds 14 ounces, came into this world calmly after being delivered by C-Section from the womb of surrogate mother Lisa Beaulieu.

Baby Florence was then passed into the hands of her two new fathers, Tim and Chewn Bangsund. 

You can't let yourself get too attached​​.- Lisa Beaulieu, surrogate mother.

Almost everything about Beaulieu's journey before entering delivery room was deliberate.

It started years ago, after she lost a child to miscarriage and swore to herself that if she was able to have a healthy baby, she would pay it forward through surrogacy. She and her husband decided their family of three, with eight-year-old daughter Lyric, was complete as is.

When Lisa Beaulieu miscarried several years ago she made a promise. If she had a healthy baby of her own, she would also become a surrogate for someone else. Earlier this month she gave birth to baby Florence. She'll live in Australia with her two Dads, who are also from Estevan. Lisa shares the story with host Shauna Powers. 12:41

Under Canadian law, surrogates cannot be paid. Beaulieu said she has always believed in offering her time and energy to important causes and she saw surrogacy in that light.

"My whole life all I've ever wanted to do is become a mom," Beaulieu told CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend.

"That is really where it came from for me, was just that drive to become a mother someday — and making sure that I can help at least one other couple in the world experience the joy of parenthood."

Sowing the seed

A casual conversation Beaulieu had in the hair salon she runs led her to connect with Florence's fathers.

Beaulieu had gone to school in Estevan with the Bangsunds — who have since moved to Australia — and they were looking for a surrogate.

The three of them found many connections between their families when they began discussions. The kindness of the Bangsunds quickly melted away any apprehension, Beaulieu had.

Beaulieu doesn't want to seem too gushy but said there was a sense of fate and destiny that made her feel the Bangsunds were a good fit.

"I never doubted after talking to them that they were the ones I wanted to have a baby for," she said.

With the Bangsunds living in Australia, it wasn't always easy to talk on the phone, but they gave Beaulieu gifts like clothes and a foot massager, which made her feel loved and appreciated. (Submitted by Lisa Beaulieu)

Still, even before the embryo transfer turned their plan into reality earlier, Beaulieu knew she needed to treat this pregnancy differently than her previous pregnancies.

"You can't let yourself get too attached to it," she said. 

"You have to always in your mind be prepared like 'you know, I love this baby I'm going to nurture this baby, I'm going to take care of it, I'm going to enjoy the process.'

"But in the end there's no going home with it," she said.

Complications during the pregnancy made her feel more connected to the baby than she'd planned, but the close relationship Beaulieu formed with the Bangsunds, texting nearly every day, talking over the phone and receiving care packages, acted as a reminder that the baby in her belly was someone else's child.

"We never feel like we have to give the baby up. We just give it back," she explained.

Emotional delivery room

And then on Nov. 6, in the delivery room of Estevan's St. Joseph's Hospital, came the greatest moment and reward.

The Bangsunds, Tim and Chewn, walked over to see Beaulieu while they cradled Florence in their arms.

"The look on their faces is a moment that as a surrogate we all live for," she remembered. "It was everything I expected and needed it to be. It's indescribable really, it was just really beautiful," Beaulieu said.

Again, her emotions did surprise her when she was the first to cry.

"I didn't expect that crazy rush of relief and gratefulness," she said.

In the weeks since giving birth, Beaulieu has had time to reflect on what she's learned about herself through this experience.

The act of giving birth for parents who cannot took a little bit more effort to work through her emotions and the hormones than anticipated.

"I'm feeling quite strong and capable and very proud," she said.

'My whole life all I've ever wanted to do is become a mom,' said Lisa Beaulieu, mother and surrogate. (AngylRavyn Photography)

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend