By Maggie Dubbs –
A 33-year-old teacher at Penn Manor is expecting, but the baby is not hers.
Jen Kroesen, is expecting a little boy April 25. But it so happens that this is not her child.
Kroesen is a surrogate mother. Although she has three children of her own including Jude, 6, and a set of twins, Jett and Joelle who are 4, she decided to take this unusual step so that she could help someone else experience the joys of parenthood.
Someone who could or maybe should not risk a pregnancy.
Kroesen said the genetic parents of the child she’s carrying are from Manhattan, New York. The mother is 39 years old, considered by medical personnel to be at an advanced maternal age to be having a baby. Statistics show a child born to an older mother is more susceptible to physical and mental disabilities.
But according to Kroesen, who did not know the couple before the pregnancy, the wife couldn’t have conceived and carried a baby at any age because she has an underdeveloped uterus and therefore cannot get pregnant.
They met over the phone.
The parents in waiting came to Pennsylvania for the seven-week check-up to hear the heart beat for the first time. They also met Kroesen at the medical office for the 12-week and 20-week check up.
At the 20-week check up, they were then able to determine that the baby is a boy. Kroesen said the parents don’t have any names in mind yet, and are just glad to know the baby is healthy and growing.
“It really just felt right,” said Kroesen. “Not only have I known many people with infertility and pregnancy issues, but so many people have just had rough pregnancies and deliveries. I’ve had none of that.”
Coincidently, it was the infertility of a friend that first planted the idea of surrogacy in Kroesen’s mind.
A close friend of hers was having trouble getting pregnant.
“I offered to carry for (that) friend who was having trouble, but fortunately she did get pregnant,” Kroesen said. “After I made that offer, my husband and I talked more about it and decided we would apply to an agency to make the offer to someone we didn’t know.
“I realized how blessed my husband and I were with our three healthy kids,” she said.
But Kroesen said she worried how people would view her when she found out that some people do this for large amounts of money.
Although she declined to say how much the couple is paying her to carry their child, she said she is not doing it for the money.
There were other issues as well.
She also struggled with the fact that some clinics would fertilize many eggs at once, and then discard the unused ones. Some also performed selective reductions or abortions of unhealthy fetuses.
“(I) did not want to be a part of any of that, or go to any clinic that would do that, and didn’t want to be associated with it,” said Kroesen. The clinic that performed her in vitro did not support any of these things.
She chose to find a clinic that would meet all of her prerequisites including being able to choose what kind of parents she would be delivering to. She wanted the future parents to be married and know that they would not want to abort the fetus if any issues occurred.
Even though she chose the clinic that was right for her, the clinic also had to choose her.
In order to qualify as a surrogate, Kroesen had to have an extensive physical. Both her husband and she also had to take very intense psychological tests.
“A lot of the questions were weird, they were definitely repetitive but worded differently every time,” Kroesen said.
Kroesen knows some will wonder what her own children will think of the situation.
“They are too young to understand how this happened and too young to grow attached to a baby they can’t see,” reasoned Kroesen. “They probably will never remember this. If spoken about, we always refer to the baby as belonging to his parents.”
Kroesen freely admits there are some downsides to the nine-month experience.
“I don’t have as much energy to play with my kids,” she said. “I like to exercise and I can’t do that. I don’t regret it but I don’t think I would do it again.”
But for Kroesen, pregnancy has always been a natural and easy thing.
“I didn’t have morning sickness or any complications with my pregnancies,” she said. “My deliveries were induced because I could have carried longer. Even my pregnancy carrying twins was easy. I worked right up until the induction of both pregnancies.”
Kroesen said her athletic build is a positive in the situation.
“I’ve also carried very healthy babies,” she said. “Some doctors believe that women who have bigger babies do so because their bodies give more nutrients to the babies they are carrying. I had bigger, healthy babies and am tall so I am built to carry them. This baby is already over the 90th percentile for size.”
But she said it was a blessing to be able to do what she is doing since there was only a 35 percent chance that the surrogate pregnancy would work.
Although Kroesen doesn’t believe she will stay in close contact with the parents she won’t be surprised if the couple sends email updates or even Christmas cards.
“I really just felt like I was the perfect candidate for something like this, and I was called to do it,” said Kroesen