Stephanie Caballero’s path to parenthood changed her life in more ways than one. Her eight-year journey led to twins through surrogacy and a career change from marketing to law. Today, she’s an expert in family formation and reproductive law, and founder of The Surrogacy Law Center, PLC. Stephanie shared her story of creating her beautiful family with us and how her own family-building experience now impacts the intended parents, gestational carriers, and donors she represents. She also shares insightful advice for those considering surrogacy, with helpful details even including how contracts have been addressing Covid-19. Check out our conversation for more on Stephanie and her incredible work:
Stephanie with her beautiful family
I’m happy to share my journey to parenthood. I was 32 years old when I started to try to get pregnant and it was an 8-year journey to finally realize my dream when my children were born via surrogacy. Little did I know it would take that long or there would be that much pain and sorrow. I first worked with my OB/GYN and I stayed with him for about 2 years wasting so much time on artificial inseminations (IUI). First, he started me on Clomid, which gave me the worst hot flashes and sweats! I’d be in a meeting at work and get red, flushed with sweat dripping down me. Thankfully, I was only on Clomid for a few cycles since I never got pregnant.
Next, I was given Perganol, and in those days, I had to break glass vials and mix the meds myself. Oh, and there were no small needles or pens where you click a dial! The needle was BIG and I still remember taking what seemed like hours checking and checking again to make sure I had the right dosage before I put the needle in.
My first IVF cycle was not successful but I did get pregnant on my second! Naturally, I was thrilled and I couldn’t wait for my ultrasound. I knew my blood levels weren’t great but they weren’t awful either. Looking back, that was a sign of things to come. My doctor happily announcing, “there’s the heartbeat,” to “oh, no, the size is not where we want it to be at this stage,” to more ultrasounds, to an eventual D&C because the heartbeat was gone.
My stim cycles were great and I had plenty of eggs, which resulted in “the most gorgeous embryos” as my doctor said, to “you have great uterine lining,” to mostly a negative pregnancy test, with a low-positive one every so often, followed by surgeries, and more surgeries.
It was long and lonely and one of the hardest things I have ever done. But, in the end, and with the help of an amazing woman, I have two beautiful children.
It did! Prior to becoming an attorney, I had a career in marketing, so it was quite a pivot. My husband and I had taken a break from IVF cycles, which is not easy to do as you really do feel like the next cycle is going to work. However, for us, those breaks helped us re-charge, find ourselves and each other outside of a lab full of needles and ultrasounds!
It was during one of these breaks when I decided to go to law school and after passing the bar, we moved to San Diego, where it all began 16 years ago. I started in my living room and I knew I was on the right path when I talked to my Intended Parents who were struggling to build their own families, as I was there not so long ago.
Not only could I connect with my IPs but I could talk to my surrogates about the pros and cons of progesterone shots vs suppositories and in the next hour, I could talk to a donor client about what it felt like the morning of my egg retrieval.
It doesn’t get any better than working with others to help build families.
Stephanie Caballero, Esq. with her team at The Surrogacy Law Center
I helped clients have what ended up being their only child after a 20-year journey. I still have the photo they sent me of their daughter’s christening and the look on their faces is indescribable. I instantly bonded with the IM because we could share our stories and experiences, which helped her so much.
We have a COVID section in our contract so all parties understand what is expected of them. IPs want to know that the surrogate (or donor) is social distancing and wearing a mask and following any other guidelines that are in place. I was talking to one of my pregnant surrogates and she was being so careful that she would not see anyone outside of her immediate family and it was hard on her daughter as she missed her cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, but the surrogate would not risk it.
It’s been hard on everyone as we navigate through this and try to keep everyone as safe as possible.
One of the things we really miss about being in the office is seeing and holding all the precious babies. That is one of the best parts of the job, but COVID-19 makes that impossible right now.
Christmas cheer with the family!
Do your research is the most obvious one, but I have to say it! I know it seems like it will never happen and taking the time to investigate agencies, physicians and attorneys takes up more time that you feel like you do not have, but this is a big decision. And, remember, you will be a parent. I know it doesn’t seem like it now and it may not happen the way you thought it was going to, but you can be a mom or a dad if that’s what you truly want.
Thank you for sharing your story and insight, Stephanie. Your career change is admirable and I’m sure your work is helping so many intended parents feel supported and protected throughout their journeys.