With this pregnancy came a wave of complications she had never experienced before. The first was extreme nausea and morning sickness with an eventual diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum. “You’re throwing up all day long, you lose five percent of your body weight almost immediately, you can’t drink water, you can’t eat anything, and it was horrible.” Gloria had to leave her family for hours at a time to visit hospital triage rooms to receive treatment and IV hydration. Not receiving the care she needed from the insurance policy that was provided “set forward this emotion” of “having a mental breakdown.” 

 Adding to the stress of her physical condition and not being able to care for her family at home, Gloria was also “told that the dad was not happy he had a boy”. An added detail that would make anyone hoping to provide a dream child disheartened and emotional. Can you imagine being pregnant with someone else’s dream child, feeling as if you are giving someone a gift of life, and the father is upset about the child’s sex? 

 Gloria’s pregnancy continued, but in the second trimester more complications began. Gloria found herself in a situation where taking care of herself and the pregnancy while trying to abide by her contract and insurance restrictions became increasingly difficult: 

“The agency has a lot of rules. Everything that I do has to come with a written note from the OB, or I’m in breach of contract.” She recalls her treating physician encouraging her to take care of herself during this pregnancy, saying, “‘You’re a grown woman. You’re a mother. You’ve been pregnant before. If you feel like you need to go do something, then do it. As long as it follows the pregnancy guidelines, you should be allowed to do it.’”  Gloria continued, “Unfortunately, that’s just not how the contracts are written. And if I do anything on my own, I am in complete breach of contract.” 

Gloria was not able to operate under the same autonomy that a normal patient would have in their own medical setting. She had signed away those basic rights under her contract. Gloria had no protections. In fact, the intended mother had requested Gloria’s private patient healthcare portal. The OB had declined this request, but the agency had Gloria’s password and could access it at any time. 

At 28 weeks pregnant, Gloria went into preterm labor. Able to sustain the pregnancy longer, at 32 weeks pregnant, Gloria wakes up in her home “covered in blood” and is “rushed to the hospital of my contract,” but due to contract and insurance confusion she is denied care and sent to another facility an hour from her home. Desperate, Gloria reached out to the lawyer that assisted her during her contract and, out of kindness, the lawyer informed Gloria that she had a “right to sign yourself out and go to any hospital that’s willing to treat you and put you first.” 

 Gloria did just that: 

 I… signed myself out and made it back to the hospital that was in contract. I explained to them the situation saying, ‘look, I’m a surrogate, this, this policy that I have hasn’t helped me the entire time, I have hyperemesis, I, I can’t keep holding on to this baby, I’m gonna die.’ So then they said, ‘we’ve done everything we can, we’ve given you the shots, we, we’ve tried to stop your labor multiple times, it’s not stopping, we’re just gonna let you have this baby.’ So they stopped my medicine on a Sunday and by Monday at 4 a.m. I was in full blown labor.

 Meanwhile, it was expected that Gloria updates the IPs, “this entire time I am supposed to be updating the parents on what’s going on, even though I am focused on not dying because my kids need me. I have to be the one texting them.  I remember reaching out to the caseworker and I was like,’ What do you do?’ You know, ‘where are you at?’ I’m trying not to die and now it’s my job to make sure that they’re updated.” 

 The intended parents were unresponsive, “They did not text me back the entire time I was in labor… When it was time to push, the OB said, where are they? What are we doing with baby afterwards?” It was decided that the baby would go to the nursery and focus was placed back on Gloria’s labor and bleeding.  

 Gloria gave birth vaginally at 34 weeks. 

This is part four of a five part series. Over the several weeks we will be releasing a write-up based off of our exclusive interview with Gloria. 

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Watch the full interview with Gloria on our YouThttps://youtu.be/8JZR09oCxg8ube channel.

Author Profile

Kallie Fell, Executive Director
Kallie Fell, Executive Director
Kallie Fell, MS, BSN, RN, started her professional career as a scientist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center utilizing a Master of Science degree in Animal Sciences with an emphasis on Reproductive Physiology and Molecular Biology from Purdue University. While assisting in the investigation of endometriosis and pre-term birth, Kallie simultaneously pursued a degree in nursing with hopes of working with women as a perinatal nurse. After meeting Jennifer at a conference, Kallie became interested in the work of the Center for Bioethics and Culture and started volunteering with the organization. It is obvious that Kallie is passionate about women’s health. She continues to work, as she has for the past 6 years, as a perinatal nurse and has worked with the CBC since 2018, first as a volunteer writer, then as our staff Research Associate, and now as the Executive Director. In 2021, Kallie co-directed the CBC’s newest documentary, Trans Mission: What’s the Rush to Reassign Gender? Kallie also hosts the popular podcast Venus Rising and is the Program Director for the Paul Ramsey Institute.