It was 15 years ago that I first suggested being a surrogate.
Those around me were horrified - what was I thinking? How could I give my baby away? What if I wanted to keep the baby? Who were these awful people who would pay to have a baby? How could I sell my own baby? That's when I realised that actually the hardest part of being a surrogate was educating people whose experience of surrogacy was limited to a tabloid headline, or a TV soap storyline. Although the knowledge of surrogacy has increased over the last 15 years, there are still so many misconceptions about how it works, and what type of person turns to surrogacy, either as surrogate or as an intended parent.
I came to surrogacy, because as a parent I couldn't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't have been able to call myself a mother. It was the absolute love I felt for my daughter every night when she would wrap herself up in my arms to fall to sleep, and I would think about how others felt who couldn't experience this. My heart would break, and I would cry for all those who were sat empty armed, longing for something that I had been given so easily.
I didn't know where to go, or who to speak to about this desire to carry a baby for someone else, but a google search led me to Surrogacy UK. I found kindred spirits in the women I met, other surrogates who felt the same as me. It was a revelation - I wasn't a weird person for wanting to do this after all! These ladies became my sisters, my surro-sisters, who could understand my every thought without question. I was home.
Through Surrogacy UK I met lots of couples, all with equally heartbreaking stories, miscarriages, still births, numerous rounds of IVF but yet here they were, starting a journey to find a special friend with whom they could build a lifelong relationship with, hopefully resulting in a baby.
It was at one of the organised social events that I met a wonderful woman called Andria. Immediately we fell into chatting, and spent hours talking about everything, everything except surrogacy. We just clicked - that gut feeling that the other surrogates said I would get, was there. I was so excited! Was this the woman who I would make a mother? I asked Surrogacy UK to put in the official call, to tell her I was interested, and to see if she was interested in me. Luckily enough her and her husband felt the same. We spent months getting to know each other, and each other's families - we very quickly became family to each other.
I was a straight surrogate, so we would be using my eggs to conceive a child. We started artificial inseminations in my house, and within two months we were pregnant. Making the call to my lovely couple to tell them they would be parents was the best feeling. I was changing their lives. How many times can you say you've changed someone's life forever? I was on cloud nine, as were they - we were all achieving our dreams - theirs of being mummy and daddy, and mine of being a surrogate.
Throughout the pregnancy I received my expenses from the couple, so that I was never out of pocket. My loss of earnings, childcare, and maternity clothes were all paid for. As my intended mother said, they would have had to pay out for that if they were pregnant, so to give the expenses to me was no hardship. It helped me to cope with the guilt I felt for having to take expenses.
The day Georgina was born was one of the best of my life. Having both parents supporting me as my birth partners was amazing - my best friends holding my hands as I gave birth to their daughter will always hold a special place in my heart. Watching them as Andria breastfed, and her husband gazed adoringly at them both, ensured that this wouldn't be my last surrogacy journey.
Within 18 months, I was giving birth to my second surrogate child, Miranda, for my second set of best friends. I felt so blessed. My surrogacy family was extending. The two surrogate children are now 14 and 13, and I still have a relationship with them and their parents. The girls know who I am, and know about their special birth story and they are proud. Proud that it took three people who loved them, to make them, Mum, Dad and Sarah.
After getting married and having two more children of my own, I returned to surrogacy. Knowing that I wouldn't have any more children myself, it seemed such a waste of my fertility not to gift it on to someone else. So, coming back to Surrogacy UK was the easiest decision I made.
Within six months, I was in a Getting to Know session with a lovely same sex couple, Michael and Nick. They became my third set of best friends. We laughed, chatted and they loved my children so much that I knew they would be perfect fathers. I was proven right when Elliot was born four years ago, via c-section. Watching their faces, and seeing their tears as they saw their much wanted son, made me forget that I was on an operating table. I knew immediately that I wanted to give that beautiful little boy a sibling.
Unfortunately I had developed blocked fallopian tubes, so having another proved to be a little more difficult. With the help of the London Women's Clinic, we conceived Erica through one round of IVF. She was born nine months later, through the most fun c-section any of the staff had ever experienced. We all laughed our way through it, the staff joining in with the sheer joy of a surrogacy birth.
I knew at nearly 40, and seven babies later that it was time for me to retire as surrogate, or else I would never have stopped. It hurts to know that I won't be able to help those friends of mine still waiting for a surrogate, but I continue to volunteer for Surrogacy UK, so that I feel that in some small way I might be able to help them.
It took 15 years, and four surrogate babies, but I feel so happy that I managed to achieve my dream of being a surrogate. Little did I know that I would end up with a whole surrogacy family. It exceeded every expectation I had, I'm truly very lucky.
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