Ian & Shilpa

Canadian Intended Parents Searching for a Gestational Surrogate

Guelph, Ontario

About Us

We met about 12 years ago working on a farm near Toronto. Shilpa had just come from visiting her parents in India and Ian had arrived straight from finishing his last exam at university. The growing season had already started when we both arrived, and all the good accommodations were claimed. We were put-up in a “temporary” trailer while our permanent accommodation was figured out. Shilpa secretly was happy it was just Ian and her in the trailer, as it was a chance to get to know him more. She fell in love with Ian’s gentle and kind nature. His sensitivity to people and animals was what really got Shilpa. Ian was also happy about the situation and was increasingly pulled by Shilpa’s calm and soothing nature. He’s still amazed at her ability to listen and truly understand him and people generally. At the farm, our mutual feelings became evident early on. Initially we bonded over simple things, like our admiration for harvesting and eating the freshest produce. There was also some friendly comp in who could harvest the most spinach with the least weeds! Shilpa won! Living and working the land together side-by-side hastened the romance and deepened our feelings for each other. We often feel our time at that farm was a very long date, but in a good way!

Our shared love of dogs was also apparent early on. Dogs have always been a big part of both our lives. When we first met, Shilpa had Misha, a 3-year old Border Collie mix. Misha and Ian quickly bonded, so much so that Misha played a big role in his proposal to Shilpa. Misha became our emotional rock through much of our fertility struggles. She was a sensitive soul that intuitively knew when we needed a bit more snuggle time after a bad appointment or news of another loss. Sadly, we lost Misha two years ago, days before we received news of our third failed transfer with a PGS-tested embryo.

Born in Alberta, Shilpa grew up mostly in the Middle East. Frequent trips to India fostered a close bond with her grandparents. These formative trips were filled with so much colour and culture. Now Shilpa’s immediate family live in India and because of years of fertility treatments, and now COVID, it has been quite some time since she has seen them. We are very much hoping we can see Shilpa’s family again soon, hopefully with a baby thanks to the immeasurable help of a surrogate. Despite the geographical distance, Shilpa stays very close with her family. You’ll often find her calculating the 10+ hour time difference before talking to either her parents and/or sister at least once, if not twice, a day. Ian joins many of these calls and has even picked up some words of Kannada - the language Shilpa speaks with her parents – at least enough to know when he’s being made fun of.

Ian grew up in a close-knit family in Toronto and then Fergus, a small town near Guelph, Ontario. His parents have always gone the extra mile to be there for him. While still in Toronto he showed an unusual interest in farming. To appease him, his parents took him to a “farm camp” at a working dairy farm. That experience deepened his interest in farming. In fact, he liked farming so much that when his parents decided to move from Toronto to Fergus he thought he could convince them to buy a farm. Much to his dismay that didn’t happen. But, years later Ian’s parents were always ready to help Ian and Shilpa on short notice with any task we needed a hand with at our own farm, which we started after moving on from the one we first met and worked at. No task was too big or small, whether it was lending a hand to fix a fence or running a delivery order to a customer. More recently, Ian’s parents started to think the commute between Fergus and Guelph (~25 minutes) was too long. So, a couple years ago they moved to Guelph to be closer. We see them regularly, before COVID it was over recurring Sunday dinners, now we make do with weekend hikes and other outdoor activities.

Both our families have been pillars of support these past few years and are very excited about us taking the next step with a surrogate. They, like us, are blown away that so many kind and generous women are willing to participate and bring people the greatest gift of their lives. They can’t wait for us to meet our surrogate and are keen to get to know her (if she’s comfortable with that!).

Early on in our relationship we decided we wanted children. When we first started to seriously try we anticipated raising a child would be hard, but we never expected having a child would be so hard. After years of trying naturally we finally visited a fertility clinic in late 2016. We were just about to start our first round of IVF when we found out Shilpa was pregnant. We were ecstatic. Unfortunately, Shilpa miscarried at 9 weeks. It was devastating, and sadly only the beginning of many more losses. After 5 years, 2 more miscarriages from natural pregnancies, 6 IVF retrievals and 5 failed IVF transfers (3 with our own PGS tested embryos and two with donor eggs) we decided it was time to take the next step. Like many who’ve struggled with infertility, we’ve been left with no real understanding and fall into the “unexplained infertility” category. Surrogacy was not something we initially expected to be seeking, but now that we’re at this crossroads our feelings are evolving to being more thankful than anxious. We’ve three embryos, one PGS-tested from Shilpa and two from a donor. Infertility has exhausted us emotionally, but we now have new hope and are so thankful that women like you exist; women like you that make it possible for us to have a baby.

After meeting at a farm, we decided we wanted to farm on our own. We built up a small farm business on leased land. We took jobs to invest in the business and pay our bills in the leaner months. It was a lot of work and fulfilling in so many ways, it was our “baby” for many years. But our desire to have a real baby kept growing and quickly surpassed any goals we had for our own business. It was hard coming to the decision to sell our farm business, but we thought that decision would give us more time for a newborn. It obviously hasn’t worked out quite like that yet, but we like to think we just prepared a bit early. Now Shilpa is a nutritionist and works at a health food store, Ian works for the government on programs for farmers. We have more time and are more financially stable. We also have great parental leave benefits (a big draw to our current jobs). Shilpa will be able to take a full year of maternity leave, and potentially stay off work longer since we are able to pay our mortgage and bills on Ian’s salary alone. In addition, Ian will be able to take 10-12 months of paternity leave due to generous employer benefits. We are grateful for our jobs with such great employers that give us time to pursue interests outside of work. When we have a baby, we’ll obviously take advantage of this flexibility to spend time with them as they grow up. Until then our jobs give us time to explore other passions outside of work. For the past few years we’ve been discovering a new hiking trail somewhere in Southern Ontario almost every weekend and even on some weekdays. Often Ian’s parents join us. Now more than ever we relish the time outside. We especially like to hike with our dog Luna. Remember, we’re dog people. We’d like to graduate to children (and keep our dog of course!), but in the meantime our affections are directed to our dog. As mentioned, Misha our first dog helped us through much of our infertility struggle. Losing her was a big loss. After being forced to work from home due to COVID, we realized how much we missed Misha and having a dog in our lives. Shilpa started looking at different rescues and after many inquiries we were finally able to adopt Luna, a German Shepherd-Husky mix. She’s a real character, full of energy and yet so sensitive and a real team-player: she makes sure Ian takes breaks from his computer to play with her throughout the day.

When not outside or playing with Luna, we enjoy binge watching different shows on Netflix, Crave and Prime (yes, we use all three). We have pretty broad tastes, so if you like TV we’ll definitely have something to talk about. Other stuff we like to do: Shilpa likes to cook, and Ian likes to do home projects. Shilpa is always experimenting with new recipes and ingredients. Last summer Ian built a cedar deck, which came in handy this summer with all the time at home! Ian also volunteers for a non-profit helping marginalized people in our community get access to food, something that unfortunately has become a bigger issue due to COVID-related job losses in our town.

We will do everything we can to support our surrogate and her family. She will be giving us the greatest gift of our lives. She will feel our gratitude from our words and actions. Asides from covering financial costs and expenses, we will support our surrogate emotionally and practically. Emotionally, we will always be a phone call or Zoom away and ready to chat about anything. If our surrogate is close by, we’d be thrilled to join for appointments. Practically, we want to reduce any burden on her as much as we can. If she’s within driving distance of Guelph, our options open up and we’d be happy to help out with errands, etc. If she’s further, we’ll still figure something out to show our appreciation!

Our commitment to our surrogate and her family goes beyond the finances to cover costs and expenses, although that’s of course part of it. We want to be as much a part of our surrogate’s life as she feels comfortable with. We would love to be part of the milestones leading up to, and of course including(!), the delivery. But we don’t want our surrogate to feel pressured or inconvenienced to include us at every step. We don’t want to burden her. We recognize our surrogate will have her own life that will continue while she’s carrying our child. We will be sensitive to any privacy needs. We want this to be as positive an experience for her as possible. If she wants space, we’ll provide it, if she wants to be close with us, we’ll be close. After pregnancy, our hope would be that we stay close, friendly, or at least remain in touch. It’s important to us that our child understands their origin story, and our surrogate will be a big character in that story!

Ian & Shilpa