Back in 2009, Ellen Pompeo gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Stella. For her and her husband, Chris Ivery, it was their first child. Pompeo took a very short period of time off from Grey's Anatomy to recover and be with the baby. When she returned four weeks or so later, everything was dandy. Then, five years later, Pompeo was spotted with a new baby. This time, there was no pregnancy and no adoption that we knew of. What was this sorcery? While we all sat on pins and needles, questioning our grade school health classes and the meaning of life, Pompeo came out and explained it all. She and her husband had used a surrogate mother to carry and give birth to their second child, Sienna May. Shortly after making the announcement on social media, Pompeo spoke about it on The Jimmy Kimmel Show.
Ellen Pompeo is not the first star to use a surrogate mother, so it wasn't all that crazy, but it was a bit surprising just because of the secrecy involved. Those that know Pompeo, however, know that she does like to keep her private life private like the selfish woman she is. But that wouldn't be the last time Pompeo surprised us with a new baby. She would do it again in 2016. Once again, Pompeo kept secrets from us and went the surrogate route for their third child, Eli Christopher. But there's some real good things about these public reveals. Pompeo's surrogacy babies are great for bringing more attention to this wonderful process. By all accounts, in her public appearances and social media praises, Pompeo seems like she really enjoyed the whole thing and is incredibly thankful to her baby-maker. But we wonder if there is anything she wishes that she didn't know about the process or maybe things she wishes that we didn’t know about the process. That gave us an idea.
Because Meredith Grey is both a doctor and a fictional character, here are 15 Things Ellen Pompeo Would Only Want Meredith Grey To Know About Her Surrogate.
15 Why Surrogacy?
Obviously, Pompeo's life is her own and what she chooses to share with the world is her decision, but that doesn't mean we can't wonder and ask questions. When Pompeo was first discussing having a baby back in 2008, the then-40-year-old said, "I’ve got to get on it, because the clock is ticking." Given Pompeo's age the second time around (45), it would seem that age was the determining factor. But there are many different reasons why people go the surrogacy route, including illness, medications, uterine conditions, and more. Some women never find a reason why they can't carry a child, but they just find that they can't. Now, we're not suggesting that Pompeo failed us by not discussing why she went this route, but there's no denying that there was an opportunity here for her to use her soapbox to discuss how infertility is not a dead-end for women in her shoes.
14 Age Risks
While we don't like to be presumptuous, Pompeo's age and her thinly-veiled comments about age and pregnancy make it seem like that was the driving force behind the surrogacy decision. Now, Pompeo probably only wants her doctor to know the true reasons behind her decision, but the risks are important to be known for everyone out there. When she was 40, the age in which Pompeo gave birth to her first child, the odds of the child having genetic complications, such as down syndrome, were one in 100. As the woman ages, the second number continues to fall. When it came time for baby number two, Pompeo was already 45. If she carried the baby herself, the odds would have been one in 30. After 45, when the 3rd baby came, the odds of even getting pregnant are slim to none.
13 Lifestyle Choice?
Listen, we don't want to imply that Pompeo chose to use a surrogate just because "she could," but we do want to discuss the optics that sometimes accompany this process. Surrogacy is typically a very expensive route. Whenever a celebrity or a rich woman goes through this, she often receives doubt and criticism from a portion of the public because there is a misconception out there that surrogacy is a convenient option for people looking to have a child. Pompeo has been hit with this too. Despite her age, fans have accused Pompeo of using a surrogate to preserve her body and allow her to work unimpeded simply because she could afford it. This is mostly because of a 2008 quote of hers:
"[Chris and I] enjoy our life so much. We go to Europe and sleep in. So when I have the baby, I won't feel like we've missed any fun, reckless times together, like staying up all night drinking champagne and having s*x until five in the morning and not having to get up until two in the afternoon."
12 The Terms
While we may be twisting the conditions of this list a bit, we're betting that after looking back at her Jimmy Kimmel appearance in which she discussed the procedure, Pompeo wished that she actually knew everything that Meredith Grey knew. Now, just because Pompeo is a celebrity, doesn't mean that it's her responsibility to represent the entire surrogate community. But, she is a front-and-center representative, like it or not; so she should get the important terms and buzz words down. She described the process and how Chris gave the sperm and she gave the egg. She explained that these were put together to make an embryo. This is all correct. But then she said that this embryo was "inseminated" into the surrogate. This is wrong. It's a small yet common mistake to make, but we thought we would just clear it all up. Insemination is the process of putting sperm into something for reproduction. Pompeo's surrogate, as she described it, experienced an "embryo transfer."
11 Provided Eggs
When Pompeo was describing the surrogacy process, she explained that she "had to do something as well," adding that they "had to retrieve the egg." This is all perfectly reasonable that things happened exactly like this, as many women are able to donate eggs after 40, but it is definitely the less likely route. This is because there are risks attached to an older woman, especially one at 45 like Pompeo, using her eggs at that time. After 40, a woman's eggs become less and less reliable for pregnancy. While it's entirely possible that a suitable egg was retrieved from Pompeo's 45-year-old body, it's also quite possible that she froze eggs after her first pregnancy, which would have been more reliable. These would have then been unfrozen and used when the surrogate was ready.
10 The Barker Hypothesis
Although the science on this is not conclusive, the Barker Hypothesis, work put forth by Dr. David Barker, suggests that the uterus that the baby is grown within can be more influential on genetic expression than what takes place after birth. For example, diabetes or heart disease, conditions that are almost always based on lifestyle and/or genetics, are sometimes developed within the womb during pregnancy. This flies in the face of common knowledge that only the parents' genes play a role. Obviously, to safeguard against this, Pompeo and Ivery would have chosen a surrogate who lives a healthy life and has a strong medical makeup.
9 Surrogate Genetics
One of the great things about surrogacy, particularly for the donors, Pompeo and Ivery, is that the baby's DNA is going to be from them, the parents. There are studies, however, that show that some genetic material from the surrogate (the birth mother) is present in uterine fluid. This means that the baby carrier’s DNA can impact the embryo’s genetic development. While the carrier's DNA may not be passed on directly to the child, research has shown that it can direct how the baby's genes develop, governing which things get turned on and which things get turned off.
8 Surrogate's Lifestyle
If Ellen Pompeo doesn’t want the world to know who her surrogate is, you can be damn sure she doesn't want the public knowing what the surrogate eats and drinks on a daily basis. But this is important information for Pompeo and her doctors to know because it plays a massive role in the baby's development. Everything from the surrogate's daily nutritional intake to the environment she lives in plays a part in the baby's development. For Pompeo and all other parents going through this surrogacy process, this has got to be a challenging time. Wondering whether the birth mother is smoking ciggys at night or pounding back a few brewskis for breakfast each morning is enough to make you go crazy. Having written this, we have no doubt that Pompeo's surrogate is a saint, only drinking spring water from an Arctic river and the leafy greens from an island meadow untouched by human feet.
7 The Surrogate's Influence
We know that the in-utero environment plays a role in the baby's development while it's still in the womb. This is pretty straightforward information. But that environment could have a lasting impact. Some studies suggest that that environment can play a role long into the development of the child after birth. Take the stress level of the birth mother for example. Carriers who experience high levels of stress during pregnancy can greatly affect the child's brain development. Research has shown that a child's risk of developing emotional or behavioral issues later in life can be doubled if the surrogate mother experiences stress during the pregnancy. Knowing this, Pompeo probably did whatever she could to make the carrier's life as easy as possible.
6 Sound Of Mother's Voice
We're thinking that Pompeo probably tried to get as much time with her surrogate as possible during the pregnancies, but we wonder if she ever worried about the babies' connection to her voice. It is said that babies develop a connection with their carrier's voice and vibrations while in the womb. Even if Pompeo spent hours a week speaking to the baby, it's unlikely to have surpassed the surrogate's voice in terms of importance. This would mean that the baby instinctively connects with the surrogate more than the donor. Now, have no fear, mothers who want or need to go the surrogate route, these connections made are probably forgotten soon after, but it's something we have no doubt Pompeo has thought about.
5 How Much Is That Baby In The Window?
The business of surrogacy is one that bounces all over the place, and when it comes to celebrities, we don’t have exact numbers, but you can bet that Pompeo and Ivery paid a pretty penny to have those babies. Some reports out of the Kim Kardashian and Kanye West surrogacy claim that it cost them about $70,000 to get the process going. After that, they spent about $50,000 more once the baby was delivered. That's $120,000 for the entire process, something we're sure they felt was well worth it. If you consider the whole stress thing, we have to imagine that these rich celebrities would go above and beyond to make the surrogate comfortable, giving her whatever she needed to make her life easier. It sounds like a great job. All these surrogates have to do is be pregnant all the time.
4 Hitting Her In The Feels
Remember the Friends story arc when Phoebe was asked to carry a child for her brother and his wife? Well, she did and eventually gave birth to triplets. When the time to deliver was approaching, however, Phoebe revealed that she wanted to keep one of the babies. This is because of a natural attachment that carriers feel to the baby growing inside them. It's a physical investment after all. Now, it's possible that Pompeo's surrogate was perfectly fine with letting go of the baby she carried to term, and we'll never find out otherwise, but many surrogates do struggle with this process. Many seek out counselling afterward to help them overcome the feelings of loss due to the attachment.
3 Future Attachments?
According to some studies into the relationships formed during the surrogacy process, there's a good chance that Pompeo and Ivery will keep the surrogate mother in their life in some way afterward (assuming she isn't already family). In fact, up to 77% of children of surrogate mothers stay in touch with the birth mother. Whether they know the true relationship or not is another story, though. In one study, almost half of the surrogate's actual children even kept in touch with the surrogate child, some considering themselves siblings to the donated baby. We wonder what type of relationship Pompeo's children will have with the surrogate mother, if any, especially considering the high-profile nature of the situation.
2 The Mystery Woman
Well, we know that Pompeo wants to keep this mystery baby-making woman anonymous. She has made that very clear by emphasizing the word anonymous several times when talking about the process. But who is this woman? Is it a relative? Is it a professional surrogate? We get why she's keeping the woman's identity private though, as the paparazzi would be needlessly all over her, but that doesn't stop us from wondering. One of the biggest questions that hasn't been answered is: did the same surrogate give birth to both of Pompeo's children? Does that even matter?
1 Watching That Process
Mothers often say that you can never explain childbirth, only experience it yourself. For Pompeo, she went through it with her first child, so she knows what it feels like. But she also probably understands the emotional side of the process. When it came time for the second child, she explains that she watched everything, from the embryo transfer to the birth itself. She even held the surrogate's hand during the embryo transfer. Now, there's a part of us that is curious about Pompeo's feelings during this time. Of course, no one will ever know for sure how she felt in those moments, but we wonder if, in addition to pure happiness and joy of being able to have another child, there was any sadness, regret, or jealousy. Regardless, we're ecstatic that Pompeo and Ivery were able to have two healthy children via surrogacy, and if more people are introduced to this option because of the Pompeo's journey, then she's used her celebrity to do some good.
Sources: Wikipedia; People; WebMd, Familiesthrusurrogacy