Age at interview: 45
Background: Daniel is in a same-sex relationship. He and his partner live in a large city with their twin daughters, aged 2. Daniel works as a consultant and is from an Anglo-Australian background.
Daniel and his partner decided to have children via surrogacy in India. Both Daniel and his partner had previously experienced anxiety and depression and were on long-term antidepressant medication (venlafaxine (EFFEXOR) in Daniel's case). They lost their first set of twins via surrogacy and struggled to cope with this devastating experience. They went on to have twin daughters and Daniel now supports others going through surrogacy. You can view clips from Daniel's interview and read more about him below.
> Experiences of pre-term birth, special care, stillbirth and death of a baby - Daniel described his grief at the death of his twin sons
More about Daniel
Daniel experienced difficulties accepting his sexuality when he was young because he thought it meant giving up 'the chance of having a family'. However, once he was in a long-term relationship, Daniel and his partner explored different options for having children and decided to have children via surrogacy in India.
Daniel and his partner travelled to India and visited a clinic, donated sperm and chose a Caucasian donor from South Africa, who flew over to donate her eggs. The third embryo transfer into their Indian surrogate mother was successful, and they soon learned she was pregnant with twin boys. However at around 20 weeks, the surrogate mother was admitted to hospital following bleeding and loss of amniotic fluid. At 26 weeks, the doctor called Daniel and his partner to tell them he couldn't find a heartbeat for one baby. An emergency caesarean had to be performed. One twin was stillborn and the other was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Daniel and his partner felt mixed emotions - they were overjoyed they had a son but they had also lost a baby. They made several trips over to India to spend time in the hospital with their son, which Daniel found 'pretty scary' as the hospital was 'rundown and chaotic'. They also felt helpless as over time their son began to experience increasing complications. When he was six weeks old, his life support had to be turned off. Daniel and his partner had their son cremated and brought his ashes back to Australia where they had a memorial service.
In the months following the loss of their twins, Daniel said he and his partner felt 'numb' and struggled to deal with what had happened. Daniel described getting 'pretty low' and feeling like he 'just wanted to die'. Both men had experienced anxiety and depression prior to their loss and had been on long-term medication. To try to 'get through it', Daniel said he increased his antidepressant dosage. They also had relationship counselling and saw a counsellor from SIDS and Kids counsellor, but Daniel said SIDS and Kids 'weren't resourced' to deal with people in their situation.
Eventually 'things got better' and about five months later, they decided to try again, this time using an Indian egg donor. They did not want to have twins so used two surrogate mothers and their daughters were born on the same day by caesarean section.
Daniel said he felt he and his partner's experience was a 'painful pathway' to parenthood, but they were lucky to have survived the process and to have healthy children. They have created a 'storybook' for their daughters featuring photos of and stories from their surrogate and egg donor mothers to help them learn where they come from. Daniel's experiences have also inspired him to assist other couples going through surrogacy. Daniel's advice for others considering surrogacy is to research the medical risks, financial implications and ethics of egg donor and surrogate recruitment, and to be prepared 'to go through a rollercoaster ride.'