Surrogate Losses:

Understandings of Pregnancy Loss and Assisted Reproduction among Surrogate Mothers



I explore surrogate mothers’ narrative construction of pregnancy loss on surrogacy support websites. Communicating via the Internet, women construct the public online world of surrogacy. Drawing on anthropological and sociological literature I investigate the connections between conceptualizations of loss and understandings of technological practices and the consequences of these understandings for assisted reproduction. Surrogate mothers define loss broadly, ranging from failure to conceive to miscarriage and stillbirth; loss means the failure to give a baby to the intended parents. Assisted reproductive technologies contribute to loss by raising expectations of success, by attempting to maximize results through the transfer of multiple fertilized ova, and by early monitoring and testing. However, surrogates collectively understand technology as a positive force and advocate for reproductive technology. Surrogates’ resolve to “give the gift of life” makes them vulnerable to failure and loss, yet also informs repeated efforts to bear children for others with technological assistance.