Olafson, 47, has given birth to 15 babies. Only four of them are her own. In the past 13 years,
Olafson of North Dakata has acted as a gestational carrier — she's been dubbed
a "super-surrogate" — giving birth to 11 children for
parents who can't conceive on their own.
"I've had two sets of triplets, a set of twins, then including my own four, six singletons," she tells KVRR.
Two weeks ago, Olafson gave birth to a baby girl for a South Dakota couple. She claims that sixth pregnancy is her last.
"I'm retiring after this one, this uterus is closing shop," she tells the TODAY Show.
Olafson insists she didn't do it for the money, adding that surrogacy in North Dakota is not the cash windfall it is in other areas of the country. She receives $12,000 to $19,000 per pregnancy, a fraction of what some surrogates make elsewhere. Note that in Canada, it's
illegal to pay surrogate mothers outside of reimbursing them for their expenses. Instead, she insists she merely wants couples struggling with infertility to experience the joys of parenthood.
"When you see those parents' faces, when they see that ultrasound for the first time and they see that heart beat beating, or they get to hear that heartbeat, that's priceless right there," she says.
Because the future parents supply the embryos — none of Olafson's DNA play a part in the fetal development, making her literally
a walking incubator. She claims that giving up the children she's carried for nine months isn't difficult.
"Those parents are the actual mother and father and so the mindset for you at that time is you know you're handing them their child," Olafson says. "It has nothing to do with you whatsoever. It does make it a lot easier."
Olafson pregnancies are the kind every mom envies. Not once did she experience morning sickness, she put on a minimal weight with each baby, and was able to work until the day of delivery. Her longest delivery, her oldest daughter, took just over an hour.
Her youngest child took just 20 minutes of labour.
"My pregnancies have been basically a piece of cake. I kind of got told not to come back to a Lamaze class because I wasn't that 'typical' Lamaze mom," she tells KVRR.
What Olafson didn't share with TODAY was that two of her more recent pregnancies resulted in health complications. She developed pre-clampsia with the second set of
triplets, and had placenta previa, which can cause severe bleeding before and during delivery.
"It does raise health
questions," Michele Goodwin, a law professor and medical ethicist at the University of Minnesota, tells The Jamestown Sun. "The older the person is, the more likely there will be a multiple gestation and also some health problems for the person who is carrying and the fetuses."
Surrogacy.ca recommends that surrogate mothers not be over the age of 45.
At 47, Olafson's womb deserves a retirement.