I give this woman full credit for this. If you know how to contact her please let me know. She has really helped me through this article and I would like to thank her personally.
Do not — Do NOT — publish just part of this aritcle for yourself. Or think that you do not owe Heather full credit for it’s entirety. She is an incredible person to have written this.
After a Surrogate Birth
Author: Heather Weller
Published on: July 16, 2001
****This article was a great help in understanding what it will be like after the babies will be born.******
You’ve just delivered a surrogate baby, what are you going to do? If you answered you’re going to Disneyland, perhaps you should postpone that a month or so. Chances are you’re going into that amusement park thrill ride all its own: post partum mood swings.
I think this is an important message to get out there to those in the world of surrogacy who haven’t been through a birth yet: either as a surrogate or as an intended parent (IP). Many birth stories I read (by surrogates; I’ve read a few by the new parents themselves, but not as frequently. Hard as it is to believe, it seems they have something else to concentrate on ) would describe the amazing moment when the child was born and handed to the IPs, and how seeing how happy that made them made the surrogate feel an amazing surge of peace and pride for doing this amazing thing. Very few of these birth stories mentioned the down time that follows for MANY surrogates.
It seems in part to avoid scaring others, and in part to avoid having others think they are “regretting their decision” or “want to keep the baby,” many surrogates don’t mention or downplay the sadness they experience after the delivery. And while I’m sure there are some surrogates out there who never have a single pang of sadness, that would seem to be a highly unlikely scenario. Though not for the reasons many outsiders initially assume.
In today’s society, if you mention surrogacy, people often still think instantly of Mary Beth Whitehead (15 years later!). One of the main questions surrogates are asked is “how can you be sure you can give up the baby?” That is what everyone focuses on. And many surrogates report feeling totally “watched” in the days and weeks following delivery, as those around them – especially those who were skeptical about the whole surrogacy thing to begin with – wait for them to fall apart and realize they made a huge mistake and they want that baby back. They feel the only way to avoid having to explain and justify any sadness is to deny any has occurred.
But would it not be normal to be sad at the end of a surrogacy? I equate it to being involved in a play: for weeks or months you rehearse, you submerge yourself in a role, as the time for opening night nears your life tends to become more and more focused on this event, and then you have that wonderful shining moment on the stage, everything goes off wonderfully, the audience loves it, you couldn’t have been better. And. Then. It’s. Over. With a surrogacy, you’ve dedicated at the very least nearly a year to helping someone else be a parent when the delivery comes. And with very few exceptions, I’ve always heard the moment of seeing the IPs with their new child as being the highest high a surrogate can experience. But after that, where is there to go but down?
Those who’ve described the downtime most vividly often talk of feeling totally elated one moment and devastated shortly after because their part in this is done. It’s not the baby they miss – that is something everyone is emphatic about because of common perception – it’s either the surrogacy itself or the IPs or the “specialness” of being pregnant, or simply the hormones going for a joy ride. And it’s completely normal, if not often discussed.
I also think it’s essential for IPs to be aware of this, because as almost any parent can tell you, it’s very easy to become totally myopic when you bring home that child for the first time. Besides the rigors of adjusting to an infant’s schedule, the whole process of adjusting to being a family leaves little energy or attention to other details. For IPs who’ve been trying to years to have a child then turn to surrogacy – or even just those who came to surrogacy initially as a way to conceive – the end of the surrogacy is not an end at all, but merely the beginning of their dreams.
As natural as that is, the IPs should remember this is the end of the surrogate’s role and dream. As easy as it is to get swept away in the day-to-day minute-to-minute minutiae of new parenthood, it is important to remember the person who brought you to this point of obsession! Many IPs speak of wanting to make a “clean break” and simply be a new family, and worry that keeping the surrogate involved in their lives will be more difficult for everyone. (Of course, the amount of contact after the birth one desires differs greatly from case to case – and is something everyone should discuss early and often.) But of the surrogates I know who had the easiest return to being “a woman who once was a surrogate” versus being “a former surrogate who wonders exactly how XXX is doing” were those who had some input from the IPs as they made the adjustment to being a family, who were allowed some time to say goodbye to the baby they carried in the hospital (often in private – something that scares a lot of IPs, unfortunately), and who felt appreciated for their role in making their IPs family a reality. It’s this bit of extra hand-holding that actually often turns out to be a big source of closure.
For me, knowing that I almost certainly will have periods of being upset or sad after giving birth has been helpful, in that I know I can prepare my friends and family for it so they don’t instantly worry too much about my decision just because I have a period of “baby blues” even without having a baby around. It also has prepared me for it, so I won’t fear that I’m starting down the fateful path Mary Beth Whitehead did simply because I’m not 100% happy all the time following the delivery. And if I’m lucky, the parent of the baby I carry will be able to provide reassurance that I’m not simply thrown to the curb like hired help once the job is done if I need it. This may not be the most fun or glamorous part of surrogacy to discuss, but I truly think it’s an essential one.