When you’re an intended parent, the confirmation that your surrogate is pregnant should be exciting news. This is, after all, your baby — the ultimate goal of the whole process. You may, however, find it difficult to fully take joy in the pregnancy. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify why you’re having a hard time getting excited about such an exciting thing.
Here are four steps to getting you on the path to greater emotional investment in your surrogate pregnancy and to being able to enjoy the experience:
Step 1: Address Infertility-Related Grief
If you’ve experienced infertility, miscarriage, or pregnancy loss, you’ll need to fully grieve those losses before starting your family-building process. Even then, those old emotions can pop back up throughout your surrogate pregnancy, making it hard for you to get excited. Some of the common grief-related experiences that you may have include:
- Wanting to emotionally distance yourself from your surrogate or the pregnancy for fear of the pain of another pregnancy loss
- Constantly worrying about what your surrogate is doing that could trigger a miscarriage or other harmful development
- Re-experiencing grief that you were physically unable to conceive or carry your baby as you watch your surrogate’s pregnancy progress
- Fearing that you won’t love a surrogacy-born baby as much as a baby you carried yourself
Grief is never easy to shake, and we tend to re-experience it when we least want to. If your emotions about infertility or pregnancy loss are standing in the way of you enjoying your surrogate pregnancy, you owe it to yourself and your surrogate to try to address those emotions so you can experience the excitement you deserve. Talking to a counselor or therapist, your spouse, religious advisor and/or surrogacy professional may help.
Step 2: Let Go of the Need to Control
When so much is out of your hands, feeling in control of even small things can bring a sense of comfort. The feeling of a lack of control can make it hard for you to get excited about a surrogate pregnancy. Some common experiences that waiting parents have are:
- Worrying about what their surrogate is eating, what medications she’s taking or other factors beyond their control instead of enjoying their surrogate’s pregnancy
- Trying to micromanage their surrogacy professionals rather than connecting with their surrogate and getting excited about their baby
- Overburdening themselves with planning baby showers, designing the nursery, or throwing themselves into work instead of acknowledging the emotional realities of the pregnancy
Sometimes it can be helpful to control whatever small things we can, especially when major things are not under our control. In other situations, trying to control details can be harmful. For example, micromanaging your surrogate or your surrogacy professional won’t help anyone, and it’ll only emotionally distance yourself from truly enjoying the experience of a surrogate pregnancy.
Do your best to relax and to embrace the unknown as much as you can. Talking to former intended parents may help soothe some of your anxieties about this.
Step 3: Connect with Your Surrogate
There are a lot of emotions at play that can leave you feeling a little reluctant or nervous to talk to your surrogate about her pregnancy. Some common irritations that intended parents have that may hinder excitement about the pregnancy include:
- Jealousy toward the surrogate for being able to carry their baby
- Not being able to experience her physical sensations of pregnancy and feeling a sense of disconnect
- Physical distance in a long-distance surrogacy match that makes it hard for them to feel emotionally connected to their surrogate and their baby
- Fearing that they’re bothering their surrogate
It’s important to prioritize your relationship with your surrogate. Not every surrogate and her intended parents are going to be best friends, and that’s perfectly fine. But getting to know your surrogate as a person and not just as “your surrogate” will help you feel more invested if you’re feeling a little disconnected right now.
Try to spend some time together, when she’s available. Even if you have a long-distance surrogacy match, try to talk on the phone or video chat. Talking to her about her pregnancy is a great way to build your own excitement about her experiences, but talking to her about her family, her interests and more will help you to build an overall stronger connection.
Step 4: Spend Time with Your Loved Ones
The surrogacy process is time-consuming and can be emotionally exhausting. Sometimes relationships can feel the strain of this. But the people you’re closest to aren’t just your best source of emotional support — they’ll also help you to get excited about your surrogate pregnancy.
Some of these common feelings that waiting parents experience might make it hard for you to get excited about the pregnancy:
- Feeling out-of-sync with your spouse or partner, who may be more (or less) excited than you are about the pregnancy
- Frustrations with friends or family who have very different emotional responses to the pregnancy than your own current feelings
- Emotional exhaustion from talking about the pregnancy and surrogacy process so often with well-meaning friends, family or coworkers
This can be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your spouse or partner, as well as your older kids, if you have children. After all, these are the last few months you’ll have together before the welcome chaos of a new family member. Take some time to go on a small weekend trip together, go to the movies, or even just spend time doing the normal, non-surrogacy-related things you love doing.
The surrogacy experience can be an emotional time, and spouses can process their feelings in different ways. Spending time together to talk, reconnect and focus on your relationship will benefit everyone, and you can get one another more excited about your baby’s upcoming arrival in the process.
If you’re having a hard time getting excited about your surrogate pregnancy, try not to feel frustrated. Instead, try to identify why you might be struggling to enjoy the pregnancy and work to build an emotional connection to the experience. Pregnancy is an exciting time, and surrogacy is uniquely wonderful. You deserve to enjoy all the emotions that come with it.