When you’re going through the infertility process, the last thing that you’re probably thinking about is the unique challenges of parenting after infertility. After all, once you have the baby you’ve been dreaming about for so long, it’s normal to think that everything in your life will fall into the way it’s supposed to be — that you’ll finally be a “normal,” happy family, that you’ll be able to move forward and forget this difficult time in your life, and that you’ll be the best parent that you’ve always promised yourself you’ll be.
However, it’s important to recognize that parenting after infertility is not a clean slate. While you will be embarking on a happier time in your life, you will still deal with all the usual challenges of parenting, as well as residual emotions and issues from the time you spent coping with your infertility and attempting to move forward.
Before you even begin the surrogacy process or another family-building process, we encourage you to evaluate how your infertility journey may impact your parenting journey after you successfully bring your baby home. Many intended parents have happy, rewarding parenting experiences after infertility, but you’ll need to be aware of potential challenges that can arise and how you can confront and move forward from them successfully.
It’s best to talk to one of our surrogacy specialists or another infertility counselor to learn more about how your specific infertility history may impact your parenting experience. Below, we’ve listed some of the common issues and concerns that parenting after infertility may include:
1. Thinking Infertility Emotions Will Just Disappear
When you finally become parents, you’ll experience a happiness that you’ve probably been waiting months and years for. You may even think that the pain of your infertility struggles will disappear when you finally have the baby you’ve been dreaming about for so long.
While the pain and sadness of your infertility struggles will likely dissipate as you enjoy your new happiness as a family, you should know that your infertility history is not something that you’ll just forget. Those painful emotions may surface when you least expect it, perhaps when someone comments on your apparent ease to have children or when your child gets to the age where they start their own families. While you may not need to acknowledge and accept these struggles as constantly as you did in the past, it’s important to be prepared for the possibility that these feelings of loss and grief will resurface. Unresolved feelings of loss can lead to severe mental and physical side effects — the last thing that you need while you’re raising a child.
In addition, if you have a child via surrogacy, you may feel like you have to “explain” your pregnancy journey over and over, which can bring up these unresolved emotions. After all, people who are unfamiliar with infertility treatments like surrogacy and adoption may be confused when they see you with a baby after not being pregnant, and may make comments or ask questions that bring up uncomfortable topics for you. Remember, you always have the right to explain as much or as little of your parenthood journey to people that ask — but you should be prepared for some of these questions. You may even take steps to explain to your workplace and other friends ahead of your baby’s birth to avoid these uncomfortable conversations.
Your infertility journey has shaped a great deal of your life; it’s not an experience that you’ll never think of again. If you ever have difficulties dealing with re-emerging emotions, you can always reach out to your surrogacy specialist or other infertility counselor.
2. Financial Strain of Parenting After Infertility
An important part of preparing for your family-building process is budgeting for the expense of your chosen method. However, it’s equally as important to prepare for the financial difficulties that may arise with your parenting after infertility.
Just as you ensure that you have enough funds to complete your family-building process, you must also make sure that you are financially prepared for the struggles of parenting. Many intended parents deplete their savings through infertility treatments, putting every financial resource toward their dream of starting a family. Raising a child is not cheap for anyone but, when you’re paying off infertility treatment loans, the financial strain can be even tougher. Add in unexpected costs like job losses or medical emergencies, and many of those parenting after infertility find themselves in a tight financial situation for a couple of years after their baby is born.
As always, we recommend you speak to a financial advisor before starting your ART treatments to make sure you can afford any upcoming expenses.
3. Potential for Postpartum Depression
Immediately after your baby is born, you’ll go through an intense adjustment period as you get used to your new life as parents. This can be stressful and difficult, maybe even leading to mental health issues like depression.
Postpartum depression is not just something that women who were pregnant experience; any new mothers and fathers (whether through surrogacy or adoption) can also develop this mental illness. Pregnancy is not a determination of postpartum depression. Instead, it’s usually caused by fatigue, unrealistic expectations of parenthood or lack of community support — which any new parent can experience. If you think you are exhibiting symptoms of postpartum depression, please contact your doctor or another mental health professional for assistance.
4. Difficulty Bonding with the Baby
While most intended parents feel an automatic bond to their baby once they’re born, it’s also normal to take longer to bond with a baby born via surrogacy. This is not a sign that you’re a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll never have the same parent-child bond that you would have if you carried your baby yourself.
For parents of babies born via surrogacy (and especially those born from egg or sperm donors), the bonding process can take more time. You may need to take extra steps during your surrogate’s pregnancy to create a bond while your baby is in utero, and you’ll need to be patient directly following your baby’s birth to solidify that bond. Even mothers who give birth to their own child don’t always feel an instant connection; if you’re in the same situation, know that your feelings are perfectly normal. Try not to take the tough times personally; if your baby is crying and won’t stop, it’s not because of a weak bond — it’s usually just because of normal baby conditions, like colic or tantrums.
Your surrogacy specialist or infertility counselor can also offer additional bonding tips for this crucial time.
5. Expectation of Being a Perfect Parent
No one is ever fully prepared to become a parent, and there are no “perfect” parents in the world. However, when you’ve gone through the infertility process, you’ve likely had a lot of time to think about what you would be like as a parent and how you can be the best one possible.
For example, you may promise yourself that if you ever have a child, you’ll never get frustrated or angry with them. You may decide that you’ll never be an overprotective mother or father and always let your child take risks and explore. You may craft the idea in your head of what kind of parent you’ll be after infertility, but it’s important to recognize that those promises may not always be the case.
Parenting is difficult, and there are times where it feels too overwhelming to stick to the promises you made yourself. There may be times where you’re not always grateful and thankful like you said you’d be, and your child may not always act like the perfect angel that you imagined. This is a normal part of parenting, and just because you became parents through a more intensive process doesn’t mean your experience parenting after infertility will be different in these regards. Like all parents, make sure you have a community of support to turn to whenever your parenting journey gets tough.
What Else to Know About Parenting After Infertility
Though there are certainly many possible challenges that can arise when you pursue parenting after infertility, your infertility history does not mean that your parenting experience will always be difficult. On the contrary, studies have shown that those who become parents after infertility show towards their children:
More emotional involvement
With the proper preparation and determination to be positive parents and role models, your experience parenting after infertility does not need to be any different from any other parents who conceived more easily. However, we do encourage you to talk with your infertility counselor and your partner to make sure that you really understand any concerns you have and any possible issues you might experience as you parent your child. Remember: Parenting is difficult at times, but the joys greatly outweigh any negative experiences you might have during the process.
To learn more about how American Surrogacy can help you move from infertility to surrogacy and eventually become parents, please contact our specialists today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).