Your entire surrogacy journey as an intended parent has been leading up to this point: meeting your baby for the first time at the hospital. This is an exciting, and often nerve-wracking, experience to look forward to.
We’ve made this guide to help you navigate some of the emotional experiences that many parents have during their time at the hospital:
Be Prepared to Share the Spotlight
This can be hard on intended parents. Perhaps you’ve dreamed of having the “traditional” hospital birth experience your whole life, so it can bring up difficult feelings when you’re not able to experience that in the way you originally envisioned.
However, this is something you’ll need to be emotionally prepared for. Gestational surrogacy is a different way to have a baby, but it’s no less of an amazing experience if you’re open to it!
While not all intended parents struggle with feelings of jealousy or loss during this time, some parents find that it’s helpful to mentally prepare for hospital experiences like:
- The focus being centered around your surrogate and her health, and less on you, the parents
- Many of the well-wishes and congratulations being misdirected toward your surrogate
- Some hospital staff or patients being unaware of your surrogacy relationship and making mistakes like calling the surrogate the mother
- Your baby’s identifying wristband possibly listing the surrogate’s last name rather than your own, which can be painful for some parents to see
Although meeting your baby in the hospital will be one of the most joyous experiences of your life, it’s important that you’re ready for any negative emotions you think you might experience so that you can be best prepared to support your surrogate through her labor and enjoy your time with your new baby.
Make Your Wishes Heard
As long as you do so respectfully, it’s perfectly reasonable to state your preferences as the parents. Whether you’re speaking to hospital staff or your own family, it’s ok to let them know what you’d like to do during this important time. Just remember that not every nurse will know your birth plan or your surrogacy relationship, so if someone makes a mistake, try to be patient and correct them gently.
For example, if you’d like a couple well-meaning grandparents to give you all some space at the hospital, gently let them know that this time needs to be spent with the immediate families of you and your surrogate for now. Be firm about what you want, but be kind.
Do What’s Best for Baby and Be Flexible
The health of your baby and your surrogate will always need to come first, regardless of your preferences as the parents. It can be scary to let go of control where your child is concerned, but whatever the doctor says goes!
That means you may have to give up some of the experiences you were planning to have if something doesn’t go according to plan. And, as you probably know, babies don’t always adhere to a plan.
For example, if you and your spouse were both planning on being in the delivery room but the doctor decides that the baby needs to be delivered by cesarean and only one of you may be in the room, you’ll need to be ready to make that decision.
Another example: you may want to do some skin-on-skin bonding with your baby shortly after he or she is born, but it’s strongly recommended that your surrogate hold the baby first to maximize the health benefits of skin-on-skin contact for your baby.
Whatever the situation, just remember to stay flexible and to prioritize the needs of your baby and surrogate over your excitement as new parents.
Check in on Your Surrogate
This may seem like a no-brainer, but once your baby is born, it can be easy to forget about everything except spending time with your new child! But your surrogate will be recovering from a physically difficult experience that she went through for your family. It’ll mean a lot to her if you check in to see how she’s doing periodically.
Your American Surrogacy specialist will try to arrange for you to have a room next to or nearby your surrogate during your time in the hospital. She’ll likely be resting for most of the day after giving birth to your baby, but try to find a few times to stop in, give her a hug and ask her how she’s feeling during her postpartum recovery. Feel free to bring your baby by to say hello, too.
This is a good opportunity to bring some closure to your journey together — express your gratitude, offer a small gift that represents the time you’ve spent together or just spend some time together before you part ways and jump back into busy parenthood.
Encourage Your Surrogate’s Family to Meet the Baby
Your surrogate’s spouse and children have spent the last nine or so months with your baby, too. It’s important that they have the closure of meeting him or her, and seeing that your baby is safe, loved and finally united with you.
It’s also good for them to see that the pain and hard work their loved one went through has emotionally paid off — seeing your baby in your arms will make this surrogacy journey worthwhile to your surrogate’s whole family, as they experienced it alongside her.
For some parents, it can be tempting to withdraw and to want to spend total alone -time bonding with the baby. But your surrogate’s family was an important part of this journey, even if their contributions weren’t as visible as your surrogate’s. Her spouse and children should have some time to meet your baby, and to say goodbye, as well, when you leave.
Send Your Surrogate Some Updates After the Hospital
As a new parent, you’ll likely love talking about your baby and you’ll be snapping plenty of photos! Sharing some of that with your former surrogate will mean a lot to her and her family.
Be sure to check in after you’ve all gone home and ask how she is. Your former surrogate won’t be feeling 100% for a while as she recovers, so some good news from your family will likely help make discomfort feel worth it. It’ll be nice for her to see you all happy together. Seeing your family complete will bring her a lot of pride in the efforts and sacrifices she made. Plus, everyone loves cute baby photos.
Need some more advice about what to expect at the hospital as an intended parent? You can always reach out to your American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information.