When you decided to become a surrogate, you likely did your research, discussed with your family and friends, and had all of your questions answered. But never in a million years did you imagine that while you were a surrogate, the world would be facing what it is now. What does COVID-19, the Coronavirus, mean for surrogate mothers who are at the beginning of their journeys, or pregnant with their surrobabies?
For gestational carriers in the earlier stages of your journey, you’re likely in contact with your IVF clinics and agencies about upcoming medical screenings and transfers. For carriers who are pregnant, you will likely be in close contact with your agency and intended parents as the situation continues to evolve.
As you work together to navigate what the future will look like and come to terms with the reality that the planned path for your pregnancy and delivery will likely change, we’d like to share some suggestions and thoughts for how to make meaning out of the unexpected circumstances which you are now faced with.
How to deal with the state of the world, and any stress that you may be feeling.
There is no “right” way to feel during all of this. Everyone is different, and everyone deals with challenges in their own way. Here are ways to help you deal with everything going on around you:
- Acknowledge that this is a difficult time. Give yourself permission to feel the way you do and allow yourself to be disappointed.
- Take time for you. This is, undoubtedly, harder when there are very few places to go or things to do. But even a few moments of deep breathing or reading or relaxing can help.
- Practice being gentle and kind to yourself.
- Be aware that your Intended Parents might be experiencing some sadness and disappointment and be mindful that you are not to blame. There might be more asked of you as your pregnancy comes to an end. Please know how appreciated you are for all you have done up until this point and for all you are doing to prepare.
- Utilize your support network of family, friends and fellow “surro sisters.” You all share a bond that is so unique and special. We encourage you to reach out to and connect with those who are in similar situations as you within Private Surrogate Facebook Groups or within your surrogacy agency.
- Remind yourself that there will be things outside of your control, and that this is okay.
- Remember, change is hard for everyone and as this moment is one you’ve all planned for, it’s natural to have some feelings of disappointment if your birth plan has to change. Communicate those feelings but remember that none of these changes are your fault. Circle is here to support you and your IPs, and the most important goal is a safe and healthy delivery for both you and your surrogate baby.
How surrogates can prepare for labor and delivery.
You’ve been waiting and planning for your entire journey to get to this point: delivery day! You’ve likely worked with your intended parents to complete a birth plan on how the big day will unfold. Chances are, however, that your original plan may need to be modified as hospitals begin implementing new rules and restrictions regarding who can be a delivery support person, and who is allowed into the hospital. Plus, the travel bans are making it very difficult – and sometimes impossible – for international (and some domestic) intended parents to travel. If your birth plan isy not be happening according to plan, try to stay positive and explore alternative ideas and solutions.
- Create a personal birth plan/personal wish list (keep in mind, this may have changed based on circumstances from your original plan)
- Think about comfort items you’ll find helpful in the labor/delivery/post-birth days ahead
- Organize your priorities for the day (what are the things you need to have in place so that you can focus on your labor and delivery experience; do you have a care plan for your kids as the availability of your previous options may have changed, etc.)
- Discuss with your OB/Nurses what you can do to include your intended parents (hospitals are dealing with making policies that may limit the number of people in delivery rooms, which may result in IPs not being present even if they are able to be at the hospital).
- We want to acknowledge that the emotional and physical preparation for labor and delivery has played and will continue to pay a large role in your overall experience. While labor might only be hours long, we know that it is a BIG part of the journey.
- Having your intended parents with you during your labor of love, can often shed new light to them for all you have been doing and could have been something you were looking forward to. Recognizing that your intended parents’ presence in this part might be different than planned, can be hard to come to terms with. There can be a sense of disappointment which is valid and understood.
How to include your intended parents in the delivery, even if they aren’t physically present.
The news and updates around the Coronavirus and the world’s response changes daily. Intended parents will be doing their best to be there for the birth and in the hospital, but outside forces may not make that possible. This can be disappointing for you as a surrogate, and extremely disappointing to them as intended parents.
Here are a few ways to have your intended parents with you even if they aren’t physically present:
- Record your thoughts during and after labor
- Send them video or audio message updates
- Take pictures
- Facetime them in during delivery
- Talk with your intended parents about what they are hoping for and communicate with them what you are hoping for
- Develop a plan with them!
Here are ways to make the delivery more meaningful:
- Changing the vision of what this experience was going to look like now gives us an opportunity to create a new vision for this equally special experience.
- In the days and weeks before:
- With IPs or on your own, find a way to mark the upcoming transition by:
- Writing a journal entry
- Finding a song that holds meaning for you all
- Finding an object that holds meaning from this experience
- Sharing reflections of the journey and hopes for the future
- Having a conversation about what is going on and what is about to happen
- Writing down the things you are proud of yourself for
- Remember: the beauty and joy of this experience is still here, let’s explore how to find it among these new circumstances
- With IPs or on your own, find a way to mark the upcoming transition by:
How surrogates can prepare for the post-birth experience.
You have just done an incredible thing that so many women are unable to do. This is something to feel very proud of! Everyone around you will be proud of you as well! Remember that the post-birth experience is also a very important step in the surrogacy journey, and that the post birth experience varies per individual; there is no right or wrong way to feel.
- There is a potential that the intended parents to not make it to birth, and that their “Plan B” is having someone you do not know – such as a family member of close friend of theirs – to be caring for the baby at time of birth or discharge. This is a new feeling and it’s ok if it doesn’t sit well. Please be assured that the person caring for the baby is prepared and has the needed resources to bring the baby/ies and intended parents together long-term. Just as you helped them start this journey, the additional support people are here to help all of you continue this journey.
- If your intended parents explore post-birth baby care and support from local family and friends without asking you to care for their baby/ies, it does NOT mean that your IPs do not trust you or want your help. The days and weeks following birth are a special time for you to focus on yourself and your family, and everyone wants you to have as successful of a transition as possible.
- If your intended parents do consider you for a caretaker for their baby post-birth (should they not be able to be there and do not have support in place), you should speak with your agency and lawyer about this; you are by no means required to care for your intended parents’ baby.
- In the days and weeks before delivery with your IPs:
- Talk about your plans for remaining in contact post birth. Express what you are hoping for.
- Given that they might be missing delivery and that you might not see them “meet” their baby/ies for the first time, talk with them about ways for you to see this interaction. Could they video it? Could you facetime? Could you be there? Explore the options!
- Even though the pregnancy is on the path to ending, your journey as a surrogate will never end.
- Because of you, your family, and supports, a new family has been created.
- While the next steps are unknown there is much to be explored with how this experience is to continue.
This is a very unique time to be a surrogate! And while it can bring feelings of stress and uncertainty, you will also have an amazing pregnancy and birth story to share with your intended parents, family and friends.
Remember that you are all in this together, with one goal: bringing that amazing little baby into the world safely. The intended parents will get to meet their baby, even if it’s not when and how you all imagined it. Take care of yourself, and lean on your support team when needed!