Why Partners Are Important During the Surrogate's Journey
We often praise the surrogate, agency and IVF clinic for a successful birth, but the surrogate’s partner deserves equal praise. Doctors may assist with the actual delivery, but partners make it possible for a woman to become a surrogate by offering her emotional and physical support throughout the pregnancy.
We’ll cover why partners are pivotal in the surrogate’s journey, and the various ways a surrogate’s partner can assist in the journey.
From a Surrogate’s Point of View
We’ve talked multiple times about how the surrogacy journey is physically and emotionally exhausting. Surrogates are like superheroes; they do amazing things for other people but also have their own family and work obligations. The women who choose to become surrogates are already mothers tasked with raising children and working a full-time job in or outside the home. But even superheroes need help, and that’s where the partner comes in.
One of the ways a surrogate’s partner provides help is through physical assistance. During her pregnancy, a surrogate simply cannot carry out the usual tasks and workloads she may be accustomed to.
“I could not have handled it, or handled it well anyway, without the support of my husband,” said Pamela MacPhee, author of Delivering Hope: The Extraordinary Journey of a Surrogate Mom.
“(He did) as much as he could when it was too much for me, he managed bedtime for our own three little ones, made the dinner, drove the carpool, loaded the laundry, and shopped at the grocery store.”
Surrogacy can be challenging enough. A supportive partner is a key part of relieving stress and anxiety.
Partners are called partners for a reason; it’s a reminder to the surrogate that she’s not in it alone. Whenever the surrogate feels down, hopeless, tired, or just overwhelmed, often the significant other will be there for support. And when there are moments of excitement, of discovered meaning, the surrogate has someone to share those feelings with.
At the beginning of the surrogacy journey, emotions can run high. Surrogates may feel overwhelmed by the risk involved, the journey ahead, or the responsibility of carrying another family’s child. Towards the end of the journey, she may feel uncertainty and doubt surrounding the baby’s condition.
This is when the partner can ground her. Simple words and gestures of love for each other, and love for their children, will remind her why she chose to become a surrogate in the first place- to bring that same feeling of familial love to another couple.
Any sense of sadness or joy, anxiety or excitement, the surrogate may share with one of the most important people in her life.
From the Intended Mother’s Point of View
There’s another partner involved in the journey: the intended father.
The intended mother, despite not carrying a baby, experiences her own set of fears and anxieties. The reality of being unable to give birth can be heartbreaking. She may still feel melancholy about her medical condition or infertility. Once again, words of comfort can make a world of difference. The intended father needs to reassure her that she is not alone, and that their dream of a family is still possible. This requires patience and understanding. Whenever the intended mother feels unsure or doubtful, it is her partner’s responsibility to keep her company. Simple gestures such as being there during the appointments, and reminding her of their dream, can create a more hopeful and optimistic environment.
Not only does the intended father support the intended mother, but the surrogate as well. Even a few words of encouragement can make the surrogate feel happier and more confident in her journey. The intended father should join his partner’s efforts to reach out to the surrogate, ask questions, and check on her overall condition and well-being. A phone call or two, perhaps even a visit, can make the surrogate feel more confident during the journey, knowing she shares the hopes of the intended parents.
Tips for becoming a supportive partner:
- Help with the household chores. Household duties like cleaning and cooking are often on the minds of surrogates who were responsible for those activities before their surrogacy journey. By taking care of these tasks, the partner can relieve a lot of the surrogate’s stress.
- Tending to the children. Surrogates are mothers too, but their journey can sometimes make it impossible. Picking the kids up from school, helping them with their homework, or taking them out for food can make everyone in the family a little more at ease.
- Spend time together. Go to your appointments together, dine together, and sleep together. The more time you spend with each other, the more supported both the surrogate and intended mother will feel.
- Communicate often, communicate clearly. The foundation of any healthy relationship is strong communication. If the surrogate or intended mother feels anxious or concerned, be there and listen. Just the act of being listened to can mean everything. Even when things may seem uncertain, speaking about hope and positivity can only make everyone stronger.
- Get involved. Drive your partner to places. Eat healthily together. Start prepping for the delivery. Connect with your baby, even if you're not close by. Placing yourself in the surrogate or intended mother’s shoes and do their required activities with them. Consider giving your surrogate a small gesture of appreciation. You may discover a sense of solidarity.
For more information on the husbands’ points of view, read the LA Times article: Why They Say OK: Surrogates' Spouses: the Other Men.
To help explain surrogacy to your children, read our other blog, Sharing Your Gestational Surrogacy Journey with Your Children.
If you need help trying to get the support of a hesitant husband, ConceiveAbilities blog for company announcements, as well as news and guides for the surrogacy world.