The emotional (or non-emotional) side of surrogacy

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Rebecca wrote: “I’d love to hear about how it makes you feel emotionally.  You seem to give yourself over effortessly time and time again, and that is a rare, lovely quality!”

This is a question that I get asked all the time.  People always want to know how I avoid the emotional attachment with a baby that I’ve carried for someone else.  I knew when I was in high school that I wanted to be a surrogate someday.  Something inside me just knew that I could do it.  For me, there is a huge difference in carrying a child that is genetically mine and carrying one that belongs to someone else.  With my own babies, I felt like I was bonding with them during the whole pregnancy.  With my surro babies, I have had absolutely no attachment at all.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about them, I just am not attached to them in any way.  When I hold them after they are born, it’s like holding a stranger’s baby.  My first couple even stayed with us for the first week after their daughter was born because they wanted me to nurse her for them.  Even that did not create an attachment.

I am not an overly emotional person to begin with.  I’m not emotional or hormonal anytime, and especially not during my pregnancies.  I’ve never had PMS, I’m not a crier, I’m not a worrier.  From the beginning of each of my surrogacies I just know that the baby is not mine in any way and I don’t even have to consciously avoid forming a bond with them.  It just doesn’t happen.  After I had the twins, I even had to think to myself “Do they feel loved?” because I hadn’t ever thought of them that way.  Growing a baby for someone else is more like a job to me.  It’s just something I love and something I feel I’m good at.

The whole experience of surrogacy is a lot of hype.  Everyone is excited and intrigued.  People have tons of questions.  Not only do you have a set of parents with an anticipating crowd rooting for them, but you also have the surrogate and her husband’s family and friends doing the same thing.  It’s like twice the people than normal, all excited for the same event.  By nature, I’m a very non-attention seeking person.  I like to blend in with the crowd and I would prefer that no one ever notice me.  Being a surrogate kind of throws you into a role that I would prefer to avoid.  When I’m out and about and people ask me about “my baby”, its awkward.  Out of respect for the baby’s parents, I feel like I have to tell people who ask about it that it isn’t my baby at all.  I don’t want to feel like I’m taking credit for something that is clearly not mine.

I will say that I was not prepared for some of the feelings I had after the birth of my first surro baby.  Like I said, it was a TON of hype, especially since it was my first surrogacy.  The planning of the birth (which was a planned home waterbirth with a midwife), the arrival of the parents, waiting on my labor to begin, was all fun.  We were all geeked up and anticipating how wonderful it was all going to be.  Everything went well, the birth was easy, beautiful and picture-perfect.  Watching a family form before our very eyes was incredible.  Then some of the realities of it all set in.

I did not have any connection to the baby and that didn’t bother me at all.  It was more or less the physical aspects of it that surprised me.  It was an odd feeling that I had a flabby belly, even more stretch marks and boobs that were pouring out milk, but I didn’t have a baby to go with it.  Throughout the entire pregnancy I was thrilled that I would have this baby one day and go back to my old life the next.  I was thrilled to think that I would not have to get up in the middle of the night to care for an infant.  I could simply sleep all night and wake up happy and rested.  Not so.  It is an amazing thing how God makes a woman’s body to instinctively know it needs to wake up throughout the night to care for her baby.  Every single night for a couple of weeks I woke up every couple of hours, frantic that I had forgotten to feed or care for “my baby”.  The baby that wasn’t even mine.  On day three after the birth, my midwife (who also happens to be one of my dearest friends ever) had to go back home.  Later that day I had a horrible, nagging, blah feeling.  I wanted to cry, but I had no idea why.  There was nothing wrong, which confused me even more.  I called my midwife and asked her what the heck was wrong with me.  I’d never felt this way after my own births.  She assured me it was just the let down of super high emotions as well as a hormonal surge.  She urged me to get lots of rest and that the feeling would be gone within 24 hours.  She was 100% correct, as always.

With my twin birth, I was fully prepared and didn’t experience any of the feelings I did with my first surrogacy.  I talked with a good friend who had been a surrogate twice and she told me she had gone through the same let down after her first surrogacy.  I guess it’s just something I never anticipated.  I think it was just the huge realization that this wonderful, blissful experience was gone.  I was left with the physical “leftovers” of it all, while this tiny, happy, no stretch-marks or baby-weight mama took her beautiful little girl home for the first time.  I often wondered what their homecoming was like, what everyone thought of the baby, if anyone even remembered that I had a little role in bringing this being into the world.  It felt like while it was just the beginning for them, everything wonderful for me had just come to an abrupt halt.  All those feelings quickly subsided and honestly, now I rarely even think about any of my surro babies.  It’s almost like it never even happened.  I love my life and I am content in it.  I do not feel like I need (or even want) frequent contact with these families.  I do enjoy seeing pictures of the babies here and there, but even when I look at them, I feel no connection to them at all.  My husband asked me about it recently and I told him that given the chance, I think I would feel awkward even being around the babies that I’ve carried because I don’t have a bond with them.

I genuinely put 100% of all that I am into my surrogacies.  I love being able to do this for couples that can’t do it on their own and I feel like God has blessed me beyond words to do something that I love so much.

(This photo was taken moments after I had given birth to my first surro baby)

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2 responses »

  1. That’s SO fascinating–thanks for writing about it! I didn’t even think about the physical aspect of it of you being left with the not-so-lovely after-effects of pregnancy, and the mom in skinny jeans walks away with her new family. That’s sort of hilarious, too. Also, I hadn’t thought of the fact that you get to see a family form instantly in front of you–that is pretty darn cool! Can’t wait to read more!

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