In my last blog post I wrote about all of my various birth experiences and the different ways my intended parents and I shared the time immediately following the birth of their baby (or babies when I had twins).
In some cases we shared a room, while in others we didn’t. I had six hospital births and three of those times the parents, baby and I all shared a room for the duration of our stay in the hospital.
I also had one homebirth, which was at my intended parents’ house. I labored and delivered in their upstairs loft, which had a sitting room, a bathroom, and a bedroom. After the birth I spent a few days there with them at their house, which was a lovely and unique experience (homebirths are very uncommon in surrogacy but my intended parents requested it, since I’d already had a successful homebirth of my own).
I had my own room upstairs, while my IPs, their daughter and their newborn hung out downstairs. I was nursing their baby so we spent most of the daytime together. The baby slept with them, but during the night they’d bring her to me to nurse. It was the best of both worlds in terms of privacy and togetherness.
I delivered twins in my first surrogacy. The first twin was an easy, unmedicated vaginal water birth in the hospital and the second twin was an emergency c-section. The parents and I were not close and they chose not to stay in the hospital once their babies were born (and the intended father didn’t attend the birth at all).
I’d lost a lot of blood during and after the delivery, so I was heavily medicated and slept a lot for the few days – I could barely sit up at that point. My intended mother brought the babies to my room twice to visit, but she wasn’t very comfortable with the whole situation. When the babies were discharged, I still couldn’t walk very far so a nurse took me in a wheelchair to the floor where the babies were so I could say goodbye to them.
This was my first surrogacy and it was a difficult experience, but I knew even then that the distance and discomfort that my intended parents showed was not typical, and I was determined to have a better experience next time.
Had I had an easy, uncomplicated delivery and recovery I think it would have been very hard for me to be separated from the babies so much of the time – I may have struggled with that. But sometimes things work out in strange ways and it turned out that I really did need privacy and quiet for those first few days that were so physically difficult for me. It was not the experience that I wanted, but it definitely was the arrangement that I needed that time.
During my sixth surrogacy I carried a single baby for a gay couple and I enjoyed a quick delivery and an easy recovery. They asked me to nurse the baby until we were discharged from the hospital, which I was happy to do.
The baby was born around 5am and when the evening came, one of my intended fathers went home and the other stayed in his own room in the hospital. Because I was nursing the baby, she stayed in the room with me. It was a bit of a rough night – she was inconsolable at one point for hours and I couldn’t figure out why, and she barely slept at all. I nursed her, I rocked her, I walked around the room with her, I sang to her. I tried everything.
One thing that I didn’t do was call my intended father down the hall, because I was sure he was sleeping. I’d called them around midnight the previous night letting them know I was in labor and they hadn’t slept since, so I knew he was exhausted. Frankly I was exhausted too – I hadn’t slept much either and I was the one who’d delivered the baby – but the chance to hold and soothe and rock and nurse a sweet newborn was very fleeting for me, and I relished it.
Come morning I was truly exhausted, but honestly I wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was a very special time for my surrogate baby and I and I’m thankful for that long night we spent together, which was also our last night together.
In my final surrogacy, the parents and I enjoyed a very warm, wonderfulexperience. So as our due date drew near and they contacted the hospital to arrange for their own room for our stay, I was a little taken aback. I had a hard time thinking about them and their baby being apart from me, especially when we had grown so close, and they knew I’d shared a room with several of my previous intended parents.
But you know what? That hospital stay ended up being a terrific experience for me, and it was terrific for them as well. I spent a lot of time during the day hanging out with them in their room, but I really enjoyed sleeping through the night in my own room. That was especially nice!
My intended parents had a very difficult experience with the surrogate who delivered their first child and were a bit traumatized by the whole thing, so their time immediately after their first son’s birth was not a good one. I’m sure that factored into their desire to have some privacy, even though our relationship was good.
Also, their first son was 18 months at the time I delivered and he didn’t come to the hospital with them. So the time they spent alone with their newborn son was fleeting, and I was happy for them to get to have a few days getting to know him while enjoying a little bit of privacy.
Again, it wasn’t the situation I initially wanted, but I absolutely believe that it was an arrangement that worked out beautifully for all of us, despite my misgivings.
If I had to make plans for another delivery (which I don’t, I’m very firmly retired from pregnancy and childbirth!), I honestly don’t know which arrangement I’d choose. There were good things and not-so-good things about each of the situations I had, just like anything in life, I suppose.
Rarely is anything perfect, but it’s what you make of the arrangements you’ve got that really matters, and in the case of a surrogate delivery, any arrangement involves a bit of magic, and hopefully a lot of great memories as well.