When you are expecting a baby via surrogacy, there are an enormous amount of issues to consider and decisions to make throughout the pregnancy and birth. No doubt it can feel overwhelming at times – juggling your own preparations for parenthood, your experience with your gestational carrier, all the legal documentation to take care of – it’s a lot to balance. And of course the excitement of your baby’s birth is the pinnacle to the whole experience.
It’s likely that your gestational carrier feels the same way about the birth– she’s eager to see you become a parent or expand your family. She may be looking forward to the birth for the most practical reason (she’s ready to no longer be pregnant!), but there’s a good chance she’s also looking forward to the ways your relationship will change and grow.
Naturally there’s no way to completely control the way any relationship develops – it ebbs and flows and grows or recedes as life marches on and various circumstances intervene, and the same is true for the relationship between intended parents and their gestational carriers, even after the baby is born. In some cases, the surrogacy agreement may very explicitly spell out that there will no contact whatsoever after the birth (though these types of arrangements are rare) or that the intended parents will only provide a photo and brief update once a year (also uncommon, but not unheard of).
Most arrangements, though, assume that the relationship between intended parents and their carriers will be warm and welcoming and they operate on the assumption that there will be at least some contact after the birth, once everyone has left the hospital. Even if you’re close with your surrogate mother and assume this to be the case, it’s valuable to take some time to sort through what kind of relationship and contact you envision once your baby is born and you and your gestational carrier have gone your separate ways.
For some, this is an easy answer because they’re open to as much contact as is feasible and if you live reasonably close to one another, this might include frequent visits. Life has a way of filling up free time, so it’s natural for the frequency of visits to wane over time, even if you remain close.
Technology makes it easier than ever though to stay in touch, especially if it’s not practical to visit often. Emails, texts, Skype or Face Time can go a long way toward bridging the distance between you, your gestational carrier, and your baby that she’s eager to see grow. Some people appreciate the spontaneity of reaching out to one another on a whim, while others prefer to have a more set routine such as monthly calls or photos.
One thing to keep in mind, especially in the early days after your baby’s birth, is the fact that your gestational carrier is going through the process of physically separating from your baby. Even though she mentally and emotionally knows that the baby is yours and not hers, her body may not so readily agree! She’s undergoing a wave of hormones from the birth that she may feel powerless against, and the only thing she can do is ride it out until her body stabilizes as time goes by. Staying in contact with you and receiving frequent updates, especially in the early weeks, can go a long way toward keeping her spirits up and feeling like she’s on a steady, even keel.
While there is no right or wrong way to keep in touch after the birth of your baby, it is important that the method and frequency of your contact feels right to everyone. If you have set ideas on what you’d like, by all means bring them up with your gestational carrier as the pregnancy is winding down. Be open to a dialog and perhaps some negotiation if it turns out you’re not on the same page, and work toward a compromise that satisfies everyone.
With some forethought, empathy and open communication, your surrogacy experience will flow into a parenting experience that’s satisfying and a joy to all parties involved!