The gestational carrier might be known as the star of the surrogacy show, but in almost all surrogate pregnancies there’s someone who just might be her unsung hero – her partner.
While not every woman who’s a gestational carrier has a partner, most do (and for the sake of simplicity here I’ll use the terms “husband” and “he” though they could be unmarried or she could be in a same-sex relationship, of course). And her husband plays a key role even before things ever get started in surrogacy – he has to agree to the idea of her carrying a baby for someone else.
It takes a special kind of man, one who has a deep appreciation for his role as a parent, to support his wife carrying a baby for another couple. In fact, whenever a stranger found out about my many surrogacies, one of the first questions they would ask was “What does your husband think about it?” which I took to be an odd question. My reply was always “Well, clearly he thinks it’s great, or I wouldn’t have done it so many times!” which seemed to only further stun them. “He’s a saint!” they’d declare and I have to agree that yes indeed, he is. Over time I came to expect their shocked candor and appreciate that it really did take an open, giving spirit on the part of my husband to support me through all of my surrogacy adventures.
Aside from understanding and supporting the compassionate nature of surrogacy and his partner’s desire to be a surrogate, a gestational carrier’s partner has other roles to play in the process long before they get to the embryo transfer where she might get pregnant. The surrogate’s husband also must:
- Meet with the intended parents (along with her) so they can get to know one another and decide whether or not to proceed with the surrogacy
- Undergo medical screening for sexually transmitted or communicable diseases
- Meet with a social worker or other mental health professional
- Undergo a background or financial check (in some, but not all, arrangements)
Once the surrogate begins her cycling for an embryo transfer, her husband’s role changes to:
- Helping her, if necessary, with the shots and medications she has to take
- Abstaining from sex just prior to and up to two weeks after the embryo transfer
If the embryo transfer is successful and the surrogate becomes pregnant, her husband’s role will also include:
- Supporting her through the first trimester when she could be nauseous or vomiting and probably very tired
- Ensuring the safety and security of their living arrangements
- Maintaining good health as to not expose her to anything communicable
- Abstaining from sex should the doctor prescribe pelvic rest at any point during the pregnancy
- Providing emotional support to the surrogate should difficulties arise with her intended parents, as well as any pregnancy-related complications or frustrations
- Making any medical decisions in the best interest of the gestational carrier if she is somehow unable to do so for herself
- Being available to support her during labor and delivery
- Being supportive, patient and understanding during the post-partum time when her emotions and hormones can fluctuate wildly
Any man who supports his wife through gestational surrogacy has to not only be comfortable with the idea that his wife will be pregnant with another man’s child, he must also take in stride all the attention that comes along with it. There will most definitely be times when he questions what he agreed to – surrogacy can be a long and at times, grueling road. But if he’s truly supportive and an equal partner in the surrogacy process, he can see the value of not only what his wife is doing, but his contribution to the process as well.
Surrogacy is the ultimate team sport, and a good, supportive partnership between a gestational carrier and her husband goes a long way toward success!