From my own experience, as well as many stories I hear from women exploring the world of surrogacy, husbands usually react the same way when that first conversation arises about the desire to carry someone else's baby. I remember when my husband, Cameron, and I first got together. I had mentioned that someday in life I was going to try and become a surrogate. Because this was years ago and we were very young, neither of us took me seriously. The years went on, and after being married with 2 kids of our own, the subject got brought up again. The first time we really discussed it, which was 2 years ago, Cameron had so many thoughts and opinions: Was this risky to my health? What if something happens to me? Am I going to go through some sort of depression when giving the baby up? How are our boys going to react? And so on. Like many men in this sort of situation, my husband wasn't all for it in the beginning. So, I gave him some time...
Over the next year, I researched agencies, read up on stories of surrogacy, and really thought about whether I should do this or not. I shared all of this information with Cameron over a period of time. Because neither of us were fully educated on the entire process, he offered to sit down and speak with an agency about it. I think this was the best thing we did to start the process. From the very first step, he was with me. We learned together and I wasn't alone on any decisions I had to make. As we walked into the agency, he still was not sure about the whole thing. But, walking out, he had never been so happy to help a stranger in his life before this day. No... the agency wasn't like a car sales man trying to push you to make that huge purchase like a lot of people may think. They were completely honest in the way things worked and never pushed us to make any decisions. The moment when my husband fully committed, was instantly after we read up on a couple's story and their desire to have a child. I get chills just thinking about those few minutes where Cameron and I came together and wanted nothing more but to help this couple, or any couple. We never really knew how bad people have it and how much the ongoing struggle effects their lives.
So, the process began.
The husband does more than just sign the bottom of the 35+ pages of the surrogacy contract (which they must do in order for the contract to be legal). In the beginning, he must undergo screening for any health issues or drug use, be evaluated by a psychologist, administer your injections, and follow some strict temporary rules. A major rule that most men don't completely agree on is NO SEX!!! Surrogates are to be on "pelvic rest" for periods of time throughout the process; the beginning is the most challenging. Although with all of the hormone medications you are on, you could really care less, but for the husband it can be a huge frustration. This is the first test of his loyalty to the entire process. It becomes very difficult for them to accept that he has to commit and honor the rules even though he is not the one pregnant. They may begin to feel somewhat neglected as you tend to this baby's needs before him, especially when this baby is not his. Cameron did sooo well with this and I thank him so much for the support. I'm not saying it wasn't hard for him, but he did his best not to let it show.
During the pregnancy, it is up to him whether or not he wants to be apart of meetings with the IP's and doctor appointments. I really think my IP's were appreciative that they got to know Cameron and actually get together on a few occasions. Cameron and I didn't feel it was a necessity for him to attend every doctors appointment like he would if it were our own child, but he did go as much as possible. As you really get into the pregnancy, it's really nice to have someone on "your side" when going into see the doctor. Not that my IP's didn't care about my health, but it is only natural for them to be extremely concerned about the babies and focus on their outcome the most. I respected that at each appointment, but when Cameron came along I knew both me and the babies were being cared for by our loved ones.
As many of us surrogates fear they might form some sort of attachment to the baby/babies, I think the surrogate's husband should be aware that this could be possible for them as well. I know that it was hard for Cameron to see me pregnant. All of those feelings he had when I was pregnant with our boys started to come back. Although we were so not ready to have a third, seeing me pregnant made us both want another baby sooner than we thought. I think Cameron noticed these oncoming feelings and put up a barrier between himself and my growing tummy. He avoided touching and kissing my belly. He wasn't interested in feeling their kicks or watching them all do somersaults. He tried his best to treat me like his wife and not cater to me as much as he would if I were pregnant with our own. Don't get me wrong, he did his best in helping in every which way I needed it, but I noticed how he didn't "bend over backwards" for me, I guess you can say. I remember laughing at him some times because he didn't help me out of the car or he walked way too fast through the mall, leaving me yards behind him. It would always take him a minute to realize and remember that I was pregnant with triplets!!
I think the best advice I can give women becoming a surrogate who is married, is to allow your husband to be involved in the process so that you don't feel alone, but at the same time respect the distance he forms throughout those several months. Invite him along with some meetings with the IP's and some doctor appointments, but whatever you do, don't force the issue. It took me awhile to learn that my husband wasn't being less attentive to my needs because he was punishing me for my decision. Over time, I learned that this was the best way he coped with the situation and how he was able to walk away from the babies, unattached. Surrogates, don't give your husbands a hard time or give them any guilt trip about him not being there for you physically and emotionally as much as they would if you were carrying his baby; yes, he is apart of this journey too, but needs his own way of accepting it.
The delivery is when I needed him the most, and he was right there with me. I couldn't imagine doing that alone and I am sooo thankful he was there. I think the hardest part after the delivery is how we both managed my recovery. In his mind, I was done. I wasn't pregnant anymore and he was relieved that those days of misery were over for us. Because I wasn't bringing home a baby to take care of, his expectations were a little too much at the beginning. He didn't realize how much I needed that time to heal and he was so ready to have me back to being the mommy and wife I was before all of this. It definitely was a challenge to balance it all after having the babies, but I did my best to communicate with my husband and assuring him I would be back, but it was still going to take time. I think husbands are just so excited to have their wife back that they forget about the recovery time. But, it doesn't help getting mad or disappointed with them... you need to be just as understanding of their needs as you want them to be with yours.
So, it has been 2 1/2 months and I am officially back to normal. It took forever for my bleeding to stop (a good 9 weeks), but I have gotten so much energy back!! It was a struggle at the beginning to get our lives back on track, but I think we are just about balanced now. There are not enough words I can say to tell you, Cameron, how much I appreciate your dedication and support through this entire process. You were right there with me as those babies were being made and stuck with me until we both saw them come out, one by one. Yes, my emotions were a complete disaster through the past year, but you never walked away from it and you gave me more support than I could have ever imagined. Thank you for helping me fulfill my dream. Thank you for giving this gift to an amazing couple. Thank you for everything!!
Aren't husbands the greatest?!?! Well, mine is =)
On a side note... I am visiting the girls tomorrow for the first time since they have been out of the hospital!! I will have lots of photos to share, so look for an update soon.