Life After Surrogacy
Because my blogger name is “The Honest Surrogate”, I’ll start this with complete honesty: My stomach jumped when I read the topic this week. It has been almost 2 years since I gave birth to a baby via surrogacy, and this is still a sensitive subject for me. What I have learned since giving birth is that the more I talk about it, the more I heal. I thought the postpartum period after surrogacy would be a piece of cake. There wasn’t a baby to take care of so I could focus on getting plenty of sleep, eating well and exercising. Boy, was I wrong.
There isn’t a baby to care for, but your body still goes through all of the things that the postpartum body goes through. You experience the hormone fluctuations. You make milk. You have weeks, sometimes months, of physical healing, which can be painful. You have a postpartum body; the extra weight, extra skin, the belly, the leaky breasts, and the bleeding.
After giving birth I had a fear of going home from the hospital. I stayed an extra night because I knew if I went home I’d have to go back to normal life of taking care of my family, doing chores, and going out in public, while dealing with all of the emotions that were hitting me. I would randomly start crying, not because I missed the baby or because I was in pain, but because the hormone fluctuations took over my body.
When I did go home I had a really hard time adjusting. I had anxiety about doing day to day activities. Even simple trips to the grocery store seemed like too much to handle. My body was in “take care of baby” mode but there wasn’t a baby to take care of so I felt out of sorts. One night I jumped awake and looked for the baby in a panic, thinking I forgot to nurse. Once I was fully awake I realized it was just my mother’s intuition telling me to feed the baby. I was pumping every 2 hours around the clock for the first few months so that made the hormone fluctuations even more extreme! I got mastitis multiple times in the first month. (I have a hardened milk duct that causes problems every time I have a baby.) If any of you have had mastitis you know how horrible it is. I rather give birth than get mastitis!
I had a hard time with how others reacted to me having the baby. A friend asked me to get together just days after coming home from the hospital and I felt caught off guard. I needed time to heal and process, but because I didn’t have a baby to care for, people thought I could just go back to normal everyday things. I wasn’t ready for that. I did have a friend visit me in the hospital and a friend bring me a meal after I came home. It meant more to me than they will ever know. They understood that even though there was no baby, I was still healing and needing support. I felt seen at a time when it felt like now that the baby was born, my work here was done.
I was told that if I felt ok I didn’t need to come back for my 6 week check up so I didn’t. I felt like since I didn’t have a baby and I was physically healing well it didn’t matter how I was doing emotionally. (Don’t do what I did, go to the check up!!)
It took over a year to feel like myself again. I spent considerable time in counseling, processing everything. I feel stronger and wiser after going through all of that and I’d do it again in a second! Now that I’ve been through it, I would know how to set myself up for a smoother journey. I would surround myself in support—support that knows my history and that will step in when I need help. I’ll keep telling my story so others know that it’s not necessarily easy just because there is no baby to take home. Communication and support is key. I have heard many postpartum surrogacy stories where the surrogate had a smooth recovery. Everybody has a different story!