You have overcome so much; the failed cycles, the waiting, the good news followed shortly by devastating news and the cost... oh, the cost! Like everything in life, this season has not been perfect but it has been a wonderful journey and the big day is coming.
Your sweet baby is due any day and the anxiety is mounting. This feeling, the nerves, the countless sleepless nights, the unknown... all are common for parents alike. To add to the stress, in surrogacy, there is often logistical things that make it more difficult. Your surrogate lives 2 hours, two time zones or two flights away. What if you miss the birth? What if there is snow? An accident? What if she delivers without you? What will happen to your sweet little one? All of these questions come up in every surrogacy journey so it's time to get prepared! Here are three steps to make sure that you are prepared for the big day and just in case you miss the birth.
Every mama has a birth plan, whether it is written down or a daydream in her head, it is the way we all cope with big stressors in our lives. In surrogacy, that plan needs to be created, shared and executed by numerous people so it is best to start early and be prepared.
The birth process will be what it will be. Your surrogate's body will do what it needs to do and the doctor/midwife/doula will all be there to make sure things run smoothly. Those things are out of your control. Don't stress about that part. There are other factors that you do need to consider and make some concrete decisions about. Here is a list of questions to help you make some decisions about baby's first few hours.
- When the baby is born, do you want to do delayed cord clamping?
- Are you going to do cord blood banking? If so, you need to contact them now and have the kit sent to your surrogate.
- Are you going to do skin-to-skin with the babies? If you miss the birth, would you like your surrogate to do skin to skin?
- Is your surrogate going to pump milk for you? Do you want her to have the baby on the breast in the hospital? If you miss the birth, do you want the baby to only receive colostrum from the surrogate or do you want the hospital to supplement or only feed with formula?
- Does the hospital have a copy of the pre-birth order if you live in a PBO state? Does your surrogate have a copy? She should bring both the PBO and the GCA (Gestational Carrier Agreement) with her in her hospital bag.
- Do you want the baby bathed? If so, at what point? If you miss the birth, would you like to wait for a bath until you arrive?
- Does the hospital have a well baby nursery? Would you like the baby to be in the nursery if you are not at the birth or to stay in the room with your surrogate? Have you asked her if this is something she is comfortable with?
- Do you want your baby to have the typically administered protocol including a Vitamin K shot, antibiotics in her eyes, hearing test, etc? If so, would you like to wait until you are there for the nurses to administer these? (Some are time sensitive).
- Will the hospital be providing an additional room for you and your baby? Often times this is contingent upon whether the hospital has available rooms. You can call and ask about typical protocol of the hospital for third party reproduction cases.
Like all plans, there is a good possibility that some things may need to be amended and adjusted along the way. That's okay. Being flexible in certain areas gives your plan less risk of failure. Make sure you know where you are comfortable with change and the hard lines that need to remain in tact. Having a solid plan will help everyone feel more prepared and less stressed about the incredible day to come.
As you well know by now, there are a lot of moving parts in a surrogacy journey and a lot of different players. During the birth phase, it is essential that everyone is communicating and clear about expectations and desires. Talk to your surrogate about the birth plan and the decisions you made from the above list. Get her input. See who else will be there to support her when baby is born and you have your hands full with a new bundle of joy. If you have one, talk to your agency about questions and concerns. Let them know your plan so they are in the loop. Talk to your medical team about the plan. Let them know ahead of time what your wishes and expectations are so no one is caught off guard when anxiety is already running high. Clear and compassionate communication will make the day(s) run much more smoothly.
You did not stumble into surrogacy and get this far without being excellent researchers and information seekers. Now is no time to stop. Take some time to do the research about best practices, car seats (you will need to bring this to hospital with you), pediatricians, etc. Those you are probably already on top of. In addition, reach out and take a childbirth education class. Just because you are not the one giving birth does not mean you aren't a key player in the day. Knowing the phases of labor, the benefits of transitional positions and sleeping and the actual birthing process can make you such an incredible support person for your surrogate and your own family. Being prepared and knowledgeable about labor and birth can make a really long and arduous situation much more pleasant and a lot less scary.
By planning, communicating and educating yourself and your support team, you will feel much more prepared for the big day. Don't forget to use the resources you already have in place to help guide you; your agency has done this dozens and dozens of times, your attorney has all of the paperwork you need if you can not find your copy, your doctor is an expert and can answer many of the foreboding birthing questions. Once you have completed these three steps, you can finally relax and get some solid sleep under your belt; believe me, you're going to need it!
Congratulations and welcome to parenthood!