We talked to Stephanie and Jessica, two Forward Fertility gestational carriers, about their experience delivering a baby for intended parents during the COVID-19 crisis. They had lots to say about what went well and shared some pearls of wisdom for other carriers to get what they need while navigating changing hospital policies.
This blog post is part one of two stories. Part two is coming soon.
Q. How did the delivery differ from your original vision prior to COVID-19 restrictions?
Really the only difference in this one for me versus my other deliveries is that I didn’t have the freedom to have who I wanted in the room with me at the time of delivery. And, I wasn’t able to walk the hallways like I would like to if I wanted a change of scenery while getting things going.
What I NEED is a support person. It doesn’t need to be my husband for me, but what I WANTED was mom-to-be, dad-to-be, and my husband there. I got my much-needed support person from the mom-to-be. It added a double bonus because she was the mother seeing her son being born and making decisions for her child. Otherwise, the hospital time was a very normal delivery and process from beginning to end.
My vision for delivery day originally was that my husband would, of course, be with me during labor and parents would be free to be in there if they wanted as well. If they wanted to do other things and “pop in” every now and then that would have been up to them. I envisioned everyone in the room for delivery and that ultimately was able to happen.
I pictured my children coming sometime after delivery to be able to meet the baby. I also thought this would be nice closure for them, knowing where the baby would be going after the delivery. I pictured the parents having their family come to visit, me being able to meet their family, and also being able to spend more time with the baby and his family. None of these visions were able to happen due to hospital policy.
- Separate what you WANT from what you NEED.
- Know you will likely have some type of disappointment due to policy restrictions.
Q. What advice do you have for a gestational carrier preparing for a delivery during the COVID-19 crisis with new hospital policy restrictions?
Breathe and don’t dwell on what you can’t have, only what you can have. It’s something we are all battling with during this time and you need to ask for clarity on hospital restrictions. Don’t be afraid to ask for additional help from lawyers, from Christie at Forward Fertility, or managers at the hospital.
Surrogacy isn’t a one-size-fits-all rulebook, before or during COVID. My hospital drew a line in the sand with having no parents in the hospital at all. Once we got more clarity, the mom-to-be got to be there during the birth and the dad-to-be and my husband came in after the birth. It’s ok to feel afraid so talk about it as much as possible because it helps to keep the anxiety from taking over. Just know that the eye on the prize hasn’t changed that a healthy carrier and child is the MOST important.
Just remain positive. Depending on what the hospital policies are, I’m sure they will be different then what the carrier envisioned and unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about those rules and policies being enforced. Regardless a baby is still going to be born, that baby is still a blessing, and that itself is enough happiness to outweigh all the bad. This is how I thought about it.
- It’s ok to be afraid – talk through your fears.
- Ask for help from the agency, attorney, health care providers and managers.
- Stay positive!
Q. If the parents were not allowed in the room during labor, how did you keep them informed?
Because the intended parents were not allowed in our room during almost all of labor, we kept in contact through texting and phone calls. I know the nurses said they would be in contact with the parents giving them updates and asked if they should give them updates or if myself and my husband wanted to be the ones to give them updates. I told them the nurses could, but that I would more than likely give them more updates than the nurses would. The nurses ended up not updating the parents at all.
- Discuss with hospital staff and parents how the parents will be updated during labor, if they are not allowed in the delivery room.
- Check in with parents as you can to make sure they are truly getting updates.
Stay tuned for part two from Stephanie and Jessica. Follow us on Facebook for stories like this and other updates from Forward Fertility.