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 two of two stories. Read part one on our blog.
Q. Were there any medical decisions made during labor that had a clear impact on the health of the baby (i.e. forceps delivery, C-section, decisions made in response to baby’s heart rate dropping)?
Once the baby started to emerge, his heart rate would drop with the contractions. Luckily it was quick and he was out in two pushes. After he was born, we discovered the cause: the cord was wrapped around his neck three times!
Fortunately nothing major happened during labor where a medical decision needed to be made regarding the baby. After he was born he was observed for his breathing, but thanks to the hospital policy both his mom and dad were there to be with him during that time. He was discharged the day after the delivery.
- Hospitals might want to consider having parents in the room at the time of delivery so parents can make decisions about their child. If carriers will be the only people in the delivery room, talk with the parents and your attorney in advance about what to do in the case you’re asked to make a decision for someone else’s child.
Q. What was hardest for you during labor, delivery or postpartum?
Labor was pretty textbook so it wasn’t hard. The mom-to-be gave me what I needed. She talked to me and was there when things got intense. The epidural only took on one side but they got it fixed right before I started to push, so all was fairly calm.
Postpartum was lonely. I expected it so it wasn’t a shock to the system. Mom and baby left about an hour after birth to go to their room and then that was the last time I saw them.
My husband came shortly after to keep me company for a few hours and then left for overnight. The next day was just me until my husband came to get me at the end of the day to go home. It was lonely but I had plenty of people checking in on me so I felt connected even when I couldn’t have anyone come to see me.
I personally feel like I had a great day in labor and the delivery and postpartum so far has been fine. I don’t feel like anything was necessarily “hard” for me.
If anything was more sucky or a “bummer” I would just say the time ultimately that was spent with the baby and the parents was too short and I wish it could have been longer! It would have been nice to be able to see the baby maybe another time or two throughout the stay and to have said a proper goodbye to the parents. We were able to wave goodbye and say a few words while passing their room on the way out. Even though it was very brief, and not much at all, I’m grateful we were able to at least see them one last time before leaving the hospital.
- Be prepared that you may have very little time at the hospital for closure with the parents or the baby.
- If you can, snap a quick picture of those who are present.
Q. What tips do you have for some ‘closure’ before you leave the hospital?
Pictures, updates, and more pictures is what helps the most. Even though we haven’t seen each other since he was born, I do feel like I know that he’s doing great and I am fortunate enough to see his growth in these two weeks since he’s been born. We are also planning to get together when it’s safe later this summer to have a proper meetup and so my family can meet them.
I don’t really have any tips for closure yet. It’s still so soon after delivery for me to see how it will be. But if the hospital’s policies are very strict and they won’t allow the carrier and the parents and baby to see each other again after leaving the room for delivery, it would be helpful if the nurse will allow them to make a very brief “pause” outside while passing the parents’ room and they can say a quick goodbye. I think that really was nice and helpful for me. I am glad I was able to do that instead of just up and leaving without seeing them one last time.
- Schedule a video chat for one to two weeks post delivery so you can check in with everyone.
- If geographically possible, plan to meet up in person down the road.
- Hospitals can keep carriers, parents, and babies safe while ALSO acknowledging the emotional experience and needs of the gestational carrier. Safety and closure are not mutually exclusive.