When someone has a successful pregnancy and is interested in becoming a surrogate to help another family, their partner is a huge source of support for that decision. We talked to some of the partners of Forward Fertility’s gestational carriers to ask them about their role, the questions they had during the process, and what they learned.
Greg and his partner, Anne, have helped parents-to-be grow their family TWICE. Here’s more about his experience as a two-time surrogate’s partner.
Q. What was your initial reaction when Anne mentioned surrogacy and what questions did you have (i.e. safety, compensation, insurance, etc.)?
A. For our first journey, my questions were very pragmatic. I was not particularly concerned about safety because I knew she had carried our two children successfully, though I carried no delusions that there were no risks involved. I was nervous about the screening and matching process, the IVF process, and I had practical concerns about insurance and our own children’ and extended families’ reactions to the situation.
Q. Did your feelings change with subsequent journeys?
A. After our first journey, my concerns became much more oriented around some of the aspects of our first journey that I hadn’t anticipated. We had never experienced a miscarriage of our own child, and the experience of miscarrying a child intended for another family was a very emotionally distressing and difficult thing for us to process. Even just the heartache and disappointment of a failed embryo transfer that resulted in only a chemical pregnancy was something we had not had the experience to anticipate.
The process of getting to know the intended parents and developing a relationship with them also had dynamics we were not well prepared for on our first journey, and I was nervous going into a second agreement with a new family and coming to empathize with the hardship that had led them to surrogacy as we learned about their story up to that point.
The second time we were more aware of the various things that can go wrong and the emotional toll that they take on us AND the intended parents, especially as we learned more of the experiences of other surrogates including some very severe losses that we couldn’t imagine. We were also more aware of the joy, the compassion, and the incredible bond created through such a relationship. We were more prepared for the difficulties, but also more prepared for the incredible value surrogacy adds to our lives.
Q. How did you provide support to Anne during the process (application process, matching, transfer, pregnancy, delivery, post-partum)?
A. I did my best to be supportive in every way that I could. My most significant roles outside of general husbandly duties were things like giving her the injections necessary for IVF as well as working tenaciously to get our insurance company to get us the necessary documents and to confirm in writing that her pregnancy and delivery would be covered.
During delivery I helped to coordinate communication with the intended parents on our first journey as labor came spontaneously and we needed to get them in town for the birth. I was the photographer and her advocate with medical staff.
Post-partum, I did what I could to help with physical healing and emotional support, but she is amazing at both of those and handled that mostly on her own.
Q. What did you enjoy or learn during the process?
A. I learned more than I could have imagined about the hardship and pain of infertility and loss. It was not easy to learn, but I have grown a lot and am a better person for it. There was obviously much, much more that we learned and enjoyed, but that stands out the most.
I personally enjoyed learning about the IVF process and embryology because I studied Biology, so that was very personally interesting to me. I wish I hadn’t needed to learn as much as I did about velamentous cord insertions and uterine lining, but even those had a certain appeal to the nerd in me.
Q. Was the surrogacy journey different from what you expected?
I really hadn’t expected there to be so much heartache brought in by the intended parents from their struggles. That was very eye-opening to me since we had had such an easy path to parenthood. I knew that it must be the case on an academic level, but knowing something and getting to know the intimate reality of it are very different things.
I had not expected to develop such a close bond with the parents, either. As the partner of a surrogate, in many ways I expected to be a kind of an appendix to the situation. But I learned that it is possible to be just as emotionally invested and accepted as the surrogate herself.
Q. What insight or words of wisdom do you have for a partner/support person starting this process?
A. It is a wild ride, and there WILL be challenges that you don’t expect, but it will be one of the richest and most fulfilling experiences of your life when everything comes together.
Talk with your partner as openly and as frequently as you can from start to finish. Keep your mind open and your expectations limited, because life is what happens while we are busy making other plans, and that couldn’t be more true when the plans are to bring a new life into the world to complete another family.
Another Q&A with a supportive partner is coming soon…