Surrogacy is a choice that impacts everyone in your family. That’s why ethical agencies require your partner to be fully onboard with your choice before they’ll even let you proceed through screening.
It is not uncommon for even the most supportive of husbands to start this process with a few questions and a handful of doubts. To help calm their (totally normal) nerves, we wanted to share a few thoughts from Chris Storer. His wife, Mandy, is our Communications & Events Manager. Together they went through two surrogacy journeys. Here are his thoughts.
The most common question I get after saying that my wife is a surrogate is, “how do you feel about it?” In a word, great. In more than a word, here’s a look at what it’s like to be the husband of a surrogate, from my point of view.
I first considered the idea of surrogacy when a close friend was having serious complications with her pregnancy. I remember thinking, “I wish there was something that we could do to help her!” After speaking with my wife, I learned that she had also been considering surrogacy on her own, so we were able to set out on the journey together.
For me, the work of surrogacy was front-loaded.
The application and matching process, the awkwardness of meeting your new partners in this journey, getting those hormone levels exactly right for transfer, keeping them exactly right afterward, and the time spent agonizing over whether the numbers in the next test were going to be good enough… it’s a lot of luck, and a lot of waiting for factors outside our control, and that was stressful. I think we all wanted to be doing something.
Not having dealt with IVF in the past, the nightly injections were definitely a new venture for us, and as you can imagine, the results of injecting new hormones directly into your wife’s system were… interesting. I can’t say those were the high points, but we got through it together.
The start of surrogacy is difficult, time-consuming, and totally invisible to those around you. It’s also the time when it is the most exciting to you, you’re most likely to want to talk about it, and no one asks you about anything.
The end stages of surrogacy, however, are the complete opposite; even more so as a husband. There is really no work left to do, just keep the oven baking, most of the variables are all worked out (matching, number of children, hospital of choice, delivery arrangements). But now you’re running around in public with a pregnant wife, and people LOVE talking about babies! So you have to come up with a conversation strategy.
“Congratulations, when’s the baby due?”
Crap. What do I say?
If you answer the question and qualify it, it seems like too much information. But if you answer and don’t qualify it, then you risk follow up questions:
- Have you picked out names?
- Are your daughters excited?
- How many children do you want before you are done?
The non-disclosure route makes it more and more awkward until you finally blurt out, “It’s not mine!” Did I mention awkwardness?
And that awkwardness is certainly why it’s important to be on board from the start; a significant part of daily life will relate, at least partially, to pregnancy, and it has to be something you are committed to as a team. There will be days when you are flying solo because of pregnancy-related issues, be it an appointment, a wife who is tired and cranky, or a wife with lots of energy who wants to talk about her daily shots and birth plan… it’s always something every day. Understanding the effort involved and committing up front makes all the difference in the world.
The process of pregnancy was much the same as our personal pregnancies. We had several months to get accustomed to the idea of a new baby, only this time we prepared to have a baby for someone else. We made sure the baby was well cared for and had proper nutrition, and by the time delivery day came along, the new parents were right there with us and excited to welcome a new member to their family. We got to sit in as members of the extended family for a time, and in a way we still are.
I have been through more than one surrogacy, and just like the children themselves, each surrogacy experience is unique. The people you work with, the details of the pregnancy, the doctor you work with, even the number of babies – each experience has a life force of its own. They were all interesting stories and worthwhile experiences, and we will always have those stories to tell.
So, how is it to be the husband of a surrogate? How do I feel about it?
It is a rewarding experience. Maybe not right for everyone, but for those for whom it is right, it is well worth doing.