Hang In There Mom: The Emotional Side of Surrogacy
Updated: May 7, 2021
For anyone who is a This Is Us regular and also happens to be a person becoming a mom (or dad) through adoption or surrogacy, the show hit the nail on the emotional head in the Season 5 episode (spoiler alert!) where Kate is in the delivery room as a birth partner/adoptive mom, while the birthing “mom” Ivy is getting ready to deliver. “Hang in there mom” the L&D nurse innocently offers to Ivy, and yet, to many of us who have been in the position of Kate (and frankly Ivy as well), our jaws dropped and that uncomfortable imposter feeling washed over us right along with the characters. Art truly does imitate life.
I know all too well the feeling on delivery day when nurses, doctors and assorted medical or administrative staff quite innocently and without any malice whatsoever refer to the woman in the hospital gown and getting the epidural as “mom”, while (again without any malice) ignoring the fact that the “mom” of the baby to be (or the baby minutes ago born) is really YOU, the person without a gown, without scrubs, standing next to but not in the hospital bed and who had sushi and wine the night before the baby was born. It’s a very awkward feeling. I know. I was there. And the sushi all through the 9th month was glorious and the wine even better. I had no sleepless nights from a kicking baby and no nausea in week 9 and no swollen ankles in week 32. But yes, in those moments in the hospital on what is ultimately going to be remembered as a most wonderful day, the awkwardness is real as you understandably feel awful and out of place when your mom-ness is ignored.
As you may (or may not) know, I was an intended mom and my amazing sister was the surrogate who (can’t say enough great flattering words here, so insert your own) carried our baby daughter in 2017 and gave birth to her. She also happens to be an amazing L&D nurse. And her almost-equally amazing (amazing in their own right, but hey… they didn’t carry our baby did they!) nursing and medical professional friends assisted us, and we had the best delivery ever where we felt so much love and support the whole way through. And yet, despite all of that and despite the charts giving folks the heads up of who “mom” was intended to be (we had no pre-birth order given that it was before NY changed the law to allow for that) we still had those moments where my sister, the “mom” was asked to sign documents, was asked what she named her daughter, and was asked about her planned pediatrician. I was merely the silent observer in street clothes next to the hospital bed. I was the mom, yet I might as well have been a houseplant.
Yes, those moments were awkward. But yet, what I learned very quickly was that it really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. So my humble advice to anyone seeking to form their family through surrogacy, as I did, is to muster your strength and brush it aside. Don’t rob yourself of one single second of the joy of actually BEING mom to YOUR new little bundle of joy. The nurses and hospital staff mean well. The docs and admins mean well. The discomfort and imposter syndrome fade in the first 24 hours after you leave the hospital and are home alone caring for this new little human at 3am (secretly wondering how you went from wine to wailing and wet diapers in 24 hours without a training manual).
Those moments were uncomfortably awkward for me and they may be awkward for you. Pre-birth parentage order in hand or planned adoption in the works, these kinds of moments may still happen. Prepare for them mentally. Prepare for them emotionally. But know, it shall pass. So… just hang in there mom! And reach out to your fellow new moms when you need help swaddling YOUR cranky newborn at 3am (and the wonderful woman who gave birth, is sleeping soundly after enjoying a well-deserved glass of champagne).
Contact the Law Office of Jennifer P. Maas, PLLC to discuss your options with a New York licensed family formation attorney.
**This is intended for informational purposes only and not intended to be construed as legal advice. Every situation is unique and the laws of every state differ. Contact our office should you wish to discuss the specifics of your situation and to hire our firm to represent you.