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Husbands in the Surrogacy Journey

by Pamela MacPhee, Author, Delivering Hope: The Extraordinary Journey of a Surrogate Mom, November 2, 2011

When it comes to surrogacy, it is perhaps instinctual to think first of the partnership between the women — the gestational surrogate who is carrying the baby and the Intended mother who is waiting to hold the baby in her arms. But I would argue that just as important, as with any fertility journey, are the relationships with the husbands.

As a surrogate, let me tell you I could not have handled it, or handled it well anyway, without the support of my husband. Robert readily helped out those first few months when I was nauseous and barely able to get out of bed, as well as the last couple of months when I was exhausted and uncomfortable. As much as he could when it was too much for me, he managed bedtime for our own three little ones, made the dinner, drove the carpool, loaded the laundry and shopped at the grocery store.

And more importantly he was often there with kind words and emotional support when I worried about the success of the embryo transfer, the health of the baby growing inside me, or the potential complications of the birth. He delivered words of encouragement in those occasional moments when I felt like carrying a pregnancy for another couple might be more than I could handle, reminding me of the beauty of our journey’s purpose. Along the way he dispelled my doubts, praised my courage and promised me we would succeed. It was a full-time job on top of his full-time job.

And then there was the relationship with the other husband, my cousin Henry, the Intended father. His job was rather daunting. First, as a husband, he needed to reassure his wife after facing the realities of cancer, support her while she grieved her inability to carry a pregnancy, and soothe her anxieties about the surrogacy. Second, he needed to be there for me also; showing his appreciation and support for my sacrifices as their surrogate, while concerning himself with my physical and emotional health on a challenging journey. It must have been an agonizingly difficult role, and he was absolutely brilliant. With few words and many small actions I felt Henry’s appreciation, concern and caring as a daily presence on our journey; nourishment that undeniably made our journey much more fulfilling.

Our husbands were also there for each other, the understanding between them an integral part of our success. When Robert was unexpectedly required to “make a (sperm) donation” at the fertility clinic, my cousin cringed with helpless dismay, but they laughed about it afterward in mutual understanding, bonding over beers and dogs at the baseball game. Henry appreciated Robert’s sacrifice, and Robert empathized with Henry in the role as the expectant father. They both shared their concern for me, and they respectfully shared the space in the delivery room on that final day as well. They worked together.

So surrogacy is not just about the surrogate mom, it is not just about the Intended Mom, and it is not even just about the baby. It’s an intricate web of relationships of people coming together to dare to hope, to dare to act to realize the dream of a family. And don’t fool yourself, those husbands are a very, very important part of the journey. And I just thought it might be good to let them know that they are appreciated.

Pamela MacPhee graduated from Stanford University in 1986 with a degree in Human Biology. When her cousin’s wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer and subsequent infertility, she wanted to do something to help. After some serious research and internal soul searching, she knew in her heart she wanted to be their surrogate mom. Her offer became extraordinary surrogacy journey which ended 18 months later with the birth of a baby girl, Hope. MacPhee is the author of Delivering Hope: The Extraordinary Journey of a Surrogate Mom, published in 2009.

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