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The Bonding Room

a blog by Suzanne Rico, May 4, 2013

How does this sound? A room--quiet, comfortable and private-- earmarked for intended parents who need to bond with their just born, surrogate carried baby! This over-the-rainbow room didn't exist when I had my baby via surrogate five years ago, but it does now--the first of it's kind--at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Orange County, California.

What a difference a room like this would have made for me. I remember time ticking slowly by in the delivery room, as Dawn, the wonderful woman who carried my son, suffered through 12 hours of labor without any drugs (yes, she IS Wonder Woman). When my son finally popped out just as the sun was struggling over thick January clouds, I also remember wondering where my husband and I were going to hang out until he was ready to go home. We weren’t leaving until he was, but there was really no place for us.

Saddleback’s bonding room was the brainchild of Dr. Jane Frederick, a Reproductive Endocrinologist with HRC Fertility who’s been practicing for twenty-three years. By helping more than two hundred people become parents through surrogacy, Dr. Frederick learned that these people (people like me!) need to be with their newborns just as much as parents who deliver the traditional way.

“I wanted to erase the stigma and awkwardness that can happen for intended parents after the delivery. I wanted to make sure that this moment--this most important moment--would be the most wonderful time of their lives,” says Frederick, whose philanthropic support made the bonding room possible. “We want to send them home knowing they felt good about the experience and supported just as if they’d delivered the baby themselves."

The new bonding room is a big hit, allowing surrogates to recover in privacy while giving intended parents the space and time to bond with baby. Believe me, no matter how close Dawn and I had become during “our” pregnancy, the last thing she wanted was me cooing to a crying newborn in her hospital room. That’s why I can only hope that bonding rooms soon become the rule rather than the exception.

“I want people to know that surrogacy is OK,” says Dr. Frederick, “and that there are people like us, physicians, hospitals, nurses, and social workers, who are advocating for families who become parents by surrogacy.”

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