In this blog post I’m going to focus on surrogate’s partners and the role my husband has played in my journey as a surrogate. I would like to have persuaded him to write this as I’d love to know more about how he really feels about being married to a surrogate. As he prefers a chef’s knife or an Xbox controller to a keyboard, I don’t think he’ll be blogging so I’ll do my best.
I wanted to talk about how surrogacy affects a marriage and hope that sharing this experience is helpful to surrogates, partners and intended parents.
For better or for worse … in sickness and in health… just one month after making those promises to each other we set out on our journey to help create a family, not of our own but for another couple. Little did we appreciate just how far those vows would be tested on our surrogacy journeys.
Our family was complete; we both have children from previous relationships, but my husband understood my desire to share a little of what we have with other people. We could help another couple so, ‘why not?’
We often tell our girls; ‘anything is possible’ and it is one of our strong shared core values as a couple, we honestly believe that with hard work, determination and a generous sprinkling of luck; dreams are out there for the taking. During the low points such as reactions to medication, failed transfer and loss in our surrogacy journeys it has often been my husband reminding me of these values that has given me the strength to carry on.
There have been times I’ve found myself scrolling through my ‘fertility friend’ app realising it’s unlikely there is going to be any ‘spontaneous bedroom fun’ for us anytime soon. Surrogacy has a massive impact on your sex life and whilst there are ways and means of being ‘creative’, not being able to be intimate in a natural, normal and healthy way for a couple is a huge challenge. Whether you are starting IVF treatment, doing inseminations, in the two week wait, massively pregnant or post birth; surrogacy has the ability to put a stopper on any ‘spontaneous fun’ you may expect to as a married couple. Things don’t necessarily work first time and something that can help is making sure there is the opportunity to take some time out between transfers / inseminations to give space for a couple to be a couple.
In traditional surrogacy (where the surrogate’s own egg is used) usually this takes place via home insemination and is not something that can be easy for a surrogate’s partner. Whilst it’s far away from anything sexual that you could imagine with syringes, cups and often a fair few giggles at the whole awkwardness it can still feel strange. My husband was not comfortable with inseminations taking place at our home, we all respected this and whilst this meant a 66 mile round trip every time, 4 times each cycle that being the difference between him being comfortable or not felt like the least that we can do considering the sacrifices he has had to make.
There are times when only a husband or partner will do; there is something about my hubby that makes me feel safe and gives me a comfort I can’t get from a friend, family member or even my IPs. When I experienced loss and awful stomach cramps, my husband spooned me all night and placed his large warm hand on my tummy. It was the only thing that helped, not his baby, not his dream but his wife. At difficult times when a surrogate leans on her partner IPs may feel like they aren’t being of help, by doing little things like sending a text to the surrogate’s partner or cooking a meal they are helping the partner to support the surrogate.
One of my IFs was talking about relationships and he said, it is like sharing your relationship with another couple at times, emotionally you are linked to each other through the ups and downs and naturally you will want to spend time together to really get to know each other and share the journey together. It can present a strange dynamic at times.
Something that has helped us with that has been our Thursday ‘date nights’ with phones away and protected time for one another. Whilst surrogacy can be all encompassing at times, I make a conscious effort not to talk surrogacy for the one evening a week. I certainly haven’t always got the balance right; it’s easy for surrogacy to take over we found relationship counselling really helped us reset and me to understand the impact on my hubby.
Ultimately surrogacy has become more about friendship than it has been about creating families. We have been fortunate to have been on the journey along with couples who have developed their own friendships with my partner whether that’s through an avid love of Star Wars, camping, tequila or gin. Being an honorary Uncle and enjoying the pictures and cuddles from the little girl we helped create is a lovely reminder it was worth the sacrifices we both made.
Whilst I can say wholeheartedly, I would support him to do something equally dangerous, challenging yet rewarding, I’m not sure he would actually ever ask this of me.
The love and respect I have for my husband in being there for me on the rollercoaster that is surrogacy is huge. Whilst I can say wholeheartedly, I would support him to do something equally dangerous, challenging yet rewarding, I’m not sure he would actually ever ask this of me. Hand on heart there are times where surrogacy has really tested our marriage, but it has made us stronger as a couple.