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What Postpartum Recovery is Really Like For a Surrogate

Woman on bed covering face
Photograph by Getty Images

It’s been almost five months since I gave birth to a surrogate baby. One thing friends and family often want to know is how the last few months have been for me. They wonder what it’s like to go through the whole process of pregnancy and childbirth, but not have a baby to care for afterwards. I totally get the curiosity. And the reality is, my experience has been completely different from my previous births—from the moment the baby emerged from my body into the arms of her mother instead of being laid on my chest.

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I’ll admit that at times it felt strange as I navigated this postpartum period. I remember laying in the hospital bed as they cleaned up the baby. The nurse looked at me and asked me if I was OK. I knew what she meant. She wanted to know if I was handling everything well emotionally. She wanted to know if I was sad or upset in any way.

And I honestly wasn’t.

At that moment I felt happy, elated even. I was happy that my surrogacy journey was complete. I was happy that I had birthed a healthy child. I was happy that the birth had gone according to plan with no complications. I was happy to see the parents crying tears of joy as they finally met their daughter face to face.

The good feelings lasted into the next couple of weeks. Since I didn’t have a baby to feed every two hours I was much more well-rested than ever before. I felt great. I was walking on air. No longer lugging around the extra weight of a baby belly, I was ready to move on and live my life.

But my hormones were still very much out of whack. After the initial high of giving birth, I suddenly came crashing down.

I realized then that just because I wasn’t sleep-deprived or nursing a baby day and night didn’t mean I would so easily escape the clutches of PPD.

I remember one morning having a complete meltdown because my daughter was supposed to wear her Minnie Mouse costume to school and I couldn’t find the gloves. Everything else was fine, but for some reason the fact that I could not find the gloves completely broke me. I yelled, I cried, and my family just stared at me in shock.

After a few minutes of silence my husband asked me, “Do you think this could be postpartum anxiety?” I huffed at him, but I knew he was right. I had suffered from postpartum anxiety before and the signs were clear.

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I realized then that just because I wasn’t sleep-deprived or nursing a baby day and night didn’t mean I would so easily escape the clutches of PPD. I had to care for myself. I had to take deep breaths, talk it out with someone else, and give myself grace.

It's five months later and my hormones have finally balanced out. I'm feeling like my old self again. The only sign that I birthed a baby fairly recently is the stubborn belly pooch that remains. I also get occasional updates from the parents—pictures of the smiling baby girl that has stolen their hearts.

This postpartum period has been a rollercoaster and unlike any other postpartum stage from the past. But one truth remains: I'm thankful and in awe that I was able to help complete a family. The woman’s body and what it can accomplish is truly amazing and beautiful no matter which way you look at it.

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