So it occured to me, as I continue in this surrogacy and as I speak with various friends and relatives in my life, that it's not really ever been laid out for people how to appropriately help or not help a friend who is a surrogate.
When a friend announces to you that she is pregnant with a child (that is her own), often times we know exactly what to do! Maybe you offer to throw her a baby shower, or at least attend one for her, or bring her a gift for the new baby, visit her in the hospital after the baby is born and oo and ah over the new addition. With surrogacy, many of these norms are not always appropriate, and many don't realize that.
1) A Baby Shower: Sometimes when a mother is having her 3rd, or 4th child, she often feels "Whats the point?" of throwing a baby shower? She has everything from previous pregnancies that she needs, and often times just needs maybe one or two things and diapers! In this case I usually buy her a "Mommy gift." ie: Spa Gift certificate, Gift card to a nice restaurant, Free babysitting etc. When your friend is a surrogate, she is not having a new baby. She is delivering one yes, but the baby is not hers...so what do you do?? Often times the IM (Intended Mother)'s family is throwing the IM a shower of her own to prepare for the baby..in this case you as a friend are involved only with the interest of your friend and how she's doing. Your surrogate friend may be invited to participate in said shower, or she may not. That depends on her relationship with the IPs, and their location. If you want to do something nice for your Surrogate friend I suggest a "Mommy Gift." Take her to get her toes done, or to a movie just the two of you. Those are all ways you can show her, as her friend, that you want to recognize her going through this pregnancy that won't result in a baby for HER.
2) DO NOT expect to come to the hospital after she gives birth, to hold the baby. :
Someone mentioned to me a while ago how "unfair" it was that I was a surrogate because that meant that they wouldn't be able to hold the baby after I gave birth. This is correct. It is not appropriate to come to the hospital after I give birth, to visit me and hold the baby. First let me explain to anyone who does not have children that the first few hours and days after childbirth are an emotional roller coaster. The parents are bonding with their child, people are crying tears of joy and relief, people are exhausted, I will be sore and exhausted, and the moment is just extremely private and intimate for all involved. It is just not appropriate to come to the hospital expecting to get involved as a third party. The baby is not mine. The family will have their own friends and family visiting, and while it is usually appropriate to visit someone at the hospital after they give birth to their OWN child, with a surrogate it is not. The only people who are welcome (at least in my case) are my husband, children, and parents. Everybody else is more than welcome to visit me at my home if they would like, after my stay at the hospital.
3) DO bring food by if you would like. ;)
She still gave birth!! She doesnt have a baby to hold, but she is still physically exhausted and sore from delivery, and prepared meals in her freezer are a welcome sight. :)
4) Be ready to listen:
Your surrogate friend will be going through all of the usual emotional craziness of post partum, with the added possibility of some anxiety and hormonal changes that come from not having the baby to help regulate. I personally will be encapsulating my placenta to help regulate my hormones. I suggest being a kind and patient friend by letting her cry, or laugh, or yell, whatever she needs to work through wherever she is at that time emotionally. This doesn't mean she feels any kind of regret or separation anxiety from the baby, it just means she feels hormonally imbalanced after the birth and needs a patient ear.
If you have any questions about what is or isn't appropriate with a surrogate, please ask me! Either in the comments, or email me and I will be happy to help with an answer. I don't know everything about surrogacy as I am still in the journey, but together we can figure it out. :)