Like so many women, when I was pregnant with my biological kids, I cataloged everything I could about the pregnancy…Well, with Lillian, anyway- poor Julian was lucky I remembered to go to my monthly appointments. Lol! So any sickness, cravings, first kicks, how I felt emotionally- all chronicled with the mindset that one day I would show this diary of sorts (along with the myriad of belly pics) to my kids. I absolutely LOVED being pregnant and wanted them to know how cherished and adored they were long before they were born. One of my main concerns the first time I was a Gestational Carrier was how do these surrogate babies grow to know that they were also loved while in utero? No, I am not their mom (or any blood relation for that matter), but my family absolutely cares about them and is excited to be part of their journey to life. So how do we show this love to these babies and their intended parents…?
I try to experience and shape my GC pregnancies through the intended parents’ eyes- what would they do, what milestones would they track, what would they want to physically have to supplement memories down the road? I take my cues from them regarding the frequency and type of contact they expect/prefer, but I record every milestone- big and small– that I would with my own bio baby, just in case. At the beginning of the process, I start a ‘keep it’ box to hold receipts from travel, medical wrist bands, empty medicine vials, cards and correspondence and add to it frequently. Because these pregnancies are contractually confirmed with a blood test, I take and send the intended parents a physical test…It makes that first substantial milestone so much more real, and downplays what could otherwise feel like a business transaction. I send general updates every few days, especially as things get exciting. So they know when I feel the first flutters and then kicks, what I am craving (which in the case of this baby is how I ended up with a lifetime supply of Sweet Tarts), and what foods and smells I avoid.
I keep a journal to be passed along, and write as often as I can. I share fun stories and moments as we go. For example, when I was pregnant with the twins, the kids used to ask me to ‘bring the boys out’ to play four square with them. This always caused laughter because they said I counted as 3 people, so to a spectator it always looked like two square. The twins each responded differently to my kids’ voices- Julian would read to them and Lillian would sing. One baby was more active than the other and would kick and respond to different interactions with the kids. The parents used this knowledge when choosing names for them, as it is Jewish tradition to name babies after deceased relatives, and they wanted the names to fit and be meaningful.
Because the intended parents cannot be with me all the time, or at all in some cases, I suggest they send audio of them reading their favorite children’s books, telling stories, or of their favorite music. It is so important for their voices to be familiar to aid them in soothing the baby once it arrives. With my first pregnancy, I invited the dads to my doctor’s appointments, and to meet up to walk with me after work. The latter served two purposes: I would get much-needed exercise, and the twins would hear, and get to know their dad’s voices. Unfortunately, they didn’t take me up on the walks, but did attend every appointment.
I enjoy collecting, making, and sending gifts throughout the pregnancy…Especially fun items from trips we take, or events we attend while I am carrying. My favorite gift for the twins was matching FDNY onesies from a vacation Lillian and I took to NYC when I was 5 months pregnant with them. We also try to snap cute pics on these trips, at events, and of daily life as the pregnancy develops, so the babies can see all the places they have visited and the exciting things they have done. Every 4 weeks I take a ‘progress pic’ and place it in a single photo filmstrip alongside previous weeks to make it easier for the parents to see how much the baby has grown month-to-month. Holidays always bring additional fun as I let the kids paint the bump to commemorate and tell the story later on. When the parents compile all of these items together, they have a wonderful way to share their journey with their little bundle one day. I have 17 more weeks to share with you, so stay tuned while my family grows another…
1 thought on “Making it fun. Making it special. Making memories.”
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