It’s been roughly 48 hours since I gave birth to a baby boy who isn’t mine – but it was totally the plan! I’m Allison, the co-founder of One Tough Mother, and I was an altruistic surrogate for a family.
This was actually my second time being surrogate, with the first time being a baby girl in 2018 for a different family. But in total this was my fourth time birthing; the first two times were my own kids.
I get so many questions about why I have chosen this journey and what it was like, so I thought I’d answer them here, as well as give some insight into my postpartum recovery as I’m actively experiencing it.
Why did you choose to become a surrogate?
Honestly? Because I can. I’m a blood donor. I’m an organ donor. My mother was an incredible human being and all I could ever dream to do as an adult was to become the kind of person who would make her proud.
In my mind, I had this fully functioning uterus just lying around 🤣. Why not share it with a family who could use it to have a child and become the family they were dreaming of?
How do surrogates get matched with families?
I get a lot of questions about this as there are currently many families looking for a surrogate. In my case, I was a surrogate in Canada and worked with an agency to find the family.
The plain and straightforward advice I’d give anyone who is considering a surrogate to birth their child is this (and it kind of sucks, I’m not going to lie): save money and get embryos ready.
Some surrogates are picky about them being tested embryos and others don’t care, but not many want to wait for fertility treatments to get started. You likely won’t get far until those steps are taken care of.
But in my case, how I actually matched with the specific families? It was about the connection I felt to their stories, and then to them once we spoke. It was really a gut feeling and I’m two for two now.
Was it hard to give up the baby after giving birth?
The thing is, I never viewed these babies as my own – because they aren’t! I have two of my own children whom I love and am actually a mother to, and the feeling is completely different. I was the birthing person in this story.
Before even becoming a surrogate I asked myself whether it was possible I’d be sad about this. And I guess the truth is that you never really know until you’re in the situation, but these pregnancies were very different experiences from the beginning.
Some practical reasons being that I wasn’t planning names, buying clothes or decorating nurseries. None of that. I wasn’t preparing to become a mother to another child.
But also, my mindset was different and I was constantly in touch with the intended parents on this journey. My mind was always on them and how this was part of their journey to parenthood.
I can honestly say that each time these surrogate pregnancy babies were born, I was happy to see the parents take over.
So much so that when, around that 3-4 day postpartum hormone slump the first time, people kind of accused me of secretly not being okay… The hormones totally made me cry about that, wondering if I was somehow heartless because I didn’t secretly want to keep the baby!
A note to anyone supporting a surrogate or parents who are using a surrogate: please do not try to label their feelings or put your perspective on them! This is a very special and somewhat unique story into parenthood. Everyone involved just needs support and understanding, free of any judgment.
How is your postpartum recovery different this time?
Well, the biggest difference between a surrogate birth and when I had my own kids is that there is no baby for me to take care of!
As I write, I’m only 48 hours out so haven’t hit the hormonal low of day four yet. The adrenaline of giving birth has worn off which means I was able to get a really good sleep last night – something that most new parents will not get to have!
My hope is that my milk comes in tonight before I hit the day four low, and that the hormones of pumping will keep me feeling good.
I’ve actually never had an emotional reaction to any baby after birth – other than protection at first for my own – but this little guy has his parents so I don’t feel drawn to do anything except to get him as much colostrum as I can because he was early (36 weeks).
The worst part is the inability to motivate myself to wash my hair, the fact that it feels like my sacrum has exploded out my ass (no TMI around here!), and that the adrenaline has finally worn off and I am EXHAUSTED but too afraid to drink coffee in case it makes me have to poop (IYKYK).
As someone who has birthed and recovered quite a few times now, what were the key items for the first 24 hours of recovery?
Don’t get me wrong, there are many things that can help with comfort, recovery, etc. But these are the absolute, don’t-leave-home-without-em items that I would recommend again and again:
Ok, the first one’s funny because I went into labour a early at 36 weeks. My birthing gown arrived at 1:00 pm – unfortunately I gave birth at around 12:30 pm…
But it turned out to be such an amazing thing to have on hand once I got home. I was sore and exhausted, but it was comfortable and pretty and made me feel halfway human again.
Grab yours here… And learn from me: order it way earlier than you think you need it!
The Bellies Inc Ab Wrap is a life saver! What I love most about it is that it’s not meant to make you skinny, it’s a physical recovery garment. But it does make me feel "held".
It's super comforting to have the tank on and the additional wrap, when placed correctly, gives me a sense that I can stand up straight and not hobble about.
The wrap really helps put the right pressure on my sacrum when I’m resting, which is my biggest discomfort right now – and it reminds me to rest, which I need to do (Yup. It's still hard to take time for rest and recovery even four births in and without a newborn to care for – but make sure you do).
I have long been a Bravado Nursing Bra fan and this time is no different. The most important part about these bras is that there are no underwires which means I don't have to be fearful of my bra causing blocked ducts (learn what these are, and how to prevent and treat them here).
And their bras are super stretchy which is critical as the size of my breasts is changing quite drastically this week. Sizing in general is another great thing about this brand – they fit so many different sizes!Perineal Spray and Upside Down Peri Bottle.
The spray I have just been spritzing directly – not using padsicles – because this time I’m not swollen, I’m just so SORE! One Tough Mother didn’t exist last time I gave birth so this is my first time using the spray and if I’m allowed to toot our own horn, HOLY this makes a difference!
And I cannot believe how much better our Upside Down Peri Bottle is than the hospital one. In the, ahem, pure-hearted interest of truly being able to describe why the upgrade is worthwhile, I tried both… As I texted to my co-founder Kristine, the difference was quite literally:
It was IMPOSSIBLE to get the hospital peri into the toilet at the right angle to fully dilute my stream of urine and properly cleanse away the postpartum bleeding.
And again, because this labour started unexpectedly, I panicked when my water broke at home. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this but I didn’t grab anything I needed. Seriously. I even forgot to grab chapstick, what an amateur move! I totally did not practice what we preach.
Because of this experience, I’m going to shamelessly plug our Hospital Bag Essentials Kit. My husband, who works out of province for part of the month, was on his way out and literally flew back and went home to grab my stuff.
It was as easy as him quickly stopping at home to grab the kit (just missed the damn birthing robe’s arrival though lol) and voila! I had the REAL things I needed on hand immediately – and they made (and are making) a huge difference!
Will you ever be a surrogate again?
This was my last time. To be honest, this was a hard pregnancy on my body and I’m just ready to feel like my body is my own again. I’m so grateful and humbled to have been able to build my own family and help two others become the family they hoped to be.
Have any more questions? Click here to go to the IG post (give it a like, too!) and drop your question in the comments.
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