In These Uncertain Times…

April 10th, 2020

By Julie Allgood

This Covid-19 quarantine situation is new and unsettling for us all, and the feelings of uncertainty and fear have been so present for me.  At times, I find myself sitting in the silence, listening and waiting for some kind of answer.  Other times, I am busy, busy, busy taking action, checking in on our clients, filling out forms for government support, and strategizing with Nicole and our amazing team of caring professionals on our current cases and how to proceed with each one.

Surrogacy is a delicate process in the more certain of times, and even more so now.  I’ve spoken with Intended Parents who are trying to navigate the upcoming birth of their children, and with surrogates who have suddenly stopped working and are now homeschooling their children, while doing their best to keep themselves and their families safe and fed.  To the other women who made the decision to be a surrogate and have now stopped mid process, we appreciate your patience!  A special shout out to you all!

Zoom and other types of video conferencing calls have become very popular.  How we all long to see other humans (besides the ones we are living with in quarantine!)  One of our IPs shared that her friends and family held a virtual baby shower for her.  Recently I celebrated a friend’s birthday via Zoom, and I lit a birthday candle as we all sang happy birthday.  She blew out the candle (well, I blew it out for her after she made her wish!)  Finding ways to adapt, and also to connect helps us to continue to thrive!!

Regarding the surrogacy field, we have been participating in bi-weekly town halls with other surrogacy professionals.  We are being kept up to date on advancements in medications to treat the virus, along with attorney experience with parentage paperwork and travel issues/questions.  Several of our surrogates are due in early to mid-May, so we are watching closely, and keeping everyone informed as we learn more.  One of our surrogates is carrying for an international couple, and the amount of people who have stepped forward to offer support (and who offered to temporarily foster the baby), has been heartening. We are part of a community of loving and caring people, and this confirms our continued commitment to keep on moving forward in our mission to help create families through surrogacy.

Here are a few tips for mental health and wellness during quarantine for your consideration. We would love to hear what is working for you.  Your contributions help us all!

  1. Go easy on yourself.  Most likely, you have never experienced anything like before.  Now you are expected to be a teacher, chef, entertainer, mediator, referee, reinforcer, housekeeper, etc.  You do not need to be perfect (lower your expectations!!)

  2. Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.

  3. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Take the time to do a bath or a facial. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.  I have been putting on lipstick during my Zoom meetings!!

  4. Get out at least once a day for at least thirty minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.

  5. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!

  6. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. If possible, do this for your children, as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily—your kids miss their friends, too!

  7. Expect behavioral issues in children and respond gently. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioral plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on emotional connection.

  8. Self-acceptance and forgiveness.  It is so important to have realistic expectations of ourselves right now!  And, as quickly as you can, forgive yourself for whatever judgments you have about perfection or how things should look!  Try this… place your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, and say “I forgive myself for judging myself as __________.”  You may not believe it, but it’s okay to act as if until you experience a shift!

  9. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children. Find a few places that give informative information, and limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything and can become very frightened by what they hear.

  10. Notice the good in the world, the helpers. There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to counter-balance the heavy information with the hopeful information.

  11. Find something you can control and control the heck out of it. In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

  12. Find lightness and humor in each day.

  13. Reach out for help—your team is there for you. Seek support groups of fellow home-schoolers, parents, and neighbors to feel connected. There is help and support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically distant, we can always connect virtually.

  14. This too shall pass! Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. We will soon return to feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.