Julie S’ Surrogacy Journey Vol. 13
Ending journeys can be a confusing time for some. First of all, as a surrogate, you just experienced something absolutely incredible by helping another family become parents. Then, all of a sudden the preparation, anticipation, dedication and everything else that it takes to be pregnant and deliver a healthy baby… is over. Just like that.
One thing that always keeps me going is remembering that I can still help after the baby is born. While pumping milk is not required or even expected, I have always communicated with Abundant Beginnings that I would like to pump for the baby if the Intended Parents would want that. I would like to share that part of my journey with you!
Baby boy was born early on May 23rd but since I had to have an emergency d&c after the delivery, I did not provide colostrum for the first 24 hours. I started preparing for pumping by stimulating my nipples after I was out of recovery by using my Spectra 2 hospital grade breast pump. When we toured the hospital, we asked if they provide women with breast pumps and this specific hospital I delivered at did not… so I had brought my own.
The whole time I was in labor, I talked about finishing this series on Netflix during my recovery!
My breast pump was free with my health insurance plan. I have gotten a new one for each surrogacy through the yummy mummy store. It’s an online medical provider that accepts most insurance plans. It arrived 6 weeks before my due date.
When the first 24 hours were up, I started collecting as much colostrum as I could for the baby! I could write a whole blog on just the benefits of colostrum, but I’m sure most of you know a lot of that already! What I was able to pump, I brought the milk/colostrum to the baby’s room so that mom or dad (or grandma, grandpa, uncle, auntie, etc!!!) could feed him.
We left the hospital later that day and I continued to pump at home. My IPs sent family or came themselves to pick the milk up from me every couple of days. One thing that is super weird about pumping for a baby you don’t have is finding the motivation to wake up and pump every couple of hours! While my body says “JUST LET ME SLEEP” my brain says “GET UP”. It’s challenging to find motivation at times. Just knowing that I’m giving something that could last the baby his entire life makes up for the droopy eyes.
My milk fully came in by Saturday and my IPs and I decided on how many ounces I would fill the freezer bags to. We filled them at 1.5 ounces to start with and then increased over time.
After the first week of milk pick-ups and drop-offs, I then started to freeze the milk so that I could ship it easily to them. My IPs live a couple hours away from me so it actually was only about $15.00 to ship them milk overnight. They reimbursed me for any supplies and the cost for shipping. Also, surrogates can earn $250 per week for pumping breastmilk, which is paid from the IPs escrow account.
My first shipment of milk was just a couple of days worth but I would do that every 3 days or so to help keep up with him. Baby boy was not exclusively fed my milk, but I sure tried my best to keep up with him!
We continued this journey for about 5 months until I just had too many clogged ducts to continue. My IPs were wonderful and tried to help remedy any issue before I gave up. I would have loved to have continued longer but a death in my family, stress and travel made things get too difficult. IPs are usually very understanding of this. I know mine in particular were extremely grateful for every ounce I was able to give him.
Alternatively, many surrogates do not wish to pump and that is totally okay, as well. This is usually discussed at the time of matching with the IPs, and it is also possible to change your mind, if pumping is not working for you. Your IPs will understand, and Abundant Beginnings is there to help each surrogate by offering support and encouragement. They also help by communicating with the IPs to help everything go smoothly. And, our awesome sisterhood is readily available with tons of tips how to help “dry up” milk.
What I like about pumping, is that it helps me to feel the connection to this incredible family, and also it feels amazing to offer support to this little guy that I helped bring into this world. Some of our surrogates only pump while in the hospital and provide the initial colostrum, and then dry up at home, or they donate milk to a nearby milk bank. Regardless of your decision, Abundant Beginnings will support you, and remember, it is important to keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself first so you can better help care for others. Your children will appreciate having your full attention again!!
Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for my final blog on retiring as a surrogate!