October is Surrogacy Awareness month. You’ve been trying for months, if not years, of trying to have a baby. While on this journey, disappointment, depression, and other stress-related issues will arise, and stacking stress on stress is not the business.
Insurance Executive and author of The Colorless Womb, Kimberly Gowdy became pregnant through surrogacy after experiencing three miscarriages. She had no problem getting pregnant; the problem was carrying to term.
She never gave up on her dream. Although surrogacy wasn’t her first option, when she met the man of her dreams who dreamt of sharing a child with her, she knew that the only way to bring a child into the world would have to be adoption or surrogacy.
When asked what the best and worst part of her surrogacy journey was, Gowdy explained, “The worst part was feeling inadequate. Seeing someone do the very thing that I thought all women were made to do.” She continued, “At times, the pain overwhelmed me, but I knew this was a means to a beautiful end. Being a mother in all its glory was the best part of my surrogacy journey. It is like no other.
Surrogacy journeys can be a long, difficult, and emotional trek weighing heavy on your spirit, mind, and body. However, when you are waiting to become an intended parent, you must take care of yourself.
Gowdy’s surrogacy journey weighed on her body, mind, and spirit. However, she knew that for her to take care of her baby; she had to take care of herself.
Let’s start with Gowdy’s top three self-care tips, consistent exercise, dating her husband, and getting girl time in, to consider during your surrogacy journey.
I knew I was in for some sleepless nights, so I wanted to build up my endurance, says Gowdy. Exercise is powerful medicine. It can reduce stress, ward off anxiety and depression, boost self-esteem, and improve sleep and your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, increase energy levels, and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Walking, hiking, biking and even dancing will keep you energized.
2. Dating my husband.
With a new baby coming, going out on the spur of the moment would be the thing of the past. Going through the journey with your partner can be overwhelming and sometimes cause friction or arguments. Take some time to reconnect with each other—do a staycation or go on a weekend trip. Or maybe get dolled up for a fancy night out. Or relax at home with soothing music, takeout, and amazing sex. It will strengthen ties and give you both a more stable foundation to handle anything that comes your way. You’re a team! Have fun and focus on being a couple for a while. It will strengthen your relationship and help you work as a team for when the baby comes.
3. Getting in girl time with my friends and enjoying time with family.
After waiting so long to become a mother, I knew my complete attention would be on raising my child. Friendships will certainly change when you become a parent. However, many parents-to-be believe fun will dissolve when the baby arrives. Getting in girl time with friends may not be as spontaneous or frequent as before. It is still possible to sneak away and be social.
To round out the seven self-care tips to consider while waiting for your bundle of joy, you may want to include the following four in your schedule.
4. See a therapist.
Sometimes we can’t explain why we feel a certain way. Therapy can help you learn about what you’re feeling, why you might be feeling it, and how to cope. It gives you peace of mind by asking questions, any and every question, without being judged. Questions like, “where we will go after the delivery?” “What kind of relationship will we have with the surrogate mother after birth?” “Will the surrogate mother have a bond with the baby?” If you have any fears or anxiety, it’s best to be honest with the surrogate and the agency. Transparency, communication, and kindness are key. Just like visiting a doctor for a wellness exam, or your dentist for checkups, seeing a therapist can help keep your mental health in check. And being mentally balanced when the baby comes is your key priority.
5. Eat Healthy.
What you eat can have a great impact on your temperament. Without following a healthy, well-balanced diet, you can experience anxiety, lethargy, brain fogginess, and depression, and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fats. (“The Advantages of Eating Healthy Food - SF Gate”). And don’t forget the happiness hormones Serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. They help promote happiness and pleasure while reducing depression and anxiety. Of course, everyone indulges occasionally. On these occasions, do not feel guilty about your choice. Enjoy what you are eating to the fullest and get back on track the next day.
In this fast-paced world, racing thoughts and overwhelming emotions flood our minds. Journaling helps you relax and release anxiety. Think about it. You can only write one thought down at a time. So, it forces you to slow down, organize their thoughts, and focus on your thoughts one at a time. Dr. James Pennebaker, author of “Writing to Heal”, says, “When we translate an experience into language, we essentially make the experience graspable.” (“10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get from Keeping a Journal”).
7. Get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation causes serious health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, and reduced immune system function. Getting enough sleep can also help fortify relationships you’ll need for emotional support.
These self-care tips are just a start but, guess what? If you don’t put self-care on the schedule, chances are it won’t get done. It’s easy for self-care to fall off the radar because we feel other things are more important than taking care of ourselves. However, if you don’t first take care of your needs, how can you take care of anyone else’s? Especially a newborn. If you want your parenthood journey to start off right, choose yourself first and work on becoming the healthiest stress-free version of you can possibly be.
To read about Kimberly Gowdy’s surrogacy journey, visit Amazon.