When I used to picture what planning a family would look like, I can’t say I ever imagined what Baden and I are going through now. Just as she imagined being pregnant, I imagined my role to be different as well: I pictured making late night trips to Dairy Queen to fulfill her ice cream cravings, giving her foot rubs, or practicing driving the route between our home and the hospital. These were predominantly physical action items. While I still get suckered into the occasional foot massage, it’s obviously not because Baden is pregnant. Just as she has had to do a complete mental shift in how her journey to motherhood will look, I’ve been reexamining what it means to be a father-to-be, and where I fit into the surrogacy puzzle.
What I’m learning as an Intended Father through surrogacy is that my role leading up to and during the pregnancy will be providing more emotional support than physical Lately, I’ve found that the best way to support my Baden is through knowledge. I hate when she looks at me despairingly, unsure of a particular answer to a complicated question we’ve uncovered during this process. I’ve made it my mission to support her by doing an immense amount of research so when she has a question, I already know the answer. This not only reassures her, but it gives me a valuable role to play in this journey. Optimism, or ‘seeing the cup as half full’, is not just a fertility pun. It’s a necessity.
Surrogacy so far has taught me that any couple combatting infertility has to be incredibly resilient. A couple experiencing infertility of any kind needs to know each other extremely well, practice patience, and be adept at verbal and non-verbal communication. Aside from giving your partner a kidney, this is the only time in medicine where both you and your partner are considered the patients together. It is imperative that you be there to support each other.
A lot of my focus lately has been on shifting my perspective. Infertility teaches you some powerful lessons (whether you were asking to be taught or not), and I’ve come to realize that each new challenge we face is an opportunity to become a better emotional support. It’s not a bad time to be learning the lesson either – anyone at this life stage (young couples trying to plan their families) regardless of their fertility journey need to undergo this total shift from prioritizing the self to prioritizing the family. When Baden is having a rough day, she’s confident she can turn to me and I will focus on her with the attention and empathy she deserves to receive. In return, I’m watching her learn these same lessons alongside me. When I get overwhelmed (yes, men can get emotionally overwhelmed in fertility journeys too!), she is there for me.
My advice for other men in this situation is simple: remember that your partner’s struggles are also your own. By going through this together, each of you have a role to play in supporting each other. Listen, learn, and be understanding. Find common ground. Show support and compassion while continuing a positive outlook. The point is not whether the cup is half-full or half-empty, being a supportive partner means reminding her that the cup is always refillable.