People who volunteer to be surrogates are, by definition, pretty selfless. Even if they’re getting paid, that’s an amazing service to provide for others. But one person preparing to carry their sister’s child has reminded us of one important fact about traditional surrogates and gestational carriers: Their bodies are still their own, no matter whose precious cargo is inside them.
The surrogate-to-be (who uses they/them pronouns) took to Reddit with a dilemma she is facing before carrying their sister’s child: They are happy and excited to do this, but they don’t want their sister in the delivery room with them.
“I’ve given birth before, and every nasty thing that CAN happen during birth happened to me when I gave birth to my son,” Cosmokitt wrote on the AITA subreddit Monday night. “I vomited, I shit myself, I think I peed on the floor once. It was rough. I also bled more than the average person, to the point I almost needed a transfusion. I gave birth with no pain management while on my hands and knees on the floor. While it was an effective way for me to give birth, it is the least dignified.”
Cosmokitt, who is not yet pregnant, said they don’t want their sister to see them in this state, “but I also don’t want to disappoint her by saying she’s not allowed in the room, since this will be her first (and potentially only) child.”
While almost all of the people responding to the post agree with us that they absolutely have the right to decide who gets to be in the delivery room, the discussion about whether they should is a fascinating and important one.
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There were straightforward responses like this from StellaHolly: “NTA [Not the Asshole] — birth is not a spectator sport.”
But there were many others hoping that Cosmokitt doesn’t just spring this decision on their sister just before the birth.
“I can understand your reasoning, but please actually sit down and talk to her about this,” Sfb208 wrote. “Ultimately, it is your choice, as though the child will be hers, until you are separate from that child, it is your medical procedure. Hopefully, you have good communication with your sister, considering your giving her such a massive gift!”
Some surrogate mothers shared their stories in the thread, emphasizing just how right and wrong this whole thing can go.
One woman wrote about carrying twins for a friend, which did irreparable damage to their friendship.
“She was supposed to be in the delivery room (scheduled C-section), but towards the end I was changing my mind due to me feeling like me and my health were being ignored and her babies prioritized over my life,” Jenpalmer said. “Not exaggerating, I was told my life was at risk when I was 33 weeks and told the twins were safe to deliver. She went behind my back to the doctor and delayed delivery.” Lucky for her, the friend happened to be out of town when she delivered the babies a week later.
“Everyone is getting ready to enter a crazy, amazing, stressful, and uncharted time,” Jenpalmer continued. “These conversations will come up and get more intense. Think multiples conversation, situations where termination is acceptable to everyone vs. not. It gets deep; I didn’t realize how so going in. My advice is to learn to have these conversations now so everyone feels like they are heard and respected. It will make it so much easier as things progress. Talk about expectations, like amount of contact and boundaries with your doctors, etc. It’s easy to say now that you will always be the priority. When there is a baby to consider, hormones and emotions get involved in a situation with a high level of tension already and it can make it hard to think rationally.”
It sounds like they could use the help of a surrogate therapist, a specialty Kim Kardashian West has said really helped her work out the very delicate relationship between her and the woman carrying her child. This is also a good idea for Cosmokitt’s sister, who might experience guilt and fear that she won’t bond with her child. And even though they’re siblings, they’ll also want to work out a legal contract.
Another woman wrote about what happened when her sister was her surrogate, giving us a glimpse of how this can turn out beautifully.
“Complications meant my sister had to give birth via C-section, and it meant that only one person could be in the room with her,” Heart2001 said. “She chose me, but I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had wanted someone else. It was a scary time for her, and if someone other than me had been her choice to make her feel more comfortable? I would have stepped aside. Your sister may be disappointed by your decision, but she’ll also want you to feel as comfortable and secure as you can every step of the way in this process. You’re doing an incredible thing for your sister. My daughter is 12 now and there isn’t a day that goes by where so don’t feel grateful to my sister for giving me the chance to be a parent.”
That’s the happy outcome we wish for these siblings, just like these celebrity parents who had children via surrogate.