Khloé Kardashian become a mother of two in July 2022 when her son was born via surrogate. But in the season three premiere of “The Kardashians,” which aired May 25, she opened up about how her experience with surrogacy was “really hard” on her and impacted the connection she has with her baby boy.
“I definitely was in a state of shock from my entire experience in general,” Khloé said, speaking of the time she met her son in the hospital. “I felt really guilty that this woman just had my baby and then I take the baby and I go to another room and you’re just sort of separated. I felt it’s such a transactional experience . . . I wish someone was honest about surrogacy and the difference of it. But it doesn’t mean it’s bad or good. It’s just different.”
“I definitely buried my head in the sand during that pregnancy that I didn’t digest what was happening.”
While Khloé’s honesty and perspective are appreciated, it’s important to note that not all surrogacy experiences are the same. For example, having a baby via surrogacy doesn’t necessarily translate to having a less-connected relationship with your newborn. Other celebrities like Adrienne Bailon-Houghton, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, and even Khloé’s sister Kim Kardashian welcomed children via surrogacy with a very different outcome. “Kim said hers was easy. This is not easy,” Khloé added.
Carly Vollero, general counsel at surrogacy platform Nodal, has experienced surrogacy on a personal and professional level — her daughter was born with the help of a surrogate, while Vollero carried her son. “I felt an intense, immediate bond with both,” she says. “In some ways, the feelings were more intense with my daughter at the moment of her birth because she was never inside me — so our first touch was truly our first touch.” Vollero has been involved with more than 100 surrogacy journeys (sometimes as the lawyer, other times as a friend) and says for many, “Not feeling connected to your baby is a relatively common worry that intended parents have that is not likely to actualize.”
However, Khloé’s surrogacy experience happened during a strained time in her life when she discovered her partner, Tristan Thompson, had been unfaithful, allegedly fathering a child with a different woman. Khloé shares both children, 9-month-old Tatum and 5-year-old True, with Thompson. “I definitely buried my head in the sand during that pregnancy that I didn’t digest what was happening,” she said in her one-on-one interview. “I think when I went to the hospital, I think that was the first time that it really registered. I think it has nothing to do with the baby.”
For those who are worried about forging a connection with your newborn, try to spend as much time as possible bonding with the baby (starting with skin-to-skin contact after birth), says Georgia Witkin, PhD, head of patient services development at Progyny and assistant professor of psychiatry, ob-gyn, and reproductive sciences at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. “Hold your baby frequently, and notice how your baby is responding to your touch,” Dr. Witkin suggests. “Watch how your baby pacifies when you rock them or bounce them up and down gently, and your bond will continue to grow. The more a parent touches their child and hears their babbles, the stronger their relationship will grow.”
Ultimately, Dr. Witkin says it’s critical for parents to understand that despite being carried by a different person, this child is genetically yours. “This child will not have any DNA from the carrier. The carrier is simply there to nourish the embryo and help the child grow,” she explains.
It’s also important to remember that adding a child into one’s life is a massive change to one’s daily routine and can leave a parent feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, Dr. Witkin says. If the connection doesn’t come immediately, that’s OK, too. Hopefully, Khloé, and anyone else who has had a surrogate or is considering surrogacy, can give themselves grace in the process.