A Feeling Like No Other
It was warm day in June when my husband and I walked into a little restaurant between San Antonio and Austin. We nervously awaited the arrival of T&S, and their son, H, as this was to be my first face-to-face meeting with a couple that I had been matched with through my agency, PrimaVita Surrogacy. We grabbed a seat and began the conversation that was part interview, part first date and all smiles. We hit it off with this couple and I thought, “I’m going to carry their baby!” It’s a meeting unlike most first meetings, but that is the way of things with surrogacy. After weeks of medical clearance, testing, psychological visits, legal contracts and background checks, we finally arrived at our transfer date. We transferred T&S’s last embryo, which we dubbed, “Baby CC” as it was a CC grade embryo, and we prayed for the best. A couple of weeks later, we were elated to hear the news that the transfer had been successful and we were pregnant.
T&J are big fans of surprises, so we did not know the gender of this baby. My husband and I chose to be surprised by the gender of our own child (our third…that baby ended up being a she), so we were no strangers to this waiting game. The pregnancy progressed normally and I experienced my first real bout of morning sickness out of 6 pregnancies total. The first trimester was a little rough on me with the fatigue and sickness, but nothing terrible. We coasted into the 2nd trimester and with the arrival of Christmas morning came the relief from morning sickness. Hooray! I enjoyed the holidays and my growing belly as my relationship with T&S (and H) grew with it. Every kick reminded me that their baby was growing big and strong inside me and that we were nearing my favorite day of all, delivery day.
Spring came and went and the hot days of the Texas summer brought with it the aches and pains of the third trimester. I was really beginning to round out and T&S were able to feel the kicks of their baby from the outside.
Finally, our planned induction date was nearing and we went in for our weekly checkup with my OB. Baby CC had been breech the week before, but we were happy to hear that he/she had turned head-down again. However, my cervix was not favorable for an induction, so I called S and gave her the news that we would need to wait a week. While we were bummed, we knew that the safest course of action was in everyone’s best interest, so we made ourselves busy for another week. At our 39 week, 5 day checkup, we discovered that baby CC was breech again. We scheduled an external version and successfully turned the baby from the outside. I was sent home to wait out the weekend and we scheduled an “eviction” date for Monday, July 17th. Baby CC would need to come out, one way or another.
Sunday night, my husband and I checked into a Houston hotel so we could be a few miles from the hospital. We attempted to get some sleep, but at 5AM, I began calling the hospital, as instructed, to see if there was an available bed for my induction. Sadly, they did not anticipate having a room until 8AM. I dozed on the couch and set a timer for 8AM.
After calling back at 8AM, 9AM, 11AM and 12PM, I still had no instructions to head to the hospital. T&S were anxiously awaiting my call to head in, and it was time for us to check out of the hotel, so my husband and I headed over to T&S’ hotel room to hang out and wait for the call. At 1:45PM, we finally got our call to come on into the hospital. S, my husband and I headed out and my IF waited with H at the hotel until it was closer to delivery time.
There was more waiting to be had when we arrived at the hospital, but we finally got checked in only to suspect the baby might be breech again. Around 3:30, the doctor came in and my belly was completely different than it had been a couple of hours before. A quick ultrasound peek confirmed that baby was head-down, so we started pitocin. Around 10:15pm, I ordered my epidural, but I was still at a 1. At 3:45AM, I finally made some progress and was at a 4 and 50% effaced. We broke my bag of waters and waited for some more progress. 5:30AM and we were at a 5. Everyone was anxious to meet this baby! The doctor came in again around 7:30AM and I was complete and ready to push. S called T and said, “it’s time! Come now. Carmela’s waiting on you to push!” When T arrived, he and S gathered at the head of my bed and we were ready to push. A few seconds later, they met their beautiful baby girl and the delivery room was filled with tears. The look on my IP’s faces was something every surrogate longs to see.To know that you helped put that look on their face is a feeling like no other. It was a beautiful end to an amazing journey.
The Heart Just Grows Bigger
Surrogacy first crossed my mind back in 2009, as I watched a family member struggle to get pregnant. I offered to carry a child for her and her husband, and they took some time to consider it. A few months later, my phone rang. My heart raced as I answered the phone, expecting an answer to my offer. My cousin shared the most exciting news: they did not need my assistance after all– she was pregnant!
I delivered my last son in January of 2010 and the thought of helping someone else have the child they longed for kept creeping into my mind and heart. I did not know much about surrogacy so I started researching as much as I could, trying to decide whether this was the path for me. In March 2011, I was watching the show “One Born Every Minute.” This particular episode featured a surrogate. I watched in complete amazement as she delivered a baby into the arms of very excited parents. I cried big ugly tears and in that moment it hit me: this was the sign I had been waiting for. This was fate showing me that surrogacy was right for me.
I immediately started googling agencies and researching each one in hopes of finding the perfect fit for me. After finding several that didn’t pique my interest, I reached out to an acquaintance who had been a surrogate and asked her which agency she went through. In May 2011, I filled out that agency’s application, and had a call back later that week. From there things moved quickly.
The agency approved my application and sent me a profile for a single man in Australia who was in need of a surrogate. I read over his profile, but unfortunately didn’t feel a connection. I hesitantly emailed my agency and requested a new profile. They asked me to reconsider, and I did read over his profile again. Still, I just didn’t feel he was who I was meant to carry for. The agency sent me a second profile for a single man from Texas (I’ll call him Matthew) who had been trying for several years to have a child via surrogacy. As I read over his profile, I got butterflies. This was it. This was the person I was supposed to help.
Matthew liked my profile too, so the agency set up a match meeting. I was so nervous, but upon meeting him we meshed well. Conversation flowed as if we had known each other for years. We proceeded with the match and completed our screening and contracts by mid-August 2011. In September, we attempted our first transfer using the last of his frozen embryos. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and we were both devastated. I questioned if there was something I could have done differently, but I was reassured it was the embryo quality and nothing I had done or could have done would have made it work.
Matthew went on to choose a new egg donor. Our second transfer in March 2012 was successful. I ended up pregnant with boy/girl twins. My twin pregnancy was a breeze, probably the most enjoyable pregnancy I have had. I updated Matthew after each appointment, and he would check in to make sure I was feeling well. In October, at 34.5 weeks gestation, Baby A’s bag of water ruptured at 2 am. My husband and I tried to reach Matthew, but it was so early in the morning that we could not get a hold of him immediately. We rushed to the hospital, and within 3 hours of arrival, both babies were born vaginally. Matthew missed the birth by 30 minutes, but he was still beaming with excitement upon his arrival. He came to check on me and after reassuring him that I was fine, I encouraged him to go meet his babies. The twins needed very little help breathing, and were in the NICU for two weeks, mostly due to needing to learn how to eat without exhausting themselves while doing so.
When the twins were 5 months old, Matthew asked if I would be willing to carry a sibling for the twins. Of course I said yes! Our first transfer was successful and I was pregnant with a singleton girl, and again had a wonderful pregnancy. I gave birth in May 2014, and made sure Matthew made it to the hospital in time to witness the birth of his second daughter. One of my favorite moments was when he brought the twins in to meet their baby sister for the first time. My heart was full. My relationship with Matthew and his children is a complete blessing. I went into surrogacy not knowing if the family I carried for would be willing to let me remain in their lives. I visit with the family as often as our schedules allow, and I talk with Matthew often. I am forever grateful to have them in our lives.
After completing my second surrogacy, I was not sure about carrying again. When I was asked my response was always, “Only if Matthew wants more children.” I was lucky that Matthew wanted me to remain in their lives. I was SO SURE that could not get that lucky again if I were to match with new intended parents.
I’m a member of a facebook group where surrogates, intended parents, and surrogacy professionals can encourage one another. Over the last year, I had noticed a couple who were interested in surrogacy. Their posts went from learning about surrogacy, to being matched, and then, sadly, to stating their transfers didn’t work and they were taking time to think about what their next steps would be. I felt compelled to contact these intended fathers, but I was hesitant. Sure this couple seemed great on facebook, but was it possible that we would be a great match? Was it possible for them to be as amazing as Matthew is? Would they even like me? I decided to take the chance.
I typed up a message and waited 20 minutes before hitting send, but I’m so glad I did! I officially matched with the hopeful fathers in late June 2016. By mid-August, we had completed screening and contracts. In late September, we transferred two beautiful embryos. That transfer resulted in a healthy singleton pregnancy. The dads to be came to as many appointments as their schedule would allow. I enjoyed seeing their excitement and joy with each ultrasound and each time we heard the baby’s heartbeat. This was different then my prior two journeys, as Matthew was unable to attend appointments with his schedule. I really enjoyed having more interaction during the pregnancy.
My third surrogate pregnancy seemed to fly by. On May 29, 2017, I went into labor. After notifying the excited dads-to-be, they quickly changed their plans for the day and met me at the hospital. Their beautiful baby boy was born early in the morning on May 30, 2017. The feeling of seeing them with their son for the first time is unforgettable, and a moment I will cherish forever. Like Matthew, their family remains in close contact with me and we visit often.
I can now honestly say that, YES, It is possible to carry for more than one family and the experiences be equally amazing. While they’re not exactly the same, they are each special in their own way. Carrying for a new couple is a lot like adding an additional child to your own family. Your heart isn’t limited on how much love it has to offer or how many people it can hold dear. The heart just grows bigger, making room for everyone.