In 2013, I offered to carry a frozen embryo so my friends could start their family. Here is my story.
First of all, I’ve always considered myself a normal woman living a normal life. I am certainly not a writer. Even this experience seemed normal to me at first. Looking back, I now realize it was anything but normal, and I feel compelled to capture it in writing.
So how did our journey begin? It all started when my husband and I moved from Arizona to Oregon in 2007.
My husband began his new job immediately, and I began looking for something new for myself. I’m a hands-on person, so I enrolled in a Baking and Pastry course at Oregon Culinary Institute. Although I acquired new skills (and my husband and his co-workers got lots of treats), I discovered that I lacked the passion to make it a career, so I continued to look elsewhere. In 2009 I landed a job at a major retail eyeglass company. My job was in the laboratory, where we fabricated the lenses on-the-spot for customers. It was a hands-on position that suited my skills. Darren also worked in the lab, having recently transferred from another location in Washington State. We became friends as well as colleagues, and often discussed our spouses, along with the all the ups and downs life brings. Darren and his wife Holly were a young couple, but had been struggling unsuccessfully to have a baby for several years. Out of the blue, I thought to myself: “I could have a baby for them”. I can’t tell you why I thought this, but I did. Maybe it was fate. Or maybe it was because I knew I was one of those women who conceives easily, and has smooth pregnancies. I actually enjoyed being pregnant with my own kids, and never even experienced negative side-effects like morning sickness. So I casually mentioned to him and another co-worker one day while working that I would be willing to be a surrogate for them. Nothing came of this conversation. Darren and Holly were trying everything they could to do this on their own, including IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization). Using a surrogate (or more correctly a “gestational carrier”) was not something they were even considering.
Fast forward a few years, and Darren and I now work at different companies. But we’re still friends and get together semi-regularly. During one get-together, Darren announced that after many failed attempts, Holly was finally pregnant. It was even more exciting to learn that she was carrying triplets! I cried happy tears upon hearing the news, and hoped for the best. As for Darren and Holly, they were now attempting to plan for this major change in their lives. Despite trying to start their family for some time, triplets were a surprise, but a welcome challenge. Three of everything, a big enough vehicle to fit everyone, etc….
Just a few weeks later I heard some bad news. One of the triplets showed no heartbeat at the 9-week ultrasound check. Sad, yet optimism prevailed, as they still had two healthy babies growing. At the 17-week point (and one day after her birthday), Holly felt some liquid trickling down her leg. The immediate trip to the hospital confirmed more bad news: the sac surrounding their little girl had ruptured. Brinly couldn’t survive these circumstances, and was delivered one week later. Holly and Darren were heartbroken but had to stay positive. They still had a healthy little boy to think about. But more bad news was in store. At 21 weeks, just three weeks shy of the generally-accepted minimum external viability of 24 weeks, an uncontrollable infection required Holly to prematurely deliver Jude. Jude made the ultimate sacrifice to save his mother. Holly, Darren, and their families were devastated! From a distance, so was I.
Until meeting my friends Holly and Darren, it had never really occurred to me that getting pregnant could be challenging. I just figured you decided to have children, got pregnant, and repeated this sequence until your family was complete. I have two grown children, both of whom were conceived without challenges. I was lucky. Holly and Darren taught me that many couples are less fortunate, and struggle with infertility due to various reasons.
The very night of Jude’s passing, I told my husband I was going to reach out to Darren and Holly, and offer my body to carry a baby for them. I wasn’t really asking him for permission. My mind was made up. I knew I had to do something. Below is my actual email.
It took some time before they wanted to talk about it, and this worried me. Did I choose the absolute wrong time to bring it up? Will they accept my offer?