I’ve said many times that if someone had told me I would have twins at the age of forty-three and that another woman would carry them for me, I would have laughed from here to high heaven. Well, it turns out this is exactly how I became a mother the second (and third) time around. After suffering undiagnosed recurrent miscarriages, hiring a gestational carrier was my last and only hope for expanding my family.
I had never heard the phrase gestational carrier until 2012 when I saw E! News host Giuliana Rancic being interviewed on the Today show. Shortly after a double mastectomy, Giuliana flew to Denver with her husband to attend the transfer of one her frozen embryos into a gestational carrier she had hired.
I was fascinated and overwhelmed with compassion hearing Giuliana talk about her two-year struggle with infertility. Even though I had just suffered my fifth undiagnosed miscarriage – a tubal pregnancy at almost eight weeks, it didn’t dawn on me that a gestational carrier might be the answer for me. Friends, it wasn’t my plan B, C or even D.
To be honest, I was a bit biased against the idea of it. It seemed like something a celebrity would do to avoid gaining weight, getting stretch marks or being inconvenienced. What I didn’t know then was that:
1-in-4 American women experience fertility challenges
5% of American women experience secondary infertility
In my case, I had an undiagnosed condition that baffled even the best fertility specialists and caused me to miscarry seven times. It wasn’t the growing list of celebrities like Nicole Kidman or the wife of Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon that got me thinking about finding a gestational carrier. It was my best friend who is like a sister to me, who inspired the idea. Years before I began even thinking along those lines, God had laid it on her heart to carry my baby for me and my husband. She was just weeks away from giving birth to her second child when she shocked me with her selfless offer.
Needless to say she was the person I would have trusted most to carry my baby, but it wasn’t meant to be. After seeing a fertility specialist and getting “the kit” full of injectable hormones to help prepare her body for implantation, her body didn’t respond. It was devastating for her and for me, but that experience was what opened me up to the idea of finding a gestational carrier. Eventually, with the help of an agency, we found the perfect woman to carry and give birth to our twins.
Even though we did pay our carrier and have a legal agreement with her, it was still the most incredible gift another woman could have given me. My body was inexplicably broken and without her, I could not have expanded my family and given siblings to our son. She is our angel, and is a dear friend.
These days, Kim Kardashian and her gestational carrier are trending in entertainment news. Her pregnancy struggles have been well documented on her show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Although she is someone whose values I don’t necessarily respect (bless her heart), she is bringing awareness to the topic of secondary infertility. She is, however, an example of a woman who is being judged by the public for wanting more children and going to great lengths to grow her family. I have walked in those shoes and it is not easy. The thought of being judged makes it all the worse.
Infertility and Secondary Infertility are a lonely path to walk on. I struggled with feelings of loss, isolation, failure and frustration. I felt guilty for wanting another child when I already had one. The blessings of my journey were also many. I learned that I was entitled to my feelings and to my wish to have more children. I became more compassionate toward myself and other women. It also taught me to be courageous and advocate for myself and for those who come after me.
I still remember the day I witnessed my twins being born by C-Section. It was surreal to watch another woman give birth to my children but it miraculous nonetheless. I think my husband said it best — we had taken it for granted that we would become parents a second and third time. We had no idea the challenges that we would face.
Even after a long, uphill journey it took a loophole (and a lot of prayer) to become parents again and that loophole was our gestational carrier. In this series of blogs focusing on gestational carriers, surrogacy and motherhood and I will share my story of the road I walked on for seven years of infertility.