I have battled with chronic pain and health issues since being diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 12. It was then that I was first told that my fertility was in jeopardy, but with surgery, treatment, and medication, my doctors hoped to preserve my ability to have children long enough for me to have the family I desperately wanted. The plan was (and still is) to eventually have a hysterectomy sometime in my early 30’s to minimize the pain and stop the damage as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, a year after diagnosis, my appendix ruptured and went undetected for almost a week as a result of becoming so used to living with severe pain and confusing it for my normal period pain. By the time it was discovered, I required major lifesaving surgery during which my entire abdomen had to be cut open and left to heal for a week. There is now a massive amount of scar tissue binding together and covering my abdominal organs, including many in my reproductive system, some of which have been damaged beyond use. Throughout my teenage years and early 20’s, I continued to have surgeries to limit the growth of new scar tissue but have dealt with other significant health problems that are connected. After another major abdominal surgery just before my 18th birthday, I was diagnosed with a condition that leaves me in constant, daily pain and extreme fatigue that will remain a lifelong struggle.
Six months after I was forced to adjust to my new body and physical limitations, Kyle and I met as freshmen in college north of Boston. We were 18-years-old when we started dating and have been together ever since, nearly 12 years now. Shortly after graduation we got married and this past September we celebrated our 8th anniversary. He has always been a huge support and source of unconditional acceptance in my longterm battle for my health.
More than anything else in life, we wanted to have a family, but we knew our window of opportunity was small. So, in 2011, we consulted with doctors and I worked to come off of my maintenance medication in order to become pregnant. But, despite a few years, more surgery, and treatment, it didn’t happen for us. I thought I had steeled myself for the worst, but nothing could have prepared me for the reality of first realizing we would need increasingly invasive intervention and then, that I would be unable to carry a child after all. We looked into every option and researched every avenue before coming to understand that gestational surrogacy was our only remaining path to having a family. Even then it seemed impossible and overwhelming, and I believed that our dream was over.
After about a year of deliberation and preparation, we began the surrogacy process in Summer 2014 not knowing what would come of it. We met our amazing gestational carrier, Elle, a few months later with the help of an agency, and in Spring 2015 we went through two rounds of IVF to transfer our only surviving embryos– the second of which resulted in a miracle baby, our son, who was born in January 2016. As planned, we were there for his birth, and I was blessed to be able to assist in delivering him. Through the surrogacy process our family grew in more ways than we expected: Elle, her husband, and her kids will forever be a part of our lives, and we are so grateful to them for their love, support, and incredible generosity in one of the darkest times as they made our dream of becoming parents a reality and gave us the greatest gift possible.
There was a time when I didn’t know if we would be able to go through the surrogacy process a second time. For as amazing as it was, it also took a significant toll on every part of our lives. But, we have always felt like there is another child who is meant to be a part of our family, and the only other option– walking away– is completely unimaginable to us. We’ve been laying the groundwork for more than two years now, but it has taken until Fall 2017 for us to be able to officially take some of the first steps in the process again. We know already that we have a very long road ahead of us, but our experience the first time around has shown us that it’s more than worth the journey.
We are currently in the process of searching for a gestational carrier to carry a second child for us. If you think you or someone you know might be interested, please visit this page for more information or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.