Written by: CG18
I have known ever since I was 17 that I was not going to be able to carry a child of my own. After being married for 2 years my husband and I knew we were ready to pursue having a child. We knew we would have to have a gestational surrogate, and that it was going to be a long process.
I am a lung transplant recipient of 19 years. I knew the day I got my second chance at life, that I would have to figure out a way to have a child. I knew with certainty that I was going to make that happen in my life. I was the only thing at a time of uncertainty I was sure about. My heart was set on having a child of my own. I could have pursued adoption or using someone else’s embryos or eggs. After losing my mother at the age of 18, I knew having a child was the one thing I needed and wanted in this life.
After getting married in 2008 I started the journey into researching everything I could on surrogacy. There were so many options.
My first step was finding a doctor. I actually looked in the phone book and just called the first big advertisement I saw. I winded up finding Dr. Kevin Winslow who became the man that changed my life and the man that I owe everything too. He was one of the head doctors with the Florida Institute for Reproductive Medicine known as F.I.R.M.
Dr. Winslow met with me several times. He explained into detail what I was up against financially and physically. He was very concerned because I was a lung transplant patient. The office had never done a gestational surrogacy with a transplant patients eggs.
I had so many questions about the quality of my eggs because I have been on long term medication since I was 14. I was worried the quality of my eggs would not be as good due to medical effects. There was no way to test a woman’s eggs unless the eggs were retrieved. Once you go through the egg retrieval, the lab can assess the quality of eggs.
There were also huge concerns with the shots and pills I had to take in order to get viable eggs. The shots effect medication levels, cause high blood pressure, cause bloating, and many other side effects. I had to stop taking one of the daily medications for the first 2 weeks I did the shots.
At this time, we did not have a surrogate who had said they would for sure be a gestational carrier for us. Many people offered to be a surrogate, but when it was actually time to go to the doctor and sign legal papers and have procedures….people backed out. It was an emotional roller coaster trying to find the right surrogate.
So many ups and downs. At many points, I wanted to just give up. So many let downs, so many disappointments, so much pain. It’s easy for people to say they will volunteer to be a surrogate and they feel it would be such an enjoyable experience. When people started to find out what was involved my two close contenders had to bow out gracefully.
My cousin was one of the people who offered. We even went to see the doctor together. After getting all the information it just was not the right move for her and her family at the time. It was back to ground zero.
I wanted to give up. I felt like I was never going to be able to have a child of my own. I could not go forward with anything else medically or financially if I did not find a surrogate. I was ready physically, emotionally, and financially….but without a surrogate.
I knew at the time I did not want to go through a surrogacy agency. I know for some people that is the most convenient or the best way to find a surrogate. For me we did not have the financial resources to hire a surrogate through an agency and at the time I just didn’t feel comfortable using someone I did not know personally.
Almost a year went by and I took a break from finding a surrogate and going to the doctor. I winded up going on vacation with some friends. I was sitting on a lake with a family friend that I have known for a while. I was telling her about how we had so many people offer to be a surrogate and they have backed out and we just didn’t know how it was all going to turn out.
This was while I was surrounded with everyone else’s children feeling so depressed that I did not have my own. I was depressed and so unsure of everything. I thought I was going to be able to have my own.
She looked at me and said why didn’t you ask me? I loved being pregnant and that is something that I would love to do.
I clearly did not take her seriously, but I bursted in tears and finally I felt relieved that maybe just maybe this might happen for me.
I was not even supposed to go on the vacation with them, but at the last minute, I decided to go. Clearly, it was fate.
I did not want to overwhelm her at first. I knew she needed to know everything before I really could take her too seriously. I told her everything she needed to know and then asked her to really think it over before she told me her answer. I knew I could not get my hopes up again.
After about a month, she committed and we started the process.
She committed to 3 embryo transfers and we only had to do 1. We put 1 embryo in and it took. She carried our sweet Sofia for 41 weeks she delivered her a whopping 9 lbs on April 29, 2010.
Sofia is now 7 years old and thriving.
The first round of fertility shots put me into the danger zone with ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. I did a very low dose of the fertility drugs. I gave my shots to myself in the stomach daily. Halfway through the cycle my sonogram show I had way too many eggs. They were double the size they needed to be and it was something that would have put my health into jeopardy.
Mid way through the fertility treatments, Dr. Winslow was very concerned about me getting fluid in my lungs so he made me stop the treatment. I was devastated. I remember laying on my bed crying… thinking I was never going to have a child. It was such a helpless feeling. I knew I had viable eggs and I just had to let them go. I was scared and worried and I saw that Dr. Winslow was concerned and worried.
Dr. Winslow fought me with on whether or not this was all worth it. He was very concerned about my health and showed signs that he did not feel all the way comfortable going forward. I had a mission and nothing was going to stop me from trying again or figuring out another way.
Back to square one. After a couple months went by I went back to see the doctor. He was very concerned about moving forwards. We discussed other options and talked about whether I could take something that did not make me produce so many eggs. We decided I would take a low dose of clomid and see how many eggs I produced. I produced 7 viable eggs and from there we made 7 embryos. We used one for implantation. The Surrogate had to go through a lot of medical procedures. She had to do shots before and 3 months after she was pregnant to ensure she could maintain the pregnancy.
She had to meet with a psychologist; her husband had to meet with a psychologist. She had to deal with her own two children while being pregnant for a third time. Besides carrying our daughter… the surrogate had to undergo so much more physically than I did. My struggle was more emotional. Giving up control and letting someone else carry our daughter was a very difficult thing for me. I had to learn to trust and give up control.
We are still in touch with the woman who carried Sofia. She has seen Sofia grow and remained a constant in our lives. The one thing throughout this process that was a constant was the underlying desire to be a mother and the diligence to have a child of my own never swayed. I could never go through all that again, but I feel so grateful it all played out the way it did.
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