The gift of surrogacy
I had the privilege of documenting another surrogacy story a couple weeks ago. Photographing this birth gave me a second wind in some way. I don’t know how exactly to describe it; I didn’t even know I was in need of that second wind! But I got it! There was hardly a dry eye in the room (including mine). And the birth high went on for a few days. It was just a beautiful experience to witness.
The following is Kim’s birth journey in her own words. Enjoy!
A DREAM COME TRUE – 3 YEARS OF HOPE, PRAYERS, AND LOVE
“A doctor told me I had fibroid tumors in the summer of 2005. I was 34 years old, single and had not had any children at that point. I was a personal trainer and had just launched my first fitness video, “Love Your Legs”, ran three times per week, and felt completely healthy. But, when you hear the word “tumor” and “uterus” in the same sentence, you can’t help but worry. Was I going to be okay? And what about having kids?
As I write this in 2016, now married, our new son baby Oliver sleeps quietly in his bassinet. His presence is surreal. His journey here was a long three-year process while I remained a present and positive mother to my first son, and ran my international fitness accessory company, SPIbelt. Oliver is my second child and simply a miracle for so many reasons. I never thought I would have a child through a surrogate mother, but I could not be more happy and blessed for how the story unfolded.”
The Diagnosis and the Doctor
“After my fibroid diagnosis in ‘05, I was fortunately referred to Dr. Thomas Vaughn, the best fertility doctor in Texas. He assured me that the removal of my fibroids would not affect my fertility, but he also told me that if I wanted to have kids, I would need to have them within five years because of my age, and the fact that fibroids grow continuously.
So I scheduled my first myomectomy (the surgical removal of fibroids from the uterus that allows the uterus to be left in place) around my 35th birthday, and Dr. Vaughn successfully removed eleven tumors from within the walls of my uterus.”
A Long Road to Now
“Nearly five years later, on schedule with Dr. Vaughn’s suggestion, I was pregnant with my first son and delivered him via C-section (because of the myomectomy) at the age of 39. At that time, I was a solo starter, meaning I had chosen to have a child on my own without a significant other in my life. During the pregnancy, the fibroids were there, but luckily they didn’t cause any issues for me or my son.
I had my second myomectomy about a year after my son was born. The fibroids had grown so big since my first surgery and twelve fibroids were to be removed this time.
Around 2012, with plenty of time to recover after my surgery, I decided to try for another a child. I figured that since I was able to have a baby after my first surgery, I would also be able to have one after my second. This is when things got tough.
Although the fibroids and being in my 40s didn’t make things easy, I was fiercely determined to have a second child one way or another. For a year and a half, my patience was tested. I experienced false alarm after false alarm, and I waited on too many negative pregnancy tests. But I didn’t want to give up.
Both my OB/GYN, Dr. Reich at Women Partners in Health, and Dr. Vaughn were gracious with my stubbornness, but they also had to be honest and give me the hard truth. They told me that the fibroids within my uterus walls could very well be the reason why a pregnancy wasn’t sticking. With this news, my hope for a second child was nearly crushed.”
Never Give Up!
“That’s when I began to think about surrogacy. It hadn’t occurred to me before because I was able to get pregnant with my first son. But there I was, wanting a second child and not being able to have one.
Obviously, I had so many questions. Who would be a surrogate for me? How would the whole thing work? What really was surrogacy? And, more importantly… when could we get started?
When I was having an emotional conversation with my cousin about my infertility experience, I told her that I simply needed a new uterus! We both laughed. If only things were really that easy. But then we started talking about my cousin’s beautiful twenty-six year old daughter, Cydnee, who was a mother to two little girls. I don’t know exactly what my cousin said to her daughter after our conversation, but later that night, Cydnee, like an angel, called me and said she would be more than happy to help. She would be my surrogate.
I made an appointment with Dr. Vaughn and started the process. That took me a year-and-a-half. Surrogacy takes a ton of paperwork, a lot of patience, a number of doctor’s visits, and can be a costly option. Ultimately, I don’t think that not personally carrying the child was harder for me, it was just a different experience, emotionally and mentally.”
Of Hope and Heartache
“The challenges continued. After two unsuccessful transfers of embryos from my eggs, I nearly gave up. I didn’t want to keep going through this over and over again. The emotional toll was becoming too much to bear. But after a lot of thinking, meditating, and praying, I decided I was going to give it one more try.
Finally, Cydnee was confirmed pregnant! But, again, that excitement was short-lived. A week later, the pregnancy was gone and Cydnee was no longer pregnant.
That was one of the hardest parts of our surrogacy journey. The extreme ups and down. And although it would’ve been understandable to give up at that point, we tried one last time.
Best. News. Ever.
On July 27, 2015, Cydnee was confirmed pregnant, again, with our son Oliver.
The birth of Oliver came after three years of an emotional roller coaster ride with extreme highs and lows. My husband, who I met and married after I started the surrogacy process, was a gift from Heaven. He was so incredibly supportive of where I was at in my journey as a solo starter. Because of him, I am no longer solo, and very quickly, our family went from two to an entertaining group of five!
We are so incredibly grateful for everyone who has helped along the way, especially Cydnee, who did such a selfless thing for our family, and her amazing mom and my cousin, Ericka Holmes. Surrogacy can be just as special and beautiful as a natural pregnancy and birth, and without it, our son Oliver would not be here today.
If you are facing surrogacy as your only option to have a child, I wish you a very loving and enjoyable experience. Once you get all of your paperwork in place, open your mind to the experience that lies ahead. The child may not be in your tummy, but you get to spend nine months preparing for his/her arrival, and you will be the child’s parent all the same.
Enjoy the photos of the birth of our son. Please feel free to email me if you are going through a similar experience and have questions or just want to share your own story!”