Surrogacy Stories is a blog series compiled by Heartland Surrogacy. In this series we will bring you personal perspectives on surrogacy from a variety of people: surrogates, intended parents, and the professionals who have been lucky enough to work with them. Today we bring you a surrogacy story from Isabelle, an intend mommy. Please stay tuned for future Surrogacy Stories!
Isabelle and her husband Bob have been battling infertility for the last four years. Unfortunately, they have dealt with just about every infertility diagnosis imaginable, and some unimaginable scenarios too. Fortunately, Isabelle and Bob are resilient and hopeful people, and they are confident that surrogacy is going to finally expand their family. Isabelle blogs anonymously at In Quest of a Binky Moongee: The Journey of Making a Baby despite the Diagnosis of Diminished Ovarian Reserve. Curious as to what a binky moongee is? Check out her blog!
Thank you so much talking with me today! Can you tell me a little bit about the journey to build your family, before you pursued surrogacy?
Isabelle: Our journey started almost five years ago. Even before we started trying for a baby, I was told that I needed surgery for uterine fibroid removal if we wanted a chance to have a baby. That started our very long journey of trials and tribulations. After the surgery, I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve with high follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and extremely low anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH). We tried to conceive naturally, then did four conventional in vitro fertilization (IVF) stimulation cycles, four minimal-stimulation IVF cycles, two intra uterine insemination (IUIs) converted from IVF, two transfers with my own eggs, one chemical pregnancy with my own eggs, two transfers with embryos made with frozen donor eggs (one of which resulted in a chemical pregnancy). After all of that, my husband and I still have a strong desire to have a baby. I never thought that I would have any problems carrying a baby. My lining had always been nice and thick with trilaminar pattern (which is what you want for implantation). We were just going to pursue another cycle of donor egg IVF and do a fresh transfer. We thought that everything was going to be fine. So we chose another donor and were going to start all over again…
How did you and your partner decide to pursue surrogacy?
Isabelle: Before our new donor egg IVF cycle, we were trying to cover all our bases including checking if my lining was receptive for implantation. We were supposed to do a test called “endometrial receptivity array”, but it was canceled due to a fibroid that had grown bigger and blocked the view of the lining. I was told to seek surgical counsel about the removal of the fibroid. A second opinion with my previous reproductive endocrinologist (RE) revealed that the growth that was thought to be a fibroid could actually be adenomyosis. This condition may cause pregnancy problems such as late term losses, placental issues, and other potential complications. Her recommendation was for us to pursue surrogacy. We could still try to transfer but the risks would be great. A surgeon with whom we consulted also recommended surrogacy as the best and safest way for us to have a healthy pregnancy and bring home a healthy baby.
What was difficult about this decision?
Isabelle: My dream since my childhood has been to carry and give birth to my own babies. Even with the egg reserve problem, I was confident that my babies would grow in my womb. When the dream was shattered, the most difficult thing was to come to terms with it. And it was difficult for us to determine if we should try to transfer in me first and risk having complications, or just go straight to surrogacy. We had already had to grieve the loss of donor eggs. To have to also grieve the loss of my own pregnancy was a big blow.
Was there anything “easy” about making the decision to pursue surrogacy?
Isabelle: The easy part was that both my husband and I were on the same page in terms of our priorities. We wanted to bring a baby home in the safest way possible. So it didn’t need any persuasion on my part for him to be on board. He was in fact ready for surrogacy before I was. Our friends and family have been very supportive, which made going into it a lot more manageable. And we are blessed to have the funds for such an expensive endeavor.
How did you feel once the decision was made?
Isabelle: We felt hopeful that this was the right path for us, although there is still a little fear or worry that even this wouldn’t work. But if we want to reach our goals, we have to move forward and try the one thing that our doctors recommended.
How did you find your carrier?
Isabelle: My reproductive endocrinologist had a patient who worked with this agency in another state and successfully brought home her babies. This patient has nothing but high praises for the agency owner. My RE herself even told me that this is her favorite agency to work with. Our communication with this agency has been very smooth. The owner showed us a few profiles and we really liked one of the potential carriers. After an interview, we felt very comfortable with this potential carrier because our wishes and preferences all aligned. After a lot of prayers, we decided to work with her.
How did you know she was the right match for you and your family?
Isabelle: She is more than we had wished for in a gestational carrier. We wanted her to be over 30, in a stable married relationship, and have a passion for helping others fulfill their dreams of building a family. Our carrier is compassionate, open, honest, and easygoing. She and we have the same view on important issues such as the amount of communication prior, during, and after pregnancy, termination and reduction, and other topics. And she is a follower of Christ just like us. Now that we have been working together for a while, it has been such a blessing that she keeps us in her prayers all the time.
What stage are you at in the process now?
Isabelle: We are working on the legal contract now. We will soon move forward to a transfer.
We are sending you best wishes!! Is there any advice you can share with other intended parents?
Isabelle: This has been such a roller coaster ride, but I believe firmly that this is the way we will bring our baby into the world. If you have been told that you may need a gestational carrier, I understand the emotions you may be feeling. Take your time and let yourself process all of your emotions. If this is the right path, you will know. If you have a hard time processing your feelings, a therapist who specializes in third party reduction is a tremendously helpful resource. I wouldn’t be where I am right now emotionally had I not had my therapist by my side. Join online support groups or support groups in real life. Ask questions from those who have walked the same path. I gained invaluable knowledge from friends and friends’ friends who have done surrogacy before. Surround yourself with support. One day at a time and one foot in front of the other. You will get through it.
That is great advice! Thank you again for participating in this interview!
To read more about Isabelle’s story and to follow along on her journey as an Intended Parent via surrogacy, please follow her blog!