“It was 6 months post my 4Thopen heart surgery. I was out with my friends excited to be celebrating turning 26, a milestone my mother and doctors never thought I’d reach. I celebrated by doing the things I loved most: socializing and dancing. That night I met Ryan.
他目睹了我在酒吧上面的字面上跳舞（因为没有什么可以说我还活着，就像在酒吧上跳舞一样），在与他见面的30分钟内，我告诉他一切，直到您可能不应该告诉任何人，直到至少你的3rdor 4Thdate. As we chatted a little, I interrupted him mid-sentence. ‘You really don’t want to be interested in me.’ I continued, ‘I have a lot of baggage.’
He then told me that he could just as easily walk outside that night and get hit by a bus and that he might die soon too. ‘True,’ I thought. After every attempt at me trying to scare him away (or maybe me trying to show him that I was much too wild for his calm and quiet demeanor) he still stood there unscathed by everything. I reluctantly gave him my number, thinking he was too good to be true.
I proceeded with caution, but not too much caution. Within 8 months of dating we were engaged and within a year and a half, we were married.
After our first date I had let Ryan in on my second biggest ‘baggage.’ I explained to him that because of my congenital heart disease, my doctors had always advised against me carrying a baby because of the huge risk it would be to have a baby inside of me. I was waiting for him to take off – he wouldn’t have been the first person I had dated that got scared off by this. But again, somehow, he stood there still unscathed.
As we prepared for our wedding and met with the priest, the typical questions came up. When the questions came up about having kids, I got flustered and upset. While Ryan knew and fully understood the extend of my heart disease, not everyone knew the severity of it, what having this heart problem meant for me, for our marriage and for us having children.
Over the next year Ryan and I talked in detail. We prayed and hoped for a sign on how we would grow our family. We had conversations with priests, nuns, my doctors, and our family; and after all of it, Ryan and I decided to explore the option of gestational surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy is when another woman carries your biological child for a mother that can’t carry her own.
While this decision came to us full of prayers and with 100% of our faith, knowing and trusting we were doing what was best for us and for my health (and our potential baby’s health), not all were understanding.
In the fall of 2015, I went through the difficult process of IVF. The bruised and battered outside of my body wasn’t even a comparison to the emotions I went through those few weeks on the IVF medicine. Whether or not the egg retrieval was successful, based off my ‘behavior’ while on these shots, Ryan had already said he didn’t want me doing IVF again if this first time didn’t work. So, we hoped and prayed that this one egg retrieval would work. The end of October, we learned that the egg retrieval was successful – we had developed a few good embryos.
After we found out we had embryos, we decided to begin trying to find a gestational surrogate – someone to carry our baby for us. We were beginning the mission to find a woman that would be our baby-baking oven. We knew we wouldn’t be picky, I like to think we had simple requirements, but mostly we just prayed we wouldn’t end up with someone we’d end up on a lifetime Original movie with. We wanted someone who would love our baby enough to carry it for 9 months, but didn’twanta baby enough that she’d try to run out of the hospital with ours. A simple request.
The winter after my retrieval, I had one conversation with one of my best friends. But as it turned out, she was just the one friend I needed to talk to about this. Ohhh, how this one conversation was about to change our lives forever.
*SPOLER ALERT* this next part: hang on – because I’m about to show you how amazing the universe works. There’s no bigger blessing than the guardian angels watching out for us.
‘So, I think we’re going to start looking for a surrogate.’ I told her. ‘But it’s just so weird because I don’t know anyone that’s ever been a surrogate or even used one.’
2 days after the ONE and only conversation I had telling someone we were going to start looking, I got the text while I was at my mom’s visiting. ‘Hey! I think we found you a surrogate!’
I read everything over and over. Ecstatic, I ran to my mom in the other room and read the texts to her. ‘She seems like she’d be awesome!’ I said to my mom, ‘she just has to talk to her husband Mike!’
‘Wait? What did you say her name was?’ ‘Beth,’ I exclaimed! ‘Haha, that’s funny,’ she said. ‘Mike & Beth!”
I stared at her and back at my phone in tears – our surrogate Beth and her husband Mike – my parents have the same names. Beth & Mike. Mike, my dad, passed away 7 years ago unexpectedly. I smiled to myself, my Dad in heaven, he must really be doing something up there.
There it was, that was our sign.
My mom and I met Beth a week later. It was essentially an ‘interview’ of sorts. Since there is absolutely NO handbook in how to navigate infertility or surrogacy, I hoped that after I met her I would ‘just know.’ it was important for me to listen to my heart in helping us make this decision of choosing a surrogate. My mom and I asked every question under the sun that we could think of; the biggest one was why she wanted to be a surrogate. Her response was awe- inspiring: ‘Because I want to do something bigger with my life. Don’t get me wrong, being a mom is a big deal, but I want to do something more for someone.’
She was sweet, hilarious, calming and genuine and if surrogacy had a matching profile I would have swiped right, messaged her and stalked her until she’d reply; she seemed too good to true.
As if she couldn’t get any better, not long after, Ryan and I also met her husband Mike, who was just as sweet, hilarious and as fun as she was.
The entire surrogacy and IVF process prepared us as parents much more than a traditional pregnancy possibly could. We met with a counselor (mandated) as well as a lawyer (also mandated), where we had to answer specific, very difficult questions, and have it alldocumentedfor legal purposes in our contract with our surrogate. ‘Will you be aborting for any reason? Will you be doing genetic testing? Do you want to do the test for Down syndrome? If there’s abnormalities, what will you do?’ These questions aren’t the typical questions people ask right before they’re about to go lay in bed with someone. Before you can have someone carry your baby, you better make sure you know exactly where you stand and what your plans are.
Because as my sweet husband had pointed out, ‘What if you weren’t here just because you have a heart abnormality?’
It was those conversations with him that reminded me why we were chosen on this journey together.
We did or first embryo transfer, and it stuck. The day we found out we were pregnant, we surprised all of my family (technically we were only a few weeks along, but hey! We were excited!) The day we told my mom, unbeknownst to me, was actually the same day my mom and dad had married 3 decades ago; it was the day of their anniversary.
Over the next 9 months of Beth’s pregnancy, Ryan and I were involved in every way we could be. We went to every appointment and got together to hang out. She invited us over for the holidays and her sweet husband Mike was supportive of not only Beth, but of us along the way. He too came to all the big appointments – to the embryo transfer, to the 20-week ultrasound and he was there for the delivery.
Beth delivered our baby girl, Elleora Beth on May 11, 2017, on Mother’s Day weekend. My husband and I, as well as her husband Mike, were all in the room.
Beth is our first-born Elleora’s Godmother and she named our second baby, Esme’. Beth and Mike and their 2 sons come to Elleora’s birthday parties and we try to get together at least a few times a year. Her boys understand it and as our girls get older, they’ll learn about our journey to both of them with the help of one truly amazing and selfless couple.
Beth is often was asked why she’d choose to be a surrogate. She described those final moments beautifully.
Before our surrogacy journeys, I felt like I was missing out on a lot not being able to carry my own babies. I yearned to feel my baby kick inside me or for Ryan to feel that also. I envied every cute little pregnant girl who rocked her adorable pregnant belly in those sweet maternity clothes. But in the end, I realize I gained so much more. I gained a bond I never even knew existed with another woman and another family, I gained an experience and a journey and I’m so much stronger because of it.
It has instilled more faith in me in women and motherhood. And maybe most importantly, because of this journey, I’ve been able to keep my health intact. Because I didn’t risk my heart’s health, I am able to play with my sweet toddler Elleora at the park, climb through the jungle gym and chase her as she squeals with her little toddler excitement. I can also keep up with my newborn baby and still enjoy my very tired time as a new mom of 2.
Ryan and I are forever in debt to Mike and Beth. How do you repay someone who has literally brought LIVES, plural, into this beautiful world for you?!
I’ll honor our surrogacy journeys by loving my babies as much as humanly possible, and by making as many sweet memories as God, and my time on this earth, will allow me to make. I owe it to them, but not only to them, I owe it to our surrogate, too.
我在希望它会insp分享我们的故事ire others to follow their heart and listen to their own intuitions. Through this journey I’ve learned that motherhood is way easier when you stop listening to other people’s opinions.
After all, the happiest people are the ones who are truest to themselves and to their dreams.”
This story was submitted tobeplay网络一直不畅克里斯蒂娜 - 穆斯·詹宁斯（Christina-Mouse Jennings）。Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own storyhere.Be sure tosubscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, andYouTubefor our best videos.
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