Standing in a hospital room corner, watching from a few feet away, I finally saw her in person, first her head, then her body. Before I knew it, a nurse was grabbing my hand, telling me to cut the cord. As I moved my shaking hand to grasp the scissors, my baby girl, my actual flesh, and blood in real life began to cry. I waited seven years to meet her, to hear that cry. She wasn’t the only one crying, my husband and I had been bawling for 10 minutes already.
As I stood frozen in shock, tears running down my face, the chaos and movement around me was a distant reality. I watched a nurse clean, diaper, and swaddle my firstborn child, Norah. The nurse handed me my sweet babe, and as she did, my girl, just five minutes old, lifted up her new little head ever so slightly, thumped it down against my chest, and let out a massive sigh. I think my heart exploded into a million brilliant pieces that all went straight into her heart, my girl.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
But, before I go on, you may be wondering why I was standing in the corner of a hospital room while my daughter was being born. Instead of, you know, IN the hospital bed. It’s because my best friend was in that hospital bed, giving birth to my daughter as my husband and I watched from a respectful distance.
Let me take you back to nine years, nine months before that fateful day in June when Norah was born. After a somewhat traumatic year in my late 20’s, I found myself wandering around southern California for a month. Bouncing between my sister’s house in Los Angeles and my cousin’s house in San Diego. My husband was back in Kansas, working, holding down the fort, while I flailed through my year trying to figure out what to do with my life. I was oscillating between becoming a yoga instructor or a fitness coach. The last thing on my mind was having babies.
One night while staying with my sister, I joined her for a night out with some of her friends. We were heading for sushi and Hollywood Bowl for the Sound of Music sing-a-long.
One of my sister’s friends came over to ride with us to Hollywood Bowl; her name was Meaghan. And living in the small world that we do, I found out she was from the same hometown my sister and I are from in Kansas. What are the odds? Meaghan was a newlywed living in LA with her husband just for kicks and giggles. Because they were young. And they could.
We immediately hit it off and spent an evening eating, drinking wine, and inhaling guacamole, all while belting our lungs out to the Sound of Music. After that, it was history. We hung out a few more times while I was still in town, and we happened to keep in touch.
FAST FORWARD A FEW YEARS
I had finally settled into a career in radio back in Kansas, resigning myself to merely taking yoga classes instead of teaching them. Meaghan and her husband moved across the country to the east coast, again just for kicks and giggles.
Then! My sister got pregnant via IVF (a LOT of IVF), and Meaghan got pregnant too. And while my sister stayed in LA, a few days after her son was born, Meaghan decided it was time to hike it back to Kansas. We instantly reconnected and were besties ever since.
As the years continued, my husband and I finally decided to attempt to have a family. We tried and tried and tried some more with no luck. Finally, one of my best friends, while we were running together, begged me to visit a doctor before I gave up on having children. I credit that friend with my current life. Anyway, I heeded her advice and went and had all my womanly bits and pieces examined by a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE).
THE BEGINNING OF FERTILITY TREATMENTS
My RE found that I needed surgery on my uterus since it was bicornate (heart-shaped), and after I had healed up, we would try IUI. Which we did. Four times. Over two years. That’s when he told us IUI wouldn’t work, and IVF was the way.
We had a few decisions to make. Like whether to do IVF in our hometown (which would be incredibly expensive oddly enough). Or try another more economical option, like going to Mexico. That’s when my sister intervened and told me I should try using the Dr. she did. I could fly out to Los Angeles, stay with her, go through treatments and BOOM, have a baby just like she did.
That’s what we did. I went through what’s called a “freeze all” phase of IVF. Where I would undergo two or three IVF cycles and collect all my eggs, create embryos, see how they grew, test them, and freeze the viable ones. After that, we would then proceed with transferring the embryos to me for pregnancy.
Basically, we were getting all the IVF treatments out of the way before I even tried to get pregnant. Our goal was to have enough healthy embryos to transfer TWINS to me. Because we are cheap and by that point, we were feeling old. We just wanted our family complete.
PROCEEDING WITH IVF
So, twins, it was. After my two IVF cycles and collecting 17 eggs and creating embryos, it turned out only two embryos were healthy and viable. We froze those little babes and waited five months back in Kansas.
It was time to fly back to LA for transfer day! Doing an embryo transfer entails an entirely separate “cycle” of shots and hormones, by the way. So when my body was ready, we headed back to see my Dr.
After the transfer, we flew back to Kansas for the dreaded two-week wait. It was at that point I had a very faint positive pregnancy test and a meager beta result. Low enough to make us think it likely wasn’t twins, but at least we could have ONE! Amazing. We were thrilled.
OUR DREAMS SHATTERED
And then…. it happened. I lost my babies. My betas dropped to 4 by week five, and they told me that my body would let them go so to be prepared.
When it happened, it was shocking. And horrible. My Doctor was just as stunned as we were. On a phone call, he explained that in a very healthy 36-year-old female with fantastic embryos, a miscarriage should not have happened. Something else was going on. He asked us to fly back out to California so he could investigate my uterus himself.
So we did. And my doctor investigated. And he found the problem. Then delivered the soul-crushing news to me, I would never be able to carry a baby. My uterus did not have proper blood flow where babies need to snuggle in to survive and grow.
There was only a small area of my uterus that would have sustained life. It would have been nearly impossible to transfer an embryo to the right spot and hope it would grow. If it did grow, I likely would have been on bed rest the entire pregnancy. But the chances I would stay pregnant? Slim to none.
Even worse, there wasn’t a name for what I have. My Dr. hadn’t seen it before. I had some kind of bizarre birth defect in my uterus.
That’s when he told me I had the option of moving forward with a gestational carrier surrogate. As I bawled my eyes out, my sister came into my hospital room. I choked out the words I couldn’t have a baby and asked her if I could have her uterus. She said yes. She hates being pregnant.
PICKING UP THE PIECES OF OUR SHATTERED HEARTS
I flew home the next day, sore, defeated, and miserable. However, there was a sliver of hope still there. We had already made a plan of action. We would move forward with more IVF cycles, freeze our embryos, and use my sister to carry them.
I quit my job, focused solely on my health, healing, and mental wellness. I produced three more healthy, beautiful embryos that we froze. As the weeks wore on, though, my husband became increasingly uncomfortable with having my sister carry our first child.
Not because he didn’t trust her or love her, but because she lived too far away. The logistics were tricky. He wanted to be more involved. And if there was an emergency, he couldn’t leave the last minute and fly halfway across the country.
FINDING OUR GESTATIONAL CARRIER SURROGATE
So, we were back to square one. Finding a local surrogate was our top priority. And one night, I sat drinking a glass of wine texting with my bestie Meaghan (remember her?). We were “watching” Project Runway together, and suddenly I remembered something.
I stopped everything, paused my show, looking at my husband. I said, “I have it! Our surrogate! It’s Meaghan!!” He looked at me like I was insane and said: “what are you talking about?” Well, as we went through all those surgeries, IUIs, IFVs, losses… Meaghan was there.
She watched me suffer, go through awful shots, heck she even had to give me my hormone shots one night when my husband was out of town!
Meaghan had to break the news to me gently; she was pregnant with her second child. Right after, I had another failed IUI. During all those years (it ended up being seven total), as she watched me suffer, she was the most amazing and supportive friend you could ask for. She even jokingly once told me she would have my babies for me if I needed her too.
And there it was.
MY BEST FRIEND IS HAVING MY BABY FOR ME
A brief comment made in passing years before came flooding back into my mind. And as I explained it all to my husband, he said: “well, I guess you should ask her.” And so I did. Via text. That same night. Saying “sooooo, remember all those years ago you told me you’d have my baby if I needed you to? How do you feel about that?” It took all of two minutes for her to respond with a “yes if my husband goes for it.”
We spent the next few months feeling giddy and nervous about the whole process. While I had just finished my last IVF cycle, we were gearing up to have Meaghan start her OWN cycle.
She had to start birth control, vitamins, and testing. They poked and prodded her, gave her mental health evaluations, and sent a list of medications and shots she would soon be starting. And then there was the legal side of things, the contracts, the insurance and all the forms.
It was a LOT. And she handled it like a champ.
GETTING MY BEST FRIEND PREGNANT WITH MY HUSBAND’S CHILD
Finally, it was time. As my fertility clinic was beginning the process of thawing my one female embryo Meaghan and I were boarding a plane to LA. We were armed with a bag full of needles and shots, we felt scandalous. In the next few days, as we tooled around LA visiting all her old favorite spots, we waited anxiously for the transfer.
Finally, it was the day. After a quick and easy transfer, that was that. Meaghan was on bed rest for a few days, we flew back to Kansas, and life resumed as usual. Or, as normal as one could expect to wait to find out if seven years of hard work and putting your best friend’s body totally on the line, paid off.
We got the call, and Meaghan’s beta test was excellent; she was pregnant. Despite fear and worry on my part Meaghan calmly and beautifully carried my baby girl to 39 weeks. When finally it was induction day.
LET’S HAVE A BABY, KIDS!
We all arrived at the hospital at 6a, nervous, armed with games and books and snacks. As the nurses began their work getting Meaghan’s Pitocin started, we explained our situation.
Our nurses couldn’t have been more amazing. They were thrilled for us, and we all bonded quickly. This was good because before we knew it, six hours had flown by, and it was time for Meaghan to push.
And that’s why on the day my first child was born, you could find me standing in a corner. Next to my best friend and gestational carrier’s head, anxiously watching to see my daughter arrive. And she did.
GESTATIONAL CARRIERS BECOME YOUR FAMILY
It’s been 3.5 years since that day, Meaghan has since also given birth to my twin sons. And if we hadn’t been best friends before all of this happened, going through this process would have forged that bond quickly. You see, when you use a gestational carrier, there is a delicate yet amazing web of trust, intimacy, bonding, and a sense of family that grows with the baby and the parents. It’s a bond like none other.
Not only did we gain our children through this amazing woman’s act of love, but we also grew our family. Which now includes two more adults and two more children: Meaghan, her husband, and her children.
If you want to know more about IVF and Surrogacy, feel free to contact me. You can also check out my website where I talk about all things momming, from being a twin mama and surrogacy to self-care and meal prep at BeingRobinson.com
Rebekah Robinson is a mom to a singleton preschooler and toddler twins. Once she was finally able to get more than two hours of sleep at a time and her twins started playschool with their sister, she took back up with her love affair with writing and blogging. When she’s not writing, she’s drinking all the coffee, chasing all the children, trying to get out the door for a run and sharing about the messiness of motherhood and twins at Being Robinson. Follow her on Pinterest and Facebook!