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When Family Answers The Call: From Sister-In-Law to Gestational Carrier

April 4, 2018

Written by Cammie Heaton, guest blogger

My husband and I began trying to start a family in 2013 when I was 27 and he was 29 and after a year of trying and no results, we made a doctor’s appointment. We were both checked up and down multiple times. I had countless scopes, surgeries, ultrasounds, and labs with no findings. I have been a type 1 diabetic for 22 years and we knew if I were to become pregnant, it would be considered high risk. With clearance from my endocrinologist and nephrologist, I was given a prescription for Clomid and took it for the maximum time with no results. I was ovulated monthly but never had a positive pregnancy test.

We were then referred to a specialist in Wichita, KS; a good four hour drive from our rural hometown of Hugoton. We waited three months to get an appointment and after all the buildup, we left extremely disappointed. Dr. Tatpati felt as if it would be too dangerous for me to try IVF and possibly carry multiples with having a chronic condition.

It was time to discuss next steps: we talked about just enjoying each other, having our dogs as our “kids”and spoiling our nieces and nephews, whom we love as our own. We did an adoption phone consultation and were told to expect the cost to be nearly $50k. In the end, we decided to take it day by day and continue to pray.

About a month later, my husband came home from work and told me that his coworker said his wife would be willing to carry our biological child. I was in complete shock, sure that she didn’t really understand what it would all entail. We met with her and ended up back in Wichita. Fast forward through multiple appointments, labs, contracts with attorneys, social workers etc., and we were ready! I had an egg retrieval and they fertilized 24 eggs. Unfortunately, our carrier’s lining wasn’t materializing and so they had to freeze the 6 embryos that made it to blastocyst and we were told that maybe the next month we could try.

A week later, I was in excruciating pain and vomiting blood. My husband drove me to the ER but I was transferred to a bigger hospital an hour away. My abdomen had swollen and at every extraction point of an egg there was a leaking blood vessel. I had a horrible and severe form of OHSS.

Next thing I know, my already fragile kidneys were shutting down and I was in the back of an ambulance going to Wesley Hospital in Wichita. I had a paracentesis and they drained over two liters from my abdomen. While I have recovered fine, my kidneys will never function as well as they had. We did what we were told was safe and ended up in a very critical state.

Six months later, our carrier’s body was still not responding to the hormones as it should. Her lining would not thicken and had fluid, a cyst, and other concerns. We were told to find another carrier, as if it were that easy!

After some discussion, we made a plan. My husband asked his sister, Tina, who is married to Greg and have three children, and also happen to be our neighbors. We discussed the process over a spaghetti dinner and left their house with hopeful hearts to have a baby again.

We had to begin the legal process, labs, contracts, appointments, etc. all over again. A potential transfer date was scheduled for February 2017, but just like the first carrier, her lining was too thin.

We were frustrated…deja vu.

Eventually we transferred a frozen embryo in April, and nine days later the pregnancy test was negative.

We jumped right back in and transferred again in June, and this time it worked! She was pregnant! We were over the moon. Just a short week later we were told it was an abnormal pregnancy and she ended up having to a have d&c.

Lots of things were unknown after this. Do we try again? Financially, can we try again? Is Tina still willing to try?

We waited till October. This was to be Tina’s last try and we transferred two embryos, On a Sunday evening in November, we saw two pink lines. We cried, we were so excited but also so scared since we had just gotten these results in June, only to be left heartbroken.

The day before Thanksgiving, we saw one baby via ultrasound and there was one heartbeat! I thought I might have a heart attack. I was holding Tina’s hand and realized afterwards how hard I was squeezing her. That Thanksgiving was that much more blessed than I ever could have imagined.

Tina took 10 weeks of progesterone shots and through it all, was so strong. She truly is the most selfless person I know. She has never complained, whined, had a “poor me” attitude, or wanted any praise. She is a trooper, always positive, and I get goosebumps typing this as she is an answer to so many prayers over the last five years.

We found out on Valentine’s Day that we are expecting a baby girl. She is due the beginning of July and her name will be Gracyn Jo Faye, sharing a middle name with both myself (Jo) and Tina (Faye).

I frequently feel like I need to pinch myself as we look at baby cribs, talk about paint colors, and dream about who she will look like. This road has been rough, there have been more bumps and setbacks than times we were happy. Tears of hope, joy and fear. When times were hard and hope seemed dim I relied on our faith, family and friends.

I owe Tina the world and want her to be recognized as my hero. Without her, we would not be able to have a biological child. She is doing this without any large compensation and from the bottom of her heart. A true warrior and friend.

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