It’s not every day that a story like ours is written. For us, it’s perfect and turned out even better than we could have possibly imagined.
In 1996 I met my future husband as part of a summer youth orchestra that traveled. Neither of us knew it at the time, but nonetheless we had a great friendship. 8 years later, in 2004, we start dating and soon moved in together. We called it official in 2005. We bought a house, got a dog to merge with my three prior cats and bam: we had a fur family.
We continued to build our lives and plant our roots. I had always dreamt of marriage, but never thought it would be. I had also thought about having a family and, well, that was off the table for sure. Well, we married on our 10th anniversary and a month later started the planning process for our journey towards parenthood.
In August of 2015 we were matched with a surrogate. We met her and her family at our fertility clinic in September of 2015, and to say that we had fun was an understatement. We instantly bonded.
Our next step was to find an anonymous egg donor. After four tries we finally found a match! Our donor underwent the retrieval procedure and the embryologist at the clinic created 30 beautiful embryos: 15 with Brian’s sperm and 15 with mine. After incubating the embryos for 6 days, 11 remained. Our doctors chose one from Brian’s and one from mine to transfer to our surrogate. Brian and I flew to Texas for the July 21 transfer. We were so excited. We were so nervous. To think, after nearly a year of planning and waiting, we were finally “transferring!”
We listened to our surrogate and the old wives tales that encourage the embryos to “stick.”
- We wore green.
- We ate pineapple before the transfer,
- We even indulged in McDonald’s French fries. (hey…we were willing to try anything…and, well, french fries!)
Well…our surrogate did the “pee on a stick” test a few days later and there was a “squinter.” Each day the line got darker (oh boy!) and then on July 29 we had our first beta of 196 – we were officially pregnant!
My Favorite Videos
Fast forward to our first ultrasound on August 18th. Our surrogate video tapes the whole the thing for us and she sends it via WhatsApp. We’re both at work. I sit in a coworker’s office to watch it, and I broke down. I saw it – two gestational sacs.
O. M. G. Twins! Both embryos had taken (di/di twins). We were in shock!
Given that our surrogate lives in Texas and we live in Pennsylvania our time together would be limited. So each Wednesday, or “bump” day, she would send us a “bumpie” to help keep us involved with the pregnancy. She would send videos of her belly moving when they’d kick – and we would Skype often. I was fortunate enough to travel down for the anatomy scan (November 2016). It was so great to be able to hug our surrogate, and for the first time feel her pregnant belly with our children…it was so surreal!
Time seemed to drag while simultaneously moving at warp speed. With each passing week we got more nervous and excited to become dads. We got the nursery prepared – Harry Potter style in true nerd fashion. We also began our diaper and wipe stockpile. (Best advice ever!)
Week 30 came around and our surrogate was admitted to the hospital with what seemed to be contractions. She was given steroids and oral medicine to stave off the labor. Two days later she was released and went home. Until…
33 weeks hit.
Brian got a call at 7:15am from our surrogate that she may be in labor and that we should make arrangements to come down. Brian calls me to fill me in. I inform my boss at work (who then arrange a surprise shower for me before I left). I rush home, and we were all of a sudden driving to the airport. Texting back and forth with our surrogate, it was more and more likely we would miss the birth of our children.
And we did. (Well, sort of.)
As we sat in the airport, our surrogate’s husband FaceTimed us in for the live birth! (He even used his other hand to video it for us for a lifelong treasure.) I was a blubbering fool while Brian held it together.
We got to the hospital several hours later (oy, the flight down took forever!). After registering, we could finally rip our shirts off and sit skin to skin with our children who were being cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Fortunately, we had prearranged to stay with our surrogate and her family while in Texas. What we didn’t know was just how long the stay would be. To say that it was intense is an understatement.
Each day in the NICU we wrote letters to our children documenting their journey. It helped us process what was going on. We spent every waking hour with them, and every sleeping hour in our surrogate’s home. And after 25 emotional and grueling days we finally got the release order to take our beautiful twins, Phoebe and Xander, home.
After being gone for a month we finally flew back home to start our new lives as Abba (pronounced ah-bah) and Daddy.
It’s been a complete roller coaster – one of the best rides of our lives…!