In 2010 I became pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were elated and couldn’t wait to be parents. I’m fortunate enough to take after my mother (who took after HER mother) and getting pregnant came relatively easy.
I have family members and friends who have struggled to conceive. There have been heartbreaks and tears after miscarriages and negative pregnancy tests. One of my cousins was stillborn and another passed away from complications 8 days after he was born. But through the heartbreak, these miraculous friends and family members persevered and eventually became parents. Their joy was tangible!
About 2 months before my daughter’s birth, a dear friend approached me about her struggle to conceive due to cancer in both her uterus and ovaries. *Nina asked if I would be a surrogate (gestational carrier) for her. I said yes right away (of course I would help her!!!), but asked if she would be patient enough to wait for my second child to be born before starting our journey. She agreed and when my daughter was 8 months old, I became pregnant with my son…
Nina and I began discussing our future surrogacy journey when I became pregnant with my second child. She was undergoing cancer treatment and planning for the future was giving her strength to persevere. She wanted everything to be done “right”, so we looked at local agencies to figure out common arrangements and spoke to her attorney about drafting documents. But we would never get to sign those papers.
On June 2nd, 2012 (just 6 weeks after the birth of my son), Nina lost her battle with cancer.
I threw my focus on my two young children and husband (who’d just lost one of his closest friends). But I couldn’t stop thinking of our plan and what we’d lost. It was hard to let go of a dream we’d been working toward for more than a year.
In February of 2013, I sat down with my husband to talk about Nina and surrogacy. I wanted to sign up with the agency she and I had looked at for guidance.
“If this is what you need to do, I support you one hundred percent.” When he said that, I realized that this wasn’t a “want” any longer. I HAD to carry out this journey – for Nina.
Within a few weeks of signing up with West Coast Surrogacy, we were matched with a couple who found our profile. The Intended Mother (“IM”) was a cancer survivor and her body struggled to conceive, even with IVF treatments. It was as if Nina’s spirit pointed them in our direction.
Being a surrogate was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. There was excitement, nervousness, apprehension & great joy. All the feelings of planning my own pregnancy but multiplied!!!
My Intended Parents (“IPs”) were using frozen eggs from a donor or their IVF treatments. In August 2013, we transferred THE LAST THREE EMBRYOS to me… and one took! Our IPs where going to have a baby boy in the spring.
There where many ups and downs on the journey, from excitement over the confirmed pregnancy to fear after finding out my little womb-buddy may have a hole in his heart. But at 41 weeks, a little Emerald Boy was born, perfect as could be – and over 10 pounds to boot!
Still, as happy as I was to have completed the journey, I felt like something had awoken inside me. It wasn’t another six months later that I approached my husband about the possibility of a second surrogacy journey…
I re-signed with West Coast Surrogacy & they were just as amazing and supportive as ever. I was matched even quicker this time, due to the fact that experienced surrogates are in high demand (did not know that!), and we were off on a new adventure with new IPs!
We had a transfer scheduled in the fall. I was on injections and everything was progressing along. Then three days before the appointment we received a phone call from my case manager – our egg donor didn’t react to the medication and there were no eggs to harvest. WHAT??? I didn’t even think that would be a possibility.
The IPs and I were devastated. For my first journey we used frozen eggs but this time around the doctors were wanting a fresh transfer. This meant I had to “cycle up” with the egg donor. We had to cancel the transfer and I had to stop all medications immediately. We would have to wait until the donor went through another menstrual cycle so they could run more tests.
A month went by and the test results were not good. The doctor recommended my IPs get a new egg donor. Heartbroken, they would spend the next six months searching for a match, signing contracts & going through more rounds of testing. Meanwhile, I struggled with waiting and waiting and waiting. My own doctor asked if I wanted to pass on this couple and try to get matched with IPs that had everything ready – but I said, “No.” I wasn’t ready to give up on my boys and their dream of becoming fathers.
My patience was rewarded – we were back on track & had a transfer scheduled on June 1, 2016 (almost a full year from when I re-signed with the agency). We were SO excited to move forward!
Two embryos were transferred & one took. This journey wasn’t entirely smooth from that point on – there were several hiccups with insurance, more genetic testing that the IPs wanted that wasn’t very common here in the USA, and obstacles with direct communication from my OB. BUT, at 40 weeks and 1 day, I gave birth to a (rather large!) Amethyst Girl.
This labor was my hardest (shoulder dystocia & low oxygen levels where new complications for me), but my latest womb-buddy and I made it through together.
The IPs had everything ready after a few weeks and flew back home. Most folks ask if it’s difficult to “give the baby up” – as if she was mine to give away! My little womb-buddies hold a very special place in my heart (of course I squeal whenever I get to see new pictures), but I’m REALLY ecstatic knowing that they are with loving parents that are going to spoil the shit out of them.
I don’t know if I’ll embark on a 3rd journey, but I know that my experiences with those parents & West Coast Surrogacy helped me honor Nina in profound & loving way.
To my IPs & WCS: I can’t thank you all enough. You have changed me in ways I didn’t expect, or even realize was possible. I will forever be grateful for your faith in me.
The End… Maybe?
Brightest Blessings, -Cory Gunn, CCH
*Name has been changed for privacy purposes.