The ultimate gift – A sister’s story of being a surrogate

My name is Laura. My sister Stacey and I were born a year apart and grew up sharing everything – clothes, toys, books, and even friends. When we both got married, we assumed that we’d share maternity leaves together and that our children would be the best of friends. My husband and I started trying about a year after we got married, and were thrilled that we became pregnant fairly quickly. My sister’s experience was very different. Year after year, she and her husband tried to get pregnant, with no success. She managed to get pregnant a few times, but each time she miscarried. It was torture watching them go through the excitement and then the despair of losing the baby they so desperately wanted. Eventually the doctors recommended a hysterectomy. My sister kept a stiff upper lip and has been a wonderful aunt to my children. But I could see the sadness and yearning in her eyes whenever she held or played with my kids.

I felt so helpless that I couldn’t take her pain away. Then I read an article in the newspaper about a woman who had become a surrogate for her sister who had been born without a uterus. Something clicked inside of me – this would be my gift to my sister. I talked to my husband, and he was surprisingly keen. We were grateful to have two healthy boys and felt our family was complete. We invited my sister and her husband Bill over for dinner one evening to discuss the topic. They were both shocked at the offer. They were clearly grateful and touched, but they said they needed some time to think about how they felt about it, and what the implications would be for all of us. We told them to take as much time as they needed. A week later, my sister called and said they would be honoured to accept our offer. I was thrilled, and hopeful, and a little bit nervous about whether I would be able to carry the pregnancy to term and how we would explain this to our boys. Fortunately, my husband and I had the opportunity to talk with the counsellor at the clinic about all these issues before beginning the process. The counsellor told me that some nervousness is normal, which made me feel relieved! She helped us talk about our expectations and about how to talk to our kids about my pregnancy. We also spent time talking with Stacey and Bill about what they would tell their child – my niece or nephew – if this was successful. We agreed that the child would know from a young age that I had given him or her an important gift of carrying and giving birth to them. In terms of the pregnancy, we also agreed that there would be no more than 2 embryos transferred, that there would be no prenatal testing, and that my sister and Bill would be there during the delivery. The clinic also encouraged us to get some legal advice, so we talked to a lawyer who drew up a legal agreement that included plans for parental rights to be transferred to my sister and her husband when the baby was born.

Once we went through the counselling and legal steps, Stacey began the hormones and shots. The doctors were able to retrieve 8 eggs from Stacey that they mixed in the lab with Bill’s sperm. They ended up with 6 embryos. Two were transferred to my uterus and the other 4 were frozen. Sadly, when the first transfer didn’t work we were all pretty devastated. But a few months later we went through another cycle with two of the cryopreserved embryos, and this time it worked! I have never been so happy as when the doctor told me that I was pregnant! I immediately called Stacey and we were both crying on the phone. Nine months later after a pretty uneventful pregnancy, I gave birth to a healthy 8 pound 2 ounce baby girl. After Bill cut the cord, they handed the baby to Stacey. It was the most amazing moment – watching my sister fall in love with her daughter. Almost immediately I saw a new peacefulness replace the yearning in my sister’s eyes. For my part, I couldn’t have been happier. Finally Stacey and I are going to be able to live out our childhood dream of being mothers and raising our children together.

Stay tuned in two weeks for Stacey’s story of our surrogacy experience.

Share your thoughts on Laura’s story in the comments section below, or submit your own fertility story here.

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