The ultimate gift: The other sister’s experience of the surrogacy journey

My name is Stacey. My sister and I have been close since the moment my parents brought her home from the hospital. We went through the ups and downs of puberty, high school, college, and then marriage together. Usually one of us started something and the other followed soon after. I met my husband, Bill, in my last year of college and we fell quickly and deeply in love. We finished our degrees, found stable jobs, and bought a house that had lots of rooms for children. We planned to start filling them as quickly as possible. My sister had gotten married a year earlier, and was already starting to try to get pregnant, so I figured we better start trying soon so that our children could be close in age – my hope was that they would be as close as Laura and I.

Unfortunately, my plan didn’t go as I’d hoped. My husband and I tried to get pregnant for a couple years on our own, and were disappointed that it wasn’t happening. Finally, I got pregnant but then miscarried. It was devastating. During this time, my sister became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, my sweet nephew, Liam. It was bittersweet for me – I loved Liam to bits, but my heart ached whenever I looked at him – he reminded me of what I so desperately wanted, but couldn’t make happen. Sadly, in the year afterwards, Bill and I went through the roller coaster of emotions and 3 more miscarriages. During this time, Laura gave birth to another beautiful boy. I wanted to be happy for her, but sometimes the pain of my own empty arms was more than I could bear. Eventually, after what seemed like endless tests and poking and prodding of my body by various medical professionals, my fertility specialist told me I’d likely need a hysterectomy. She was so kind when she broke the news, and even had a few tears as she told me. It was like someone had stuck a knife through my heart. I would never be a mother or know what it was like to have a life grow inside my body. This was a very dark time for Bill and me.

I started to avoid spending time with my sister and my gorgeous nephews. I wanted to be happy for her, but I couldn’t help questioning the universe, why me? I’d make a good mom, why wasn’t I able to stay pregnant? I had pictured that we would embark on motherhood together and figure it out with each other as we went along. But I felt incredibly alone – an outsider in my sister’s world of mothers.

One night, my sister called and she invited Bill and I over for dinner. She knew I’d been avoiding her and the boys, but was insistent that we spend some “family time” together. After dinner that evening, she dropped a bomb shell – she said she had recently read an article in the newspaper about a woman who had become a surrogate for her sister who was born without a uterus, and she was offering Bill and I the gift of her uterus for our embryos! Bill and I were floored. This option had never crossed our minds. We asked for some time to mull it over and promised to be in touch. It took us about a week of discussing and researching before we felt ready to make a decision. I called my sister, crying, and told her “YES!!” I felt a bit uncertain about all of the details, but I felt in my heart that this was right and was confident that we could work out the details.

Before the process started, Laura and her husband had a chance to talk to a counsellor about their expectations, and Bill and I had our own session to talk about the details too. If this actually worked, I wondered what we would tell our child about how he or she came into the world. We talked with my sister and her husband, and we all agreed that we wanted to be open with the child from a young age. As we viewed it, Laura would have given the child a very important gift, but my husband and I would be the parents. We figured out all of the details and were surprised that we were on the same page. Laura doesn’t smoke or drink, so that part was easy. We also talked about whether we’d have prenatal testing, and agreed on what would happen if there were serious health problems with the fetus. The clinic also wanted us to get some legal advice, so we went to talk to a lawyer who drew up a contract and made arrangements for the parental rights to be transferred to Bill and I when the baby was born.

So once we had all of this figured out – we just needed to get pregnant! I began the hormones and shots for the egg retrieval. I was thrilled that they retrieved 8 eggs that they were able to combine with Bill’s sperm to create 6 embryos. We had 2 embryos transferred into Laura’s uterus and had the remaining 4 embryos frozen. We crossed our fingers and hoped for a positive outcome. I don’t know who was more nervous, Laura or me. Unfortunately, the first cycle didn’t work. We were both devastated. I started to feel panicked that I was going to lose my only chance to have Bill and my child. I tried to stay positive and not let my sister feel my anxiety.

We agreed to try again with two of the frozen embryos. I literally sobbed when my sister called to tell me that she was pregnant. She had a fairly easy pregnancy. I rubbed her belly and talked to my child through her belly. I felt a bit envious that she was able to experience pregnancy for a third time, and I was not. But ultimately, I was just relieved and grateful to have the opportunity to become a mother. One glorious, sunny summer day, my sister gave birth to our sweet, healthy baby daughter Hope. We were able to be in the delivery room when she came into the world. It was incredibly emotional for all of us. After Bill cut the cord and gave me our baby to hold, I felt this sense of peacefulness wash over me as I looking into the face of our daughter. I was finally a mother. After all of the years of heartache and longing, my sister has given me the gift of motherhood. Words can’t express my gratitude.

Read Laura’s experience of surrogacy here. 

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

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