Like many new parents, Jenna and Mark were overcome with joy after the birth of their daughter, Kaylee, in 2009; however, just three months after Kaylee’s birth, Jenna began to notice some strange changes in her health. Extreme fatigue, heart palpitations, and lost appetite were just a few of her symptoms. Being a first time mom, she simply wrote it off as adjusting to motherhood and a minimal sleep schedule. When her symptoms didn’t improve, Jenna finally agreed to visit her doctor who ordered an echocardiogram. Two days later, Jenna had a seizure in the middle of the night.
Although she was released from the emergency room the following day, nothing could prepare Jenna or Mark for her diagnosis. The results of Jenna’s echocardiogram showed she had developed peripartum cardiomyopathy: heart failure caused by her pregnancy. The rest of the appointment became a blur to Jenna after she heard the devastating news that for her own health and safety, she should not get pregnant again. In her own words,
“The thought [of not being able to have more children] hadn’t even crossed my mind, but there it was to stay. Devastation is an understatement. We knew we wanted to have more children. We wanted Kaylee to experience the joy of having a sibling.”
The next year heavily revolved around Jenna’s health. Through the help of many doctor visits and heart medications, Jenna’s heart began to improve and life started to return to normal. After speaking with a cardiologist about the prospect of having another baby, Jenna and Mark were informed that the risk would just be too great. The cardiologist did, however, have a recommendation: a surrogate.
Having never considered surrogacy before, Jenna and Mark were taken aback. The thought of a complete stranger carrying their child seemed so foreign to the couple, and they felt the financial and emotional burdens would be too great to bear. Instead, Jenna and Mark opted to pursue adoption.
Jenna and Mark went through the motions with trying to get involved with the adoption process. They attended agency interest meetings, read books, and conducted extensive online research. Unfortunately, the couple encountered many road blocks which were equally as heartbreaking as Jenna’s initial diagnosis. Each agency Jenna and Mark approached voiced concerns regarding Jenna’s health history, and they began to wonder if adoption really was the right route for them to be taking.
Two years after her diagnosis, Jenna’s life flashed before her eyes. In her sleep, she went into sudden cardiac arrest and Mark had to perform 20 minutes of CPR until the paramedics arrived. Jenna was shocked twice in her home by paramedics before being taken to the hospital. There, she spent the next five days in the ICU where she had an internal cardioverter-defibrillator placed. Again, Jenna’s health needed to take precedence, and plans for a second child were placed on the back burner while she recovered from surgery.
Once she was finally back into a regular routine, Jenna stumbled across an advertisement as she was leaving her local YMCA. One afternoon, weeks after bringing the ad home, Jenna finally called Gayle and hit it off immediately. According to Jenna,
“She was so informative and I felt like she understood our struggles and our fears.”
Jenna and Mark made plans to meet Gayle for lunch and knew right away that this was their path. For the first time, the couple felt at peace about pursuing surrogacy. Soon after their first lunch meeting, Gayle sent Mark and Jenna profiles for a few potential surrogates and another lunch date was set with Jennifer and her husband, Eric. After their 3-hour lunch, Jenna and Mark knew they had found their surrogate. As Jenna tells it,
“Jennifer was everything we wanted in a surrogate and more. She is so loving, giving, and compassionate. She had been a surrogate before and knew what to expect. She has had healthy pregnancies. The bonus to finding such a wonderful surrogate was that we found a wonderful surrogate family, too. Eric is so supportive of Jennifer and this process. We knew he would be the support system we wanted for Jennifer during her pregnancy. Jennifer and Eric’s children were on board with Jennifer becoming a surrogate for the second time, too. From there we waited a few months before starting IVF. During that time we got to know each other more through phone calls, texts, and lunches.”
Jenna and Jennifer quickly became friends and began the IVF cycle shortly after completing their contract. Soon after the transfer, Jenna received a “good morning, Mama” text from Jennifer along with a picture of a positive pregnancy test. That day, Mark arrived home to Kaylee wearing a big sister t-shirt and an ecstatic Jenna. All the emotional, physical, and financial strain they had endured during the IVF process had melted away. Today, Jennifer is 35-weeks pregnant and Jenna, Mark, and Kaylee are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a happy and a healthy baby boy in late March.
No surrogacy journey is without its struggles. For Jenna and Mark, finances were their biggest hurdle, both being in their late twenties and unsure if they were prepared to undertake such a major financial responsibility. With Gayle’s help and detailed monthly statements, they were able to make it work.
When asked what advice she would have for other couples considering surrogacy as an option, Jenna only has positive comments to offer. Among these, she says,
“Use an agency, like Surrogate Solutions, you can trust. Finding someone like Gayle, who is accessible and there to support you can cut down on stress you may feel. She handles a lot of behind the scenes things such as payments, lawyers, and insurance. These tasks can be daunting and using Surrogate Solutions can free up your time to focus on building a relationship with your surrogate and enjoying the pregnancy.”
Surrogacy can be a true blessing, both for intended parents as well as the women who become surrogates to give the special gift of a baby to a family. Understanding everything you can about the process by talking to experts who have witnessed the journey many times through is the most proactive first step to learning if surrogacy is your path, too. If you are looking for additional surrogacy resources, please contact Surrogate Solutions today!