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Surrogacy and Family

The journey of a surrogate Mom carrying babies for her brother and sister-in-law

Tiffany Burke and family

Being very large and pregnant right now, it’s a conversation starter each time I go to the store, or bank, or anywhere.   It always starts the same way, “Oh! When are you due?”   When I tell them my due date is the end of December, shock spreads across their face.  The next comment is, “Wow, you are so… big!”   I am not offended because well, I am rather large.  I then say, “Yes I know, well… it’s twins.”    Which is always responded with “Twins! Oh you are going to have your hands full!”  Which in turn, I have to let them know, “Well.. they are not my babies, I am just the surrogate.”

I never thought I would be a surrogate, but when my brother’s wife had to have an emergency hysterectomy after the birth of their first son, I was quick to volunteer.   Since my husband and I were finished with our own natural children, it really lined up that I would be available to carry a baby for my brother and his wife.  My sister in law still had her eggs left, and the baby would be 100% their natural child. I would just be the oven!

Tiffany and Natalie

Tiffany and Natalie on the day of the embryo transfer.

I have been pregnant two times before, both ending with the birth of my two sons.  This pregnancy, my third pregnancy, started out much different.

I could not sleep the night before this ultrasound.   It was the 6 week check up.  I had such high hopes that there would be a strong heart beat and that this pregnancy would stay.   I was up all night comparing our blood test results (HCG levels) to other pregnancies online.   Would it be multiples?  Would it be more than two? Oh my gosh, what if it was three…. I panicked. Then I started thinking, what if it was a tubal pregnancy?  Why was I even considering this.  All the worst case scenarios were running through my head the entire night.

The morning of the ultrasound, we drove from Bellingham to Seattle Reproductive Medicine and I threw up the entire way. I had started morning sickness around 4 weeks into the pregnancy.   When we arrived and I saw my brother and sister in law, I felt better.   They were just as nervous.  Luckily (sarcasm) it was the “wand” ultra sound.   Nothing like having a wand experience after the car ride I just had.  At this point I did not care, I was just so excited to see the baby’s heart beat!  Our nurse practitioner looked at the screen and said, “There’s one sac… and …. there’s another….”   Oh my gosh… two sacs?   Two babies? Twins!   I could not stop staring at my brother and his wife. They were going to have two babies instead of one!   I could not even vocalize my excitement or happiness for them.    Once I saw the heartbeats were healthy, and that the babies were implanted where they should be, I just kept staring at my brother and his wife.   I was so happy for them.   This was such a different experience already than my prior two pregnancies, where I could not stop staring at my baby on the screen.   I already felt a different connection with these babies, not a bad thing, just different.

Knowing from the beginning that these babies were 100% genetic make up of my brother and his wife, and I was just the carrier, has made this easier in connecting with them.   I am now 7 months pregnant and we found out it is two boys!  The pregnancy is very healthy so far, these boys are measuring right where they should be with every ultrasound.  We have been filming a movie on our entire journey, and been filming each ultrasound. Our 7 month ultra sound check up is next week, I am excited to see how much they have grown and what position they are currently in.  Fingers crossed for head down!

Belly for me baby for youWhen I first agreed to be a surrogate for my brother (a gestational carrier/surrogate) I had no idea how intricate the entire process would be. My husband is a film maker and I asked him if he would be interested in filming this entire process as a documentary. He agreed and we have been filming for over a year.   We are showing the surrogate side, the intended parent side and the medical side of our journey.  We have been on borrowed equipment and missing crucial filming moments. We have come to realize we need funding for this movie. We need to pay for proper equipment (the most expensive part), a crew, sound engineer, music rights, storing and backing up footage and more.   We still have a lot of movie left to film.  The rest of the pregnancy, the birth, the after birth (until the twins are three months old) and lots of more medical interviews with the doctors. We need the community’s help now to donate to our fundraising campaign which ends in just a few days. Together we can help get this film made and educate people on surrogacy and infertility.

*Editor’s note: Tiffany and her family were unable to meet their fundraising deadline. However, they have set up a PayPal account from which you may make donations. Please visit their Facebook page for more information.

**Important update! The babies were born on November 11, 2012. Read Tiffany’s post to see how everyone is doing at A Belly For Me, A Baby For You.