This month’s feature story is a tear jerker! Grab some tissues and sit down for this one. It is some harsh truth. Not every journey turns out with a happy ending. But even with no baby, no second journey, you will always be a surrogate Kipha. And we love you! Your TRIBE loves you.
Surrogacy…. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want you them too, sometimes they end in a way that you would have never imagined…
In 2018 I gave birth to my first surrogate baby. It was a beautiful experience and I honestly couldn’t wait to do it again. Fast forward to 2019 and that little boys daddies asked me if I would be willing to carry a sister for them so they could complete their family. Of course, I said yes! They had become my family through my first journey, and I wanted nothing more than to be able to help them complete their family! Medical screening went as smoothly as it did the first time. Contract was done and signed within 2 weeks. We were both so eager to be able to make this dream a reality! Then came the fertility meds… and my body did NOT like them. I broke out into these red spots, and they were quite painful! When we went in for transfer on December 20th of 2019 the fertility clinic ran a whole bunch of blood work and switch the injection medication that I was on to see if that would give me some relief. We weren’t entirely sure what was happening! On Christmas morning, a dream come true, I got a positive home pregnancy test! I was able to tell this beautiful family that their little girl was officially on her way on CHRISTMAS!! It was amazing!! Everyone was so excited! My heart was so full being surrounded by my children and my immediate family and knowing that I was actually going to give this more than deserving their final missing puzzle piece.
January 3rd 2020… I started bleeding… at that time one of the scariest things I thought I would go through. I called the fertility clinic in a panic not knowing what to do! They sent me in for some blood work to make sure my HCG levels were still rising, because at 4 weeks pregnant, an ultrasound wasn’t going to be able to show anything. My labs came back and my HCG was rising, so the clinic asked me to take it easy and to stay off my feet as much as possible, and let me tell you, being a single momma of twins, that’s a feat in itself! After a few days the bleeding slowed and eventually stopped. 2 weeks later, at 6 weeks and 1 day pregnant, the bleeding continued again. The clinic felt I was far enough along to have an ultrasound and see what was going on. I was then diagnosed with a Subchorionic Hematoma, in the world of fertility, an “SCH”. Which is extremely common amongst IVF transfers. So again, I was informed to stay off my feet as much as possible. While all of this is happening my red spots, crazy rash looking thing is in full force covering every part of my body from the collar bone down. Let’s all be glad it never reached my face shall we!! I had seen a dermatologist who had taken a biopsy of one of the spots and was anxiously waiting to hear the results.
7 weeks and 1 day pregnant, we did an ultrasound again, this time the bleeding had not stopped. It had significantly slowed down but was still very present. On this day I was able to facetime my wonderful IPs, and they were able to hear their little girls’ heartbeat. What an amazing feeling. I love being able to watch while they got to see their little peanut growing in my belly. You could tell their hearts were already full of love! The SCH was still present, and again “Kipha, make sure you are staying off your feet as much as possible.” Now believe me, I was, laundry was piling up and my house was an absolute disaster. But I would do whatever I possibly could to make sure that little girl stayed safe in my womb.
The day following our 7-week ultrasound, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Leukocytoclastic vasculitis. My small capillaries were breaking open right underneath the surface of my skin causing the red spots, which in the same sense were just mini bruises. I was instructed to see a rheumatologist and to have a consult with Maternal Fetal medicine to make sure this wasn’t going to have an impact on the pregnancy. Rheumatology did inform me that while I was pregnant, there wasn’t much treatment wise we could do while I was pregnant, but the baby would not be affected because genetically she was not mine. Maternal fetal medicine was sure that the only thing I needed to watch was my blood pressure and my blood sugars. But that the pregnancy should not be an issue, other than possibly having the spots up until a few weeks after delivery. Which is fine right? I could deal with my skin looking a little crazy (okay a whole lot of crazy) just to be able to give this gift to this family. They were worth it, and this little girl was worth it.
February 1st, 2020. A few days before my bleeding had stopped. I thought “Yes! We just might finally be in the clear!” I was wrong. That evening the bleeding started again. But it was worse. And cramping that usually only very minor, had me holding my breath gripping to my kitchen counter. I knew instantly that something was wrong. After an hour, and 7 pads later, I was able to make it to the emergency room where they gave me the news… There was no baby. I had lost this precious gift I was trying so desperately to give to her family. My heart wasn’t just broke, it was shattered. I didn’t know how to tell the parents. I didn’t know how to tell my surrogacy coordinator. I almost couldn’t believe it myself. But my body knew. My body knew that she was gone.
The fertility clinic informed the Parents the following morning. I was prepared for anger and frustration. But they weren’t either of those things. These parents were saints. They came to me and said, “Yes, our hearts are heavy. This is not something we wanted to happen. But we know you did everything you could. We know, no matter what, our daughter is and always will be safe with you.” I may not have been able to give them that baby, but I was able to give them a forever guardian angel.
February 13th, 2020. I had a follow up appointment with my dermatologist to see what needed to be done about the autoimmune disease so I could get myself healthy and be able to try and carry another baby for the parents. This day, this day was just as hard as the night I miscarried. My dermatologist recommended that I not carry another baby. Whether that baby be for my own family, or for my surrogacy family. Vasculitis flares up and attacks your body when it detects something “foreign” in your system. Which is why they believe that the outbreak happened when I started injecting the hormone meds into my system. And then subsequently got worse, once I was pregnant. My body thought that the embryo we transferred was a “foreign object” so to speak. So, he believed that if I were to be pregnant again, it would end in the same scenario. Loss and heartbreak.
This is not how we wanted this journey to end. All I wanted was to be able to help people. I just wanted to give the miracle of a family to people who otherwise wouldn’t have it. Through this roller coaster of an emotionally, scary, stressful, crazy journey… I will tell you this, I would not have made it to where I am today without the support of the Parents who lost their child, my fellow surrogate sisters, and some amazing friends and family. I am reminding myself every day, that just because I can’t carry a baby again, doesn’t mean that my journey is over. I have brought in girls that dreamed of being surrogates, and now they can be. Because of me, and some amazing women, more people will have and grow their families. My surrogacy journey is not over. I don’t believe that it ever will be over.
Because of stories like this, therefore I and so many women do what we do. 1 in 4 women will experience at least 1 miscarriage in their life. 1 in 8 women struggle with infertility. These statistics are scary, and absolutely heartbreaking. But this is why we are here. This is why as surrogates we do what we do. Because everyone who wants one, deserves to have a family. And I will be here, making those dreams happen for as long as I can. My journey is not over.