‘A couple were looking for help to grow their family. My husband said, ‘I’d never stop you blessing the lives of others.’: Mom of 5 becomes gestational carrier

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“I never thought I would become a gestational carrier. Just like many things in my life, I didn’t find the path, it found me. My professional work is in the world of adoption and as such, I have sat knee to knee with those facing infertility for 14 years. I have always had a heart for people facing infertility and the associated struggles. So when I sat in a meeting within the infertility community and another professional presented information on surrogacy, it hit me like a ton of bricks. ‘This is something I could do.’ I felt I was in a great position to help another family grow through this means—I was young enough, had had three successful pregnancies, and knew my own family was complete. In addition to my three biological children, I have two adopted daughters.

Outdoor family portrait om and dad with their 5 kids, three biological and 2 adopted
Jenny Lyn Photography

I took initial steps to find out the process of becoming a gestational carrier (the correct term for a surrogate who is not biologically related to the baby she carries in any way) and met with a local fertility clinic. I didn’t know most people use an agency, but I instead used the resources I was familiar with. With each tentative step forward, everything continued to feel right. My husband and I had several discussions about the idea of me carrying someone else’s baby. At first, he was reserved about it, but ultimately, after time thinking about it, he told me he felt good about it too. He told me, ‘I would never stop you from doing something that would bless the lives of others.’

The fertility clinic initially matched me with a couple. But after several months, the match fell through. I was devastated because I had felt so good about it. I took some time to regroup and eventually posted something on Facebook about my failed match. Within the same week, the couple I was ultimately matched with posted their own story, sharing that after years of various losses and heartaches, they were looking for a gestational carrier to help them grow their family. This family and I have several mutual friends and contacts, including a close friend of mine who is the cousin of the intended mom. She connected us and we began talking. Our initial conversations were reserved—we had both been through some hard things getting to that point. But as we continued to talk, our relationship grew and I felt it was the right thing to move forward as their carrier.

Selfie of woman making a funny face while at the doctor
Courtesy of Kim Perry

The process of getting pregnant with someone else’s baby is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. Our first transfer actually failed and this again was very hard for me, and of course for them. I was on a girl’s trip with my high school friends when I began the process of a very early miscarriage of their little embryo. It was a low point in the journey—to have had such high hopes for the transfer, and then to have it not work was so difficult. It added to the heartache to not be at home with my husband and to be away from the intended parents. I have had a miscarriage of one of my own babies before, and I would say this was even more difficult because my heartache was so deep for the family.

picture of a woman's legs and feet wearing Irish themed socks at a doctors appointment
Courtesy of Kim Perry
Courtesy of Kim Perry

With only one shot left, we transferred the couple’s remaining embryo a few months later. And hallelujah, this little one stuck! I began taking pregnancy tests about a week after the transfer (even though I wasn’t supposed to) and they were clearly positive. I still had some reservations because miscarriage is always a possibility, but we made it safely through the first trimester. It was at this point I think I finally breathed a sigh of relief. I knew it was a go from there and the end result would be a beautiful baby girl.

Selfie of woman holding a positive pregnancy test
Courtesy of Kim Perry
Pregnant woman taking a mirror selfie in the bathroom
Courtesy of Kim Perry

The pregnancy felt a lot like all of my others, though this little one had hiccups ALL THE TIME and none of my other children ever did during my previous pregnancies. I got to know this sweet little girl in the womb as we spent the pregnancy together. It was so fun for me to have her parents come to all of my doctor’s appointments (until COVID hit and then they could not any longer). They are local to me, so we continued to develop our friendship. It was important to me in the experience to have a local couple so they could be fully involved in the pregnancy for their baby! Plus, I wanted a relationship with them after the birth and delivery. The pregnancy for me felt like an extended babysitting job. While I cared deeply for this little baby girl, it was not in a parental way. I knew she was going to go home with her family at the end and I was so excited to see it happen.

Pregnant woman taking a mirror selfie in the bathroom
Courtesy of Kim Perry

I went into labor on my own at 37 weeks pregnant (A first for me! I had always been induced with all of my other pregnancies). It was around midnight, and all of my other deliveries have been quick. The couple rushed to the hospital, only for my labor to stall. It was completely unlike any of my others. I finally delivered the baby girl the next morning at around 9 a.m. with my husband and both of her parents there with me. She came out wailing and crying. Her mom was able to cut her cord and then they took her to the other side of the room to be weighed. I haven’t ever felt anything like the feeling in the room after her delivery—the best word I have to describe it is ‘sacred.’ I have cried after each of my children was born, but I have never cried as hard as I did after this delivery. The feeling was incredible.

newborn baby girl covered in placenta fluids right after birth
Courtesy of Kim Perry

I knew I had just witnessed a miracle. Getting a baby girl into her parents’ arms is the thing I am most proud of in my life. I kept thinking to myself, ‘I did that! I did that!’ It was completely surreal. I was on a huge emotional high during my days in the hospital. I spent time with the baby and her parents a few times, and in all the videos and pictures you can tell I was just so happy. It was completely euphoric and such a joy to see this newly grown family bonding. It was only after the hospital when the emotional crash came. The combination of normal hormones after birth and feeling like I had just had a bit of whiplash when I got home hit me hard. I had spent 8 months with this baby, and then all of the sudden she wasn’t with me anymore.

Gestational carrier at the hospital holding newborn baby girl on her lap
Courtesy of Kim Perry

I didn’t want to parent her, but I now recognize I needed to spend some time alone with her in the hospital to say my hellos and goodbyes. I needed to know her outside of my womb to properly move forward. Luckily, her parents have always been amazing toward me and have been very thoughtful toward my needs. They brought the baby to me a few weeks after her birth, and the baby and I spent two hours together at my house, all alone. I held her, rocked her, and cried. I told her why I did what I did, and what my hopes and dreams were for her and her family. I told her how honored I was to be part of her story. Those two hours with her were incredibly healing for me.

Gestational carrier holding newborn baby girl while laying on a couch
Courtesy of Kim Perry

Unfortunately, my lowest point was still to come. Three weeks after I delivered the baby, I developed some strange postpartum complications. I eventually had my husband take me to the emergency room when I began hemorrhaging at home. My doctor took me in for what was expected to be a brief D & C, thinking I had some retained placenta. I came out of anesthesia to overhear a PACU nurse reporting on me to another nurse who would be taking over my care. She detailed why I came into the ER, the reasons indicated for the D&C, and then said, ‘And she ended up with a hysterectomy!’ This is how I found out I had required a hysterectomy. I spent three days in the hospital to recover as my hysterectomy was an open one due to the emergent nature.

Initially, we knew I had a condition called placenta accreta, but later pathology revealed I had also had a condition called subinvolution of the placental site. The events of how the hysterectomy unfolded were extremely traumatic to me, but ultimately I have had peace in knowing things happened the way they needed to that night. If I had not required the hysterectomy for the first condition and a D&C was successful, I would have likely returned home and continued to hemorrhage without knowing the other condition was there, and it may have cost me my life. The months after my hysterectomy were some of the most painful of my life, both physically and emotionally.

With the help of my amazing husband and support system, therapy, medication, and time, I eventually began to come out on the other side. When I became a gestational carrier, I never considered what it would cost me—and the cost was high for me. This experience has been the single most amazing thing I have ever done, but also the single most painful thing I have ever done. Still, would I go back and do it again? The answer is always yes. I helped create a beautiful and amazing little human being. She is an incredible joy to her family. We still have a relationship, I see pictures multiple times per week, and I see the baby and her family every few months. And every single moment—painful, amazing, and miraculous—was all worth it.”

Gestational carrier sitting on the grass holding baby girl with a big white bow on her head
Courtesy of Kim Perry
Portrait of a woman smiling with tree in the background
Images by Emily

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kim Perry of South Weber, Utah. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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‘I was 6 weeks postpartum from a pregnancy that ended with me giving the baby up. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ I sat, tears rolling down my face.’: Surrogate says ‘there is no greater joy than making somebody else a mama’

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