‘Just be happy with the child you HAVE.’ I grappled with the fact I couldn’t carry my own baby.’: Best friends share surrogacy journey

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Disclaimer: This story mentions infertility and may be triggering for some.

“We started our journey of growing our family about four years ago. In 2015, what started as periods that would keep me home in bed, ended up as the most severe pain I have ever experienced. I was diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis. I was told we could try to have another baby, however, it was not likely I could carry full term. It would be dangerous for both me and the child because my uterus was very thin. The prognosis was a half-hysterectomy. The doctor wanted me to keep my ovaries due to my young age of 23.

My husband reassured me we would figure out another way to grow our family and said my health came first. We investigated adoption at first, but most agencies had similar prices to IVF when wanting to adopt a newborn baby. So, we decided we would pursue IVF. I was not sure how this was going to happen. My husband and I come from single-mother households. Money has always been tight. Nonetheless, we were hopeful we could lean on our support system and work hard to reach this daring goal. We started to plan and search for financial help.

Pushing forward to 2016, I started my own daycare business and met my best friend, Qrishana Pena. We were talking about our lives, and my infertility journey came up. And nonchalantly, she volunteered to be my gestational carrier. It was a shock I could not believe because she volunteered to carry our baby, and she already had two daughters herself! I was just meeting this girl and was extremely hesitant to trust what she said. I had already been burned in the past with false commitments from people whom I was very close to. They flaked when what I needed to do became a reality.

When Qrishana kept bringing it up, I knew she was serious. We began doing the research together, and she stayed committed. We went to at least four consultations and left in disappointment. All the clinics treated us like a number. They barely gave us information. They would throw the up-front cost of the procedure in our face and dismiss us. It was discouraging and enraging: none of the health professionals in my area believed we could complete this task.

Courtesy of Kimberly Watson

One day, randomly scrolling Facebook, I saw a post about a fertility clinic that allows payment plans and focuses on making families. I started reading the comments, expecting it to be a scam, and shockingly, the comments were all positive! And not just a couple of the comments, all of them were positive reviews about this clinic. I even started talking to people who had gone through the journey and had amazing stories of victory. I discussed my findings with my husband and Qrishana. Then, I promptly sent in paperwork for the consultation. We decided 2018 would be the year when we would save money for this journey. I started working two to three jobs. My husband moved to another state to get a better job.

The expenses took over as we saved up for the medicine for both Qrishana and me. The procedure would be in New York: my husband was living in Wyoming, and my daughter and I were in Nebraska. I had to take pills and shots to prep my eggs. Looking at this now is only half of the journey, the physical part. The emotional part was a whole different umbrella of components which often resulted in tears.

When we decided to pursue this journey, we got a plethora of negative responses. Comments included the following: ‘You can’t afford it.‘ ‘It’s not worth it.’ ‘Why not just be happy with the child you have?’ ‘You are killing yourself for nothing.’ ‘You will never make enough money.’ It was also hard grappling with the fact I could not carry my own baby. As a result, we stopped telling people what we were doing. Nobody but close family members of Qrishana’s and mine knew what we were doing.

All the monitoring was done for me in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. This means weekly blood tests and ultrasounds to check my egg growth and fertility. My eggs started to grow a little too well. I had several large eggs that were nearly bursting at this point. Then, when it was time to extract my eggs, I planned on traveling to Albany, New York. When we planned it, my husband was coming with me because he also would need to provide a sperm sample. Unfortunately, suddenly at the last minute, his boss told him he would need to work and if he did not, he would lose his job.

This almost halted the entire plan. I could not change the flight plan or my appointment because the medicine I was on was extremely expensive and provisional. Also, with my eggs being so large, it was crucial I get them out. So, my sister changed all her plans to come with me. My extraction of eggs was 47 which is an amazing number of eggs and tremendous news. We then were able to devise another plan for my husband. He was able to send his sample in the mail. Everything was working out despite the naysayers. Even with my best friend moving to Texas at the time, we were all exceptionally motivated and supportive of the journey.

I would talk to my friend daily, and in the beginning, she was monitoring in Texas. Then, she moved back to Scottsbluff right before we transferred one embryo into Qrishana. She had to do shots every day. We had four flights to get to New York and back! Before the transfer, we discussed with our girls what was taking place. We explained to our oldest, Aaliyah, who was six at the time, that she would be having a sibling. Of course, the first thing she says is, ‘YOU’RE PREGNANT?!’ We both said no. We proceeded to explain how Aunty Qrishana would be carrying the new baby while it grew, and then it would come home with us. I still do not know how, but she understood she didn’t need any other explanation.

The ‘two-week wait’ to hear if the transfer took was almost unbearable! I told Qrishana not to show me any pregnancy tests until the doctor did the test. I could not handle false positives after everything we had been through. When she sent me the ‘positive’ test, we both cried! Then, I called my husband, and we both cried again! As I mentioned above, we did not tell anyone we were pursuing this journey, so, when we found out she was pregnant, we kept it to ourselves. It was not until almost the middle of the second trimester I decided to announce Qrishana was pregnant! It also took me so long because I fell into a black hole of depression. Even after all the planning, we could not have prepared for the emotional toll it took on us.

Courtesy of Kimberly Watson
Courtesy of Kimberly Watson

On one hand, I had to watch my best friend carry my baby. It was the hardest concept to understand because I had to completely let go of the bond I had created with my first child. I did not know it meant so much to me until I saw someone else doing it for me. I also have always been a person to accomplish my goals by myself. Qrishana not only got to carry my precious baby but also made me ask for her help. These truths weighed me down and nobody understood why. I also was working 20-hour days. I had to trust when we were not together, she was doing everything the doctor told her to do. I had to trust her with everything. I am not that person at all! Everything in life I’m in control. The entire journey, I was the contact person. I held the rule book, and now I had no control. I questioned my depression because I understood I could not carry the baby, yet I was angry I could not, and I should have been happy I had any children at all! I felt so selfish and jealous.

On the other hand, Qrishana was in so much pain and miserable from the pregnancy. The extra hormones made it tougher, and she could not talk to her best friend because she was the one person who would trade places with her in an instant. Nonetheless, we pushed through and talked when we could and prayed when we could not.

Courtesy of Kimberly Watson

Qrishana had preeclampsia, and we were told she would need to have a c-section. Because of COVID, only Qrishana and I could be at the hospital. We were at the hospital for a week while she and the baby recovered. The day I brought her home was full of emotions! This was her first moment with her dad! Ugh, it pulled all my heartstrings! I cannot describe the amount of joy we felt and the disbelief that we did it!

Courtesy of Kimberly Watson
Courtesy of Kimberly Watson
Courtesy of Kimberly Watson

This was not revealed to me until later. Qrishana wanted to share this:

‘Where do I even begin!? What a journey this has been in life as well as everyone who supported Kim Watson and me. Words can never explain what this journey means to me and how grateful, blessed, and beyond happy I am because I had the opportunity to welcome the missing piece who would complete ‘my person’s’ family. This journey was four years in the making. It was full of tears that were good and bad, fears, and insecurities. It caused fights and had people speak about Kim and me who had no business to do so. It caused communication problems, and sometimes it had me praying this journey brings me a closer relationship with Kim instead of the end of a relationship.

No one tells you what a journey like this consists of; they do not tell you all the struggles, and they sure as hell do not tell you it’s not all beautiful. For myself, it consisted of removing my birth control which made me so uneasy because more kids for myself is not an option. It consisted of three terribly painful internal ultrasounds, so many blood tests I could not even give you a number, and 58, yes, 58 shots before, after, and during the pregnancy in the same two spots! It consisted of painful lumps, tons and tons of extra hormones, and body changes that brought up insecurities. It ended in a painful c-section.

Courtesy of Kimberly Watson

This journey tested me mentally, emotionally, and very much so it tested my relationship with the one person I had needed more than anything. It was a lot of not-so-beautiful things. But I would never take it back. I did not do it because I love pregnancy: I absolutely hate pregnancy. I did it out of the love I have for ‘my person.’ I did it because I could. I did it because I have never in my life watched someone pray, work, and fight so hard to make her family’s dreams happen. Nothing could ever make me prouder. I looked forward to nothing more than the moment I handed this little miracle over to the one person who deserved her more than anything; the most absolute genuine loving people I know and to… my best friend. So, here is a big cheer to you, to me, and to Miss Zy.’

Courtesy of Kimberly Watson

Announcing the new member coming to our family was me realizing I have more control than I thought. There were so many people so happy for us and amazed at our story. As happy as we were, the celebration was coming from my heart at full blast just yet. As I stated we live in Scottsbluff, NE. Nebraska does not recognize gestational surrogates. This means even though my daughter, Zyairah, is biologically mine, the state would say my husband and Qrishana were the legal parents. So, I had to complete a ‘step-parent’ adoption to claim my daughter and have my name as the mother on her birth certificate. I had to find a lawyer for adoption and our baby girl Zyairah had to live with us for 6 months before an adoption hearing. February 17, 2021, was the official end of our journey! We went to court to have my name put on the birth certificate and Zyairah’s last name to be changed from Pena to Watson!

Courtesy of Kimberly Watson
Courtesy of Breanna Rein
Courtesy of Kimberly Watson

I hope our story motivates other families and shows nothing is impossible. I was told I would not have any children and now have two beautiful daughters. This journey has taught me circumstances give me the power to see what I am made of and every trial is a chance to grow. Nothing is final until you say it is, so chase your dreams and don’t be surprised or stop when you get asked, ‘How bad do you want it?'”

Courtesy of Kimberly Watson
Courtesy of Breanna Rein

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kimberly Watson from Scottsbluff, Nebraska. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, or her website. 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.

Read more touching stories like this:

‘The magnitude of your child being born. No words. She did this for us, TWICE.’: Mother overcome with emotion watching surrogate deliver second daughter, ‘I gained a bond I never even knew existed’

‘It’s time! NOW!’ Everything was a blur. My mind racing, I was carrying someone else’s dreams.’: Surrogate delivers woman’s child after meeting couple that ‘felt like fate’

‘What kind of woman carries a baby for two men?’ I decided to help a stranger. They say it takes a village to raise a baby. Sometimes, it takes a village just to grow one.’: Woman becomes surrogate to help couples battling infertility

‘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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