I got a call from Danielle and was instantly intrigued by her story. Surrogacy?!! I was so excited to sit and talk with her a few days later! She was glowing with love and excitement for this soon to be family. I’m grateful you shared your story with me – that day and now – thank you Danielle!
“My husband and I had always talked about having two children. We were blessed with a little boy and then just 18 months later we welcomed our daughter into this world. We knew we were done having our own children but I didn’t know if I was done. We talked about me being a surrogate for several years before we finally committed.
Not knowing where to even begin the process, I turned to the internet. I contacted an agency in January of 2015 and in March I was matched with a couple from France. We met via Skype and instantly hit if off. I immediately knew they were the couple I was supposed to carry a child for, but first I needed to pass the psychological evaluation and get medically cleared. It took several months for all that to happen and then in September we were given the final medical clearance. The egg donor began her medications and the embryos were created and frozen in late September. I began the process of preparing my body for the embryos in the beginning of October. There were lots of injections and medications to take to get my body ready to accept an embryo. On October 30th, I traveled to New Jersey to have the embryo transferred.
For two weeks we waited. It was the longest two weeks of our lives. Not knowing if I was pregnant or not consumed our every thought. Finally on November 9th at 8 am I went in to have a blood test done to see if there was any trace of the HCG hormone in my system which would indicate I was pregnant. It wasn’t until around 5 pm that the nurse called. The parents and I wanted to find out together so we Skyped and listened to the voicemail the nurse had left on my phone. Positive!! Of course we celebrated, but we also knew that I would have to go back in a few days to have my blood work done again to check and see that the HCG level was rising. On November 11th we got another call telling us the numbers had more than doubled and we were scheduled for our first ultrasound. We saw a tiny heartbeat on November 23rd which was a solid indication we were going to have a baby sometime in the middle of July.
The first time we all actually met in person was in December – I was 11 weeks pregnant with their child. They booked a flight for right after Christmas and stayed for several days. I am very blessed to have my parents live close by and they offered for the parents to stay with them since they had an extra room. I was nervous about meeting them “in person” and also very excited. I’ll never forget “seeing” them for the first time in the airport – not sure exactly what to say or how to act. Thankfully, that didn’t last. We began talking (their English is great) and it was like we were old friends. Knowing this was a vacation for them, I planned a few fun activities for while they were here. Since it was Christmas time, St. Augustine was decorated with tons of lights so we took a night boat tour to see the lights from the water. We also went on a trolley ride one evening to see the lights while visiting St. Augustine. I wasn’t able to make a doctor’s appointment while they were here, but we were able to have an ultrasound. At this point we weren’t able to tell gender, but we were able to see their baby. Watching them see their baby and hear the heartbeat for the first time in person was incredible. To see the joy and excitement on their face at knowing they were going to be parents in a few months is something I’ll never forget. It was here that they purchased a stuffed animal and had a recording of the heartbeat put inside so they could listen to it whenever they wanted. It was apparent at the end of this trip that this was not just going to be a 9 month journey between us, but a real friendship was starting to form. They were already talking about coming back in the spring and I couldn’t wait!
In early 2016 I had some genetic testing done to make sure everything was okay; it was at this time we found out the baby was a girl!! Again we were able to find out together, via Skype listening to a voicemail left by my doctor. I love that we were able to find out these important things together – it allowed us to bond even though we were more than 3,000 miles apart. Her parents were beside themselves with excitement to be having a little princess. We continued to text, email, and Skype throughout the next few months. As they planned their next trip to visit me and their baby, they opted to add on an extra week to their trip knowing this was going to be one of their last vacations before their little girl arrived. In April they traveled back to the states and spent some time in New Orleans before driving over to Jacksonville. This was another busy trip for them. They went to the doctor’s with me, we visited the hospital, had an ultrasound, and found a place for them to stay for the month they would be here in July. They had researched places to stay this trip and we were able to check them out. They found a great apartment that was close to my house to stay in when they would come for her birth. They were also able to go with me to my doctor’s appointment and meet the staff. It was great for them to be there and experience it all. We talked with my doctor what we wanted and hoped for when the time actually came for her to be born. We agreed the parents would be as involved as possible in helping to deliver their daughter. Visiting the hospital was also on the list. We pre-registered and had a chance to talk with the social worker about our expectations for delivery. The staff was very helpful and excited for us all. An ultrasound was a must on the list of things to do while they were here and it didn’t disappoint. Since I was 25 weeks, we were able to see her features more clearly. We were able to see she had a full head of hair, her father’s nose, and was already acting like a princess. It’s hard to describe the joy I got watching them see their daughter. It was almost as good as seeing their reaction the first time they felt her kick. We were able to not only feel it, but see it too. Seeing her on the ultrasound and hearing her heartbeat is one thing, but to actually feel her kick and move is something else. They were in awe – and so was I. This trip was very productive and they left feeling like they were as ready as possible for her to arrive. They even left me with an emergency bag in case she arrived before they were able to get here. It was very hard to say goodbye – tears flowed more freely this time as they were becoming more like family.
It was now the end of June and I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of this baby girl’s parents. They had planned to come July 9th but I had a feeling she was going to come sooner and so did my doctor, so we convinced the intended parents to come a week early on July 2nd. Turns out that wasn’t early enough. My mother volunteered to have my two children sleepover her house Monday night so that I could rest and relax. We didn’t realize at the time how much of a blessing that would be. I woke up Tuesday, June 28th and let our dogs outside to go to the bathroom. As I’m standing there waiting I feel my water break, not a gush just a trickle. I immediately placed a call to the parents – mind you it is 7 am my time which is 1 pm in France so they are already at work. I’ve never just called them, we’ve been using email and Whatsapp – a way to text – so they immediately knew something was up. I explained the situation and told them that we were going to have a baby in about 24 hours and they needed to try and get here as soon as they could. It was definitely a shock to us all! I called my doctor and asked if there was anything we could do to stall my labor. Unfortunately since I was over 37 weeks, there was nothing they could do. Since I wasn’t having any contractions, they advised I stay at home until the contractions got stronger and were about 5 minutes apart. They said if that didn’t happen by 18 hours after my water broke then I was to go to the hospital so they could give me an antibiotic to prevent infection. Around 10 am, her parents finally had found a flight but they weren’t going to arrive until 10:30 am THE NEXT DAY. They were able to get on the last international flight out of Paris on Tuesday but weren’t able to get a flight from New York to Jacksonville until the next morning. I knew that I wanted her parents to be here for the birth and I knew they wanted to be here. I plopped myself on the couch and crossed my legs. I knew walking around would speed things along because they did with my first two. I was hoping if I was inactive the contractions wouldn’t start. I had my 37 week doctor’s appointment scheduled for noon. I went to it and they confirmed my water had broken and gave me the good news that the fluid was clear of any infection. Back to the house for more sitting around on the couch and waiting. At this point her parents were on the plane on their way to New York and I had no way to contact them for 7 hours to let them know all was well. Around 9 pm they landed in New York and I was able to tell them I was still not in active labor, which meant they just might make it. They got a hotel for the night and tried to sleep a little before their 8 am flight the next morning.
At 10 pm my husband and I headed to the hospital at the advice of my doctor. Since my water had been broken for a while, they wanted to start me on antibiotics to prevent an infection. I hardly slept that night, not because I was having contractions, but because I was anxious about her parents making it on time. The night passes uneventfully, which was good. Around 5 am I checked on the their flight and found out it was delayed 2 hours!! I couldn’t believe it! I was bound and determined they would make it – so I forced myself to remain calm.
At 7 am my doctor informed me that because I wasn’t in active labor and my water had been broken for 24 hours, they had to start me on Pitocin to get things moving along. Even though I didn’t want to go this route, I understood the reason and implications of waiting any longer. Since I was already 4 cm dilated and they knew we were waiting on her parents, they agreed to go slow with the Pitocin. We started it at 8 am and at 9:30 am her parents got on their last flight to Jacksonville.
It was at that point I knew then they were going to make it. My contractions didn’t really start to pick up until 11 am. Around 11:30 our photographer, Melissa, showed up and we all waited for news their flight had landed. Finally at 12:05 we got word they had landed.
At 1 pm, 30 hours after I first called them, they arrived at the hospital. I still don’t know how I was able to hold contractions and active labor off for more than 24 hours, but I did.
With her parents here, I was able to relax for the first time and that’s when the contractions started to get stronger and closer together.
Around 2 pm I received an epidural and fully relaxed allowing me to quickly dilate to 10 cm. At 3:30 pm I began feeling a lot of pressure and the urge to push.
Since she wasn’t in the correct position (she was almost face-up) I had to push for a bit longer than expected. An hour and half later, at 5:30 pm, with my husband and both her parents there, she was born weighing a healthy 7 lbs 12 oz. Her parents were able to help her come into this world and she was immediately placed on them allowing the first skin to skin to be between them. Once the cord stopped pulsing, her parents were able to cut the cord – officially welcoming her into their family.
We had done it!! Their dreams of having a child and being a family finally came true. I will never forget the incredible feeling of helping this couple start their family. Seeing the joy and love on their face when they first saw their daughter is something I will cherish and remember forever. Our two families will forever be joined because of this amazing experience and I couldn’t be more excited for all that is to come.”