Fertility Stories: When Building a Family Takes a Whole Family
When Alisia was advised against getting pregnant, her sister became her gestational surrogate.
Life can have a way of stopping you in your tracks and all that seemed important at that time becomes seemingly unimportant. Combine years of grinding through multiple fertility treatments, only to find out that your new herculean fight is not just infertility, but it is for your life. That the future family that you had once thought to be uncertain, has become exponentially more indefinite. I can tell you from my own experience, that there is nothing that will make you fall to your knees harder than hearing the numbing news from your doctor that carrying your pregnancy will never be an option for you.
Enter in Alisia and her husband, Craig. Their story is one of true grit, love, and boundless hope. Amidst all of the heartache, something beautiful happened. The pages of their incredible story are not just written by this couple alone; two others helped change the course of what once was their overwhelming uncertainty. They say it takes a village, for Alisia and Craig it was way more than that. For them, it took several family members to help build the family they endlessly hoped to have.
Here is what Alisia had to say when I asked her to get personal with FertilitySmarts:
This Is Us
Craig and I actually went to the same high school. He is two years older than me and I didn’t know him personally, but I knew of him. One summer night in 2006, I was out with my friends in downtown Norfolk where Craig and I ran into each other. We recognized each other, started talking, kept in touch, and eventually started dating. Fast forward five years from there, we got married and had just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary! Craig works as a marketing manager for a railroad company, and I am a project manager for a healthcare company. We both love traveling, enjoying the outdoors and spending quality time with our family. We are both very close to our families and are so excited to have one of our own.
How Our Fertility Journey Started
In 2008 I received a kidney transplant from my younger brother, and after having two kidney rejection episodes, my doctors strongly encouraged me not to try to get pregnant both for my health and the health of my unborn child. A few years later, my sister Stephanie, nonchalantly suggested that she would carry our baby for us, but back then I didn’t really think anything of it because I wasn’t yet seriously trying to start a family. Craig and I had a plan that we would focus on and enjoy just being married for a few years and then talk about starting a family. So in 2014, we talked to my doctors about our options, again they advised that I not try to get pregnant. That’s when I went to my sister, and with no pressure at all, I asked her if she was serious about being a gestational surrogate. She was!
My most memorable milestone was my first egg retrieval. Everyone tells you that you shouldn’t get your hopes up when trying for the first time with IVF because it rarely works the very first time. I just knew that I would be part of the few that would tell the story that it worked for us the first time. I was so excited; I took pictures when my first package of injections came in and even got excited every evening when it was time for Craig to give me my injections. I had a decent number of really nice sized follicles, but unfortunately, I woke up from my first egg retrieval to my doctor telling me she found nothing. Yes, nothing as in zero eggs. I knew there was a possibility that at my age and will my health history that I may not have a ton of eggs— but nothing? I was devastated, and it took me a while to get over it and start looking into what went wrong and find out what the next protocol would be to try all over again. Continuing to believe that it would work for us along with the prayers, support, and encouragement of our family and friends kept us pushing forward.
Where are we now?
After almost four years of appointments, medications, infertility shots, multiple egg retrievals, various procedures for my sister to make sure we had the best chance of a successful cycle, our daughter arrived in August 2018!!
On the morning of August 4th, 2018 Craig and I were able to witness the bravery of my sister giving birth to our daughter. We will never forget that moment and will always be grateful to my sister, Stephanie, for the sacrifices she’s made so that we could have our daughter, Audrey. These days we are settling into our new normal while watching our little one grow by the day.
What I Want You to Know
Not having a child does not make you less than a woman. Being a mother does not complete your life or make your life any less important than anyone else’s. If you are struggling with infertility and are on a journey to start a family of your own, please be sure to enjoy your current life each day because your time will come. I was in a place where life was about the next IVF cycle. I rushed the months by because I was so focused on the next stimulation, trigger shot and egg retrieval dates. Keep trying to live and enjoy your life in the meantime. Also, don’t feel guilty about not telling people what you’re going through in your own infertility journey. It’s your personal story and when or if you have to plan to have a child is no one’s business. But when you’re ready to talk about it, know your story will likely help someone out there who feels alone or feels like infertility isn’t as common as it is.
Let’s Talk Money
I honestly didn’t keep track of how much we’ve spent over the years. Craig and I knew it would be expensive going into it, so we just paid the bills as they came in. This included screening fees, lawyer fees, appointment and procedure costs, medicine and injectable expenses, specimen sample and storage fees. Of course, there are also expenses associated with my sister which included her appointments, her medicines, reimbursement for any of the time she had to miss from work, maternity clothing, and food expenses since of course her appetite increased while pregnant!
Infertility in Numbers
The number most significant to me in my journey is one. During the entire process, I kept reminding myself, “It only takes one egg, one sperm, one embryo, one try, ONE PRAYER.” I have one amazing sister and one amazing husband that wouldn’t let me give up even when I wanted to, and in the end, I have ONE perfect little baby girl.