Mommy had her cancer surgery four years ago. Part of her decision-making process at that time regarded whether or not to be a Choice Mom. She had already been working with two adoption agencies, so she updated her file and her health status — and found out the cancer diagnosis bumped her down the list 10 years post-cancer — she would be 47 before she would be eligible to be a parent through adoption.
Mommy wasn’t ready to give up yet, but her surgery also had uncovered complications from endometriosis. Her situation was not positive, but the doctors thought it was worth a try. She picked a sperm donor and underwent one round of IVF, from which nine of us embryos were formed. Although I won’t be able to meet him, she was able to hear what he sounded like in a standard interview — good natured, practical, and down-to-earth. His favorite food is chocolate chip cookies — so he was a good match!
Eventually the day finally arrived when the oncologist said it was okay on the cancer-free front to proceed and, as he said, “go live the life you always wanted.” But the various complications meant it wasn’t safe for Mommy’s health to carry a baby. Her doctors suggested gestational surrogacy, where a healthy woman carries a baby unrelated to her, for a woman who can’t.
Mommy did a lot of homework and soul-searching. She interviewed several agencies and selected one [more on that to come in a future story]. After an 18-month wait, she moved to the top of the waiting list and was matched in January 2013 with a wonderful woman in North Dakota, who was married with two sons of her own. It took until the end of September 2013 to work through the legalities with lawyers in both Minnesota and North Dakota, paperwork, psychological and physical exams, infectious disease panels, and tons of meetings, but then the medical part of the process began.
On November 18, 2013, all systems were “go.” Two weeks prior, all of us “totsicles” in storage were carefully transferred to double tanks of liquid nitrogen and we trundled down the highway to a clinic, where the lab personnel coddled us and prepped us for the journey that lay ahead.
Another embryo and I, out of six that were thawed, were still alive and growing on the day of the transfer. They really wanted us to culture and mature in the lab until day 6 for the transfer for a greater chance at succeeding, but we didn’t want to wait, and declared ourselves ready for transfer at day 4.
At 11:23 am, my Mommy watched us be transferred by catheter from the lab into the carrier’s uterus—just two tiny pin dots on the ultrasound screen. November 29 was the first round of good news: the hormone levels were super high, showing something positive was going on!
Mommy had the best Christmas present ever on December 23 when she traveled to Fargo to see me for the very first time on
ultrasound. Yep, there I was, all snuggled in and with a strong, fast heartbeat. I looked a little like a tadpole, but Mommy fell in love with me then and there.
Ten days before I was born, my adoption proceedings were finalized and made their way through the court system.
Yes, Mommy had to legally obtain parentage rights to me — the state laws still tend to say that whomever gives birth is technically the parent, even though I fully biologically belong to Mommy. She sighed deeply when the documentation was in place.
Mommy made several trips, and sent hundreds of texts, until July 31 when she went to Fargo to wait for the call. On August 3 at 1:51 am the call came! But everyone was sent home four hours later, because I wasn’t quite ready to enter the world yet.
I made my grand entrance the next day at 3:30pm on August 4. Mommy caught me, cut my cord, and held me for the first hour. Later that night, we spent until 4am rocking in the chair and looking at each other until the nurse came in and said I had to go in the bassinet so we would get a little sleep.
So here I am, two months later, finding life to be quite lovely. I love to have my hair washed. My eyes are very blue—those are from my donor dad—and I like to peek around the corner of my crib at Mommy and give her a smile. I’m growing all the time, and now am 24.4 inches long and weigh 12 ½ pounds.
I really dislike tummy time, and am learning that if I scream hard enough and kick and wiggle, I can roll sideways—but not all the way over quite yet. My favorite pastime is cuddling, and I’m very good at distracting my mom from getting anything else done!
Nighttime is the best as Mommy puts me to sleep playing “Fur Elise” and “A Doll’s Dream” on the piano. Ah, this is the good life!
I love being here, and wouldn’t be without all the doctors, medical interventions, and my great North Dakota family. I’m the luckiest girl in the world!
Lillia, a true Choice Kid