Nancy and Michael asked their friends whether it would be hard for them not to raise the baby after carrying it for nine months. Kathleen was adamant that it would be Nancy’s child, not hers. “I’m just the garden. I’ll be growing this baby for you,” she said. Finally Nancy and Michael said yes.
Because Nancy could not take hormonal therapy to stimulate egg production, she needed to find a center willing to do “natural IVF” (see sidebar, page 39). Each month, the one egg she produced naturally would be harvested, fertilized with Michael’s sperm, and the embryo frozen until there were several to implant. Unlike a surrogate who uses her own egg, Kathleen would be a “gestational carrier.” While the infant would grow in her womb, it would be Nancy and Michael’s biological child.
“We went to two IVF centers, but they said they wouldn’t recommend natural IVF, that at best we’d have a 10 percent chance of success with it,” says Nancy. “Then we found the Cooper Center for In-Vitro Fertilization in Marlton, New Jersey, which had a lot of success--25-35 percent—with natural IVF.”
In January, 2001, starting the second day of her cycle, Nancy visited fertility specialist Jeffrey Braverman, M.D., of Garden City, New York, every other day—a 45-minute drive from her home—to have the developing egg monitored. When the egg was deemed ready for harvesting, the Rodgerses drove two-and-a-half hours to the Cooper Center so the egg could be retrieved. After five months of this grueling routine, the couple ended up with two viable eggs, which they were told meant a 25 percent chance of achieving pregnancy.
At the same time, Kathleen had her own routine to follow. She had to undergo daily hormone shots for months to prepare her body for pregnancy. Drugs are used to suppress the gestational carrier’s own ovulation, and then hormones–estrogen and progesterone—are given to make the uterus ready for implantation. “I had a black-and-blue rear end for several months,” remembers Kathleen. “But it passed. And if you weigh the pros and cons, every con was outweighed by a dozen pros.” Finally, she was implanted with the two frozen embryos.
To everyone’s delight, Kathleen became pregnant on the first try. Nancy was so happy when she got the news that she couldn’t stop saying “thank you.” Throughout the pregnancy, which Kathleen recalls as an easy one, the best friends spoke daily, and every eight weeks Nancy flew to Ohio to visit Kathleen and watch the baby grow. On one of those visits, Kathleen surprised Nancy with an audio tape of Laney’s heartbeat to take home.
A Best Friend’s Gift|
Feb 24, 2009
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