“I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t hear the heartbeat today.”
At that moment, I swear I could feel my actual soul fracture. How could this be happening? How was my world erupting into unimaginable tragedy once again? How, after everything I had been through, could I turn to God for answers and only hear, “Honey, this pregnancy just wasn’t meant to be”?
The seven-and-a-half-week-old embryo I lost three years ago came from an extremely challenging IVF cycle, one that my fertility doctor told me was my last shot. I was 36 years old. As it turns out, yes, it was my last shot at carrying a baby — but it wasn’t my last shot at having a baby.
There we were in the fertility clinic that April morning when it all came crashing down. That morning, we were full of promise and elation for this soon-to-be baby. Just five days earlier, we heard the heartbeat of this growing fetus, a feat that just a short time before seemed impossible.
A difficult journey
My brain, on some level, could recognize what I was being told was useful information, but my heart couldn’t comprehend any of it. I did not know how to process the grief over my sudden loss, the all-consuming pain I felt in every molecule of my body.
The next few days were filled with overwhelming agony as my body still believed I was pregnant, but my mind and heart knew what I had lost. I dove headfirst into surrogacy research and made it my life’s mission to read every article regarding surrogacy, absorbing all surrogacy, all the time.
Every relationship between a surrogate and intended parent is different. Some have little communication while others talk every day. My surrogate and I would touch base almost nightly through text message, checking in about how she was feeling, if anything related to the pregnancy had come up throughout the day. I really enjoyed the open communication I had with my surrogate while also respecting her personal time and space.
Matching with a surrogate who will carry your child is not an easy task. Qualified agencies first extensively vet women who are interested in surrogacy, making sure several medical and personal qualifications are met before they can be matched with intended parents. My husband and I knew that our surrogate had been vetted thoroughly by our agency and multiple doctors. We enjoyed our initial conversation with her before we officially matched.
The gift a surrogate gives to a family is hard to put into words. I believe surrogates are walking angels on this Earth, helping struggling families in the most remarkable way imaginable.
After countless meetings, video sessions and phone calls, my surrogate and her husband flew into Newark for the implantation in March 2019, and we then buckled down for 10 agonizing days of waiting for the pregnancy results.
I remember sitting on the bathroom floor at home as the fertility clinic nurse phoned with the news.
“It’s a positive pregnancy,” she said. “We have a really strong start.”
I cried like I never had before. In that moment, all the heartbreak that infertility had thrown my way was over. In that split second, it had all been worth it.
It also has become somewhat more common, proving to be more than a passing trend for families in need.
Infertility and surrogacy tested my strength in ways I never thought possible, but it also opened my eyes to the true wonder and beauty of science, medical advancement and community.
Three years later, through an amazing gestational surrogate, I have our son. He’s the most adorable 16-month-old boy I could have ever imagined, and I know it was all supposed to work out this way.
He was the baby we were meant to have. On this unpaved and excruciatingly painful road that is infertility, hope is on the other side of hell, it’s just around the bend, and the joy and love that awaits is, as Fallon said, “the most worth-it thing.”
Writer Nikaline McCarley works as a freelance entertainment reporter for Us Weekly. She lives with her husband and two children in Westchester, New York.