Erika and Phillip
We are from Northern Virginia and have been married for 5 years. We live just outside of Washington, D.C. with our two adorable dachshunds, Zen and Zara, and 6 month old baby girl, Mary.
I do Public Relations for a large technology company and my husband owns a small business. We are self-proclaimed foodies who enjoy dining at new restaurants & trying new dishes. We love to travel (pre-covid), listen to live music, watch professional tennis, binge watch the best of Netflix and spend time with our family & friends.
My husband and I met back in 2011 at a corporate holiday party for a staffing agency. We both went just to show our face with no intention of staying long, but I caught his eye. After many long gazes I decided to introduce myself. We exchanged business cards due to the professional setting and started seeing each other not long after that. His wit and charming charisma drew me to him. I knew early on he would make a wonderful, devoted husband and a great dad one day. My husband is a thoughtful guy who has a heart of gold. It was easy to fall in love with him.
Our support of one another became very important as time went on because our relationship has endured many disappointments due to infertility. I suffer from reoccurring uterine fibroids. In February 2015 I agreed at the prompting of my doctors to have surgery on my uterus to remove a number of large fibroids that would make it difficult to get pregnant and caused a lot of pain. The recovery was rough as the surgery is similar to having a C-section. But, I thought to myself, I’ll do anything to clear the way for us to start a family once married. We were married in September 2015 – the wedding was so beautiful. We were on cloud 9… so thankful to have found love; we truly felt in our hearts a family would soon follow.
We began trying for a baby the following year, but nothing happened. Month after month my period came and my heart sank. Trying to remain cautiously calm, I made an appointment for an ultrasound to see if anything was wrong. That is when I discovered that in less than a year the fibroids were back and even worse. This time I had a large fibroid in the cavity of my uterus that would require another surgery. The fibroid blocked any chance of implantation from happening as it was squarely where a baby would grow. No doctor had an answer for how the fibroid got there or how these growths came back so quickly. The only remedy was surgery. I actually had 2 additional surgeries to once again clear the path for me to have a baby.
After I healed from the surgeries, my lining wouldn’t respond to estrogen and other treatments. I was told that I would need a surrogate if we were to have children…. I cried and couldn’t believe it. In fact, I refused to let go of what I was born to do and the family I wanted to create for myself, my dear husband and anxious parents. So, I went for a second opinion at another fertility clinic. We did IVF there and had the same issue with my uterine lining. We did a fresh transfer which failed, but were able to freeze 6 PGS tested embryos. From there I went on to try acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary changes and a lot of prayer before my next IVF cycle.
Yet again, nothing helped, and the cycle ended up getting cancelled. 3 REs at 3 separate clinics came to the same conclusion about the need for a surrogate, but we tried cycling one last time ourselves instead. If it didn’t work, then I would have to give up on my desire to carry, but never on my dream to have children. I just really wanted my body to do what it was designed to do, to nurture my baby in my womb. I just wanted to be “normal.” I went in for a routine suppression check appointment and they discovered (in a very dramatic and unexpected fashion) that I was 6 weeks pregnant! It was a miracle! We were so happy! We thought our time had finally come.
We were so in love with our baby and were going to be the best parents to her. Our lives were dedicated to this little person we hadn’t met yet, but felt so connected to as she was so very wanted and adored. We excitedly went to each prenatal appointment amazed at the precious life growing inside of me. We were finally getting to be parents and that meant more to us than anything.
Our entire family was beyond ecstatic! We named her Mary Joy. Joy is my Mother’s middle name and it was the perfect way to describe what she meant to us.
However, at 28 weeks without warning I was told at a routine OB appointment they couldn’t find the heartbeat! I screamed at my doctor “what happened???!!!!!!!!!!” She said I don’t know and told me I would need to go to the hospital to have a C-section. A part of me died that day. We loved her so deeply and wanted her so badly. We held her, studied her little face to remember each feature and how sweet she was. We had her baptized and somehow found the strength to say goodbye. I cried all the way home from the hospital as the reality of no longer being pregnant set in and I felt a deep amount of emptiness that physically ached and caused pain in my soul. Our miracle baby died and our faith was crushed.
My entire family was shattered over this loss. Everyone close to us who knows about our hard, long journey to become parents was in complete shock and utterly devastated. There was a genuine outpouring of love and support from coworkers, friends and family.
After we took time to grieve, we began our first surrogacy journey. It was amazing at first, but the pregnancy did suffer from complications which created worry and stress. Thankfully, our baby girl was so strong and resilient. Our little girl came into this world safe and healthy in November of 2020.
She is the most amazing, beautiful and big hearted soul I’ve ever met. I am so in love with her and I adore being her mom. I’d like to embark on another surrogacy journey because we love our daughter so much and care so strongly, we can’t imagine not having one last child….and a sibling for her. My goal is to raise them to always look out for one another, support each other and be there in the good times and the bad. I hope they treasure their relationship. Sure there will be fights, but family is forever.
Myself and my husband have been through hell trying to create a family. We now know the full joy of being a parent and are forever grateful. We are so thankful to our surrogate who carried our daughter. She helped us get to the other side of the pain caused by infertility and baby loss by realizing our journey to becoming parents was not how we imagined, but it was special and perfect just the same.
We also SO appreciate the giving spirit of surrogate’s who help families like ours. There are no amount of words that can express how grateful we will be to the woman who finds it in her heart to help us.
Erika and Phil are foodies who enjoy dining at new restaurants & trying new dishes. They love to travel (pre-covid), listen to live music, watch professional tennis, binge watch the best of Netflix and spend time with family & friends.
- Location: Virginia
- Number of embryos: 4
- Agency: Family Makers
- Surrogate Compensation: Medium
- We hope to develop an organic relationship with our surrogate during and after the journey
The Biggest Ask Says
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine provides the following recommendations for evaluation of gestational carriers (i.e., many fertility clinics will require the following for their gestational carriers) :
- Carried at least 1 child without complications
- Fewer than 3 deliveries via c-section
- Body mass index in between 19 and 32
- No smoking, abusing drugs, alcohol or prescription medications
- Not receiving welfare, public housing or cash assistance from the government
- Has a stable home life with emotional and child care support
- No mental health conditions requiring the use of medications within the last 6 months (including depression)
- No criminal record
No one likes to talk about surrogate compensation, but it is an important factor in any surrogacy agreement. The following is how we classify high, medium and low compensation (excluding the value of any benefits). Many factors affect surrogate compensation including surrogate experience (e.g., has the woman been a surrogate before?), whether the surrogate is signed up with an agency and surrogate preferences.
- Low = surrogate compensation less than $20,000
- Medium = surrogate compensation between $20,000 and $40,000
- High = surrogate compensation greater than $40,000
You can learn more about how much surrogates get paid in our surrogacy guide’s module: “How much does surrogacy cost?”.
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