Remember our story last month about Rachel and her daughter, Cosette? Rachel was gracious enough to share an update with us about Cosette’s congenital heart defect and more information about her surrogate journey.
Here is Rachel’s story:
“Last month we shared our story about Cosette and her unique congenital heart defect. She hasn’t required surgery…yet…and continues to amaze the cardiologist every month during our checkups. Her birth story is also very unique, so I’d like to share our experiences with the hope it’ll help others that need to find alternative ways of having a baby, whether it be adoption, fostering, IVF or surrogacy.
“After years of trying to have a baby and having multiple heartbreaks, my husband and I decided to try IVF. We were blessed with four embryos on the first attempt and the whole process at that time actually didn’t seem too bad compared to what other people go through. The shots and needles and frequent doctor appointments certainly weren’t enjoyable, but it felt like it gave me hope and was a means to an end of our infertility issues. I thought the worst was behind us, but right when you think you have things figured out, God allows wrenches to be placed in our well laid plans.
“After the retrieval, we soon found out the odds of an embryo implanting in me was extremely low. After going through this process and talking to others, my impression of IVF is that it’s an amazing feat in modern medicine, however, you’re dealing with statistics plus some luck and timing. If you keep at it you’ll likely end up with a baby, but it can be emotionally and financially draining in the meantime. We tried one transfer and it didn’t work, so the doctor changed some protocols and we did more monitoring and waiting. The odds still remained low and I just didn’t have a good feeling about being able to carry a pregnancy to term.
“We investigated surrogacy as an option, looked at our finances and felt it was feasible for us. I understand IVF and surrogacy isn’t an option for many couples due to the high costs, so I’m sensitive to that and grateful we were able to find a way to make it work. We interviewed a couple of different agencies that were recommended to us by our IVF doctor. It was really like online dating because we had to create a profile for other surrogates to view. If both “swipe right” the agency sets up a zoom call, which feels a lot like a first date. After that initial meeting there are psychological screenings and a legal contract is created. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes, so it was helpful and worth the extra costs to have an agency navigate it for us. They even created a birth plan that was shared with the hospital. It included our preferences regarding who would be in the room during delivery, skin-to-skin plan, and a request for an extra hospital room to provide privacy during the bonding and recovery period.
“The scheduled induction was three days after her due date and little “Cozy Cosette” still didn’t want to make her appearance quickly. We had created a nice friendship with our surrogate and her husband, so it kind of felt like we were in a hotel room and just hanging out, but we were also nervous at the same time. Of course our surrogate didn’t feel as physically comfortable as us, but she handled it all with such grace and faith, while also having perfect makeup and hair throughout it all!
“Cosette ended up being delivered via a C section because her heart rate was dropping during the contractions. It was somewhat emergent so the birth plan didn’t really happen as we wished, but that was just part of the course considering our experience to this point. Aaron and I weren’t allowed in the operating room, so we were anxiously awaiting her arrival with my parents, who by chance arrived at the hospital just in time. The nurse finally got us and told us we could see her in the hallway on the way to the NICU.
“It was such a surreal moment meeting her for the first time as she just stared up at us. In all honesty, she looked like a little alien or Baby Yoda. Her eyes were wide open and when she blinked it looked electronic because it was so slow and controlled. It was such a sweet moment that I’ll never forget, but the feeling of being her parents and having a real connection definitely grew over time for both my husband and me. Some contributing factors that probably went into it was the fact that I didn’t carry her and we weren’t there for her delivery. We also weren't able to hold her until 24 hours due to her heart defect. Even when we did get a chance to hold her it was awkward for a while because she had electrodes all over her. We did put our hands on her as often as we could, and hindsight we probably could have advocated for it more.
“The connection to Cosette grew innately and at our own pace over time. We got in a lot of snuggles the first few months since she resisted sleeping in both her crib and bassinet and craved contact with us. We call her our little FOMO baby. She is now seven months old, and with the exception of one brief hospitalization, we’ve been able to keep her home and spend a lot of time watching her grow. Now there is such a strong connection between us that is so different than when we first met her in the hallway.
“Since she snacks frequently throughout the day and I can’t breastfeed, it does make it logistically more difficult to practice skin to skin. However, the Bonsies have helped us nurture that connection by making the contact easier due to its kimono style opening. Now that she is bigger and we are getting somewhat on a “schedule” we make skin-to-skin part of our nighttime routine. She still loves to snuggle, especially with daddy, and he even recently said he wishes Bonsies were made in adult sizes too!”
Thank you to Rachel for sharing her unique journey and for keeping us updated on Cosette’s incredible progress. We are rooting for you!