"We went through many years trying to have our own family. This included many, many rounds of IVF (egg collections, transfers, testing, injections, scans, blood tests, specialist appointments etc.), it just became our life.
Over the years we were very private about our struggle to have a family - only family and close friends knew of our journey. We even stopped sharing with them, as they began being awkward towards us, not knowing what to say.
Watching our family and friends have family around us, it just didn't seem fair, but we kept going. We had been on this journey for so many years, it was hard to stop, especially when we had frozen genetic embryos in storage.
Carmen and her husband Kristian are very close friends of ours. They watched us struggle with fertility, and saw our friends and family have and complete their families. Throughout our journey Carmen always used to say she'd carry for us: "I'm done using my oven, I'm happy for you to use it". I never really took that comment seriously, I always thought I'd one day get pregnant and carry my baby. But as the years went by, the chances of me becoming pregnant became less and less. I was tired of the injections, the medication, having scans, collections and then finally getting to the transfer stage and it wouldn't work. It was just heartbreaking. I was done.
Then at one of my specialist's appointments I asked what surrogacy looks like. He explained the process and said while Leon and I were deciding, then we should do one last egg collection to try and get a good bank of embryos in storage. We went into this round thinking, "This will be our last try," and we got the best collection of genetically testing embryos we'd ever had.
This story is from Our Babies of 2021 magazine. Click here to read the entire magazine online.
When Carmen asked where we were on our journey, I told her I was done, I couldn't do it anymore and we were looking into surrogacy. Again, Carmen said she'd be our surrogate. I still can't believe she offered. We visited our specialist in Melbourne and I asked Carmen to come with us to hear what was involved - we didn't want her to be pressured in any way and at any time if she couldn't do it, that was fine with us.
The appointment was in Melbourne and we hadn't even made it back to Bendigo when Carmen said yes, she was in. The massive process then began for us to be approved for surrogacy. Carmen, Kristian, Leon and I had to have a minimum of four counselling sessions, psyche sessions and sign lawyer's agreements. Carmen and Kristian have three boys and they also had to have counselling.
After these scheduled appointments - all done during COVID - we took all the reports and medical records and presented to the patient review panel. We were all so nervous we'd be knocked back, but about 20 minutes after our hearing I received the phone call to say we were approved and could start our surrogacy journey. We were all so excited, now we could get on with transferring one of our embryos.
A week after we were approved Carmen started a new cycle, so we phoned our IVF nurse straight away and under direction of our specialist Carmen's cycle was monitored. On August 15 2020 our little five-day-old embryo was thawed out, ready for transfer. Carmen, Kristian, Leon and I drove to Melbourne in the middle of COVID, all feeling every emotion - worried, scared, nervous, anxious, happy and excited.
Due to COVID, Carmen had the transfer on her own while we waited in the car park. It was just after 9.15am when Carmen messaged to tell us it was done. Baby Nixon was transferred and everything went perfectly.
Two weeks later we got the phone call from our IVF nurse to say Carmen was pregnant. I don't think Leon and I believed that it actually worked, but it did. Our dream of having a family was finally coming true. We were worried when we were getting closer to our due date that if COVID restrictions tightened then Leon and I wouldn't be able to be at the birth, but thankfully restrictions had eased slightly.
On April 29, 2021 Carmen gave birth to our beautiful son Lleyton. Carmen did an amazing job, with Kristian, Leon and I all there for the birth. Our surrogacy journey with Carmen, Kristian and their three boys was the most amazing experience. We feel so lucky and blessed to have them in our lives and now Lleyton is lucky to have this special family in his."
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