Sharing our news with people has been very exciting for Jeffrey and I. Although, at times, we have both felt less than confident that we are really being understood. And, we also know that there are likely many things that people want to ask, but they are not sure if they should, or if it is acceptable to ask.
We are incredibly proud of our story and happy to answer questions and explain more about the process.
So, here are a few of the questions we have been asked the most….and a few more we have a feeling people are really curious about…
Who’s DNA does the baby have?
Baby Garnett has my (Elizabeth) and Jeffrey’s DNA. Together, Jeffrey and I went through In-Vitro Fertilization. 19 of my eggs were retrieved and fertilized by Jeffrey’s sperm. Therefore, the baby is genetically related to Jeffrey and I. We were lucky enough to have embryos that were strong enough to freeze. So, we like to say that we have a “frozen family” being kept at NYU. And they do not have an expiration date! Let’s just hope that NYU doesn’t lose power the way they did during Hurricane Sandy ;)
Will the baby have any of Stephanie’s DNA?
NO. Baby G is NOT genetically related to Stephanie in any way. The baby is only genetically related to Jeffrey and I. Our doctor took one of the embryos Jeffrey and I created and transferred it into Stephanie’s uterus. Stephanie is the “gestational carrier” or “host uterus.” Although, we prefer the technical term “baby mamma.”
What is a gestational carrier or gestational surrogate?
A gestational carrier is the term used for a woman who carries and delivers a baby and gives the baby to another couple or person. A gestational carrier is NOT genetically related to the baby. The term surrogate is better known, so people tend to just use the term “surrogate” whether they are a traditional surrogate or a gestational carrier.
What is a traditional surrogate?
A traditional surrogate is the term referring to a woman who carries and delivers a baby and gives the baby to another couple or person. A traditional surrogate isgenetically related to the baby.
Why can’t you carry a child?
Because I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease. I am currently under treatment for my condition and the medications that I take are very harmful to an unborn child. Furthermore, my condition causes me to have large amounts of protein in my urine and low protein levels in my blood. When you have protein in your urine you are at increased risk for high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack, diabetes and kidney failure. This is why pregnant women have their urine checked often and sometimes submit 24-hour urine samples. It is incredibly dangerous to have protein in your urine, especially while pregnant, as it can lead to all of the complications mentioned above. Pregnancy can cause my disease to worsen.
Why are you choosing surrogacy?
As Jeffrey says, because we want to grow the Garnett brand! It is important for us to have a genetic link to our children and we believe that everyone has the right to grow their family however they choose. Furthermore, we have a freezer full of baby Garnetts to be! Therefore gestational surrogacy was the next logical step.
Did your Kidney Disease cause your miscarriages?
This has a two-part answer. No, my kidney disease did not cause me to miscarry. My second miscarriage was chromosomal, meaning, there was a genetic anomaly with the babies. My first miscarriage, most likely was also due to a chromosomal anomaly with the baby, but unfortunately the results of my D&C were inconclusive. I do believe, however, that I was being watched over and that my miscarriages occurred so that my life was saved. (more on that another time…)
Why did you choose IVF?
We chose IVF at the advice of our doctor at NYU. After two miscarriages, Dr. Noyes recommended that we do IVF with PGD to prevent me from having another miscarriage due to a chromosomal abnormality with the baby. Up until that point, I had never taken any fertility drugs-not even clomid. But, I was heartbroken and couldn’t bare the thought of another loss. We knew so many people who had successful IVF stories, so we decided to move forward with it.
What is PGD?
PDG or Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis refers to genetic testing of embryos prior to transfer and implantation of the embryo. It’s main objective is to prevent miscarriage due to genetic disorders. This is essentially the same exact test that is performed during an amniocentesis. With PGD, a biopsy is taken from the embryo prior to freezing the embryo. With an amniocentesis, amniotic fluid is tested at approximately 15 weeks of pregnancy to determine the genetic health of the baby. PGD increases your chances of a successful IVF since you already know that the embryo being implanted is healthy. This is also the reason that we only transferred one embryo into Stephanie’s uterus. PGD is also the way people can choose the gender of their children! Of course for Jeffrey and I we chose this path only to ensure that we would have a healthy baby.
Why did you choose to do PGD?
We chose PDG because I had two previous miscarriages that were both likely due to chromosomal abnormalities.
Did IVF cause your Kidney Disease?
No. I was convinced that taking the drugs to produce 19 eggs, or taking estrogen to prepare me for an embryo transfer caused me to get FSGS. So, I was convinced that I would be all better and this condition would disappear within a few weeks of beginning treatment. Unfortunately that did not happen, and it has yet to happen, although I will never give up hope of a full recovery. My Nephrologist, Dr. Radhakrishnan, told me that there has never been a case of FSGS caused by IVF. There are many theories as to why the disease occurs, but IVF is not one of them. However, he did not completely discount my theory. We are incredibly lucky that we did IVF when we did, because I would not be given medical clearance to do it with my condition.
Will you ever be able to carry a child?
We really don’t know for sure. When I received my diagnosis last April we were hoping that I would be in full remission by the end of the summer and expecting that I would get the medical clearance to get pregnant within a year. Remission is still yet to come, so all I am really focused on right now is being healthy for my growing family.
When do you plan on telling your children how they came into the world?
We plan on telling our children from the moment they are born.
How do you ever thank someone for carrying for you?
I have been asked this question a few times. There really is no way that you can repay the gift. But the best way that I can think of thanking Stephanie is to share the love and joy with her that she is giving to us. Making sure that she always has a special connection to our child and that our families continue to bond in years to come.