This year, Mother’s Day will hold extra special meaning for two Conception Bay South friends
Margaret Morgan will be a mother on Mother’s Day in 2019. While this doesn’t seem like an extraordinary happening, it really is – it took many years, a number of complicated medical procedures, thousands of dollars, and one very generous friend to bring Baby Morgan into the world.
“We were acquaintances,” Morgan said of her friendship with Laura-Lee, “but it wasn’t until I started going out with Jeff that we really became friends.”
Fitting the mold
Morgan and Laura-Lee attended the same high school, but weren’t even friends at that time. They were acquaintances based on one connection – Morgan’s husband Jeff is a cousin of Laura-Lee’s. Laura-Lee rubs her pregnant belly. At seven months along at the time of the interview, baby is active.
“I’ve always known, since I was 16, that I couldn’t carry my own child,” Morgan continues. “I started saving money, and going to doctors, who said that I could have my own biological child – I just needed a surrogate.”
She decided to reach out to an unlikely source – her husband’s cousin.
“I messaged Laura-Lee on Facebook, sending this big, long, sappy message, asking if she would be a carrier for me,” she recalled.
Laura-Lee already had a child of her own and had been vocal on social media that one was enough for her. Gestational carriers are required to have at least one child and be finished with growing their family to be eligible – Laura-Lee fit the mold.
“I’m crying as I’m writing it, of course, but I have to try – this is my last-ditch effort in having my own biological child,” the message from Morgan read.
“I opened the message, and figured it was something family related – that’s how we know each other. I opened it, started reading, and just started crying,” Laura-Lee explained.
“My husband Ben asked me why I was crying, and I told him to read the message. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, ‘I think I want to do it, but I’m not sure.’”
The decision wasn’t instantaneous – Laura-Lee and Morgan both discussed the idea with their families, who were almost entirely supportive of their joint initiative.
“I’m not doing this for the praise, but I’m thankful for it,” Laura-Lee said. “The support and love I’m receiving is more than enough. Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh my God, Laura-Lee, you’re such a great person!’ Well, thanks, but that’s not why I’m doing this.”
Laura-Lee also discussed the potential pregnancy with her daughter Lydia. The seven-year-old was highly influential on her decision to become a gestational carrier – Laura-Lee’s pregnancy with Lydia had been an easy one, resulting in a perfectly healthy baby girl.
She spoke of how she felt the first time she held her daughter. “Why wouldn’t I give this feeling to someone else who deserves and wants kids?” Laura-Lee asked.
Though full of jokes, the pair took this experience very seriously, and went through all the proper legal channels. The two families also underwent psychological evaluations. They had one main stipulation for the entire process – the need for open and honest communication. When it comes to gestational carrying, there’s “no such thing as TMI,” Laura-Lee joked.
The Herald interview was reflective of this vow of honest and open communication. There was laughter throughout the interview, even during more serious moments, like when the pair began chatting about the hardest parts of the pregnancy.
“And then I started
“And then I started the hormones,” Laura-Lee began, as Morgan burst into devilish laughter. “Oh my God. That totally threw me off. Of course, before all of this happens,” Laura-Lee said, pointing at her belly, “you need to trick your body into thinking you’re pregnant, more or less.”
For the first time, Laura-Lee was questioning herself and the journey she was on.
“Think PMS-ing, crying over ice cream, multiplied by like 50,” she said. “I have never second-guessed myself, or this,” Laura-Lee said, looking at her belly with a smile.
“Now, I feel better than I ever thought I would. I’m not attached. I mean, I love it – him – but he’s my cousin,” Laura-Lee said of the baby she’s caring for on the inside. “I can’t wait to give him away to his parents.”
It’s been a long, hard road for the parents-to-be. In September of 2018 Laura-Lee and Morgan travelled to Halifax.
First, an egg retrieval procedure, followed by the embryos (or eggs, colloquially speaking) being fertilized in a lab with the father’s sperm. The embryos develop in the laboratory, and after a short waiting period, an embryo transfer procedure places the eggs into the gestational carrier.
“I had 14 eggs … The next day, 13 of them died. They didn’t make it through the night,” Morgan said.
A five-day waiting period followed the egg harvest – “the longest five days of my life,” she shared. “When we got to day five, we learned that it had worked. The egg had to get to a stage where he had multiple cells around him, so then they flash froze him.”
The future baby remained “on ice” for almost a year, until he was “woken up” for the transfer. “I had one egg in the basket,” Morgan said with a laugh.
“And here we are,” Laura-Lee added. “We have 11 weeks left!”
The pair flashed back to late February, when Margaret was able to feel her baby kick for the first time. “He’s constantly moving, until Morgan goes to touch him,” Laura-Lee joked. Eventually, Morgan was able to feel a little kick.
“She jumped away,” Laura-Lee shared, cackling with laughter, “and asked, ‘Was that him?’ After that, it was just tears.”
Clearly, this past year has turned the former acquaintances into very good pals, having experienced a rollercoaster of emotions together.
After being with these two women for just one hour, it’s obvious that Baby Morgan will be entering a world where he is already deeply loved and wanted. When asked if they had any advice for anyone thinking of tackling surrogacy or having a gestational carrier, both women were happy to yield advice based on their shared experience.
“It’s a long process. If you know you want to have a child, and you have a potential surrogate that’s into it, start right away. Don’t wait. It took us two years,” Margaret said.
“Nothing is impossible. When I was younger, I thought I would never have my own child. Now, here I am, feeling my own child kick, because of her,” Morgan added, looking at Laura-Lee, who was smiling ear-to-ear, tears welling up in her eyes.
Laura-Lee is due at the end of May.
“I’m not giving him up, I’m giving him back,” Laura-Lee said, repeating a mantra she read on a forum for other gestational carriers.
“I can’t wait to look up and see you and Jeff holding this baby.”