Surrogate mom gives couple the gift of life
A co-worker drew Nakita Dyer's attention to the couple's plight. They were looking for a surrogate, someone willing to carry the child they couldn't have themselves. Mrs Dyer considered it kismet. Twelve years prior she had offered to do the same for a good friend who had confided she wasn't able.
“We were only in our late twenties and it came as a shock; I'd just had my second child without trying,” she said.
“It gave me a new perspective on motherhood. I realised I was not entitled to have a baby simply because I am a woman.
“I had never thought about that before and ever since that moment it has been on my heart.”
Nothing came of her offer, but the idea stuck.
“In December 2014 a friend at work learnt of a couple looking for a gestational carrier,” she said. “Other than my husband, she was probably the only person who knew how I felt about surrogacy. Immediately, she told me about them.”
Mrs Dyer talked it over with her husband, Anthony, and together they met with gynecologist Emma Robinson.
“She considered me a perfect candidate,” said the 39-year-old, who is hoping her story will inspire others who are having trouble conceiving.
“I'd already had three children with no issues during pregnancy and no complications during birth. Additionally, I was working out every day and had a clean medical record. She was pleased to recommend me.
“After praying about it, I [sent the couple a letter] explaining how I felt and why I wanted to do this. I received a response the very next day.
“We arranged a date and time to meet. It was an emotional meeting. She explained all she'd been through; nine years of trying. That I would consider doing it and didn't even know her, she was so touched. I felt a connection with her right away. That was January 2015.”
The next month, Mrs Dyer's father died and her husband “started having doubts”.
“He thought that the loss was too great and I might not be able to handle [the pregnancy], but it made me more inclined to do it,” she said.
“My dad and I were extremely close and he had been battling cancer. I helped him through it until he closed his eyes one final time.
“I thought, ‘What if he didn't have me to fight this with him?' I wanted this couple to have the opportunity to experience the parent/child bond I had with my father. [Anthony eventually] understood my point of view and I will never forget the day he told me he would stand beside me 100 per cent.
“People say they're in awe of what I'm doing and, by the same token, I'm in awe of my husband. I'm physically carrying the children but he's been my hero in all of this. He deserves as much praise as I do.”
The embryo transfer took place in New Jersey on September 28. Mrs Dyer was terrified that it wouldn't be successful and the couple would be disappointed once again.
“They'd been through every process possible. I knew this was it. This had to work,” she said. “A pregnancy test was performed ten days later via blood work, which would be more accurate than a urine test due to the many hormones in my body.
“[We got] a clear indication that both embryos caught and we had twins. We would later find out that they are both girls.
“It has been quite different from my other pregnancies. I've had morning sickness and, due to carrying twins, I experience an increased heart rate, shortness of breath and tire very quickly. But there have been no complications and the twins have been growing slightly above the average curve, which is amazing.
“The discomforts I speak of are hardly worth complaining about considering how extraordinarily well the pregnancy has progressed.”
The twins are due on June 16.
“The babies' parents are extremely loving, caring and thoughtful and have done everything in their power to make me and my family as comfortable as possible throughout this journey,” Mrs Dyer said.
“The mom accompanies me to every OB-GYN appointment and both parents, along with my husband, accompany me to every ultrasound. This gives them as close of an experience to pregnancy as possible. Dr Robinson and her staff, and the staff at Ultimate Imaging, have taken excellent care of us throughout the entire journey.
“I didn't expect to come out of this with an extended family. We've become so close that the parents asked my husband and I to be godparents and we were extremely delighted to accept. They asked me from the very beginning if I would be comfortable with being a part of their lives as they wanted their babies to know who I was and what I did, to which I happily agreed.
“To be godmother is such an honour and beyond my expectations.
“But the greatest reward from this journey will be when I see the happiness and fulfilment the parents will experience when they hold their babies for the first time. That is my driving force.”
She's been amazed by the “overwhelming” support she has received from her three children, family and friends, her church family and colleagues at Butterfield Bank.
“Needless to say, I've had to tell the story many times and it has been fun watching the reactions,” Mrs Dyer said. “I've never seen so many dropped jaws and looks of shock in my life. Some people I've even had to convince I was telling the truth.
“The most memorable reaction was that of my grandmother. I told her and she just stared at me. She literally said nothing and just stared at me, processing what she had just heard me say.”
Her one regret is that she wasn't able to share it all with her father.
“I was waiting for the final medical approval so that I could tell him all of the good news at the same time, but the approval came two weeks after he passed,” she said. “He would have been so proud and I can just imagine the look that would have been on his face and what he would have said.”
The surrogacy process
The ideal surrogate is under 35 and in good health with a family of her own. Nakita Dyer was 38 when she agreed to be a gestational carrier. She was accepted as a candidate because she was physically fit, with a clean medical history and bill of health. She started the frozen embryo transfer cycle in May 2015.
First, she was put on birth control pills. Daily injections into her abdomen began that August and lasted for a month; the medication helped to prepare her body to accept the embryos.
“Then there were pills that I had to take three times a day and a patch I had to wear — all the hormones the body needs,” she said. “The process was explained very clearly so I knew what was involved. I do, however, remember the day I received the box of medication from overseas. I opened the box and had to pause a moment and take a deep breath. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the amount of pills, needles, syringes, etc, and thinking, ‘Can I handle this? This is a lot'.
“I quickly pushed my fears aside and focused on why I was doing it. It wasn't always easy, but it was certainly worth it.”
On September 28, two embryos were implanted into her uterus at a New Jersey clinic. “It was quick and painless,” she said. “The week before that I had to start daily injections in my buttocks, which my husband administered. This lasted for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and was probably the toughest part of the process. Once I completed the first trimester, no further medication was needed.”
A pregnancy test was performed ten days after the transfer. Specialists tested her blood rather than taking a traditional urine sample, to ensure the result was accurate.
“They test your Beta HCG levels,” she explained. “The first time it should be over 100 to confirm pregnancy and it should double every three days. In my case it was triple that. The first test on October 8 revealed it was 301 and on October 12 it was over 1,700 — a clear indication that both embryos caught and we had twins.”
The experience is a one-off for the mother of three. “This has been a life-changing experience and a dream come true and I'm just thankful for the opportunity to perform such an act,” she said. “This summer my husband and I will celebrate eight years of marriage and we will both turn 40, so we are planning on celebrating and focusing on our future.”