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Fertility Heroes: Meet Lily


a blog by Ellen Glazer, June 16, 2011

When I first met Lily she was grappling with the news that it was unlikely she would conceive with her own eggs. She was 43 at the time and although the news was not surprising to me, it was to her.

Like so many other women I meet, Lily is athletic, eats carefully and, in general, takes great care of herself. She is trim and youthful, and she assumed her eggs were as robust as she is. She is also a hard worker who has generally found that if she puts her mind to something, she accomplishes it. A familiar picture and a hard one. Lily was devastated to hear that her eggs were most likely “too old.”

“But I have a daughter, Emma, that is waiting to be born.” Lily told me. She explained that she has had an image in her mind —for several years — of a little girl named Emma. She was able to describe Emma, and she said that she often sees her in dreams. When this happens, Emma always tells her she is coming.

It was about four months after I met Lily that she and her husband Rick went to the Caribbean on vacation. When they returned, Lily was different than when I’d last seen her. Her pain had greatly diminished, and in it’s place, new hope. Lily told me that she had decided to seek an egg donor. When I asked how she had made this decision, she recounted the following story, “Rick and I went to the water’s edge. As we stood there on the sand watching the waves, I heard a little girl’s voice. It was Emma. She said, ‘Mommy I am coming.’ It was then that I knew that Emma would come to me through egg donation and that she would still be my Emma — the little girl I have been waiting for.”

Emma did come, but her journey here was not an easy one — at least not for her parents. Lily and Rick sought and found an egg donor who shared Lily’s somewhat unusual ethnicity. They had a great meeting with her and were all set to move forward when the egg donor was found to have a medical problem. Ever focused, Lily and Rick regrouped, found a second egg donor, had another great meeting with her and entered into an egg donor cycle. Lily conceived on the first try, had an easy and uneventful pregnancy and a delivery that nearly robbed her of her life. She remembers the anesthesiologist holding newborn Emma and saying, “Hang in there, Mommy, we need you to pull through, your little girl needs you.” Lily did pull through, but remembers many physicians and nurses telling her how frightened they were during and just following her delivery.

Many women might have abandoned any notions of expanding their family following such a frightening experience, especially with the news that the doctors had had to remove her uterus in order to save her life. Not Lily. She and Rick had frozen embryos, and she quickly revealed that Emma was not an only child. While she had focused primarily on her vision of Emma, she let me know that Emma has a brother who also figures in her dreams and in her vision of her family. He is Michael, and as Lily points out, “there are also girls named Michael.” She explains that her vision is of a boy, but should one of the cryopreserved embryos result in the birth of another girl, she would be Michael.

And so Lily embarked on the next leg of her journey. When Emma was still quite young, Lily and Rick began researching surrogacy. Just as they had learned all they could about egg donation when they needed to, they now focused on becoming mini-experts on surrogacy. Before long they had identified a gestational carrier whom they liked and trusted. Two embryos were thawed and transferred. Two weeks later, Josie, their gestational carrier, called to tell them she had done a home pregnancy test.

“It’s positive!” she exclaimed on the phone. The news was confirmed at Lily’s clinic the following day. Josie is now five months pregnant. Lily and Rick are joyfully awaiting Michael’s birth. They are not telling if Emma will have a brother or a sister.

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