Fertility issues affect many couples in America and around the world. Struggling with fertility is frustrating and heartbreaking and it can often cause people to become depressed as they face disappointment after disappointment in conceiving children.
Fortunately , as medical technology improves, new fertility methods and treatments are being offered to couples providing them with hope and a chance to have children of their own. Methods such as IVF and surrogacy are helping more and more women conceive and make their dreams a reality. But until they figure out a method that works for them, many couples have to navigate through the uncertain world of infertility.
Kevin and Nicole Barattini had been struggling to have children for years after they tied the knot in 2010. Things were beginning to look hopeless for the two and they were about to give up on the dream of starting a family. Then their good friends stepped in and offered to do something that would change the Barattini’s life forever. But would Kevin and Nicole fulfill their dream of having kids? Keep reading to find out.
Married couple, Nicole and her husband Kevin Barattini had been married for years and were desperate to have a child and expand their family. They struggled with fertility issues as many other couples do but they were growing concerned after years of trying to conceive with no luck. Their situation seemed hopeless and the couple decided to turn to alternate methods to grow their family, however, they never expected that something like this would happen…
A sixth pregnancy
A married couple from New York, Shuan and Lianna, were 40 and 37 respectively and had 5 beautiful children together. They desired a big family from the beginning of their marriage and they were great parents to their rambunctious kids. The couple was very excited that Lianna was pregnant for the sixth time, however, this time was very different from her last pregnancy. The baby growing inside Lianna was not her own.
A selfless action
Lianna had selflessly volunteered to be a surrogate to her good friends Kevin and Nicole. Lianna decided to step in after Kevin and Nicole were given the devastating news that they could not have children. She could not stand by and watch her friends suffer and she knew she had to do something to aid them in fulfilling their long time dream of starting a family. She volunteered herself as she thought it would be beneficial for Nicole to know who her surrogate was.
An enjoyable pregnancy
Since the two couples were good friends, they all attended checkups and doctors visits together. They were all excited to know how the baby was doing and wanted to make sure that everything was going well. Lianna’s obstetrician was Dr. Richard Klein, who said that having both couples at the checkups was “so much fun.” The baby was due to arrive in the summer of 2016 and everyone was looking forward to the new arrival.
Nerve racking experience
Although both couples were nervous to hear the results of their routine ultrasound, Nicole and her husband Kevin were exceptionally anxious as this was their first child and they wanted everything to go smoothly. Lianna was much less worried she she had already been through multiple pregnancies but of course she was still praying that the baby would be alright and that Nicole and her husband Kevin could have a family of their own.
The road to surrogacy
Kevin and Nicole had been married since 2012 and were living in Smithton, New York. They were ready to settle down and start a family but they soon realized that there were fertility issues. They tried to have children for years with no results and they went to specialists in search of answers. Nicole was told she had health issues that would prevent her from getting pregnant and she was given an upsetting prognosis. The couple were hopeless and did not believe that they would ever have kids. What was her illness?
At 16 years-old, Nicole started noticing bumps that were beginning to cover her skin. She began feeling very tired and her eyes were jaundiced and she had a fever. She knew something was not right and she went to get some medical tests done. Her blood test results were very concerning as her platelets were extremely low. An average person has 150,000 platelets per microliter of blood while Nicole only had 8,000.
Nicole went through many tests and after doctor’s analysis, she was given the results. Nicole was diagnosed with ‘thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura’ also known as TTP, a rare autoimmune disorder that causes microscopic blood clots in the patient’s body. Doctors told Nicole that she needed to act fast in order to prevent the disease from getting worse. She spent a while in the hospital having her plasma removed and replaced with donor plasma in order to save her life.
High mortality rate
TTP is an extremely rare disorder and can cause severe damage to the body of someone who has it. It can lead to damage of the brain, heart, kidneys, and even the nervous system. If the disease goes untreated it has a very high potential to be lethal with a mortality rate of 95%. Nicole could not leave her disease untreated as she would have risked losing her life. While she was thankfully able to recover, unfortunately her disease was still affecting her adult life.
Eventually, Nicole was put on a medication that worked and her disease became manageable. For the rest of her teenage years and into her young adult life, Nicole was able to function normally. Although she was in good health, TTP got in the way of her starting a family with her husband. Nicole’s medication could cause serious risk to a baby and as a result she could not take it and be pregnant. However, She could not go off of the medication as it would affect her own health.
Telling her husband
Nicole was devastated by this news that ruined any hope she had for starting a family. She had to tell her husband who could already see that Nicole was very upset. He recalled he, “got home from work and Nicole had that look on her face like something was wrong and I’m never going to forget it, I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and she said, ‘The doctor doesn’t think we can have children.’ And, you know, nobody wants to hear that.”
After Nicole revealed the news to Kevin, they sat down together to figure out how they would start they family. Nicole was so disappointed and felt frustrated that she would not be able to carry her biological child. She tried to reason with her husband and convince him that she could handle pregnancy, but her husband put a stop to that idea and explained that it was not worth putting Nicole’s life at risk.
After discussing it together, the couple agreed that it was much too dangerous for Nicole to carry a child, however, they decided they would research other options in order to start their family. Nicole met with a fertility doctor who told her that her condition was not likely to be genetic. Nicole chose to freeze some of her eggs and look into the option of surrogacy after receiving this news. However, there was another challenge in her way.
While surrogacy was a viable option for the two, the cost of the procedure can be as high as $75,000. Kevin and Nicole simply could not afford to pay a surrogate and they began to think of family members who would be able to act as their surrogate. Nicole said, “We had heard stories that sisters carried and mothers carried [eggs for women who could not carry], but I don’t have a sister, and my mother is over the age [to be able to be a carrier]”
Find someone out of state
There was yet another obstacle stopping the couple from their dreams of having a biological child. Kevin and Nicole live in the state of New York where it is illegal to financially compensate someone to be a surrogate. It would be permissible to pay someone outside of New York but it still would have been much too expensive. The couple’s only option would be to ask someone to carry their child without payment. This was a daunting and seemingly impossible task.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is the process where another woman carries a baby for a someone who cannot conceive carry their own child for whatever reason. IVF is used to create an embryo from the biological mother and father, which is then implanted inside the uterus of the surrogate. Surrogacy is an effective option for women who either cannot conceive a child on their own or for other health reasons either physical or mental.
Support from friends
Nicole and her husband confided with their friends and family about their struggle to have a child and they were amazed at the amount of support they received. Nicole recalls how she felt saying it was, “crazy to see how many people stepped up to the plate.” Many of their friends stepped forward and offered to carry Nicole’s child, however, after going through medical tests, i was found they were all unable to be surrogates for Nicole.
Making sure they are fit
Potential surrogates have to go through extensive testing to see if they are healthy and fit enough to carry someone else’s child. Many women do not meet the requirements for these tests and as a result, many of them are unable to be surrogates. This is another reason why surrogacy is so expensive. Potential surrogates not only need to be healthy physically, but also mentally. The mental strength that is require to carry another woman’s child is immeasurable.
Hope on the horizon
Kevin and Nicole were understandably very depressed as a result of their challenging situation. They spent much of their time visiting friends and family to distract themselves and bring some light into their lives. One evening they went out for dinner with their close friends Shaun and Lianna Fives. They Fives had been friends with Kevin and Nicole for almost 20 years and were very sympathetic towards their situation especially since they had five children and they knew how much happiness children can bring to a couple’s life.
Lianna felt horrible for Nicole that she was considering giving up on having children and she wanted to offer herself as a surrogate. However, Lianna brought up the idea in a subtle way. Kevin recalls, “Lianna goes, ‘You know I have five children, Shawn, and I want to have maybe one or two more. And [Nicole and I] looked at each other with a puzzled look, like, ‘You have five kids, why would you want any more?’
A big gift
Kevin went onto describe how Lianna brought up the possibility. He said, “And she goes, ‘No, not for me, for you guys – I’d like to carry a child” After hearing her loud and clear, he continued “The two of us, just forget about it. We just, we all started crying.” Kevin and Nicole finally had some hope that their dreams would come true but they still had to go through medical tests to make sure Lianna could carry their child.
Helping her friend
Many people wondered how Lianna could be so selfless and offer to give so much of herself for her friend. Lianna explained, “I was blessed to have five kids and they are all amazing, and I couldn’t picture my life without them. And to see this family so deserving, it broke my heart.” Lianna knows how much joy children bring to people’s lives and she wanted her friend to experience what she was able to feel.
Passing the tests
Kevin and Nicole accepted Lianna’s offer without hesitation and they were excited by the possibility of finally becoming parents. Lianna went through the numerous medical tests required and she passed all of them. Both couples were overjoyed and Lianna promised the Barittini’s that they would be a part of all aspects of the pregnancy. Following the medical tests, both couples made sure the correct legal papers were in order and the doctors implanted the embryos in Lianna.
Another bump in the road
Kevin and Nicole were very anxious to find out if the embryos had taken and if Lianna was pregnant. They knew that this was their last shot to have a biological child and if it did not work, they would have to look for other methods of starting a family. After weeks of waiting, the results were finally in. The embryos had not taken and Lianna was unfortunately not pregnant.
Both couples were saddened by the news but the doctors reassured them and decided to try again and implant more embryos. The couple were optimistic but could not help being worried that the second round of embryos would not take. Both couples prayed that it would work this time. The doctors seemed hopeful which was reassuring for Nicole. They had followed all the right procedures and waited another few weeks for an answer. The results were surprising for everyone.
The results were finally in and everyone was excited and nervous to hear them. Both couples were relieved and overjoyed when the doctors told them that Lianna was finally pregnant! Kevin and Nicole were beyond happy but they were about to receive even better news! Not only was Lianna pregnant with Kevin and Nicole’s child but she was pregnant with twins! The couple could not believe their fortune and could not wait until their children arrived.
One of each
The day they had been waiting for finally arrived and Kevin and Nicole were parents! Their twins arrived on February 10th, 2017 and they named their twins Luciana and Dominic. It was a very emotional day for all as the moment that had dreamed of was finally here! Kevin said of the whole experience, “It’s probably the most amazing thing because you think it’s the end of the road, now here we are with two beautiful children.” It was a miracle.
A strong bond
As one would imagine, Kevin and Nicole Barattini will always have a strong connection with Shaun and Lianna. The Fives are the reason that they were be able to become parents and they are forever grateful to them. Shaun and Lianna were given the honor of being the twins’ godparents. Nicole explained how close she felt to Lianna when she said,“I don’t have a sister but I’d consider her like that. We don’t hold back, we are open, honest, and I am constantly turning to her for guidance.”
Changing the laws
Kevin and Nicole and been through so much and they wanted to ensure other couples would not have the same tribulations as them. The Barattini’s are working on changing the laws regarding surrogacy in the state of New York. Kevin posted on Facebook, “We have been working with local legislators and [infertility specialists] Reproductive Specialists of New York to make surrogacy recognized in New York State. That being said we are happy that our story went public to help others in the time of need.”
Living their dream
Nicole agreed with her husband’s statement and added, “There are people out there, like Lianna, that will do it out of kindness – and it’s easier to find them than it seems. It’s never the end of the road.” Kevin and Nicole are extremely thankful to Lianna for to gift she gave them and they are now enjoying their life with their children and continuing to work on changing legislation to give other hopeful parents the same chance at happiness.