My husband Kevin and I first met in 7th grade. His sense of humor, love for life, and our instant connection made us inseparable from the start. I’ve always felt extremely lucky to have found my person so young, and grateful to have started sharing our lives together earlier than most.
While starting that life, we made the decision to wait on growing our family — allowing ourselves to check in with one another, and not surprisingly, always be on the same page. We moved to New York City in 2009, spent that next decade traveling the world together, building our careers, and enjoying the life we made for one another.
During the summer of 2017, we were ecstatic to learn that we had become pregnant after the second month of trying to conceive. We kept the news to ourselves, partially because we were plotting and planning on how to share the exciting announcement, and partially because we are both a little superstitious.
Neither one of us knew how naïve we were to the journey that lay ahead.
As we went into our second OB/GYN appointment, I was uncharacteristically calm and confident while my husband was a ball of nerves. What started as a routine ultrasound suddenly pivoted into a moment marred by silence as my doctor focused on the monitor, knowing she had heartbreaking news to deliver.
She asked me to sit up, held my hand, and said what no expecting mother wants to hear: there was no longer a heartbeat.
I had miscarried at 8 weeks.
I was confused by this information because I had seen something on the ultrasound nor had I experienced any bleeding or pain. I felt too calm and confident to receive, or comprehend, a message like this.
My gynecologist explained I needed to schedule a dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove the fetus. To this day, that experience was one of the most traumatic and heart-breaking memories of my fertility journey. My gynecologist strongly encouraged me to do something she normally would not suggest to someone after only one failed pregnancy: to test the tissue from the miscarriage.
The results brought me to my knees.
My doctor explained the results found that I miscarried because the fetus was a partial molar pregnancy (two sperm had fertilized one egg, causing an extra set of chromosomes). When I was told that I had to start seeing an oncologist to monitor the possibility of abnormal cells developing from the partial molar, and becoming cancerous …my heart dropped.
During this time, I was frightened. I asked myself how this could happen — how something I had never even heard of before had sent me to an oncologist at 33 years old. While I was seeing the oncologist, my period never returned following my D&C procedure. With lingering fears, we kept putting one foot in front of the other and attended every required oncologist appointment.
Nine months after my miscarriage, I got the amazing news from our oncologist that I was in the clear to start trying again, but I first needed to consult with my OB/GYN and figure out why I wasn’t getting my period. Though all my doctors told me this was normal as my body just experienced a loss and would take time for me to menstruate again, I always instinctively felt something was wrong.
Fast forward a few more uneasy months to the end of 2018, and I find myself in a fertility office getting a water ultrasound, which finally diagnosed me with Asherman’s syndrome over a year after our miscarriage. Asherman’s syndrome is a rare syndrome that can be caused by a C-section or D&C that causes scar tissue on the uterine lining, making it difficult for an embryo to attach.
The next two years were spent in the trusted hands of Dr. Tomer Singer from Shady Grove Fertility, who guided us through a few rounds of IVF to retrieve eggs, genetic testing of our embryos, two invasive surgeries to attempt to repair my uterine lining, and one failed embryo transfer.
From the moment we met Dr. Singer, he assured me that at the end of this journey we would have a healthy baby. He couldn’t promise how, or if I could carry our child with the severity of my syndrome, but he promised to do everything he could to help us start a family.
During our first meeting, I remember him mentioning the possibility of using a gestational carrier. In that moment, I couldn’t believe he suggested that as it seemed so out of my realm of possibility. The idea was foreign and something that I only heard of famous people doing.
Looking back all these years later, it was the best favor he did for us — planting the seed early on that there were alternative options to starting our family, including using a gestational carrier, which was integral to our choices later. Because this was mentioned so early into the process, we were able to digest this possibility, and over those two years of treatment with Dr. Singer, we did our research to find out if we could make it happen, or if we needed to.
At the start of 2020, I was thankful to have frozen four healthy AA embryos. A wave of relief washed over my mind knowing that Kevin and I could one day have our own biological child.
We tried to treat my Asherman’s syndrome, but it returned right after my first surgery. The second surgery offered more promise and hope, as Dr. Singer was able to repair my uterus to the point that my period returned.
I decided to try an embryo transfer at the beginning of February 2020 even though there was only a 25% chance it would work with my Asherman’s syndrome. Dr. Singer supported my decision and was hopeful that this transfer would work.
He called me prior to the transfer and let me talk about my fears. He even expressed how he felt this was the right step to take for my emotional wellbeing — granting me the chance to try and carry our son and cross that finish line. He was right. I knew I had to try and have no regrets.
I remember the day of the embryo transfer — how excited he was for us, and his enthusiasm made us even more hopeful.
During those ten days of waiting, I did everything I could to make this stick, including acupuncture, meditation, taking time off work, eating only warm meals, not drinking coffee, and saying many prayers.
On Valentine’s Day, I found out my embryo transfer failed, and I was faced with the uncertainty of our next steps.
The following month we were hit with a global pandemic, which made our next steps much more cumbersome. I always allowed myself to have my moments of grief and ride the wave of my emotions when we hit a challenge along the way.
I also always felt I had so much to already be thankful for in my life: a loving husband who made me laugh every day and assured me we would continue to have a beautiful life together, children or no children. He always supported which path and next step I wanted to take in our fertility journey.
During the first months of the pandemic, I was given unexpected quiet time at home to do some soul-searching and to decide what we should do next. I shed many tears and felt many moments of sadness, mourning the loss of what could have been. I was confused and uncertain about where we should go from here. One day, I just knew in my gut, I had to keep moving forward and keep fighting for a chance at a child.
So, after a few months of careful consideration and many long talks, Kevin and I decided to take a leap of faith and hire a surrogacy agency to find us a gestational carrier to carry our baby. As the saying goes, we had the bun, but not the oven — I knew I needed a gestational carrier to bring us home our baby.
I felt that if God or the universe gave us the fortune to get to this place, we were closer than ever as a couple. The world had its uncertainty with Covid, but we had three healthy boy embryos left. I felt that potential for life was there, and I had to explore that last option that Dr. Singer presented to me in our first meeting.
We found a wonderful gestational carrier who had carried for another couple prior to meeting us. Due to Covid, we first met on Zoom and I just knew in my gut that she would help us bring home baby Rodriguez.
A few days before my 37th birthday, we transferred our little embryo into our carrier. When I blew out my birthday candles, I wished for our miracle baby.
At the end of our four-year journey, I am beyond thrilled to share that Kevin and I welcomed a healthy baby boy, Henry August Rodriguez, via our gestational carrier. On June 30, 2021, at 36.5 weeks gestation, Henry was born at 7:56 a.m., weighing in at 6lbs, 11.2 ounces.
There are many things to celebrate these days, after years of uncertainty, heartbreak, and wishing.
Since Henry was born, we have been in utter bliss and are soaking in every minute with him. Though our journey was difficult, and we wanted to give up at times, I would absolutely do it all over again. I believe we were meant to walk down that difficult path. It made us really pause and be thankful for each day with Henry and for each other, too.
On my 38th birthday this year, I held Henry on my lap as I blew out my candles. That moment brought everything full circle — my heart humming with happiness knowing that last year’s wish came true. Celebrating my birthday with Henry brought Kevin and me pure joy!
To commemorate our 13th wedding anniversary, we took our first family trip to Arizona. I shed tears of happiness several times during the trip, still in awe that Henry is with us, and I couldn’t be more grateful than I already am.
As of November 2021, Henry is 5 months old, and I can share that he is healthy, vibrant, and full of life. And above all, he is so loved by our entire family. Henry has Kevin’s big personality and smile with charming dimples, and has my big, brown eyes, bow lip, and calming energy. I am so grateful that we never gave up on our little Henry. He was meant to be a part of our life and our little family.
I am also very thankful for how Dr. Singer, our nurses, and other SGF staff set realistic expectations for us to explore using a gestational carrier and achieve our dream of having a family. Planting the seed of this option early on helped give Kevin and I the necessary time to research using a gestational carrier and emotionally accept this option.
From the very first day we met Dr. Singer, he guided us with warmth and realistic family-building options. I know we would not be here if it wasn’t for Dr. Singer’s faith, compassion, and expertise.
Also, our family and close friends played a huge part in helping us make it to this point — they lifted our hearts when we needed it and never let us give up hope.
My advice to other couples who are struggling is to take it one day at a time. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Lean on your family and friends when you feel low. And remember, some of the most beautiful blessings in life take a little more time to present themselves.