Publishing this Q+A was inspired by The Suga Podcast on Facing Infertility Concerns with Desiree McCarthy-Keith, M.D.
Before meeting Eddy Morales, Jennifer Gomez Morales never saw herself getting married or having children but, “then I met Eddy and all that changed.” They met in med school orientation, he asked her out to a Cuban restaurant and the rest is history!
Doctors Jennifer Gomez Morales and Eddy Morales have been married for seven years and are the proud and loving parents of Logan, age 4; Landon, age 2.5; and Lucas 5 months. Eddy is a musculoskeletal radiologist and Jennifer is an interventional spine physiatrist. Married in their last year of residency, “I really [began] to have the itch to start a family. Even though we were actually only trying for a few months [we] felt that something was wrong. I went to a fertility specialist and found out that I had a blocked fallopian tube that I had to have surgically removed.
Jennifer made a profound remark in our conversation with her, “our kids come to us in different ways.” The first fallopian tube surgery was just the beginning of how their kids would come to them in this family’s birth, and finally their surrogacy story.
How did your journey lead you to decide upon surrogacy as a path to parenthood?
We attempted 2 IUI’s (intrauterine insemination) and 3 IVF [procedures] (in vitro fertilization) in order to get pregnant with Logan. During that process I had a miscarriage which was heartbreaking. I ended up having a C-section with Logan which was a huge blessing because I had a placenta accreta which is where the placenta grows into the uterus. My OB was able to save my uterus and she initially told me that I should be thinking about surrogacy. She later retracted that and worked with me to get pregnant a second time.
I went back to my fertility specialist and had a hysterosalpingogram [an x-ray procedure to see whether the fallopian tubes are open and if the inside of the uterine cavity is normal, it takes about 5 minutes to perform] done which showed scar tissue within the uterine cavity. I had to undergo another procedure to remove the adhesions. We did not know whether or not I could get pregnant again as I was high risk for miscarriage. We did another round of IVF and I got pregnant on the first try. I was 8 months postpartum at the time.
When I gave birth to Landon it was a planned C-section because of my known placenta accreta. This accreta was a lot worse so it was recommended that I do not get pregnant anymore.
We were not done having children so we explored surrogacy.
Your family photos with your surrogate are captivating. You seem to have a great relationship with the surrogate.
How did this type of chemistry come to be? How did you choose your surrogate? Is she still involved with Lucas at all?
I did a lot of research regarding surrogacy and started calling agencies. I had a Skype interview with a larger agency and a few telephone interviews with other agencies but nothing seemed to really fit. I then found a single woman agency in a neighboring town and spoke to her at length. Anastasia owned and operated Superior Surrogacy. She was a former surrogate herself, twice and gave me a lot of insightful information. At the time she had a surrogate in mind but I did not pursue this initially.
Several months later, I went to my fertility clinic to speak with my physicians about my current medical status and to get counseling. At that time, Carolina Conceptions was in the process of developing their own gestational carrier program.
Great on Paper, No Emotional Connection
I had a bank of about 13 or 14 potential gestational carriers to choose from. My husband and I went through their profiles and chose one who had been a prior surrogate. We got matched with her but something always felt a bit off. On paper she was perfect but we were lacking an emotional connection. It ended up falling through which was a good thing.
A Return to Superior Surrogacy with Anastasia
At this point I decided to contact Anastasia again and see about the potential surrogate that she had. We set up a phone call with Sarah and hit it off immediately with her. Within minutes Eddy and I felt we wanted her to be a part of this journey with us. Several weeks later we met with her and her family at a restaurant to solidify the relationship and move forward with the process. Once everyone was on board and we went through the medical and legal process we transferred our only embryo into her.
A Rollercoaster Journey
The journey was very up and down in the beginning. We were overjoyed when we found out that she was pregnant. There was so much that had to happen to get to the point that we were at. I just remember crying tears of joy and feeling so relieved. However, at the same time, I had pangs of sadness. I longed to be able to carry my baby like I had for my other two children.
Unfortunately a few weeks later she started bleeding and had a hemorrhage. I felt sad beyond words thinking that she had miscarried and that I never had the chance to hold my baby even if it was just inside of me for a little while. She ended up having a subchorionic hemorrhage [pooling of blood between a membrane surrounding the embryo and the uterine wall, most common cause of first trimester bleeding] and bled on and off throughout the first trimester. The baby [however] was healthy and thriving. The way she cared for the baby during that time and the emotions that she felt made me feel very bonded and connected to her.
I was able to go to the majority of the OB visits with Sarah and was even able to take her out to dinner a couple of times. During that time we grew closer and I had the privilege of getting to know her. I respected her so much more as a woman, mother and friend. Sarah still is very much a part of our lives. She has been pumping since the birth of our child and giving us milk. She is amazing, kind hearted, generous and selfless. I feel so blessed that she came into our lives.
Did you have any emotional/mental/physical hurdles to overcome as a result of not being able to carry your own baby?
There were the types of emotions that went through me because I could not carry my own child. I was sad and always felt like I missed my baby. Also felt worried that the baby would not bond with me because I could not carry him.
But then I would think to myself that it would be more dangerous for both me and the baby if I were to have him inside of me. In a weird way it was a very selfless act in order to let another woman carry and nurture my child at his most vulnerable stage.
Of course there was also the thought in the back of my head that Sarah would fall in love with the baby and not return him to us. I actually had a discussion with her about this while we were waiting at the OB office. I remember her telling me that she has 3 wonderful boys at home who are very rambunctious and does not want a newborn! As a mom, I completely understood what she meant and after that conversation never had those feelings again.
How did you choose your healthcare provider? Would you choose him or her again? Why or why not?
I chose the practice because at the time it was right next to where I was living. I would absolutely choose Dr. Kurtz again as she helped me tremendously navigate through obstacles in my pregnancies. I also had subchorionic hemorrhages and thought that I had miscarried several times with both pregnancies. She was so kind, compassionate and reassuring. She was also Sarah’s OB.
Were there any words of innovative ways of thinking that really got you and Eddy over any hurdles?
Sometimes you go through life having plans and thinking you know what you want or what you do not want. The truth is we have no idea what is best for us! I got everything opposite of what I wanted or thought I wanted and I have the most blessed and fulfilled life. It is true when they say, “tell God your plans and he will just laugh at you”. It’s safe to say that I gave Him a few good belly laughs. For these reasons, I went into my surrogacy journey very open minded. We get what we are supposed to have and we do not get what we are not meant to have.
My whole life I never planned on getting married or having children. Honestly, I was pretty indifferent to both. I was happy in my life with my family and friends. Then I met Eddy and that mindset completely changed. I wanted an army of little girls that looked like me but had the personality of my husband. I got two beautiful boys that look exactly like my husband and behave exactly like me, and I could not picture the world without them.
What advice would you give another couple who want to be parents and are considering surrogacy?
Before even going down this road, make sure that you and your partner are on the same page and both want to go on this journey
When choosing a surrogate, make sure you choose each other. You have to fit with her just as much as she has to fit with your family. At the end of the day, she is going to be caring and nurturing your child at its most vulnerable time. This is your baby, but her body.
Regardless of who carries your baby the love and bond between mother and child will never change. Surrogacy will always be a part of your baby’s story, but you will always be the mother.
You’ve said children come to us in different ways. How did this very open and trusting mindset develop?
For a large part of my life I never really gave much thought to children or having a family as it was not something that I saw myself doing…Also during this time, I wanted to do EVERYTHING naturally from start to finish. That meant getting pregnant naturally and giving birth vaginally with no epidural. At the end of the day, I required a surgery, 2 IUI’s, and 3 IVF trials to get pregnant. I pumped myself up so much with exogenous hormones.
I also ended up getting the epidural only to then have a C-section. Nothing “natural” about any of that. It was only after I gave birth to Logan and fell in love with him that I realized I had to leave everything up to God. There are certain things in life you have control of, but a lot that you don’t. My children were meant for us regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation. Only now after going through all my hardships have I had these viewpoints.
What were some of your most challenging moments? What were some of your victories before the baby/babies were born?
I think by far [the] most challenging moment was when I had a miscarriage. I lost my baby and it was heartbreaking. It took me a long time to emotionally recover from that. Now I looked back and had I not miscarried I would never have the children I have now. Again everything for a reason.
Going through my fertility issues and complications was a very trying time in my life. It was a very lonely and sad time in my life.
It was gut wrenching when I was laying on the operating table after my first child was born and my OB leaned over me and said, “You might want to think about surrogacy.” My mind could not grasp the thought.
Even though I miscarried my first pregnancy, at some point I did consider it a victory because I was able to get pregnant. I proved to myself that I could physically get pregnant.
We decided to try to get pregnant right away after my first child was born not knowing whether I could or not or if I would miscarry because of the scar tissue that formed after the placenta accreta. We got pregnant on the first try and I was over the moon! Another victory was when we first met Sarah, our surrogate. We knew immediately that she was the perfect fit for our family. That took a load of pressure off our shoulders.
Obstacles and how you approach them, give you perspective in life and compassion for others. Even now, we are considering adoption and are open to different races. Everything and everyone has a purpose – we just might not realize it at the time.
Thank you Jennifer for sharing your surrogacy story
with Sugaberry and the Sugaberry village!
To learn more about surrogacy,
be sure to consult your trusted medical team.