While she waited for their appointment, she thought back to what her friend had said. At first, she was ecstatic, she had never felt happier in her life but now, she was concerned. It felt like she was missing something. Was it too good to be true?
“No”, she thought. “I trust her.” She silenced any doubts she had from then on out, but maybe she shouldn’t have.
Newlyweds, Nicole Barattini and her husband Kevin, from Smithtin, New York were excited to begin their journey of starting a family. A journey that would eventually lead them into a dark and frightening abyss.
After two years passed without a pregnancy, Nicole knew something was wrong and immediately sought professional help.
Since they didn’t know if one or both of them was the reason they couldn’t conceive, the doctor at the fertility clinic tested both Nicole and her husband for possible issues.
It was a long process, and one that would bring devastating news. It was the start of a perilous journey that would lead to the most bizarre outcome.
Nicole’s heart broke when she learned that an illness she had suffered from in her teenage years was to blame for her infertility.
At 16 years old, she started noticing small red dots on her skin, which soon covered her whole body. At first she didn’t think it was too serious, but soon her symptoms worsened. She went to the doctor, who diagnosed her condition.
Nicole had Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (TTP), an autoimmune disease that causes blood clots around the body which can become fatal. Nicole was hospitalized and spent several days getting plasma transfusions.
She was also prescribed a medication that kept the disease under control. Her life soon went back to normal, but no one told her about the side effects.
Doctors later told Nicole that the medication she took for TTP would be harmful to her baby, and advised her against getting pregnant.
When she suggested coming off her medication, they told her it could be fatal for her. TTP has a 95% mortality rate if left untreated. Thus, Nicole was left with a hard decision. Would she risk it?
Nicole was headstrong and stubborn. Her husband knew this about her and worried about her putting her life at risk. But she wanted a child so badly so she thought long and hard about going off her medication.
When she broke the news to her husband, he was understandably concerned. And he was right to be.
Before she could draw a final conclusion, he stepped in and insisted that having a baby was not worth putting her life at risk. He wouldn’t, and couldn’t let his wife go through with it.
Despondent and growing desperate, Nicole started to look at her other options. But in the back of her mind, she already knew she was ready to take extreme measures, measures that would later bring her nothing but tears.
Nicole was far from giving up hope. She knew that there were still a few other options available that wouldn’t require her to risk her life.
First, she decided to look into adoption. But after doing some research, she discovered yet another obstacle that they’d have to overcome as a couple. An obstacle impossible for most people.
The legal fees for adoption were just too high for Nicole and her husband to afford, no matter how much they wanted a baby. With the idea of adopting abandoned, she moved on to this next option.
She began thinking about IVF and surrogacy, but if adoption was already too expensive, would this route be unfeasible, too? And who would carry her baby?
The doctors assured Nicole that surrogacy would be safe, her eggs were healthy despite her illness and TTP was not genetic. But when she found out that the cost of hiring a surrogate was upwards of $75,000, she fell into despair. She didn’t have that kind of money.
Furthermore, surrogacy wasn’t even legal in New York so she would have to find someone from out of state. This option was not possible either, so there was only one thing left to do.
Nicole told friends and family about their plight, and many of them offered to carry their baby without compensation. Sadly, however, none of them were deemed fit for the task after undergoing several tests.
Nicole’s last shred of hope to be a mother was quickly fading. That was until the one unassuming woman came along.
Nicole had known Lianna Fives for 20 years. Lianna had always wanted a big family and had achieved her goal, having had five children by the time she was 37.
Six months after the birth of their fifth baby, she invited Nicole to dinner, and made an announcement that changed both of their lives forever.
“You know I have five children, and I want to have maybe one or two more,” began Lianna. Nicole looked at her husband, puzzled as she wondered why she would want even more children.
But she continued, “No, not for me, for you guys – I’d like to carry your child!”. Completely overwhelmed, Nicole burst into tears. Little did she know, this agreement would be nothing like she thought it would be.
Nicole loved Lianna. She was a dear friend to her and one she felt like she knew all her life so she couldn’t have picked a better woman to bring her child into the world. But what she didn’t know about Lianna, was her ability to keep secrets.
Nicole was excited to get this pregnancy started, so she booked an appointment with Lianna and her doctor straight away.
While she waited for her appointment, Nicole had some time to recover from her friends’ surprise and now, she was concerned. Was it too good to be true?
Nicole worried that Lianna wouldn’t be suitable as she had just given birth six months ago. That’s why her offer took her completely by surprise. She didn’t think she’d be able to. Nonetheless, after some thought, she silenced any doubts she had, but maybe she shouldn’t have.
As Lianna prepared for the doctor’s appointment in the morning, she had a strange feeling. She wanted to do this for her friend but she also questioned if she could do it. Giving up a baby that would grow within her belly felt impossible for her.
Nonetheless, she reminded herself that this wasn’t about her and shoved any self-doubting thoughts into the back of her mind. Just then, she heard the doorbell.
Nicole looked like she could have exploded with excitement when she collected Lianna for their doctors appointment. It was a busy visit. She had to undergo numerous medical and mental tests, but she passed with flying colors.
Soon after, the embryos were implanted, and Nicole promised to be with Lianna every step of the way. But some things are easier said than done.
At first, it was easy to constantly meet up and check in with each other, but as the weeks passed, life got in the way and it was getting harder and harder to spend time together.
It felt like life was dragging them in different ways for a while as their schedules never met up. A strange feeling came over Nicole, it was like she knew tragedy would strike. Then, it did.
Nicole was deeply upset when she received the news that the embryos did not take, but doctors encouraged them to try again. Looking at Lianna who was nodding her head in encouragement, Nicole reluctantly agreed to try one last time.
She couldn’t take any more false hope. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be?
This time, Lianna was the one that was more excited about the possibility of pregnancy. Nicole was disheartened and Lianna could feel it so she tried her best to stay upbeat and positive about it all.
Soon, she was implanted once again, and they both waited nervously for weeks until finally, the results came back. Nicole held her breath as she waited for the verdict.
To everyone’s delight, Lianna was pregnant. Nicole and her husband were closer to being parents than ever before. But Lianna was hiding something.
She didn’t know how to tell Nicole but she knew she needed to tell her. With nervous anticipation, she avoided her for a few weeks until she could see the doctor. She wanted to make sure.
Lianna could feel something had changed inside her. It was gradual at first, but now it took over her mind like a moth to light. She couldn’t believe she felt this way and dreaded what Nicole would think. Was it her fault?
No, she didn’t ask for this. And the doctor confirmed that this had nothing to do with her body. Reassured and confirmed by the doctor, she decided to finally tell Nicole.
Nicole looked at Lianna, confused as to her serious tone. What was wrong? But before Nicole could get too riled up, Lianna reassured her and told her that two of the implanted embryos had taken, and she was now carrying twins!
Nicole could not believe their good fortune and shared their happiness with Lianna, spoiling her in her pregnancy.
They decided to celebrate. Lianna planned a party to announce the impending arrival of Nicole and her husband’s twin babies. She invited friends and family from both their families, ending up with over 60 guests.
Knowing that Nicole had been wanting to start a family for many years, everyone was pleasantly surprised. Soon, the big day arrived.
After a healthy pregnancy, Lianna gave birth to Nicole and her husband’s twin babies on February 10th, 2017.
They had a boy and a girl, whom they named Dominic and Luciana. Now, Nicole was a mother to not one, but two babies of her very own!
Nicole and her husband burst out crying as soon as they saw their newborn children for the first time.
Their lifelong dream had finally come true – and it was all thanks to the selflessness of their best friends. It was an act they were determined to honor.
“I have never been pregnant, but have heard that there is a major bond that takes place over 9 months [of gestation],” Nicole said tearfully.
“That after 9 months to hand off the babies — even if they are not biologically yours — is too difficult for some people.” Lianna and her husband were named Luciana and Dominic’s godparents, making their friendship even stronger.
“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,” said Nicole of Lianna.
She knew just how lucky she had been to have someone willing to do that for her, and she knew she had to pay it forward.
Wanting to help other couples in a similar situation, Nicole and her husband started campaigning to make surrogacy legal in New York state.
“We have been working with local legislators and Reproductive Specialists of New York to make surrogacy recognized,” wrote her husband, on his Facebook page. Their story soon went public, and they started receiving lots of media attention.
Nicole hoped that the publicity surrounding her case could help give hope to other women who longed to have children.
“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,” stated Nicole. Nicole and her husband continue their activism while enjoying the gift of parenthood.