Lena (40) and Miguel (43)

( girl )

I became a mother only in 40 years. A few years ago I found out I can’t have children. I married Miguel at the age of 26. This is my second marriage. My first marriage fell apart quickly,  and we did not even have time to discuss the possibility of having kids.

For several years we lived for ourselves. He was building his career, and became a team leader in the IT-company. I was engaged in photography and became a sought-after specialist in my city.

Miguel and I paid a loan for the house, traveled a lot and got back on our feet. On my 32nd birthday,  Miguel said he wanted children from me. I said “yes”.

Children were part of our plan, but for some reason of a long-term one.  We even equipped the house bearing in mind the game room. Morally and financially, we were ready, but I had no idea that when we decide to get pregnant, so many problems will occur.

We didn’t prepare much for pregnancy, we didn’t even go to the family doctor. Some couples take pregnancy planning very seriously. Women take vitamins, folic acid, men stick to a diet and so on. We didn’t do any of this.We didn’t even have a thought that pregnancy might not come. Six months later, I didn’t get pregnant, but we were still not worried.  Later I learned that half a year of attempts is a long time for couples over 30 years old.

A year later, we went to see the doctor. Miguel’s spermogram was normal. But results of my tests were horrific: AMH, FSH, estradiol – all below normal. Ultrasound showed that the number of antral follicles is catastrophically small.Diagnosis – low ovarian reserve. Perhaps  I will never be able to give birth. It was a shock. I had a feeling that I was walking along a sunny street, and suddenly fell into the sewer. Everything got dark, incomprehensible, scary. I could not accept my condition. After all, pregnancy is something so simple that is accessible to all women.

It was as if I failed an exam of becoming a real woman.

About a month I was depressed.

And then, with the help of Miguel, I pulled myself together, and we decided to do IVF. We have gone through four IVF cycles – and all were unsuccessful. There were few embryos, fewer good embryos.

For the first time I had a miscarriage on the 8th week, in the following times – the embryos did not attach.

All these procedures took three more years.

Why am I against adoption

Miguel suggested adopting a child, but I was against it. I am not a snob, but I wanted my own child from my husband. I was afraid that I could not be a really good mother for another child. So the idea of surrogate motherhood appeared. I canceled all photo shoots and dived into the Internet for a week. Surrogacy is prohibited in our country. Among the countries where it is allowed, I liked Canada, Kazakhstan and Ukraine because of a good legislative base.  I rejected the Canada option because of the distance, Kazakhstan seemed too exotic. I liked Ukraine because in the birth certificate of the child the names of the biological parents are indicated, and the surrogate mother, by law, has no rights to the child.

Why I chose Ukraine and VittoriaVita

I compared the Ukrainian agencies for the price and range of services that are included in it. By the end of the week I made a list of “finalists” and told my husband. At first Miguel was shocked by my idea, but supported me. We contacted three agencies and eventually chose VittoriaVita. We liked the “Guarantee” program, which guaranteed that  we would get a child under any circumstances. This program stipulates that a donor egg cell is used in the IVF cycle. But we were allowed to include in the contract a clause stating that the first cycle will be carried out with my eggs. If it is unsuccessful, then we use donor.

We flew to Ukraine three times. First – to get acquainted with the surrogate mother and sign a contract. We were examined by a gynecologist, a fertility specialist, a geneticist. Doctors warned that there was almost no chance of getting a healthy embryo using my eggs.I was prescribed  with a stimulation protocol, vitamins, diet, and we flew home.

After a month and a half, we returned to Ukraine. I started taking hormones to stimulate the ovaries while I was still at home, but the last two weeks of stimulation had to be carried out in Ukraine under the supervision of doctors, and then eggs were taken from me. From 7 eggs, only two embryos were created. PGD showed that only one is healthy. It was a girl. She was transferred to a surrogate mother.

We flew away again, we waited at home for the results of the transfer. These 10 days were the longest in my life. Miguel suggested just in case to select an egg donor, but I believed in our child.

August 22, we received a letter. Pregnancy occurred.

I cried with happiness all day, and Miguel too. I called my sister and mother and said: “Can you believe it? Everything worked out!”.

Then there were the long weeks of pregnancy of our surrogate mother.

Once a week, our manager Katya sent us a report on the state of health of the surrogate mother. There were ultrasound results with doctor’s explanations, blood tests, etc. At first, I wrote to Kate almost every day, asking about the details of the procedures and examinations. I think then I annoyed her a bit.

We talked with the surrogate mom on Skype every 2 weeks. She is a wonderful woman. Quite patiently she talked about her condition, about what she eats, what kind of life she leads. At first she was always shy, blushing and stammering all the time, but by the end of the pregnancy we were already communicating freely.

The third time we flew to Ukraine, when there was a week left before the birth.

At this time we often met a surrogate mother and went with her to the survey. The most touching moment happened at the 38th week of pregnancy. We went to CTG to listen to the daughter’s heart. The heartbeat was normal, rhythmic. But when I touched the surrogate mother’s stomach with my hand, my daughter’s heart suddenly began to pound terribly loudly and often, as if she was excited with me. One early morning Katya called us and said that the surrogate mother had  contractions. We rushed to the hospital. During the birth, I was in the ward with the surrogate mother, and Miguel saw the baby after the birth – in the pediatrics department

I will not describe the emotions that we experienced that day. Words can’t express them. This feeling of comprehensive happiness and tranquility.

After discharge, we returned to the apartment provided by the agency. There was already a baby crib and a bath for the baby. We were offered babysitting services. At first, we refused because we thought we could handle it ourselves. But a few sleepless nights later we gave up. They sent us a nanny Nina. She not only helped with the child, but also cooked food. By the way, when we returned home, we also decided to hire a nanny. At the interviews, we subconsciously searched for a woman similar to our wonderful Nina.

After the birth of the baby, we spent a month and a half in Ukraine. During this time, Oleg, a lawyer of VittoriaVita, and Katya helped prepare documents for issuing a travel document for a child, conduct a DNA test for paternity and settle other paperwork.

When it was time to fly home, we felt joy. Our experience with VittoriaVita was excellent, but we were too homesick. In addition, I really wanted to show my daughter to our family.

I would put a high mark for the service in VittoriaVita. Every time we arrived we were met at the airport and taken to the apartment.The apartment was close to the clinic where we were examined, and close to the maternity hospital. The house was spacious, clean, comfortable. Every few days, fresh food was brought to us, and they also gave us lunch cards at a restaurant.

Katya, our translator, was always in touch. She translated documents, advised us museums and restaurants, and was nothing but supportive.

The doctors at the clinic are very pleasant. Almost everyone speaks English.

What I did not like

I want to point out a few downsides. In the hospital, few people spoke English. Life in Kiev as a whole can hardly be called regulated. There is a busy traffic, often traffic jams. We tried not to go anywhere in the morning and around 6:00 p.m. At this time, everyone is going to and from work, so the buses and subways are full. Cashiers in stores, especially in small grocery stores, rarely speak English. We used google translate, but, of course, it is not super-convenient.

Now our baby is 5 months old. She is healthy and gains weight well.

I think that she looks like Miguel, and Miguel says that the baby is just like me.

We are happy that we decided to go through all this. It was a very difficult, but very happy time.