Three heartbreaking years trying to become parents ended in overwhelming joy for a US couple who have welcomed two daughters born just five weeks apart – one using IVF and the other via a surrogate.
Nancy and Justin Rohde endured four failed IVF cycles and the devastation of a surrogate miscarrying and not wanting to try again.
“I got to a point where I had Justin change my Facebook password because I knew it would break me to see all these people my age with kids,” Nancy tells Cosmopolitan.
“We should have been right there with them. It just destroys your soul.”
Not ready to give up, the pair met Ashley Brown, a mum of three who had long thought she would like to help make the baby dreams of a worthy couple come true.
“I’ll be honest, it was uncomfortable. I wasn’t pregnant yet and I was still struggling with the idea that I wasn’t going to be. It’s like you’re giving up that dream of carrying a baby,” Nancy says.
“But we liked that Ashley is a very chill person. We’re very type-A and intense at times.”
At the same time as Ashley began taking steps to carry their baby, Nancy and Justin decided to try IVF again.
Nancy fell pregnant, but doctors didn’t hold much hope for a happy ending so the couple pushed ahead with the surrogacy, believing Ashley was their best chance of having a baby.
Five weeks later, they received the exciting news Ashley was also pregnant.
Ashley admits feeling more nervous about Nancy’s delivery than her own.
“I was just so excited and nervous for her. When I got the text that Lillian was here, it was like, ‘ok, one healthy baby down, I got to get them the second’,” Ashley says.
Nancy gave birth to a healthy daughter, Lillian Quinn, but Nancy suffered serious complications, including a torn placenta, anaemia, and preeclampsia.
“In those first few days, I was totally out of it,” Nancy says.
“I think Justin even said to my mum, ‘should I be worried that Nancy’s not bonding with the baby?’. I do not remember her first few days.”
When Ashley delivered the couple’s second daughter, Audrey Eleanor, Nancy says the experience was nothing like she had imagined.
“I bonded quicker with Audrey than Lilly because I was so sick after Lilly,” she says.
“It went the complete opposite way that I expected it would.”
Audrey’s delivery was also beautifully captured by Sweetly Cherished Photography.
Nancy says they will be open with the girls on how they came into the world and she was keen to stay in close contact with Ashley and her family.
“Some intended parents and surrogates don’t really want a relationship afterward, but we and Ashley definitely do,” she says.
Raising two babies is not so tricky. Spare a thought for the couple who adopted triplets – and then found out they were pregnant with twins!