Life Had Other Plans
The Barattinis could not wait to start a family of their own. They always dreamed of becoming parents and providing their children with love and care, but as they were about to find out, it wasn’t going to be that simple.
Not Her Baby
Lianna, 37, and Shaun, 40, both East Moriches, New York locals, always knew they wanted a big family. After tying the knot quite young, the two got to it and already had five kids by the time they reached their late 30’s. However, life took an interesting turn, and when Lianna found out she was pregnant for the sixth time, she could not hide her feelings – especially considering the baby growing in her fetus was not hers. No, the two would not be adding a new member to their family.
Nothing They Wanted More
Nicole and Kevin Barattini, on the other hand, we not as lucky as their friends. The loving married couple, who are close friends with Lianna and Shaun, wanted nothing more than to be able to bring a child into the world, but fate had other plans in stock. Luckily, the heartbreaking reason for their inability to have children was vastly made better by their incredible friend, Lianna, who offered to act as a surrogate for the two people she loved dearly.
Many people turn to a third party that is not involved in their everyday lives, since they would like the procedure to be as business-oriented as possible with no strings attached. However, this was no ordinary arrangement. The four friends wanted to go through every step of the way together. Even their obstetrician, Dr. Richard Klein, explained that he was positively stunned to see how much fun both couples are having, attending check-ups together and feeding on the other’s excitement.
Will It Succeed?
Come July 2016, the couples arrived at the doctor’s office to find out whether the embryo was implanted successfully or not. The results of the ultrasound would determine the rest of their lives, so naturally, they could not be more nervous. The Barattinis had to wrap their heads around the fact that they might receive the news that they are going to be parents for the first time, while the Fives were hoping to hear they were going to be able to reward their friends with the greatest gift of all – family.
Not In The Cards
Back in 2010, Kevin and Nicole walked down the aisle and said their ‘I Do’s,’ vowing to love each other for the rest of their lives. Their next move to Smithton, New York was a calculated one, as they intended on raising a family in the best area they could find. However, after spending years trying to get pregnant, it was time for Nicole and Kevin to come to term with the fact having children might not be in the cards for them after all.
Life Altering Disease
Numerous specialists could not point out towards the problem, but after seemingly endless tests, it became evident that Nicole’s health caused the setback, thus preventing her from conceiving a child naturally. When she was 16, Nicole noticed small bumps were covering her skin all over. Additionally, her eyes turned jaundiced, and she had constant fatigue and high fevers. Her pediatrician came back with her blood results that had alarming findings: she had only 8,000 platelets for every microliter of blood. Ideally, the average adult is expected to have around 145,000.
Hard To Imagine
Kevin and Nicole were not aware that the disorder she had in her youth would not affect her ability to become pregnant, but the devastating prognosis smashed their dreams of becoming a family. Nicole has thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), a condition in which the autoimmune system causes fatal blood clots over the entire body. When initially discovered, doctors explained to Nicole that if something wasn’t done quickly, her life could be in jeopardy. As a result, a teenaged Nicole had to have her plasma changed.
Rare Blood Disease
The rare autoimmune disorder, along with the blood clots (scientifically referred to as thrombi), could have severely damaged Nicole’s heart, brain, kidneys, and nervous system. If left untreated, the mortality rate stands at 95%. The majority of TTP cases appear from the autoantibody-mediated repression of the ADAMTS13 enzyme. ADAMTS13’s catalytic mechanism includes a metal and increases blood glycoprotein in hemostasis. This multiplies platelet adhesion to various areas of endothelial damage, mainly where arterioles and capillaries conjoin, eventually resulting in thrombi formation.
Her Baby’s Life, Or Her Own
Nicole was able to lead a normal life once doctors succeeded to find a suitable medication that significantly improved the disease’s symptoms. For a while, it felt as though Nicole was not sick at all – until she met the man who would soon become her husband, and the two would decide to expand their family. Doctors informed Nicole that TTP medication would hurt the baby if she would ever bear a child, meaning she had to make a choice: her potential baby’s health, or her own.
As if handling the new reality that dawned on her was not hard enough, Nicole now needed to break the news to her husband. Kevin remembers that conversation to this very day: “I got home from work and Nicole had that look on her face like something was wrong and I’m never going to forget it, I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and she said, ‘The doctor doesn’t think we can have children.’ And, you know, nobody wants to hear that.”
“I was able to conceive,” Nicole explained to the press when sharing her personal story. “But I wouldn’t be able to have a healthy pregnancy, and it would result in the death of myself or the baby,” she said, painfully thinking back at the day her whole world flipped upside down. Nicole was aware of the fact her pregnancy was a huge risk for both her own health and the baby’s, but still could not help but feel completely lost and powerless.
Nicole could not handle her emotions when she broke the news to Kevin. The man, who remembered standing at the altar and looked into his then-happy wife’s eyes was not about to agree to speed up the “’till death do us part” bit of his vows. Nicole desperately tried to convince Kevin that she could do this and bear their child, but Kevin was not even willing to negotiate the matter. No way was he going to lose his wife before her time.
Fertility specialists confirmed that Nicole’s condition was not genetic, which was great news. This meant Nicole could produce a healthy baby, one that would not suffer from TTS like its mother. Upon hearing this, Nicole immediately proceeded to freeze her eggs and began researching surrogacy. For the first time in a long time, the Barattinis saw a silver lining and started to feel as though all is not bad after all. But then, when they least expected it, another curveball was thrown their way.
Before they decided to go ahead with the concept and procedure of surrogacy, Kevin and Nicole considered going forward with adoption. The idea of parenting a child that was not biologically theirs did not bother them – they did not even consider it an issue. They just wanted to start a family. However, as they started doing the math, the two realized it might be too financially burdening to go through with adoption, so it was ruled out in favor of surrogacy.
Adoption? Not An Option
It might sound ridiculous, having to spend so much money (if not your entire savings) on giving a lost child a permanent home and taking them in for the rest of their lives, but as a 2016 article proved, the biggest expense is the legal fees that go hand in hand with adoption. Those invested in international adoption also need to take travel expenses into account, not to mention agency fees. Generally speaking, adoption is usually not available for those with lesser means.
Hiring a surrogate would’ve ended up costing Nicole and Kevin approximately $75,000. This astounding sum was way out of reach for the two. Then, they began to contemplate over who they could ask to carry their child. At first, no one came to mind: “We had heard stories that sisters carried and mothers carried [eggs for women who could not carry],” said Nicole, “but I don’t have a sister, and my mother is over the age [to be able to be a carrier].”
Law Was Against Them
Seeing as how the Barattinis lived in New York, and state law prohibits anyone from paying someone to be a surrogate, the Barattinis now had another bump along the road. The offer to have a woman from outside the state as their surrogate quickly came off the table as well, since it would cost a lot more that way. The only conclusion was that it needed to be done within the state, and more importantly, it had to be done for free.
It is not every day that another woman agrees to act as a surrogate for another for no compensation at all, as the method involves a woman who agrees to carry another person’s baby in her body. In the most well-known method, gestational surrogacy, an embryo is created by IVF and implanted into the surrogate. The embryo is created using the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm, meaning that biologically, the baby does not have any genetics from the carrier.
It did not take long for Kevin and Nicole’s friends and family to hear the news about Nicole’s condition and their thought of solution. Much to their surprise, in no time they were swamped with kind gestures and solutions from all over. Outpouring support came from those close to the couple – some even offered to carry their embryo. “[It was] crazy to see how many people stepped up to the plate,” said Nicole. Despite the number of offers, unfortunately, all deemed unfit after undergoing tests.
Not Going To Happen
Nicole’s friend, Lianna, was one of the many people who heard about Nicole’s problem. She could not get it out of her mind and desperately wanted to come to her help, but also asserted that it would be best to offer to be a surrogate after she was done having children of her own. Having only just given birth to her second child when she heard about Nicole’s situation, Lianna was not done expanding her family, seeing as how both she and her husband wanted a big family.
The precise medical tests that potential gestational carriers have to go through are extremely meticulous and intensive. The reason behind this is that it’s important for the examiners to make sure that the woman in question is in faultless, peak health and fitness. Many women are turned away from the process due to being unable to meet physical standards, but mental state is also a significant variable. Carriers must be assessed psychologically to make sure that they’re stable as well as in the right state of mind for the procedure.
Misery Loves Company
It was not until that one fateful night in December 2015 that everything was about to change. Kevin and Nicole met up with their good friends, Lianna and Shaun Fives, and told them about their struggles to keep faith about the future when there was no glimpse of hope suggesting they would ever become parents. Kevin and Nicole were looking for company and a few kind comments to keep their spirits high, nothing more. But then the Fives told them what they really think.
I Want More
Lianna kept a straight face as she listened to her good friend talk about giving up on the idea of having children. After a while of not saying a single word, finally, Lianna let everyone know what was on her mind. “Lianna goes, ‘You know I have five children, Shawn, and I want to have maybe one or two more,'” said Kevin, playing that moment back in his head. “And [Nicole and I] looked at each other with a puzzled look, like, ‘You have five kids, why would you want any more?’
Kevin remembered feeling completely confused by Lianna’s words, which was evident on his and his wife’s faces that night, as well. Lianna, who noticed her friends’ perplexed expressions, quickly explained what she meant, saying: ‘No, not for me, for you guys – I’d like to carry a child.’ There was no need to ask Lianna to repeat those words – Kevin and Nicole would remember them for the rest of their lives. “The two of us, just forget about it. We just, we all started crying,” said Kevin.
It Broke My Heart
When asked about what made Lianna come to the conclusion that she was willing to be a surrogate for her closest friends, Lianna revealed it was a decision that was made from the bottom of her heart – and one she did not need to think over. “I was blessed to have five kids and they are all amazing,” she said, “and I couldn’t picture my life without them. And to see this family so deserving, it broke my heart.”
Creating A Life
Little did Kevin and Nicole know that, in fact, Lianna had been thinking about becoming a surrogate for quite some time – to be accurate, since the birth of her fifth child in June 2015. Lianna loved feeling she was creating life, but having five children took a strain on hers as they demanded a lot of time and effort. Therefore, when she brought the idea to Shawn, he was quickly on board, despite her condition that he would help out more with the five children they already have.
Every Step Of The Way
Hearing Lianna’s selfless offer to help them bring a child into the world, Nicole and Kevin were completely stunned. They immediately promised to be with her every step of the way. Lianna underwent many medical tests and ended up acing every single one of them. Doctors were thrilled that a suitable match was found, which made room for going through legal procedures. Once everything was by the book, it was time to plant the embryos. Although all seemed right, there was no guarantee it was going to work.
Results Were Out
The weeks-long wait to find out if the procedure work felt like forever for the couples. There was no denying how optimistic Kevin and Nicole felt, but after waiting for so long and having this one shot, it was hard not to feel the pressure. The two also did as much as they could to assure Lianna that no matter the outcome, they will always thank her for her willingness to provide them with a family. Weeks later, the results were out.
Everyone was devastated to find out the pregnancy test came out negative. The doctors, on the other hand, told them not to give up hope, as they intended on planting more embryos, seeing as how they had a genuine chance of taking. Despite the disappointing news from before, the two couples decided to cling onto the positive vibes they were fed by the doctors and pray for the best outcome. The procedures were redone, and in a couple of weeks, the news finally came.
There is no way to describe the overwhelming feelings that came over all present in the room when the Barattinis and Fives were given the news that not only was Lianna pregnant – she was pregnant with twins. The Barattinis were overcome with emotion; they could not believe that after all this time, finally, they were going to be given the opportunity to be parents, provide their children with endless love and care and have the family they always dreamt of having.
Breaking The News
After making sure there was no risk in the pregnancy, the four decided it was time to share their amazing news with their families and closest friends. Shawn and Lianna also needed to explain to their children why their mommy was about to be pregnant, but they would not be gaining more siblings. They unanimously decided that during Labor Day weekend, they would announce their news at a joint party. Over 60 guests were present as the four explained the party was actually a celebration of life and friendship.
Meet Dominic And Luciana
On February 10th, 2017, Lianna gave birth to two beautiful babies, a boy, and a girl. First-time parents Kevin and Nicole Barattini named their new offsprings Dominic and Luciana. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Lianna introduced the babies she gave birth to to their biological parents. The Barattinis were bursting with pride. Kevin told the press that “It’s probably the most amazing thing because you think it’s the end of the road, now here we are with two beautiful children.”
When it came to naming the kids’ godparents, there was no question who Nicole and Kevin were going to choose. Lianna and Shaun are more than good friends to the Barattinis. Nicole put it best, saying: “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.” As for Nicole’s condition with TTP, she is now stable and on the right medication. But Nicole and Kevin wanted more.
Finding it such a struggle to bring children into the world, Nicole and Kevin decided it was their time to give back and help others in a similar situation. They wanted to push forward on making surrogacy legal, so Kevin wrote in a Facebook post that: “We have been working with local legislators and [infertility specialists] Reproductive Specialists of New York to make surrogacy recognized in New York State. That being said, we are happy that our story went public to help others in the time of need.”
All They Ever Wanted
Nicole also voiced her thoughts: “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.” Indeed, if it was not for the selfless gesture on behalf of Lianna, the two would have probably stayed childless for the rest of their lives. To this day, Nicole and Kevin continue to petition to make surrogacy legal – and dedicate every waking moment to let their children know just how loved they are.