Update 1/5/2015 our surrogate has offered to donate her eggs so we do not have to go through IVF treatment at a clinic. We have agreed so this has bought down the amount needed quite considerably.
It's a bit of a long story but here goes. I was just 19 when my infertility nightmare started. That was when I had my first ectopic pregnancy. 2nd April 1999. I was 20 minutes away from death and I was 13 weeks pregnant. I will never forget that day. Unfortunately after the surgery I wasn't cleaned out properly and I had masses of adhesions form and they twisted what remained of my ovary and tube and they stuck to my bladder and bowel. Consequently after getting over the surgery I started to black out every time I bent over as the blood supply was being cut off. From the date I had my first ectopic to the date I had my second ectopic pregnancy on May 1st 2002 I had six laparoscopies and another open surgery. With the first ectopic I had to have an open surgery then too. When I found out I was pregnant again I prayed and prayed that the second pregnancy would not be an ectopic. I did a pregnancy test on the Friday went to the hospital that night and I had bloods taken to measure the HCG levels then I was sent home the next day to await my fate. It was the following Tuesday before I heard and yes my HCG levels had dissipated. I was gutted. I was on the pill the whole time none of the pregnancies were planned but would have been wanted.I was married to my first husband and I was also going through a rather unhappy time at the time. Maybe it was God's way of not bringing a child into that environment. To this day I still search for reasons as to why it happened. After the second ectopic I tried to get on with life. You have to don't you? Between 2003 and 2005 I had 5 miscarriages. I never told my ex-husband about these, I passed the pregnancies as you do down the toilet. I was only very early pregnant with each miscarriage but I knew from the reaction I had received from the previous pregnancies there was no point. We were not happy together any way by that point. He never wanted kids you see hence why I was on contraception but I still kept falling pregnant. I apparently didn't need counselling. I never got to have a funeral for my first baby from the ectopic, if you have ever seen a 13 week foetus there is no denying it is a baby and not a sac! I had a priest come around at the hospital but I never received her remains so her ashes were scattered in hospital grounds which is the usual thing to do apparently. Moving on through the years I eventually plucked up the courage to walk away from him and the very unhappy marriage in February of 2005. I filed for divorce. I was 25 and had been with him for nine years.
Well just five months later my life changed forever. I met my now husband and true soul mate James. The picture is of us on our wedding day. I was scared to take the leap but we got married 28th July 2007 - two years to the day; almost.
So of course we wanted our own family. I had told James of my fertility troubles when we met and we knew we would face it all together. It didn't work. I had to have further surgery on my ovaries as I developed Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I was in and out of hospital dealing with that and other health troubles and I was diagnosed with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the very unhappy marriage and the child loss, ectopics and the surgeries.
In 2006 I was diagnosed with the painful condition Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I found out that contraception doesn't work in some women with Fibromyalgia, no one really knows why. Health wise things just kept snowballing and it felt I wasn't in control of anything.
Around the same time we both lost people very close to us. I lost my grandad and James lost his beloved great aunt in 2007. He called her "auntie" she had basically bought him up because he did not have a good relationship with his family. He was so upset by it and of course losing my grandad just the year before it just didn't help matters. James was left a substantial inheritance by auntie but because of our health deteriorating and we went down to one income within the first six months we had to start living off that inheritance. We could not or would not claim benefits due to the amount but it is amazing how quickly the money dwindles when you have to start living off it. We also used some to get married which was already booked by the time it looked like I was going to get finished from work on medical grounds. We used some to take a couple of holidays and the washing machine and television and hoover all packed up on us. We also had to move house 4 times because the landlords decided to sell or move back in themselves due to the start of the economic downturn so it was truly one thing after another. We had to live off the inheritance for everything including car repairs and paying rent, council tax, electricity, gas etc etc..... EVERYTHING! When James was made redundant twice we were thankful we had that money to live off but we were sad too because we were having to use a nest egg we had been given. You might think why are we telling you this? Well we are telling you because we have some vindictive and nasty family members who will probably come out and say; "well they had this inheritance they do not need the money so shouldn't be running this fundraiser!" Well sadly we have not had any contact with them since 2008 so they know nothing about our lives or what we had to do to be able to live. Its a part of our lives that we are telling you about to be as clear and honest as possible but do not wish to air our dirty laundry so to speak as that should and will stay private. It is true what they say "you can choose your friends and not your family!". It is amazing how quickly the savings you have dwindle when forced to live off them. There are many people out there who would testify to that. It was just circumstances constantly changing and not always for the better but it happens to everyone and we are no different. In an ideal world we would have the money and would not have to turn to crowd-funding to raise some of the money and we would not have to put our private life out there and it would remain private. Plus there was the fact that throughout those years until 2010 I could still get pregnant and did not think there would ever be a chance we would have to look into surrogacy. In fact the words surrogacy and fundraising had never even come up! That is all a part of our past which everyone has and this is looking to our future. Sadly by 2009/10 the money had all gone and we had less than the savings limit so we had to start claiming benefits which incidentally we do not like doing but that at the moment is another part of our life. So we have digressed a bit let's get back on track.
So by 2008 I had been diagnosed with OsteoArthritis too and I had to give up work and start walking with a walking stick. I was 27. My husband, James was also having health troubles too. He got up one morning and immediately fell to the floor. He had lost all use of his legs. After having tests he was told discs in his back had crumpled and he needed major back surgery. It was difficult but we got through it. We had a further blow when on holiday in Scotland in September 2008 I had another miscarriage. That made 6 miscarriages and two ectopic pregnancies and yes you guessed it (or not) I was on contraception. In some ways this hurt more than the others because it was with my soul mate. We were distraught.
After this time my periods were getting heavier and heavier. We went to the hospital to see about having IVF but we were in for a shock. Because of the Fibromyalgia etc and having to give up work and being put on all sorts of medication my weight had ballooned and my BMI was too high. Okay so you say lose weight. That's fine but I cannot exercise in the same way other people can, so it's very hard to lose weight. The hospital's solution was to blackmail me, ( at least that's how it feels even to this day) I was told if you have your stomach taken out we will put you on the list for IVF. I was angry and went to the papers. I was in two papers and was on the radio talking about it. The reason for doing that is because you can become desperate when you want a baby and people who have ever gone through the painful process of infertility will understand where I am coming from, that desperation will make you do anything and having your stomach taken out is about as drastic as it can get and it's morally wrong to give an ultimatum to a person who desperately wants a family.
Consequently the IVF route was a no go. Disappointments just kept coming. We felt like we were living under a black cloud that constantly rained on us.
I was getting no relief from my bad periods, I was in so much pain I would be on the floor and was on pain medication galore. I was also losing so much blood I was very drained. The pain started two weeks before my due date so it was a constant thing. I was having ultrasound scans and tests galore and in 2009 I was told the only option was to have a radical total hysterectomy. My world fell apart.
My gynae wanted to put it off to see if I could lose the weight to enable me to have IVF. It didn't work out well. Over that following 6-8 months things got so bad that it was decided I needed the hysterectomy sooner rather than later. I was booked in for Wednesday 6th October 2010. I dreaded it because everything was going to be so final. I remember a few days before the surgery I went into a department store to pick up a few bits and had to walk through the baby department. I just froze and started stroking a baby quilt and looking at all the clothes and cribs etc. I ended up in tears and James had to take me back to the car.
It was the hardest decision of my life agreeing to the hysterectomy I didn't want it but was left with no choice. I was just 31. The hysterectomy itself nearly had to be abandoned my insides were so bad but two gynaecologists battled through and removed a two and a half stone mass. It was a hard recovery process and I got infections in the wound but eventually I got there.
Three months after the operation a lady came forward on Facebook and said she would carry our baby for us. We were of course thrilled but it didn't pan out as she fell pregnant herself.
Happy for her but sad for us. Then a year further on another friend came forward and said she would carry our baby and we spoke about it for two years before we decided to go ahead. We all agreed it was time but every month she would cancel on us. She was cruel and well cut a long story short it didn't happen.
We then watched Giuliana and Bill Rancic go through surrogacy and all we kept saying was "why won't it happen for us?" We are so despondent not helped by people all around us having babies. We are, of course happy for them but it deepens our hurt and disappointment.
So we then said what about fostering and adoption? We have a lovely home and lots of love to give. We were gutted when they said no due to my being on morphine based drugs. It is an awful process to go through and the politics involved by social services makes it a more unhealthy process in our opinion. I am currently in the process of withdrawing from them to try other new things. It's hard because if we could get pregnant our children wouldn't be taken from us but because of the politics surrounding the fact it is someone else's child they said no.
We have found our surrogate who is a wonderful lady and we are looking forward to working together eventually. (Hopefully)
So here we are today asking for your help. You may think it is begging, fair enough, you have your opinion but we ask you this: how many times do you give to the Air Ambulance, BHF, Cancer Research, RSPCA, PDSA, need I go on? Do you think those places are begging? Hand on heart honestly if not, then why should it be different for us or anyone else like us fundraising for a cause? We know it's a lot of money and in an ideal world we would fund it all ourselves and keep our private life private and like we said we are doing all we can to raise money ourselves and put money in ourselves and we know things are tight for a lot of people. Like stated previously we are putting our own money in too from holding fundraiser auctions selling stuff we do not use etc.... Its about working together and raising awareness for surrogacy and the like to stop it being such a taboo subject. This way we could reach our goal and the dream of being able to watch our baby sleep at night become closer to happening. You can see where we are coming from. For those of you with children, look at them now and ask yourself what would you do if they were not with you and you never had the chance to have them. How would you feel? Times that by a million and maybe you would have an idea of how we feel. Just one baby. Is it really too much to ask? The reason the amount is so high is because having to have the donor egg IVF is around £6000 plus the surrogates expenses. It is a minefield and we are learning every day. Looking at Surrogacy UK their website suggests fees are anything between £7,000-15,000. We have to go for the top estimate just in case. We are not against going through a private arrangement you just get scared of being bitten. We are only human. Also gofundme take 5% as their fee which is a small fee to be honest as well as paypal taking their usual fees but again it is a small price to pay to get us where we want to be. We just want to be as clear as possible on where money goes etc. The minimum donation through this page is £5. We are aware that is a lot of money so please feel free to donate any amount through our own website at www.ourjourneytosurrogacy.weebly.com
You can see their website at; www.surrogacyuk.org
I have at this moment in time had 16 operations in 15 years.
We would also like to point out that being disabled doesn't mean you are incapable. There are millions of disabled parents out there why should we be vilified for wanting the same? I have had counselling for my losses but it never changes your yearning for a baby. People have said we will be using their taxes to bring our child up. (If we are lucky enough) wrong! We pay taxes! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and there is no right or wrong but it is easy for people to become judgemental when they know nothing about a situation. You heard the phrase "walk a mile in my shoes?"
If you have got this far, thank you for reading our story. What we can promise is that any monies donated, apart from being eternally grateful, we can promise that any monies received will go for the purpose of the surrogacy. If we don't reach our goal then we will donate the monies to another couple or couples to help them reach their dreams. Likewise, if we do reach our goal any monies left over will also be donated to another couple to help them reach their dream. We are also happy to answer any questions.
Lastly, we would like to say that this is hard for us asking for people to donate and going to newspapers and tv but we may never reach goal by ourselves. We are very private people who don't divulge our private life and problems. We are very honest people and will do as we say, our integrity means everything but above all if we are successful and end up with our baby that baby will be loved and worshipped.
Thank you for reading
Jo and James
Disclaimer: Everything on this website is true to the best of our knowledge. Dates and times may differ slightly due to not always being able to remember clearly but this is not done to mislead anyone.