This story began with the tragic death of Brooke’s firstborn 15 years ago. Trevor was born a beautiful and seemingly healthy baby boy in April of 1999. It soon became apparent that something was drastically wrong. He had a very rare genetic disorder. Nonketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH) is an inherited condition in which the body is unable to breakdown and process some of the building blocks of protein (amino acids). His body began shutting down. Within two weeks, he was gone.
Brooke and her husband, Bucky, began counseling with genetic doctors about how this would affect future pregnancies. They had a 1 in 4 chance of having a perfectly healthy baby without the disorder; they had a 1 in 4 chance of having a baby with the same symptoms as Trevor and they had a 50% chance of having a baby that would carry the disorder, passing it on to future generations.
This was a lot of information to take in even as you are mourning the death of your newborn son.
A few years after Trevor’s death, doctors found something suspicious on Brooke’s fallopian tubes that concerned them enough to suggest that she have them both removed.
This was devastating news. Brooke has always wanted a baby. This has been her life-dream. After the surgery, Brooke and Bucky began the process of looking into in-vitro fertilization as a means of fulfilling their heart’s desire.
It has been a long and expensive 10 year process. Not only did they need to go through the normal in-vitro procedure of extracting eggs from Brooke’s ovaries and fertilizing them with Bucky’s sperm but because of the NKH disorder they also needed to have every fertilized egg tested for any genetic imperfection. She has been through the process of having the fertilized eggs implanted several times but only to be disappointed.
Earlier this year, Brooke was implanted once again. Her hopes were high, even though this time her body was reacting to the hormones that were administered to prepare her for pregnancy. Her blood pressure spiked dangerously high to the point that she was bed-ridden.
The pregnancy did not take. Again, Brooke was devastated.
It is at this point that a miracle occurred.
Our youngest daughter, Elisha, volunteered to carry a baby for Brooke and Bucky.
Elisha is married with 2 young children of her own. This offer would certainly present its own set of challenges for her and her family; but she and her husband had talked and prayed about it and felt that this was what they needed to do.
After having so many physical difficulties with the last attempt at pregnancy and realizing that time was running out both because of age and because there were only 2 fertilized eggs left; Brooke accepted the generous and life-changing offer.
So began the process of preparing for surrogate pregnancy. There were conversations with counselors, lawyers and doctors. Elisha began the stringent physical preparation in order to be able to carry a child that was not her own. The in-vitro fertilization process worked and Elisha has just passed her first trimester of pregnancy. We are expecting a healthy little girl to join the Merrell-Fish family in April of 2015.
A sister’s bond is close, but there is no way to describe the closeness and intimacy that occurs when one sister gives such a gift of sacrificial love to another. This is a miracle on so many levels. I have watched Elisha find her voice as she has taken on this life-altering challenge. I have watched Brooke grow in faith, as she struggles to overcome the fear of disappointment; allowing herself to rest in this gift of extravagant grace. It is our Christmas miracle.
And so, this Christmas, as the Merrell family celebrates a sister’s gift of love, I pray that we all look for ways to love extravagantly.
Love is the greatest gift we can give to another, and life is the greatest gift of all.
Although all financial obligations of the in-vitro process are fully paid for, Brooke and Bucky still need to raise $5000.00 in order to fulfill legal surrogacy obligations for the state of N.C. and pay medical costs surrounding the pregnancy.
Thank you in advance. May you and yours experience the miracle of God’s extravagant love and grace this Christmas season and always.
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