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The Gift of Surrogacy, Baby Kaitlyn’s Altruism Story

The Gift of Surrogacy, Baby Kaitlyn’s Altruism Story

Tiffany Straub and her husband, Jonathan, spent 14 years of their marriage trying to conceive and grow their family. In 2006, the couple embarked on a long journey of trying several fertility treatments with no success.

“First we tried clomiphene, which is a medication that can help induce ovulation, and that was followed by numerous other treatments,” Tiffany says. “We also tried in vitro fertilization (IVF), but had to cancel treatment because we wouldn’t get enough follicles needed from egg retrieval. It wasn’t until years later that we discovered I have premature ovarian failure.”

Premature ovarian failure occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before age 40. Most women have a natural decrease in fertility when they are around 40 years old, but premature ovarian failure causes reduced fertility much younger—sometimes as early as the teen years.

Tiffany and her husband decided to continue with IVF, but this time with donated eggs. They flew to a fertility specialist in New York for an embryo transfer. Two attempts failed.

“We felt like giving up,” Tiffany says. “There were two donor embryos left, but we didn’t want to transfer them because clearly, I couldn’t get pregnant. We took some time to pause and consider if we should try again or re-donate the healthy eggs.”

A Life-Changing Offer

Kaitlyn Kelly, RN, BSN, MSN, a labor and delivery nurse at Altru and full-time educator in the nursing program at the University of North Dakota, met Tiffany as a nursing student. She shadowed Tiffany before becoming a fellow nurse in the Labor and Delivery department. Tiffany was open with her workmates about her fertility struggles and Kaitlyn had followed Tiffany’s infertility journey for quite some time.

Kaitlyn and her husband decided their family was complete after the birth of their first daughter. But Kaitlyn loved being pregnant.

“I have been in awe of pregnancy and birth my whole life, which is why I went into the labor and delivery field,” Kaitlyn says. “The thought of only experiencing it once made me sad, even though we were done having children. I thought surrogacy was a way to be pregnant again while fulfilling Tiffany’s wish for a child.”

Kaitlyn carefully considered surrogacy for a long time before bringing it up to Tiffany in January of 2020.

“I didn’t take her seriously at first,” Tiffany says. “Many people in the past offered to be a surrogate, but then when you get in the nitty-gritty of it, they decided it wasn’t for them. But Kaitlyn’s offer was serious. She wanted to be pregnant again and thought I deserved this opportunity.” They met for dinner to discuss emotional boundaries, hopes, and expectations for the relationship before deciding to start the process.

Plans stalled with the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. But once there was a lull in early summer, both couples jumped headfirst into this new journey. On September 1, 2020, they completed an embryo transfer.

Welcoming Baby Kaitlyn

Tiffany and Jonathan were able to experience every step of the pregnancy. They went to all the appointments and ultrasounds. Kaitlyn graciously welcomed them into her life and kept the couple informed throughout the entire process.

On May 11, baby Kaitlyn was born. There was a buzz on the obstetrics floor. Both couples crowded in the room to offer support and be a part of the birth. Tiffany held baby Kaitlyn to her chest while Jonathan cut the umbilical cord.

“It was the most amazing moment of my life,” Tiffany says. “I bawled. It was the best gift anyone could give. We are so in love with our daughter.”

Despite normal pregnancy challenges and diving into the uncharted territory of surrogacy, Kaitlyn feels privileged to be a part of the journey.

“My daughter is my whole world, and getting to bring a child into someone else’s life makes me so proud,” Kaitlyn says. “Watching them feel the baby kick, marvel at the ultrasounds and squeal at the heartbeats made it all worth it. It was wonderful to have an intimate look at a couple becoming parents and finally holding their baby close. It also renewed my passion for labor and delivery and gave me more empathy for my patients.”

Learn more about our amazing labor and delivery team at Altru.