To Our Gestational Carrier,

L is for the way you look at me, O is for the only one I see, V is very very extraordinary, E is even more than anyone that you adore can love….

Yes, we start most days singing, and this song is always a part of our repertoire.  We have our own crazy version of the old show, Name That Tune.  While it happens organically, it just takes one word, or even a sound and John and I will both break into song, more often than not, the exact same one.  While you may hear someone grunting to put on their shoes or stand up from a chair, John and I hear it as the opening beat to Michael Jackson’s, Billie Jean.  

Our taste in music is as eclectic and diverse as we are as individuals.  I can and will watch the same movie countless times, the ones my mom and I refer to as “oldies but goodies”, where my love prefers to always watch something new.  Similarly, I love my “usuals” when it comes to food, whereas John is adventurous and rarely will order the same meal twice.  I am able to judge how good my food tastes by the amount of dancing that John does while he eats it.  

While at the moment our home is physically filled with only the two of us and our plethora of gorgeous plants, it is a home filled with an abundance of love, laughter, and good food.  Did I mention cookies?  Lots and lots of cookies.  The kitchen is made for two things in our home, cooking and dancing!  John is an excellent dancer, and while I can hold my own, I like to bust out into the robot or some crazy dance like Elaine from Seinfeld just to watch John shake his head in disbelief, and both of us to erupt in laughter.  

We complement each other well as John is a visionary, passionate about the big picture, while I artfully tend to the details.  Our differences are vast and if we were less mature people would drive each other                  up a spiked wall.  With that said, we respect the other’s boundaries and limitations and craft our energy and focus on the similar pillars of our foundation.  Family, faith and love instilled in us by our own families hold us firmly together.  When we are not working you can find us researching our roots through ancestry searches and building out our family tree, nurturing our many wonderful plants, going for walks, connecting with family and friends, being silly on FaceTime with our niece and nephew, and when able, escaping to the beach.  

There were many things that attracted me to John.  The one that topped the list was and still does is John’s relationship and parenting style with his son, Jon, now 24 and his daughter, Amariah, now 16.  While states separate them physically, his presence in their lives was and is something truly special.  Whether it is role playing with Jon to help him prepare for professional interviews or being Amariah’s muse as she practices her make-up and nail polish skills on him (it is quite the look), he is available to and encourages his children in every way possible.  I am blessed to have a wonderful relationship with Jon and Amariah.  

John has the rare and beautiful ability to articulate what is on his heart and mind.  He will pause whatever he may be doing just to tell me how proud he is of me, why he loves me, and to thank me deeply for things that so many would simply take for granted.  When we lost our son to miscarriage, I was able to take the lead in putting together our memory box for him filled with a rosary, a small stuffed animal, pictures from our ultrasounds, a onsie that we received as a gift, and a handmade hat which I crocheted for him.  John was able to beautifully express our love for him and to one another during a small ceremony we had for our son with a balloon send off.  He was able to take all the emotions that filled my heart and at the same time left it empty and articulate them so well.  That is my love.  

John grew up the youngest of four siblings, and the only boy.  An avid reader and lover of poetry, he usually had a book in hand and excelled at playing football and as a hurdler.  He loved being outside in nature and still does today.  His father is his family’s foundation.  Watching his father teach the Gospel and pour himself into study and service served as John’s blueprint.  His mother nurtured unity through a home-cooked  meal.  Food for his family represented a celebration of coming together, a moment to reunite.  Food was a whole love language.    

John has spent a lifetime serving others.  Whether as a boy in his church, or as an adult in his previous careers as a corrections officer and firefighter.  Now, owning his own business in the fitness industry, he blends his love of service and his strong desire to build community, helping people find balance of mind, body and spirit.  One may consider John like that of a griot.  He is passionate about preserving his family genealogy and oral traditions.  He believes that knowing where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished aids in the surety of where we are going.  

I am also the youngest of three siblings.  Being the youngest, I idolized my sister and brother who in many ways helped shape me into who I am today.  My mother is the youngest of eleven siblings, and my father the oldest of six.  As such, I experienced the blessings of having a large, close-knit family.  Ours was the home, while modest, where everyone loved to congregate whether it be sitting around the kitchen table playing cards and sharing stories, or being outside for a game of wiffleball, basketball or bocce ball.  It was a place where everyone was welcome, and where so many family memories have been made.  In my family, regardless of what life has in store, one thing has always been abundantly clear to my siblings and me, that we are unconditionally loved.   

In my two-plus decades as an Occupational Therapist, I specialized in pediatrics.  Serving children and their families was my privilege and passion. Working in the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units as well as treating in the outpatient setting provided me with the opportunity to impact lives of wonderful and diverse families in meaningful ways; many of whom keep in touch today.  Teaching new parents how to hold and feed their premature infants, comforting caregivers as I help their children relearn skills following complicated surgeries, and filling families with hope for their children who were born with debilitating anomalies are a few of the ways I was fortunate to serve.  I am now a manager for my department within an academic medical center and get to impact lives in different ways.  I also recently started my own side business as a communications strategist and leadership consultant.  

John and I are both transplants to Maryland.  I moved from MA in 2001 and John from NC in 2010.  We met in 2013 when I accepted free personal training sessions included in my new membership to the gym where John worked. In the first few minutes of us meeting, we were both less than excited about working together.  However, that quickly changed.  After each training session, we found ourselves sitting and talking for hours at a time, often laughing to the point of tears, most often at our outstanding differences.  Fast forward 8 years and we are happily married creating our life together.  

Marrying later in life, we found ourselves having to turn to a fertility specialist to start our family.  Our journey began with Shady Grove Fertility in 2018.  We were blessed to conceive in January of 2019.  The next several weeks were the most amazing of our lives.  At the start of our second trimester in a call from our doctor, we found out that we were having a son.  After a short pause, we were then informed that he had Trisomy 21.  Our emotions quickly ran through that of joy, acceptance and concern, as I knew from my career the significant medical challenges and surgeries our son would likely have to endure.  Our lives were forever changed at our second OB appointment scheduled with the purpose of being able to hear our son’s heartbeat for the first time. Our OB confirmed that there was no heartbeat and we had lost our son.  The next morning, I had surgery to remove him from my womb.  There are no words to express the pain and sorrow that we felt and still feel to this day.  While we never got to hear his heartbeat, his few short months in my womb changed our hearts and lives forever.  

Once my body healed from the surgery, we reconnected with Shady Grove and began the process of IVF.  While our first retrieval did not yield any viable embryos, on our second retrieval we were blessed to have three genetically sound embryos for implantation.  We were elated and could not wait to start our family.  This however, turned out to be the beginning of a long process as we would later find out that the removal of our son from my womb left my uterus with scar tissue, preventing my lining from thickening to receive our embryos.  

Over the course of 26 months, I had numerous surgeries, several cancelled cycles where my lining would not thicken, multiple biopsies and a third retrieval which did not produce any viable embryos.  During that 26-month period, we were able to move forward with two frozen embryo transfers, one in 2020 and one in 2021.  Sadly, both were unsuccessful, leaving us with one precious embryo.

While we so deeply wanted to experience pregnancy together as we were so privileged to do for a short time with our son, we now know that we must find a gestational carrier to bring our precious little one into this world.   

Surrogacy for us begins with the diligent search for the right person.  It is our belief that the right person is currently reading this letter.  What we want to tell you is that we are grateful for your selflessness and willingness to help us start our family.  Through your sacrifice we will be able to manifest our hearts desire.  

We have taken this search seriously, with great care, and we know that with our pregnancy, you will do the same.  It is our belief that as this search has been laborious, and in some ways scary for us, you may be feeling the same way.  We want you to know that we will support you in any way that is needed during this journey.  What we deeply want to convey is that this is our life’s purpose.  We are dedicated to this journey and we will be faithful to your care upon it. 

Through all of the challenges we have faced on this journey, we have not wavered in our desire to bring our sweet baby into this world and start our family.  We have strengthened our ability to adapt, to live in the affirmative, practice gratitude and support one another through all things.  

Admittedly, attaching the right words to our current emotions is an arduous task.  We are filled with gratitude and a strong faith that as we’re searching for you, you are also currently searching for us. 

With Gratitude,

John & Cate

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