Misty Baker is still weeks from giving birth, but this Mother’s Dayis going to be one to remember. She turned to a surrogate after battling with infertility for a decade, and now Baker and her surrogate are both pregnant with twins.
In other words, Baker and her husband, Brian, both 35, are going from zero babies to four babies overnight.
The unexpected turn of events has made headlines around the globe, with many people shaking their heads and asking whether the Kirkland, Wash., couple got more than they asked for.
“When I tell people, they say, ‘Are you freaked out?’ They are just flabbergasted,” Brian Baker said.
But the couple could not be happier.
“When it’s taken you 10 years to get what you have longed for and desired for so long, it’s an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness and joy,” Misty said.
And they feel especially blessed to have a special friend like Amber Pluckebaum as their surrogate. Without her, Misty said, none of this would be possible.
But before we get to Amber, let’s go back to the beginning. Misty and Brian met through their church in Indiana when they were still in high school and started dating their senior year. Misty met Amber during a Christian mission to Ghana. There, the two became best friends. Misty and Brian married when they were 20, and Amber would also go on to marry -- coincidentally a man named Brian. The couples envisioned a future where their children would grow up together.
That did not happen.
Amber had two children. But the Bakers tried again and again without success and ultimately underwent in vitro fertilization, Brian Baker said.
Each month, Misty would think, “Is this the month?” The disappointment was crushing. The miscarriage was devastating.
They considered adoption, but they said they were deterred by state laws in Indiana that grant birth mothers wide latitude to change their minds after the adoption has taken place. “I just couldn’t go through that,” Misty said.
The couple decided they needed a change of scenery and moved to a new home outside of Seattle where Brian got a job as a software architect for a boutique company. Facing a pile of medical bills, the couple adopted a "no-debt” lifestyle.
In the back of their minds they had one last, final course of action: Finding a surrogate. But before taking that step, they continued to get their financial house in order and shore up their savings. "We needed time to recoup emotionally, financially and physically and get our minds back off baby-making before we did that.”
But when that time came, Amber offered to become the Bakers’ gestational carrier.
Last September, the Bakers returned to Indiana. Six of Misty’s eggs were fertilized with Brian’s sperm.
On Oct. 13, while friends and family crowded the medical facility’s waiting room, two of the embryos were planted inside Amber. The remaining four were planted inside Misty in what would be her absolute last-ditch effort to get pregnant on her own. “It was my final attempt to try,” she said. “I really wanted to be able to carry my own children. But I felt like in my heart of hearts that I really wasn’t going to get pregnant.”
The Bakers prayed for at least one baby. They would have been thrilled with more, and they were prepared to handle six if necessary. But the doctor, who had been working with the Bakers for a decade, warned them not to get their hopes too high.
Several anxious days ticked by before they heard the unofficial news. Amber took a home test and was definitely pregnant. Misty did not feel different, and assumed that her embryos did not take. Then, the women went to the doctor’s office for the official tests.
Brian recalled the phone call from their doctor: “Brian, I hope you are ready to be a dad times two because they are both pregnant.”
It would be a few more weeks before they found out they were each pregnant with twins. “Some people have four kids over 10 years,” Misty said. “It’s taken us 10 years to have four kids, too -- we’re just doing it all at once.” The pregnancy has been more difficult for Amber than for Misty. In fact, Amber is currently hospitalized in Indiana with pre-term labor. Misty, meanwhile, has been on bed rest for weeks. It is unlikely that either woman will reach their shared June 30 due dates.
The Bakers said they are still coming to grips with the reality that awaits. “Sometimes, I’m like ‘Whoa! Four babies!” Brian said. But the no-debt strategy is a relief to the couple who rent a home and are determined to live below their means so that Misty can become the stay-at-home mom she’s always wanted to be.
They are using cash to make all of their purchases, and there are many purchases to be made. Like two twin strollers. Brian even traded in his two-seat convertible to help purchase a used van that can fit four car seats.
Their home is close to being ready for the babies’ arrival. Friends chipped in to buy them four cribs. The Bakers have set aside two rooms in their home as the nursery -- one will be the sleeping room for the cribs, the other will be a “staging area,” Misty says.
Amber is carrying two girls -- Madison and Victoria. Misty is carrying a boy and a girl -- Connor and Hope Elizabeth.
There’s the inevitable question that the Bakers get asked about this journey: How did Amber take it when she found out that Misty was pregnant, too? Misty said Amber wondered whether she was ultimately needed after all.
But Misty says she believes that Amber is precisely the reason she got pregnant. Everyone has heard of stories about the couple that get pregnant when they finally stop trying, right? Misty says those same mysterious forces were at work here.
“We tried for 10 years,” Misty said. “I truly believe I would not have gotten pregnant if Amber had not been a part of this. Unconsciously, it just took that pressure off me.” Added Brian: “Somehow that reduced her stress level and anxiety and made it possible for her body to accept the embryos.”
For the record, the Bakers hate using the term “surrogate” to describe Amber, as she is so much more than that. Amber is not charging them, Misty said, although the Bakers are paying for her medical expenses.
And so on thisMother’s Day, the Bakers will celebrate their soon-to-come-true dream of having a houseful of kids. They’ll also celebrate another mother -- Misty’s BFF, and, for lack of a better word, surrogate.
“We can’t say enough about Amber’s heart and willingness to do this,” Misty said. “To have someone to love you and want you to know what it’s like to have your own children is amazing. People would be blessed to have such a friend in their lives.”