Two Sisters, One Dream, One Baby [UPDATED]Published 9:48am Thursday, August 9, 2012 Updated 9:48am Thursday, August 9, 2012
When Tara Bladow was 21 her sister Kari was 18 and diagnosed with a genetic condition. That condition led to the removal of her uterus. Tara remembers that although neither of them were near the stage in their lives where they were contemplating families, she felt a loss for her sister.
Over the next decade life went on. Tara got married and she and her husband, Andy, had 3 beautiful children. Now that she was a mom those same thoughts of loss for Kari occasionally returned. Kari married her wonderful husband, Chad Thorp. It was in the summer of 2009 on a camping trip when the couples were sitting around the campfire that the first spark of the dream started. And while Tara and Kari can’t exactly remember how it came up, the topic of Chad and Kari exploring the options available to them such as adoption and surrogacy had come up. Kari’s sister, Tara knew that if she was officially asked to help, the answer was a ‘no brainer:’ “YES!”
In early 2010, Kari & Chad were ready to add to their family (Chad has a 10 year old son Mason, from a previous relationship). Kari started researching their options online. Adoption, surrogacy, and gestational carrier were expensive choices, but if her eggs could be harvested and Tara would be willing & able to help them, the gestational carrier option was the route they wanted to try first. (Note: Surrogacy usually includes a donor egg and/or sperm, with the gestational carrier. This would be Kari’s eggs and Chad’s sperm). Asking Tara, “Did you think about the risks that you could incur?” She replied, “No, I knew I was going to do this for my sister. Andy and I made the decision to help Kari and Chad, but we never even thought about the risks or possible complications.”
By June 2010 Kari had selected a clinic in the cities and everyone had an initial appointment. Yes, the clinic did think they could harvest Kari’s eggs, and Tara’s physical and medical history all seemed to be a match. So the process began: psychologists, legal work, and a drug trial to see if Tara and Kari’s bodies would not only do what they needed to do, but at the same time!
In October of 2010 it was time. Tara & Kari’s mom, Wendy, took time off from work to help Andy with the kids while Tara headed down to the cities for the implantation of two eggs. Tara remembers how quickly the procedure went, “I was in there maybe only 10 minutes.” But what she doesn’t forget was the next three days where she was on required bed rest down at Kari’s home in the cities. It was then, when the reality of what she was doing, how supportive Andy and her family were being, and the possible risks/complications set in for the first time. Although Chad and Kari were taking good care of her, she was not where she wanted to be: at home taking care of her family. What if something went wrong and she would have to be on bed rest longer? How was she going to go the next 14 days without “lifting” either her 1 or 3 year old up for something? What if something with the pregnancy went wrong?
The following days passed by quickly, and it was time to find out if the procedure had worked. So much anticipation, excitement and hope quickly turned to tears and frustration when the results indicated that the attempt was unsuccessful. Kari remembers thinking, “Did I do something wrong?” But the bad news kept coming. Not only had the attempt failed, the rest of the eggs that had been harvested were not viable. That meant not just getting to retry next month with the simple 10 minute procedure. It meant harvesting more eggs, more medications, and more cost. But the worst was yet to come.
One week later (3 weeks after the procedure) Kari was hospitalized with severe abdominal pain. She was sick and for a while no one knew why. Then they discovered an infection in her ovaries. With Kari’s medical history, the doctor was not certain she would be able to retain her ovaries, but after surgery Kari slowly improved.
Months went by and Kari and Chad again began to explore other options to realize their dream of having a child together. Kari and her mother attended an infertility conference/seminar in the cities in early 2011. She was given the chance to speak to a reproductive doctor from Mayo even though she had already decided they would use a donor egg. Suddenly Kari’s dream of a successful gestational carrier option came back to life. The doctor from the Mayo clinic gave her hope. He said he really felt that they could help her. Out of fear for Kari’s safety, Tara admits she was skeptical. “At that point I did not ever want to see Kari potentially getting that sick again, and I believe Chad felt the same way.” But with Kari’s hope and her mom’s confidence in the physician, helped Tara allow herself to again be hopeful that this dream of helping her sister have a baby might really work.
By August, 2011 the process was in motion again. Within 2 weeks of the implantation Tara found herself too excited to wait for the blood work tests scheduled in a few days, so she gave herself a pregnancy test and she saw a faint + sign. Tara took a picture and sent it to Kari. They were both cautiously excited, but they waited for confirmation on the blood work. Tara’s second draw was done in the early morning. Tara could not wait and found herself calling Mayo’s med number and was surprised to hear the results were in and that she, they were all pregnant! She called Kari and was so happy to hear the tears of joy. They had to make it through the 1st trimester that all moms hope to make it through.
Fast forward 9 months: As I did this interview, Tara was ready for the pregnancy to be over. There are some things she hasn’t expected: Her first case of gestational diabetes, or maybe going home empty handed thing might be harder then she thought it would be. But knowing the birth of her nephew was just two weeks away she was happy, happy for the gift she is able to give Kari and Chad. And while they likely could have paid someone to do it for them, Tara did it out of love. The dream that she had once thought of 12+ years ago for her sister was happening!
Chad, Kari, Auntie Tara and Uncle Andy welcomed Gavin Michael Thorp into the world at a healthy 7 lbs 3 oz on May 27th, 2012 at 2:42 pm! They now have a forever gift!