Editor's Note: This article first appeared in Issue 7 of Holl & Lane. To read the whole issue, pick up a digital copy in our shop.
Words and Images by Destiny Stillwagon
When I was a young girl playing house with my sister and cousins, I always liked playing the role of the mother. I always assumed that all little girls wanted to be mommies when they grew up, that they had names picked out for their future children and a happy picture of what life would be like as a mommy. Unfortunately, not all women grow up being able to physically have children of their own.
This is where my story as a surrogate starts. I am Destiny Stillwagon, mother of three, a good friend of Nicholas and Amber Lomansky. Amber was born with one kidney and without any reproductive “equipment” so to speak. Her kidney was failing so Nicholas selflessly donated one of his to her in early 2013. The transplant was successful, both healed beautifully and they were then ready to start their family. In June 2013 Nicholas and I had met up with a couple other friends at a Tigers baseball game in Detroit. It was on the drive home that I had casually inquired about he and Amber having any kids in the near future now that the kidney transplant was successful. Nicholas explained to me that Amber was told early on in her childhood that she would not ever be able to have children. I asked if they thought about a surrogate, he said yes but the candidates they were thinking about asking haven’t had children of their own yet so they weren’t certain on whom to ask. I spoke up right away and volunteered to be their surrogate. I have three children of my own with my youngest being seven at the time. I was done having children for myself but was okay with one more pregnancy.
After talking it over with Amber we decided that we were going to do this. We started planning right away. I got medical insurance, did a physical exam including my annual checkup and looked into local obstetrician gynecologists while they did research for local clinics that did in vitro fertilization (IVF). They located a nearby clinic and we made the appointment to make sure we were good candidates for IVF.
It turned out we were great candidates so the appointment was made for the day of conception. During the IVF procedure, mature eggs were collected from my ovaries and fertilized by Nicholas’ sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg(s) were implanted in my uterus. I took a home pregnancy test two weeks later and we were pregnant! I had tears of joy that this worked and that we had decided to do it!
We kept this our secret until we made it past the first trimester. We decided to have genetic testing done in the meantime due to a high rate of cancer in my family and my age, which was 34 at the time. The tests came back negative for Down’s Syndrome, as well as other tests. It was at Amber’s 34th birthday party in April 2014 that we announced the pregnancy. Everybody was overjoyed! I told my children about the pregnancy and explained to their level of understanding what was going on. They were okay with the idea. A month after the announcement, we found out we were having a boy. His name was to be Wilfred Paul Lomansky.
Amber and Nicholas tried to make it to every doctor appointment and ultrasound. When one couldn’t make it to an appointment, the other made notes and even recorded the baby’s heartbeat for the other to listen to. Baby Wilfred was growing healthy and strong. I was eating as healthy as I could, even having organic fruits and vegetables delivered to my house. They made a mp3 player of their voices and music for Wilfred to listen to through the belly.
By the beginning of October, the doctor suggested that the baby be delivered by a cesarean section because of his weight. I had my other three children naturally so I was a little nervous but agreed to it. The evening of October 9th, I had stayed the night at Nicholas and Amber’s house because we had to be at the hospital very early the next morning. After all the preparation, epidural and the incision, baby Lomansky was born at 8:49am on October 10th. He weighed a very healthy 10lbs 3oz. The doctor lifted him over the curtain to show him to me then he was whisked away to meet his eagerly awaiting parents. It was agreed that since I was in the surgery room for the cesarean, they would do a tubal ligation (tie the tubes). I was officially done having children.
I felt great after having the baby. I healed perfectly and was told that the surgery was a textbook cesarean. Friends came to meet the new member of the Lomansky family at the hospital as well as stopping by my room to check on me. I waited until the day of discharge to see him. From day one, I had emotionally and mentally detached myself from Wilfred. He was my little buddy throughout the pregnancy and we even did a little fist bump in the hospital to congratulate ourselves on making it through this whole process together. Even though he is biologically my son, he is officially Nicholas and Amber’s son.
In October 2015, Wilfred celebrated his first birthday surrounded by his family and friends. It was an Eric Carle “Hungry Caterpillar” themed party. A couple months later, he took his first step. He will grow up knowing the whole story. I am Aunt Destiny to him and my children are his cousins. He has three branches on his family tree so he has a lot of love and family to help him grow and flourish.
I can honestly say that this has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life. I am so proud of the way I handled myself physically and emotionally throughout the entire process. I gave Nicholas the son he wasn’t sure he would ever have to pass on the Lomansky name and I gave Amber what she thought she would never have...a chance to be a mommy like she has dreamed of since she was a little girl.