- Chad and Stacey Baker, from Iowa, struggled for years to have children
- Over 8 years, the couple suffered 6 marriages and Chad had 2 bouts with cancer
- But thanks to 2 different surrogates, they were able to fulfill dream of having kids
- Now the couple wants to offer guidance and support for other similar families
Chad and Stacey Baker went through a monumental struggle to have children.
Over the course of eight years, the couple from Des Moines, Iowa, suffered through six miscarriages and two bouts of cancer that nearly killed Chad.
But now, thanks to grueling chemotherapy and gestational surrogacy, Chad is in remission – and they are the parents of two kids: Gavin, two, and Hadley, four months.
Neither birth would have been possible without the selfless acts of two separate surrogate mothers.
Happy family: Stacey and Chad Baker, from Des Moines, Iowa, were able to fulfill their dream of having their children, Gavin, 2, and Hadley, 4 months, thanks to two surrogate mothers
Difficulty: The couple struggled for many years to conceive. Over the course of eight years, they suffered six miscarriages and two bouts of testicular cancer that nearly killed Chad
The Bakers were married in 2004 and suffered their first miscarriage in 2007, but their doctor reassured them that they were not alone.
Between 10 and 25 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage – and as many as 80 percent happen in the first 12 weeks.
By 2010 the couple had not only suffered their third miscarriage, but Chad’s two rounds of testicular cancer threatened not only his ability to father children but also his very life.
Stacey told THV11: ‘There was a lot of depression. All that was going on in our life was cancer and infertility — for years.’
When 2013 came, Stacey and Chad officially decided to end all attempts at having children.
Around this time, they hired Summer Marnin, a single mother raising two daughters, to dog-sit their black Labrador, Daisy.
Touched by the Bakers’ trying story, Marnin texted Stacey one day asking: ‘How old is too old to be a surrogate?’
Soon afterwards, Marnin became the Bakers’ gestational carrier.
Unlike a traditional surrogate where the carrier’s own egg is part of the pregnancy and the child is genetically hers, a gestational carrier is implanted with another’s egg.
Hope: The couple’s dog-sitter, Summer Marnin, offered to be a gestational carrier for their first child. Gestational carriers, unlike traditional surrogates, do not use their own eggs and are therefore not biologically-related to the child
Lucky: Chad and Stacey had frozen three embryos, but only two had been used the first time. They decided to try for a second child and, after Marnin declined, family friend Tiffany Kiernan offered to be their second surrogate
The Bakers froze three embryos for the process. When Marnin went in for her in vitro fertilization, she decided to be implanted with two embryos rather than one. She became pregnant with twins – a boy and a girl.
Marnin ended up miscarrying the female twin, but delivered a healthy baby boy in August 2014.
‘When the doctor came in and finally did tell us that we were having a boy, there was like this 30 seconds of smiling at each other,’ Stacey said.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT IN VITRO FERTILIZATION
In vitro fertilization, commonly referred to as IVF, is the process of fertilization by manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish, and then transferring the embryo to the uterus.
IVF can treat fertility in the following patients:
- Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
- Male factor infertility including low sperm count or sperm motility
- Women with ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure, or uterine fibroids
- Women who have had their fallopian tubes removed
- Individuals with a genetic disorder
- Unexplained infertility
Couples may choose to use donor eggs, sperm or embryos.
The number of embryos transferred typically depends on the number of eggs collected and maternal age.
These are women who use their own eggs and are artificially inseminated by the intended father’s, or donor, sperm.
The surrogate is the baby’s biological mother because it’s her egg that was fertilized.
These are women who carry a baby conceived using the eggs of the intended mother (or an egg donor) and sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor.
The surrogate has no genetic connection to the baby.
About 1,400 babies are born annually through gestational surrogacy.
‘But then the rest was just grief. And so what should have been the best day of our lives — we had been waiting for this for eight years — you know, a healthy baby boy. For eight years, we had been waiting for that. We came home, and we cried all night.’
Marnin, at the time, told THV 11: ‘It for sure made it all worth it when I looked over to my right and Stacey had him in the rocking chair and had her son in her arms…that was my favorite part.’
While the Bakers settled in to raise their new baby, they had a burning question in the back of their minds: what to do about the third embryo they had stored.
They didn’t feel comfortable donating and approached Marnin to ask if she was interested in carrying their second child.
She ultimately declined.
A little ways down the road, Chad said he was discussing the decision he and Stacey had to make about the embryo with his stylist. The stylist ended up mentioning the situation to a friend – Tiffany Kiernan.
Kiernan had told her husband after having their own two kids that, if possible, she wanted to help other couples have children.
Kiernan told THV 11 she was looking for ‘somebody that was going to love and appreciate their kids as much as I do. And be a good parent. I didn’t want to have a baby for someone that wasn’t going to give the love that I would give to my own child.’
The Bakers met Kiernan and her husband for a three-and-a-half hour coffee date. They clicked.
Hadley arrived three weeks ahead of schedule, weighing barely more than five pounds. At her two-week checkup, she ranked among the lowest one percent in weight.
Upon hearing Hadley’s first cries, Kiernan said she didn’t feel any regret at giving up the baby – just fulfillment.
She said: ‘It made me feel like I made the right decision, that everything was meant to be, and it was perfect.’
Blessing: The Bakers’ daughter, Hadley, arrived three weeks early and weighed just five pounds. Photos of each surrogate hang in the bedrooms of Chad and Stacey’s children
Raising awareness: The couple wants to offer guidance and support for similarly struggling families, and have the same maternity leave time as birth moms granted to adoptive parents
The Bakers say they’ve always been rather private people, but were coaxed into public view at the chance of their story offering some guidance or moral support to others struggling with infertility or cancer.
Stacey, who had to use her vacation time as maternity leave, is currently pushing for adoptive and foster parents to be granted the same family leave as birth moms.
But the couple says talking openly about their lives is what led them to find their surrogate mothers.
Stacey said: ‘We always say if we hadn’t talked about it, Hadley for sure wouldn’t be here. We would’ve never found Tiffany if we would’ve kept quiet.’
And they’re not keeping any secret from their children about how they came into this world – Marnin’s photo hangs in Gavin’s bedroom. Kiernan is on Hadley’s wall.