HER SIDE OF THE STORY: THE GESTATIONAL CARRIER

Gestation Carrier: Also known as gestational surrogate. A woman who carries a pregnancy and gives birth to a child for another couple. For a woman to serve as a gestational carrier, an embryo (created by the process of in vitro fertilization) is implanted in her uterus.

Without our GC the process of having a biological child would not be possible. This is one of the most selfless and sacrificial acts of servant leadership that I have ever encountered. The physical and emotional investment that a gestational carrier endures is absolutely incredible. PJ is our angel, our answer to prayer and forever the greatest human we know. 

Here's her story: 

My journey to becoming a gestational carrier started in the fall of 2014. My husband and I were newlyweds and had just started an internship at our church. As I prayed every morning, I started to feel like God was telling me that Clay and I were supposed to have a baby in the fall of 2015. Simultaneously, I felt like God was telling me to prepare my heart and mind to be a gestational carrier (GC) for Joe and Hollie. It took a couple months before I even had the courage to tell Clay.

Getting pregnant during our internship sounded like a crazy idea to me (financially and practically). In November, I realized if there was a chance I was going to be obedient, I had to talk to Clay.  To my surprise, he didn’t think I was crazy! He just told me he would like to pray about it for a month. A month later, we both felt God saying “it’s time to start having your babies because one day, you could carry theirs.” A couple weeks later, I was pregnant! In the spring of 2015, when I was 10 weeks pregnant, I offered to (eventually) carry for Joe and Hollie. There were several events that played into our “big family timeline” and a LOT has happened since then. Much more than I can cover in one blog post, but just know, everything has happened like clockwork. I’ve learned so much as I processed this calling and the feelings that come with it.

I wish I could say I have always been as ready for this journey as I am today. Even though I was certain I was supposed to be a GC for them, I was completely terrified. I was worried about the hormones and afraid my body wouldn’t cooperate. Thankfully, my mom and husband were consistently there to talk me through these times of uncertainty. I’ll never forget Clay looking at me, full of faith, in the midst of my anxiety and saying “PJ, look at what God has done in our lives so far. This is just another thing we get to trust him with.” I couldn’t be more thankful to have him on my side through this journey. While I obviously didn’t enjoy experiencing fear surrounding this process, God used it to strengthen and prepare me. It enabled me to understand the gospel on a deeper level.

Through my season of doubt and fear, God reminded me that even when Jesus was sweating blood on His way to the cross, HE STILL CHOSE US. He chose to push through the fear. In that moment, I felt and experienced the power of the gospel on a different level. That’s when I knew I could push through my own fear and continue to choose to serve Joe and Hollie. Although I decided to push through the fear, I desperately wanted it to go away.

In February 2018, God used an “incidental finding” on an MRI to bring peace. This "incidental finding" on the MRI results completely terrified me. So many questions and irrational thoughts flooded my mind. Instant fear and anxiety came rushing to my heart. For a month, we weren’t sure of the diagnosis or prognosis. I could write a whole blog post about this experience, but for now, I’ll stick with the short version. For a month, I experienced fear I’ve never experienced before. All of this was happening simultaneously as Hollie was in the beginning  stages of preparing her body to start her IVF process.

As I cried and prayed, I heard God say “PJ, I NEED you to know I am in control.” In that moment, I knew He wasn’t just talking about my “incidental finding”. I knew he was talking about the process of IVF/GC. I finally let go of feeling responsible for a successful GC pregnancy. It was a confirmation that the victory that we were going to experience was not going to come to pass by our own strength or efforts. The victory could only be won by the miraculous power and faithfulness of God. I think often times we strive to make our plans work according to how we think it should work. We have learned through this process that the act of surrender is the bravest, most courageous thing we could do. When you surrender your plans to the Lord, He takes control and in result He gets all the honor and praise. 

After a month of doctor appointments, scans, and blood work, we finally got an answer. What they saw on the original MRI could no longer be seen. It was a miracle. After speaking with the doctor, I heard God say in the most loving way, “now PJ, please be confident in my plans for you.” I don’t know if I was physically healed or if the original MRI was wrong, but I do know I was COMPLETELY HEALED AND DELIVERED FROM FEAR in regards to the process of IVF/GC. 

It’s amazing to me that long before I was anywhere near “eligible” to carry for Joe and Hollie, God was preparing my heart. In order to be a gestational carrier, you have to carry at least one, preferably two, pregnancies without any complications. I knew this when I offered to carry for Joe and Hollie during my first trimester of my first pregnancy. We had a long way to go. But at the time, I just wanted them to know I felt like God was preparing my heart to be their GC, and we needed to continue to pray about it.

Since then, I have had two “perfect pregnancies”, according to my doctor. Not only did they go well, but I LOVED pregnancy and childbirth. People tell me I’m crazy all the time. It amazes me how God gave me such a strong passion and gave me the opportunity to use it in a unique way. For a while, I struggled with my purpose and my giftings. Honestly, I didn’t really know what I was good at. It took a while but I finally realized “perfect” pregnancies and deliveries are a gift. My passion for pregnancy and childbirth is a gift. And this gift is a part of my purpose. This gift and passion has enabled me to be a vessel for Joe and Hollie to receive their gift. I believe God blessed me to be a blessing. I believe we are called to carry one another’s burdens. I believe this is a physical representation of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

I’m so proud of Hollie and Joe for sharing their story. I know God is using it for His glory and to bring comfort and hope to others. We are in the midst of a season of seeing miracles happen right before our eyes. It’s honestly indescribable. I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world. With that being said, as I have shared my desire to be their GC, I have lost count how many women (no longer childbearing age) have said to me, “I would’ve loved to have done that.” While it breaks my heart a little every time I hear those words, it has opened my eyes to the possibility of fighting infertility by encouraging more women to become gestational carriers. One of my goals throughout the rest of this journey is to educate and equip women who have a desire to carry a pregnancy for someone else.

I am honored and thankful to be able to carry Baby Hep. Before Hollie’s retrieval she said, “PJ, you know we will never be able to repay you.” Actually, the truth is I will never be able to repay them for this opportunity.  In Acts 20:35 it says, “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. This verse has never been more real to me than in this season. This opportunity is shaping who I am in more ways than I could have ever imagined.

So, Joe and Hollie, thank you for giving me this opportunity and trusting me to carry Baby Hep. Let’s make a baby! 

With Love,

Team Baby Hep

written by: PJ Willis (The GC)