GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — A Grand Rapids couple is welcoming twins next year.
They say were hopeful for just one healthy baby after a cancer diagnosis 5 years ago.
As they prepare to grow their household by two, they’ll really be adding a third: the woman who’s actually bringing their babies into the world, who they now call ‘family.’
Tammy and Jordan Myers are anxiously awaiting a girl and a boy come March, but she’s not pregnant; another woman, Lauren Vermilye is.
Vermilye said, “I always had easy pregnancies and deliveries and I kind of felt like that was a gift that I was given.”
Carrying a child for someone else is something Vermilye has always considered in the back of her mind, which is why she’s doing just that for the Myers.
“She’s the biggest part in bringing these babies into the world,” Tammy Myers said.
To understand the gravity of this plot twist though, we have to go back a few years.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and it kind of caught us by surprise,” Tammy Myers said.
They soon learned that saving Tammy’s life would cost her ability to create others.
She said, “They said the only way that we could have children of our own was to do an emergency egg harvest and harvest my eggs and then freeze them, in hopes that things turned out well and we were able to try again later.”
Fast forward to fall 2019, the ‘time to try’ presented itself with a grant from the Samfund; a non-profit that supports young cancer survivors. It would be money that the Myers could use for an embryo transfer to a gestational carrier.
Tammy Myers said, “It’s huge. To carry a child for someone else is no small act.”
The Myers nervously took their search for a carrier online; posting and hoping that someone could give them and their daughter Corryn the ultimate gift.
Vermilye said, “We saw Tammy and Jordan‘s post and it was kind of like ‘Oh this could actually happen.”
She was the first one to respond to the Myers’ post.
After a series of what they call ‘carrier speed dates’ the Myers chose a different woman to continue the process, but right after getting the all clear for the embryo transfer in late February, their carrier backed out. It was partly due to uncertainty with COVID-19.
Tammy Myers said, “It was heartbreaking. It was a shock, it was like hitting a brick wall all over again and I would say our emotions spiraled for sure and we started to feel like it was never going to happen.”
But weeks later, a little courage and a text message would get things back on track.
“I hit send and I stood up to walk away and she responded within like two minutes,” Tammy Myers said.
The grant money was all used up, but with Vermilye on board, the Myers said they felt a renewed push to keep going.
By June 15th, the Fertility Center in Grand Rapids said they were ready to do an embryo transfer.
Vermilye said it was a day she anticipated having to go through alone, due to extra precautions due to COVID-19.
Vermilye said, “They weren’t going to let anybody else in because of COVID and then last minute they brought Tammy in and so it was awesome.”
Doctors at the Fertility Center transferred two embryos, with no promise of either of them taking. They’d only know after the first ultrasound.
“There was one that had taken for sure and the other just didn’t seem to be growing,” Vermilye said.
But two weeks later, an ultrasound would show two growing babies, and two healthy heartbeats.
The only thing left to do was tell Corryn.
Tammy Myers said, “She’s been asking us since she knew her brother and sister existed.”
“I am up to the top excited. I don’t know how long the sky goe,s but that’s how long,” Corryn Myers said.
She said that she’s excited for her new siblings, if it means losing the luxuries that come with being an only-child.
Corryn Myers said, “They are stealing my bedroom.”
With two kids of her own, Vermilye is no stranger to delivery day, but she knows this one will be a lot different.
Vermilye said, “I’m sure at the time it is not going to be super easy or the happiest thing, but at the same time I’m very confident that I’m done having my own children, so the idea of having little babies that I can hand off to their parents is actually really awesome to me.”
Now 22 weeks along, the Myers are back in baby mode: prepping for twice the diapers, and twice the amount of lost sleep, but for them, the joy is immeasurable.
Tammy Myers said, “Our life has been all about cancer and now it feels like the doors opened, but this kind of feels like a transition where i can close that door and close that window and move onto the next phase of life. and really get back to the life we had before cancer”.
Come March, almost exactly a year after they thought a bigger family just wasn’t in the cards, the Myers can celebrate a new date and two birthdays all because of one woman.
“We don’t know how to thank her for this gift, you know? There is no amount of gratitude that could explain what we feel for Lauren.”
They Myers are still working through the legal challenges that come with this kind of procedure, which can be tricky in the state of Michigan.