The Gifolis' Story
the intended parents
Amanda & Antony Gifoli
We started our journey with Dr. Jeffery Russell in April of 2016. Through diagnostics, I was diagnosed with having clogged fallopian tubes. I had laparoscopic surgery at Christiana Hospital to open my fallopian tubes. Once the healing was complete, I had two separate unsuccessful attempts at Intrauterine insemination (IUI). Once it was determined that this process was ineffective, Dr. Russell introduced us to the idea of In vitro fertilization (IVF). In September of 2016, my husband and I started the process of IVF. Once my eggs were fertilized, we had the embryos genetically tested for any abnormalities.
Our first IVF transfer occurred in late October (or early November) of 2016. We lost heartbeat for this pregnancy at six (6) weeks. We had three (3) additional unsuccessful transfers during the early part of 2017. We had one incident in which we did not get pregnant after the transfer, one incident in which we had a natural miscarriage at 4 weeks, and one incident in which we lost heartbeat at 6-7 weeks and I had to go to the Christiana Hospital Surgi Center to have the pregnancy removed.
During these four (4) IVF’s, I had to take a substantial amount of medication, and my husband had to inject progesterone in oil needles into me every day throughout the duration of these pregnancies.
With two (2) failed IUI’s and four (4) failed IVF attempts in the span of a year, we felt defeated and heartbroken. Even though we felt this way, we never wanted to give up, and we never felt like it was over. At that point, Dr. Russell felt at a loss and suggested that we seek a 2nd opinion and consider the possibility of obtaining a surrogate. We felt that if anyone could have figured this out, Dr. Russell was that person, so his suggestions surprised us. I was not ready to go down that road with a surrogate. We were not ready to give up on me being pregnant.
We scheduled an appointment for a second opinion; however, Dr. Russell reached out to us personally and told us that if we are on board, he would like to try some new ideas on how to get us pregnant. We scheduled a consultation with Dr. Russell, and he told us that since we last met with him, he has been doing a lot of research and had consulted with other physicians in the field. Dr. Russell strongly believed that I was losing the pregnancies due to an undetermined autoimmune condition that was causing my body to fight off the pregnancy. We agreed to continue utilizing Dr. Russell’s services and try new approaches in sustaining my pregnancy.
We had our 5th IVF transfer via a natural cycle by Dr. Russell in October of 2017. We felt confident that this IVF transfer was a success because this pregnancy had been our longest to date, but we lost heartbeat at eight (8) weeks, and I had to go to the Christiana Hospital Surgi Center to have the pregnancy removed. After this latest failed IVF transfer, Dr. Russell told us that he was not giving up on us, and that he still believed we could have a baby. My husband suggested during one of our sit-downs with Dr. Russell that we should continue with the process of trying to get me pregnant, but in the meantime, we seek the services of a surrogate. Our sister-in-law, Alecia Harrar, offered to be our surrogate, and we graciously accepted.
Alecia began to prepare for being our surrogate in December of 2017/early January of 2018. Alecia went through the vigor’s of preparing to carry a baby via IVF by taking many medications and having two (2) mock transfers. While Alecia was preparing to be our surrogate, we had our sixth IVF transfer via a natural cycle in January of 2018. We always had hope that each transfer would be a success, but we were still fearful about the outcome. We had our weekly visits with Dr. Russell, and each visit our pregnancy was strong. Though we continued to receive positive results after each visit, Alecia was at a point where she was ready to be our surrogate. Dr. Russell asked us if we would like to move forward and continue to use Alecia as a surrogate knowing that my current IVF transfer had been a success to this point. Knowing how our previous IVF outcomes have been, my husband and I did not need much time to come to a conclusion. We accepted the generous gift that Alecia offered us and Alecia had her IVF transfer in April of 2018.
The journey that led us to this point was one that defied all odds and made a renowned Reproductive Doctor question his abilities to make our dreams come true. This journey taught my husband and I how to stand tall during times of heartbreak and disappointment. It taught us that families come together and support one another during difficult times, as both our families had done throughout. Nothing could have been more special than the gift that Alecia is providing for our family. Alecia knew how bad we wanted a family, and she was determined to see it through for us. And lastly, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Dr. Russell and his wonderful staff that welcomed us during each visit with a smile and a warm heart. Dr. Russell showed us how wonderful of a doctor he is, along with how he could feel the pain and confusion like any other person. In the end, I never gave up. I gave those around me the confidence to continue to fight through each and every tough time because I knew in my heart I was going to have a baby. I just couldn’t imagine that in the end, we will be coming home with 2 precious baby Gifoli’s of our own.
the gestational carrier
Alecia & Matthew Harrar
I first came into the Harrar Family when I was 16 years old, and Amanda was 12; needless to say, I’ve been with this family for many, many years. Over the years, I’ve seen boyfriends come and go, none of which made her truly happy (whether she knew it or not), but once she met Antony, that all changed.
Once they began trying to have a baby, it was taking longer than anticipated. First, it was through less invasive strategies, then full-blown IVF. Watching Amanda handle disappointment after disappointment was a struggle for me. I knew how much she wanted to have a child, and to experience that time after time was very hard for me to imagine what she was going through. I know what it is like to experience all the joys of pregnancy and motherhood, and I so badly wanted that for her also. She had been waiting so long to find the man of her dreams, someone who completely adored her, and she finally found him! She needed to complete her package, and it was proving to be very difficult. I could not bear to see that happen any longer.
My husband and I had many discussions about my decision to carry a child for his sister. He was so supportive, and never once did he question my decision. My three previous pregnancies had been very easy and enjoyable, so it was not a difficult decision for me to potentially carry my niece or nephew. My 40-week sacrifice, will allow for a lifetime of happiness and joy. Therefore, when she said Dr. Russell told her to explore other options, I was eager and excited to offer to be a surrogate for them.
Being the strong and determined person she is, Amanda kept trying to conceive and underwent another embryo transfer in January; however, my body was not ready to receive my transfer yet. After many, many attempts for Amanda…SUCCESS!! Week after week, there was a viable pregnancy, which was uncommon thus far. It was so exciting, yet still so unsettling considering her past. After my 4th mock cycle, my body was ready for the embryo transfer. At this point, Amanda was 11 weeks pregnant; however, the decision was made for me to continue with my transfer, even if that meant Amanda and Antony could potentially have two children about a trimester apart!!! How exciting?!?! Two babies!!
I am over the moon excited for Amanda and Antony, and couldn’t be more honored to carry this child for them. They deserve all the happiness for which they’ve both been waiting so long. They truly bring out the best in each other, and, in the many years I’ve known Amanda, this is the most content and happy I’ve ever seen her. Just knowing that I’m going to be a part of completing that package for them is a blessing and an honor, and it’s just simply wonderful they accepted my offer.