A Little One Can Make A Big Difference – by Jennifer McKenzie

A Little One Can Make A Big Difference – by Jennifer McKenzie


As far as I can remember, everything in my life has basically gone according to plan. There were no major bumps in the road that was my life. I had a clean bill of health, scored average grades in school, and grew up in a loving home with kind parents and a brainy sister. My hobbies were simple too. I went shopping for plain Jane clothes, I enjoyed watching a lot of TV, and I went running to stay healthy. Pretty uneventful, right?!?    I couldn’t even shake things up with the excitement of a cavity or a broken bone.

Everything was well in the world.

Fast forward to the year 2006 when my husband and I considered the idea of starting a family. Everything else had gone according to plan, why would this be any different?  After a number of months, and just as many negative pregnancy tests, we started to wonder if something was wrong. We tried everything from fertility charts to acupuncture but nothing was working. Acquaintances told us to “relax” and to “go on vacation”. I cringed at comments like, “Be glad you don’t have kids. Your body will never be the same and you will feel exhausted, and stressed out like never before.” Soon doctors started to prescribe the three letter remedies to cure our unexplained infertility. We tried several rounds of IUI, but they only resulted in loss and heartache. Soon our doctor uttered the three letters we’d never thought we’d hear: I.V.F. I never could have imagined that we would be THAT couple because IVF was for couples who were really having trouble conceiving. After endless procedures and too many prescriptions to count, we thought the worst was over until we heard the results of our pregnancy test, “not pregnant”. Insert the sound of one of those big steel bank doors being slammed shut and locked with our dreams of becoming parents vanishing into thin air.

IUI and IVF are major life-changing events for a couple who is experiencing infertility, especially when you don’t get the results you are hoping and praying for. There is a word limit here so I won’t go into the details, but if you ever want to chat, I could talk about it for hours over my two favourite boxes: one named Kleenex and the other is Merlot. I want to get to the good part for those of you who like a happy ending. Or maybe you are going through a similar experience and you wonder how our story turns out. Remember that brainy sister I mentioned in the first paragraph? She’s not only smart but she also has a giant heart and is a selfless superwoman. JenandLisahugpaint

For more than a year she gave up all rights to her family privacy and shared a gift that not many could or would. My sister became a gestational carrier for me and my husband. The procedure we followed is very similar to IVF but it involved my sister as the recipient of one of our remaining frozen embryos.  One very memorable day in 2012 we found out that she was pregnant after the very first embryo transfer.  

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I will never be able to find the words to thank my sister and her family for all they did to help us realize our dream of becoming parents. It is hard to find the words to express such strong emotions and feelings. Side note: Hallmark doesn’t make a thank you card intended for gestational carriers. This is definitely a missed opportunity. I can just see the card now…

-Honey, can you run to the store and pick up that thank you card that reads, “Congratulations!  You’re pregnant…with your sister’s baby!”

-Is that the one where the husband is standing around the water cooler telling his buddies, “Yes, she’s pregnant. No, the baby is NOT MINE. It’s my brother-in-law’s”?

-No, no, that’s not the one.  It’s the card with the picture of an overcrowded delivery room where THREE people are nervously waiting around at the foot of the bed. The wide eyes and awkward looks on their faces tell you they have NO IDEA where they should be looking.

-Oh right!  I’ll be back in a jiffy!

In 2013, my husband and I were finally able to announce (this still gives me the goose bumps) that we are the parents of a beautiful little girl.

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While the memories of those 7 long years are still fresh in our minds, we are more than happy to tell you we are back to living a reasonably average life again. My hobbies include going shopping for plain Jane MOM clothes, watching a lot of Dora on TV, and running after a toddler to stay healthy. We have bags under our eyes, our life revolves around dirty diapers and nap times and we couldn’t be happier. What seemed like an insurmountable bump in the road turned into a unique journey, to say the least. This is just the first chapter of the story of a little girl and an adoring aunt who will always share a special connection.

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Everything is well in our world again!!

(Well, almost everything. There once was that poor lady who thought she was being helpful by telling me that the last ten pounds of baby weight are always the most difficult to lose. She’s not well at all.)

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Jennifer McKenzie lives in North Wiltshire, PEI. She is between homes, so she is presently crashing at her sister’s place (as if asking her to carry a baby wasn’t enough!). She’s a Kindergarten teacher who enjoys the regular things in life; walking, reading, and coffee. That’s her in a nutshell.

6 thoughts on “A Little One Can Make A Big Difference – by Jennifer McKenzie

  1. Love this story and had the pleasure of taking your photos and meeting you! Hope you’re all well!

  2. Amazing Jenn! Thanks for sharing. You forgot to mention in this that Meredith is perhaps the cutest child to ever live. xxoo

  3. Our Family has had the pleasure of knowing both wonderful sisters, Jennifer and Lisa. Coming from a couple that tried for 15 years to have our first miracle daughter, we not only know the disappointment of the negative pregnancy tests but also relish in the feeling of the positive announcement that you will be expecting your beautiful baby girl……I will always be incredibly moved by the unselfish act these sisters have given each other …..I tear up just thinking what an incredible Life changing gift and what a special daughter and neice! Beautiful story to read, amazing women to know!! Nothing but the best and smooth sailings ahead for all of you as you journey together through Life and love every moment……

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. So glad it had a happy ending for you. We tried to conceive for 4 years, including 2 IVF’s. The last one finally worked 12 years ago and we got a beautiful little girl. We subsequently adopted a son two years later. I don’t have a sister, so if it wouldn’t have worked out for me, our finances wouldn’t have permitted surrogacy. Meanwhile, breastfeeding my son made up for the inability to carry him.

    Your message strikes a chord on two levels. First is the amazing gift your sister gave you. Your situation expands the notion of family, as well as that of the connection between children and the women who bear them. Your sister wouldn’t have been able to “give up” her baby if she thought it was hers – she obviously felt she carried your (yours and your husband’s) daughter. That’s not easy to explain to laypeople, so having stories like yours help demystify this new family reality.

    The second is the infertility part. I don’t think “normal” couples realize the impact of realizing that children are perhaps not part of your happily ever after. For those of us who have been wanting to be parents all their lives and to have our bodies fail us is a hard pill to swallow. Some go on to adoption, some manage to have surrogates, and others still break up and give up. Behind these stories are suffering and isolation, often faced a heavy dose of misunderstanding, uncaring or apathy, even when there eventually is a happy ending. Thank you for reminding people that alternative families emerge from the same desire and hopes than standard families, and that we sometimes get our hearts broken dozens of times before a little one comes along to heal it.

  5. Talk about having Kleenex nearby!! Such a beautiful story, and so well written, Jennifer….
    A true love story💕 Sending love and good wishes your way!

  6. Merci d’avoir partagé ton histoire, Jennifer. Je ne suis pas surprise que deux formidables parents comme les votres aient élevé deux jeunes femmes si aimantes et généreuses. Je vous souhaite tout le bonheur possible, à toute la famille! Claudette Sulek.

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