Issue date: 21 December 2015
After 24 years with Andy, and a life which included great jobs and a very comfortable lifestyle, Gary slowly and very obviously was overcome with a severe case of ‘paternal instinct’.
There were no lightning bolts and there had been no long-held plan to become a dad, but in their early 40s he raised the issue with Andy and said: ‘I’d like us to become a family.’
“It wasn’t a dream I’d always had,” he explains, “possibly because when we were in our 20s and 30s, parenthood just didn’t really happen for gay couples.
“But a combination of being 40-something and a growing instinct to become a dad, altered my perspective on what I really wanted in life – and luckily Andy wanted it too.
“Over the years, friends had asked if we would consider adopting and while we thought it was a great thing to do, it wasn’t for us. So we got on with being ‘just’ a couple.”
Gary (46) is a civilian with the police force and Andy (49) is a marketing manager in the motor industry. Life was good, but in 2013 the couple from Coventry went to Midland Fertility and enquired about surrogacy – and met Heidi Birch, the director of nursing services. Heidi continued to oversee their care throughout their treatment.
Midland Fertility offers ‘host surrogacy’ where the eggs from a donor are fertilised with the sperm from the male couple and then resulting embryos are transferred to a separate surrogate. The clinic considers this less complex than ‘straight surrogacy’ where the surrogate conceives using her own eggs.
All couples using a surrogate are guided through the complex legal process by the clinic before any treatment is undertaken, to ensure all parties are comfortable with their roles, and any resulting child’s welfare is considered above all else.
After contacting Surrogacy UK, the couple met Sue. Sue was registered as a potential surrogate with the organisation, which introduces women who want to help intended parents have their family.
Despite being aged 51 at the time, Sue was considered both fit and healthy enough to be a host surrogate – it’s the age of the donor eggs that is vital.
Once Gary and Andy had formed a friendship with Sue, the search for an egg donor began.
Lucy was introduced to the couple by Sue as she has expressed a desire to help childless couples, after completing her own family.
“We hit it off immediately,” said Andy. “Sue and Lucy already knew each other and both were comfortable with helping us to become fathers. We quickly become friends and developed an amazing bond.”
Sue and Lucy, who was then aged 28, attended Midland Fertility separately to discuss their roles in the treatment, and to ensure they were both fit and well and prepared to give this huge gift.
Initial testing for both was completed by the clinical team and Midland Fertility and a cycle of treatment began, with Lucy undergoing weeks of scans and self-administered injections.
“We were kept informed along the way, and once Lucy was ready for egg collection we had all our fingers crossed for her.”
With Gary and Andy in attendance, ten eggs were retrieved, and then three embryos developed after fertilisation with the IVF technique. One embryo was transferred to Sue and an anxious two week wait began for all to see if the treatment had been successful.
“We were overjoyed that we had got to that stage and were with Sue when she had the transfer,” said Gary.
Unfortunately, the pregnancy test proved to be negative.
“We were so disappointed,” said Andy. “Not only for us, but for Lucy and Sue too as both of them had put so much into the treatment.”
After discussing their options with both Lucy and Sue, Gary and Andy felt they wanted to try a further attempt at a pregnancy using the two remaining frozen embryos.
Sue had the last two embryos transferred and the wait began for a second time.
To the delight of all, Sue reported a positive test result!
The couple returned to Midland Fertility with Sue for their first early pregnancy scan.
“We were excited but nervous as we watched the screen,” said Gary. During the scan, Heidi confirmed there was not just one healthy heartbeat, but two!
“It was all our dreams come true”, said Andy. “It was also special for my parents who never imagined I’d become a dad at this age – and to twins – and giving them their first grandchildren.”
“We saw Sue regularly throughout the pregnancy and attended all the scans with her. She was happy with us being around a great deal and asking a million questions about how she was feeling. It was amazing to watch the babies moving around; it just made it more real for us.”
Sue went into spontaneous labour at 33 weeks and the twins were delivered by Caesarean section in March 2014.
“We were told that Sue had gone into labour and made our way to the hospital to be with her. She was amazing and we were in theatre throughout the procedure. Marnie was born first, just one minute before Dexter. It was an unbelievable moment when we held our babies for the first time.”
The arrival of Marnie and Dexter has completed Gary and Andy’s family aspirations – for now!
The twins regularly have sleepovers at Sue’s and, watching the toddlers playing with ‘Auntie Lucy’ and ‘Auntie Sue’, the special bond between the six of them is evident.
“If we had seen 500+ egg donors and surrogates, we couldn’t have found anybody better to help us have our family,” said Gary. “Lucy and Sue will always be huge part of our family life.”
“At our first appointment at Midland Fertility we knew that this was the right place for us to try and create a family,” said Gary. “The staff were welcoming, caring and very professional. With the help of our surrogate Sue, and our egg donor Lucy, Midland Fertility turned our dreams to reality.”
“Surrogacy can be emotionally and physically very complicated,” said Heidi Birch. “But Gary and Andy’s story shows that genetic fatherhood is possible with expert support and care – and in less than a couple of years too!
“It is such a total privilege having been a part of their fertility journey and seeing their continuing family relationship with Lucy and Sue.”