Now — for the second time as an adult — Sara Moffitt has her sister’s belly, too.
Emily Simpson, 39, a 1994 Madison High School graduate, and her husband, Shane, who live in California, tried to start a family, but each of their six pregnancies during a five-year period ended with a miscarriage.
Simpson wasn’t going to experience motherhood, she thought. The Simpsons, married in 2008, had spent thousands of dollars and were emotionally broke. What they wanted more than anything, bringing a baby into this world, was out of reach.
“You can’t believe the dark place I was in,” Simpson said, the enthusiasm gone in her voice. “I didn’t know where to go from there. I tried to wrap by brain around it, but I couldn’t. The more I thought about it, not being able to have children, the darker I got. I would have given anything to have just one child.”
As a last resort, they tried in-vitro fertilization and she got pregnant, but 16 weeks later, her water broke and the babies were delivered. However, they lived only a few minutes. Simpson had an emergency medical procedure, needed a blood transfusion and went home from the hospital with a heavy heart.
The Simpsons were living in Orange County, Calif., and Sara Moffitt, 36, a 1997 Madison graduate who lives in Waynesville, visited them over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2011.
Moffitt, the mother of a little girl, dropped this bomb on her sister: Stop trying to have a baby and let me be your surrogate mother.
“I’ll do it for you,” she said.
“I’ll do it.”
So that’s what happened. Two of Simpson’s embryos, one male, one female, were implanted in her sister in the summer of 2012, and a few weeks later, she was pregnant with a girl. The Simpsons decorated the nursery and had at least four baby showers, “some ridiculous number,” she said with a laugh.
Sara Annabelle Simpson was born Feb. 19, 2013, at Kettering Medical Center. Simpson was there for the birth, while her husband, who has two older children from a previous marriage, listened on the phone from their home.
Simpson affectionately calls Annabelle her “million dollar and miracle baby.”
Moffitt said she volunteered to serve as surrogate mother because she was concerned for her sister’s mental and physical well-being.
“How much can one person take,” she said. “She had gone through all the options. It was hard to sit back and watch and I was perfectly capable of doing it.”
Then she paused, wiped away the tears, and added: “That’s my sister. I would do anything for her.”
The two sisters laugh now when they think back to the reactions from strangers. Here’s Simpson, thin as always, walking through an airport with a 5-day-old baby, while her sister, who people knew was pregnant, was without a newborn.
“People told me, ‘You look amazing for just having a baby,’” Simpson said. “It’s not like you want to sit there and tell them.”
Then last year, the Simpsons decided they wanted more children. So she called her sister. What are you doing for the next nine months, sis?
“Hell no” was Moffitt’s reaction when asked if she’d be a surrogate mother again.
So Simpson contacted a surrogate agency about hiring a surrogate mother, but that was a very complex process. She was impatient.
“My sister spoiled me,” she said.
She called her sister. Again.
Well, guess what? Sara Moffitt is pregnant again. And this time, it’s twins. Two boys.
Moffitt, who is 34 weeks pregnant, expects to deliver at Kettering Medical Center this month. Then she will hand over her two nephews to her sister, who will fly back to California, the mother of three children under the age of 2. Ain’t medicine great?
Simpson called the in vitro process “like playing God a little,” but “you want to have a child so bad you’re OK with that.”
When the boys are born, Simpson again with be faced with an impossible task: How do you thank someone who carried your babies for nine months, endured the morning sickness, the cravings, the stretch marks? There isn’t a big demand for “Thanks for being my Surrogate Mother” Hallmark card.
“Anything you say is inadequate,” said Simpson, an attorney and stay-at-home mother. “I love her more than anything on the face of the earth. But how do you thank your sister for giving you everything you ever wanted?”
The sisters said they’re being honest with their daughters about the surrogate process. Sara Moffitt said she told her daughter, Sylvia, 5 at the time, that her aunt’s “stomach was broken” and she couldn’t carry a baby. Sylvia now considers Annabelle her “sister/cousin.”
Simpson said she has a picture of her sister, pregnant with Annabelle, hanging in her daughter’s nursery.
“She should know the truth,” Simpson said.
Right now, Emily and Annabelle are staying with the Moffitts until the babies are born. Moffitt said she loves spending time with her sister and niece, watching their mother/daughter interaction.
“It reconfirms that I made the right decision,” she said. “This shows that when you have unconditional love for somebody you will do whatever. There are no boundaries, no limits.”