Over three years ago when Mr. Starfish and I started trying to become pregnant, I dreamed of a great pregnancy reveal story. Back when I naively thought we could become pregnant naturally, I would spend countless hours during my two-week-waits scouring the internet for creative and fun ways to disclose to our parents and extended families that we were pregnant.
As the months turned into years, and our pregnancy attempts transformed from a good night with a nice bottle of wine, to ovulation kits, IUI attempts, and IVF transfers, this dream faded away slowly and painfully. Our families eventually came to know about our infertility struggles, and became so intertwined in our cycles and treatment protocols that they would know the day that we would learn our pregnancy result. Time after time, we had to tell them that things hadn’t gone our way. Some months, they had to take our silence as notification that the result was negative. On the worst months, they would pick up the phone and be greeted only by my muffled sobs.
After our first surrogate’s pregnancy loss in early 2015, we decided that it had become far too painful to keep our families informed of everything that we were doing on the baby-making front. We asked for privacy, and we told them that we would no longer provide status updates. Although this was done to protect our fragile emotional state, it had the lovely side benefit of setting us up perfectly for a huge pregnancy reveal surprise for all of our family members when we had established both pregnancies!
Mr. Starfish and I started brainstorming ways to tell our families about the pregnancies as soon as we learned that our surrogate was pregnant. We didn’t tell them until Thanksgiving, when my pregnancy was at 16 weeks and our surrogate’s pregnancy was at 11 weeks. The families had no idea that we had been re-matched with a surrogate; they had no idea that I had been trying one more IVF cycle on myself; they had been completely in the dark since April.
My and Mr. Starfish’s families are spread all across the country, and so we weren’t able to be with everyone when we revealed the pregnancies on the holiday weekend. So we shipped special packages to all of the grandparents-to-be. Inside the packages were three items. First was a small white box wrapped in a pink ribbon; inside the box was a baby countdown clock set with the due date of our surrogate. Second was an identical small white box wrapped in a purple ribbon; inside this box was a baby countdown clock set with my due date. Third was a wrapped journal that I had composed that detailed every milestone that we had hit since we went silent earlier in the year, including details on the pregnancies, our surrogate, and the timeline.
We shipped these items to our parents and told them that they were early Christmas gifts, and instructed them to not open them until we told them to.
On Thanksgiving morning, we called each parent via FaceTime and instructed them to open the packages. We started by asking them to unwrap the first box with the pink ribbon. We waited for them to process the information as they unwrapped the clock that was programmed with the surrogate’s due date. We had placed a photo of our surrogate on the flap of the box, and directed them to her picture and explained who she was. We told them that she was pregnant and carrying their granddaughter! There were screams of joy, moments of silence, big blubbery tears and red noses.
Once they calmed down, we pointed out that there was a second white box with a purple ribbon, and we instructed them to open that box next. As they unwrapped a second baby countdown clock, programmed with a different due date, the look of confusion on all of their faces was simply priceless and questions flew at us, “There are two?!” and “You’re having twins?!”
After laughing at their reactions and attempts to process the crazy news, we told them that we weren’t having twins exactly. We told them that in addition to our surrogate, that I was also pregnant! I don’t think I’ll ever see faces so stunned again in my life as when we told our parents that they had two grand-daughters on the way, due within five weeks of each other.
We had a feeling that there would be a ton of questions, and that is where the third item in each parent’s box came in handy: the journal. I had spent hours detailing every single moment that we had experienced over the past few months as we got the pregnancies established. We left each parent with instructions to catch up on the story by reading the journal. It was lovely to receive text messages throughout the day as they read about the past few months and learned all of the details of how their grandbabies were set up in their respective “ovens.”
I’m pretty sure that every future Thanksgiving will bring me right back to that most special one. And I’m certainly sure that our big pregnancy reveal story was worth the excruciatingly long wait…