I had 4 kids by the time I was 22. When I tried being a surrogate, I had 2 miscarriages and the intended family let me go.

  • Lynetta Cuomo miscarried her first two surrogate pregnancies at six weeks.

  • After the second miscarriage, the family let her go.

  • She matched with another family and delivered a healthy baby boy

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Lynetta Cuomo. It has been edited for length and clarity.

By the time I was 22, I had four children, including newborn twins. I knew I was done growing my family, but I loved being pregnant. I became captivated by the idea of helping a family become complete through surrogacy. By carrying a baby for another couple, I could help them have the thing that they desperately wanted, and that came so easily to me.

At the time, my husband wasn't supportive. He thought the idea of me carrying someone else's baby was weird. Without a supportive partner, I knew I couldn't go through with surrogacy. But when we divorced and I later met my now fiancé, he was supportive. Nearly 10 years after my initial interest, I was finally able to pursue surrogacy.

I got pregnant on my first try at surrogacy

Thanks to a social media ad, I found SurrogateFirst, an agency that I clicked with right away. I filled out an application and had an initial phone call with the agency. The woman on the other end of the line explained that surrogacy was a long process — I wasn't going to get pregnant next month and walk away with a big check.

The agency urged me to consider lots of questions. Did I want a relationship with the family after the baby was born? (I did.) Would I be willing to have an abortion if the intended parents made that decision? (That would be their decision.) Was I comfortable working with couples of all sexual orientations? (Yes!)

After I mulled over those questions I was matched with my first family. We did an embryo transfer, and a week later found out I was pregnant. I was elated.

When I miscarried, I felt like I was letting the parents down

When I was about six weeks along I was walking when I suddenly felt myself pass a large clot. I had never miscarried before, so I hoped there was another explanation. I text the intended parents and bought a box of 50 cheap pregnancy tests from Amazon. I started taking a test every-other time I used the bathroom, and watched the positive line become lighter and lighter. That was confirmation that my hormone levels were dropping, because I was no longer pregnant.

I didn't know how to process the loss, since this baby wasn't mine. Yet, I still felt like I was letting the parents down. I learned that miscarriage isn't only something you have to recover from emotionally — your body needs time to heal too.

The next time I miscarried, I found out alongside the intended parents

Once I was ready I did another embryo transfer with the same couple. This time, the pressure I put on myself was intensified because this was their last embryo. I was terrified when I started bleeding again at six weeks, but my doctor found a heartbeat.

The intended parents flew in for the next appointment. They had spent the previous 10 years trying to get pregnant, and had never made it as far as hearing a heartbeat, so I was excited for them. But when we got to the clinic, there was nothing to hear.

I could see the devastation on their faces. A few weeks later they told me they were ending our contract. I didn't take that personally at all. I knew they were emotionally exhausted, and had to take time to decide their next steps. They wanted me to move along with my surrogacy journey even if they weren't ready to continue.

I delivered a baby boy for a couple that feels like family

Six months later I was pregnant again. This time, the intended parents were two dads from Europe. When I met them I just felt immediately that I wanted to help them. My pregnancy with their son had lots of complications, but watching the dads meet their baby was life changing. In the hospital, I felt like a mama bear to the boy, but in an auntie way.

After the birth, the new family of three spent time with my fiancé and kids. We brought them takeout and cuddled the infant. Recently, the couple offered to fly me to Europe for the baby's baptism next spring. We're talking about me carrying a sibling for them. This isn't just a surrogacy arrangement — we're family now.

Recently, I found out the first family I matched with is working with a new surrogate. She's pregnant with twins. We still have the type of relationship where I can reach out and check in with the intended parents. I want them to know that I'm their biggest cheerleader. I hope they get the family they've worked so hard for.

Read the original article on Business Insider