We are the Barar family. Husband, wife, baby, and angel baby. This is our story.
A Little Family History
Peter was raised in Michigan and I (Darla) grew up in Texas. In 2011, we met on eHarmony and began dating long-distance – Peter had moved to my hometown for work, but I had moved away to teach middle school English. After just under a year together, I moved back to my hometown to be closer to Peter. We got engaged in November of 2012 and married in September of 2013.
Our Journey to a Family
Not long after our wedding, we started thinking about having children. We both wanted kids, so it seemed natural to start trying and see what happened. After nearly a year, though, I was not pregnant, so we sought out the help of a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Rounds of testing revealed that our infertility was “unexplained.” We tried four rounds of IUIs (intrauterine inseminations), and when those didn’t work, we attempted one round of IVF (in-vitro fertilization). While a few of my eggs fertilized, none grew past the initial fertilization phase. Our doctor shrugged and said I must, at 29 years old, have bad eggs. Not unheard of, but not common either. He recommended using a donor, at least for me. We decided to take a break and do some soul-searching in Jamaica before deciding what to do.
Once we returned from our amazing vacation, we had a few heart-to-hearts to determine our best course of action. In October of 2015, we decided to move forward with using an egg donor, but we decided to go abroad for the treatment due to sky-high costs in the U.S. and similar success rates and quality of care in the Czech Republic (a country known for its fertility treatments).
Our Conception Story
On January 28, we boarded a plane and headed for Italy, the first leg of our 2.5-week tour of Europe that we decided to do while abroad for our IVF treatment. We spent four glorious days touring museums and churches, tasting wine, and generally just enjoying some much-needed stress-free time together.
After our time in Italy, we hopped over to the Czech Republic for the first of two stints at our clinic. This first trip was for a consult, delivery of Peter’s sperm sample, and our donor’s egg retrieval. While we didn’t get to meet her, we said a lot of prayers and sent some really good vibes her way on the day of the retrieval.
While we waited for our little embryos to form and grow, we spent four nights in Vienna. This place was the top of Peter’s bucket list, so you can imagine the amazing time we had there. We spent most of this time sightseeing with an amazing couple that we met through our infertility journey who were also going through donor egg IVF treatment at the same clinic we were.
After Vienna, it was back to our clinic for transfer day! On February 9, we transferred our only two embryos from the cycle, and they were so beautiful and perfect and loved already!
After my day of bedrest, we headed to Prague for a few nights and said goodbye to our travel companions. Prague was so beautiful and peaceful.
We made a short stop in Bayreuth, Germany to fulfill a lifelong dream of Peter’s to visit the composer Wagner’s home and the performance hall he built for his operas. And then we headed home, exhausted but hopeful.
On February 16, two days after getting back home, I took a pregnancy test and finally got to tell Peter he was going to be a dad! We were both over the moon!
From Excitement to Devastation
On March 18, we had our first ultrasound and discovered we were expecting twins! Sheer terror and sheer excitement ruled our lives for a while until we settled into the idea that we were going to be bringing home two babies later in the year. We later found out they were both girls: our Olivia and Catherine.
Our 20-week ultrasound was in June. This is a biggie because it’s when the doctor can finally see most of the babies’ anatomies and make sure everything is forming correctly. Sadly, Catherine’s anatomy was NOT forming correctly. She was diagnosed with a host of issues, including an open encephalocele that was leaking her brain matter, a severely underdeveloped cerebellum, probably microcephaly, and a very large cleft lip/palate. I mention this last part only because it meant that Catherine (Cate, as we called her) couldn’t swallow her amniotic fluid, so her sac was growing larger and larger, and was actually beginning to restrict the growth of Olivia’s sac.
We saw multiple doctors and weighed our options. Cate was not likely to survive the delivery process, and if she did, she would need more surgeries than we could begin to imagine. Because her brain matter was being pulled out of her head, she faced a high likelihood of severe mental and physical disability – we were warned that if she survived, she would almost certainly not go home with us. Cate’s growing sac also meant that Olivia’s growth would eventually be restricted, and we would probably need to deliver much earlier than is ideal, which put Olivia, who was otherwise totally healthy, at risk.
On June 22, we said our goodbyes to Cate and had her part of the pregnancy terminated. It was the most gut-wrenching decision we have ever had to make, and likely will ever have to make in our lives. We wanted that baby girl more than anything, but she had a sister we had to care for, too. And we couldn’t bring Cate into this world to suffer in excruciating pain for our selfish desire to meet her.
Living and Loving After Loss
I carried both girls until I delivered them on September 26. Olivia was tiny but strong, and our sweet Cate looked peaceful. I delivered her right alongside her sister – it was like she wanted to hold her hand as she entered this world to give her just a little more strength and a little more sisterly love.
Olivia is a thriving little baby. She’s a peanut, but she’s so amazing. We love her more than words could possibly say and then some.
Our lives are forever changed by our experience. Peter and I have stood by each other through so much over the last two years, and we continue to stand by each other as the world judges us for our choice to spare our daughter from immense pain and suffering. Our hearts are heavy with grief, but also with love. And that’s where we find ourselves today.