Every mother thinks that her child, and her birth experience, is extra special—because, in some respect, it is. However, for one Tennessee mom, her situation is so special, it broke world records. The reason? Her baby is only a year younger than her.
Tina And Benjamin
Tina and Benjamin Gibson live in Eastern Tennessee where they got married and were enjoying life as a young married couple. Around six years after they got married, the couple decided it was time to start a family. Excited and nervous, both Tina and Benjamin knew that conceiving a child would be a little bit different for them than most due to one thing.
“My husband has cystic fibrosis, so infertility is common,” Tina opened up to CNN. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the organs, which produce mucus and digestive juices, mostly affecting the lungs. However, Benjamin’s disease was not going to stop them from starting a family.
The couple said they had made peace with Benjamin’s condition, but had other plans, “We had decided that we were more than likely going to adopt, and we were fine with that.” Before anything official happened, the couple decided to help some kids out in the meantime.
They fostered several children before going through with any final decisions, and they said they enjoyed every minute of it. As they found themselves in the middle of some rare alone time in between fostering, they decided to take a much-needed vacation. The couple decided on a week long sabbatical. Before they got started, something Tina’s dad said stopped them in their tracks.
The couple stopped by Tina’s dad’s house to drop off their pup before heading out, but what he shared with them changed their lives forever. “I saw something on the news today. It’s called embryo adoption, and they would implant an embryo in you, and you could carry a baby,” he excitedly revealed to his daughter.
But he didn’t get the reaction he was expecting, Tina wasn’t interested. “I was like, ‘Well, that’s nice, Dad, but we’re not interested. We’re knee-deep in foster care right now,’ ” Tina recalled with a laugh. “I kind of blew it off. I had no interest in it.”
So what changed her mind?
Time To Think
During the eight-hour car ride to their vacation destination, Tina had time to think about it. “It was playing in my mind over and over and over,” she said. She turned to look at Benjamin when he asked her “What are you thinking about?”, “The embryo adoption,” she replied.
Benjamin revealed that he had also been thinking about it the entire car ride. So it was time to research.
Tina immediately dove into researching about embryo adoption. As they drove, Tina shared more information with Benjamin, starting with the fact that the donation center was located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Although she was definitely interested, she still needed a little more time and convincing to be 100% ready.
When You Know, You Know
It was one single moment that made up her mind, “During August of last year, I just came home one day; I looked at Benjamin, and I said, ‘I think we need to submit an application for embryo adoption’.” And just like that, they decided to fill out and send in the application that night.
After the couple filled out the application, Tina had to complete a series of tests that would determine if her uterus was suitable for an embryo implantation. By January, Tina had a small polyp removed and then it was time for a home study.
The couple had to go through a similar process that adopting a child entails, including a home-study to ensure the environment is right for a child. People who go through the process understand the seriousness of the commitment, so the center rarely receives a red flag on an application, according to Mark Mellinger, marketing and development director.
One Final Decision
By March, the couple had been passed all the tests and were now awaiting implantation. However, it wasn’t all easy and quick from there, they still had to choose an embryo. The couple had to vigorously look over donor profiles, which lists genetic information and they didn’t have much time to figure it out, “We literally had two weeks to go through 300 profiles.”
Tina was overwhelmed and didn’t know how to choose. They obviously wanted the healthiest baby possible but found it almost impossible to choose. They decided to narrow down their choices by focusing on one small detail first, their stature.
Narrowing It Down
First, they looked for profiles similar to their own body structures. After that, she said they looked at the more important things, “Then we started looking at some of the bigger things, like medical history. Long story short, we picked our profile.”
But they were about to receive a roadblock after all of that time choosing the right baby.
Bump In The Road
Their first choice wasn’t viable after all, so they had to go with their second choice. But the doctor didn’t inform them that their pregnancy would break a world record until they were literally on their way to the operation. Little did they know, this detail would not only change their lives forever, but it would take the Internet by storm.
Tina replied to the doctor saying, “I didn’t sign up for this”, jokingly. Usually, there is about a 75% survival rate when unthawing frozen embryos, but in this case, all three (which were from the same donors) survived. They were all implanted into Tina, and now the couple was apart of a waiting game.
They didn’t know how many babies would implant, or if any would.
Tina later revealed that one embryo successfully implanted and she felt that it was a miracle as many people don’t have success in the first round. Just after Thanksgiving, Tina gave birth to a healthy baby girl after 20 hours of labor.
When interviewed, Tina said, “So it all just fell into place. It’s our new normal; it’s crazy to think about it.”
So, you may be wondering how it’s even possible that this couple received an embryo only a year younger than Tina herself, and the answer lies in the advancements in IVF. Due to higher success rates with IVF, fewer embryos are being created, making Tina and Benjamin’s daughter even more special. Although rarer these days, couples sometimes have leftover embryos after they’ve completed their families, so they donate them.
But is the couple done having children?
More To Come
When asked, Tina said she was absolutely interested in giving Emma a sister or brother with the remaining embryos. She also revealed that they may still adopt, “We wanted to adopt, and I don’t know that that isn’t going to be in our future. We may still adopt. This just ended up being the route that we took. I think that we would have been equally elated if were able to adopt. “