Kevin and Nicole Barattini were married in 2010 and settled in the city of Smithton, New York. They had two dogs and dreamed of having a baby to start growing their family.
But when Nicole visited her doctors and told them they wanted to start trying, she received some unexpected news that shattered their dreams of becoming parents.
When Nicole was 16 years old, she started noticing small red dots on her skin, which soon covered her whole body. At first, she didn’t think it was too serious, but soon her symptoms worsened.
She experienced jaundiced eyes, fatigue, and fever. She went to the doctor, who drew her blood to find the problem. The diagnosis was not good.
A Lifelong Condition
Nicole was diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenia purpura (TTP). This is an autoimmune disease that causes blood clots around the body which can become fatal.
Nicole was hospitalized and spent several days getting plasma transfusions. She was also prescribed a medication that kept the disease under control. Nicole’s life went back to normal until she decided to become pregnant.
An Unforeseen Setback
Doctors told Nicole that the medication she took for TTP would be harmful to her baby, and advised her against getting pregnant. When she suggested coming off her medication, they told her it could be fatal for her.
TTP has a 95% mortality rate if left untreated. Despondent, Nicole broke the news to Kevin, who agreed it was not worth putting her life at risk. So they decided to look at other options.
Weighing Their Options
The couple first thought about adoption, but after doing research they found the legal fees for the process were too high. Then they began thinking about IVF and surrogacy but weren’t sure if Nicole’s condition could affect this too.
Doctors reassured them her TTP was not genetic, and she had healthy eggs. So she decided to freeze them for surrogacy. But there were many bumps in the road ahead.
Obstacle After Obstacle
The cost of hiring a surrogate was upwards of $75,000, especially because it was not legal in New York so they would have to find someone from out of state. They told friends and family about their plight, and many of them offered to carry their baby without compensation.
Sadly, after undergoing several tests, none of them were deemed fit for the task. Until the Fives came along.
A Years-Long Friendship
The Barattinis had known Lianna and Shawn Fives for 20 years. The couple always wanted a big family and had achieved their goal – having had five children by the time Lianna was 37 and Shawn 40.
Six months after the birth of their fifth baby, the Fives invited Kevin and Nicole to dinner, where Lianna made an announcement that changed their lives.
The Offer That Changed Everything
“You know I have five children, Shawn, and I want to have maybe one or two more,” began Lianna. Kevin and Nicole looked at each other, puzzled, wondering why she would want any more children. But she continued.
“No, not for me, for you guys – I’d like to carry a child.” It then hit them: Lianna was offering to be their surrogate. The couple, overwhelmed, started crying.
An Unsuccessful First Try
Lianna still had to undergo medical and mental tests, but she passed with flying colors. Finally, the embryos were implanted, and the Barattinis promised to be with Lianna every step of the way.
Sadly, the embryos did not take – but doctors encouraged them to try again. Lianna was implanted for a second time, and the two couples waited nervously for weeks. Finally, the results came back.
Lianna was pregnant. Kevin and Nicole were closer to being parents than ever before. Surprisingly, there was more good news. Two of the implanted embryos had taken, and she was now carrying twins.
The Barattinis could not believe their good fortune and shared their happiness with Lianna and Shawn. The two couples decided to celebrate.
Going All Out
The Fives and the Barattinis planned a party to announce the impending arrival of Kevin and Nicole’s twin babies. They invited friends and family of both couples, ending up with over 60 guests.
Knowing that the Barattinis had been wanting to start a family for many years, everyone was pleasantly surprised. Soon, the big day arrived.
The Day They Had Been Waiting For
After a healthy pregnancy, Lianna gave birth to Nicole and Kevin’s babies on February 10th, 2017. They had a boy and a girl, whom they named Dominic and Luciana. The Barattinis burst out crying as soon as they saw their newborn children for the first time.
Their lifelong dream had finally come true – and it was all thanks to the selflessness of their best friends. It was an act they were determined to honor.
A Strong Bond
Shawn and Lianna were named Luciana and Dominic’s godparents, making their friendship even stronger. “I don’t have a sister but I’d consider her like that. We don’t hold back, we are open, honest, and I am constantly turning to her for guidance,” said Nicole of Lianna.
Knowing how lucky she had been to have someone willing to do that for her, she knew she had to pay it forward.
Helping Others In Their Situation
Wanting to help other couples in a similar situation, Kevin and Nicole started campaigning to make surrogacy legal in New York state. “We have been working with local legislators and Reproductive Specialists of New York to make surrogacy recognized,” wrote Kevin on his Facebook page.
Their story soon went public, and they started receiving lots of media attention.
Living The Joys Of Parenthood
The Barattinis hoped that the publicity surrounding their case could help give hope to other women who longed to have children. “There are people out there, like Lianna, that will do it out of kindness – and it’s easier to find them than it seems.
It’s never the end of the road,” stated Nicole. The couple continues their activism while enjoying the gift of parenthood.