So Hope left corporate America to earn a certificate in life coaching. She joined a holistic fertility center in Chicago and developed her own practice. She quickly grasped what an honor it was to help others through the challenging—but often revelatory—process of trying to start a family. "The most important piece is helping them find a way to keep the light of hope shining, so they're not so distraught and overcome by fear that they get stopped," Hope says.
As she helped her clients through their journey, Hope's skill at remaining positive but flexible deepened as well. She learned how to listen to what her body and soul needed. She allowed herself to mourn another failed cycle. She began to prepare herself emotionally in case a procedure didn't work and have a Plan B ready just in case.
"It was about knowing there would be avenues," she says. "Even if this one wasn't my path, there would be a new one. I would be ready after I'd done the mourning I needed to do."
But by 2007, Hope found herself mourning failures more and more. Desperation threatened to block her optimism entirely.
"We were desperate, actually," Hope says. "And then, we met Sarah."
When people hear the word "surrogacy," they may recall the highly publicized 1985 trial of Baby M, in which a traditional surrogate sued for custody of the baby she was carrying for a New Jersey couple. Most surrogates in the 1980s conceived a child using the intended father's sperm and the surrogate's egg via artificial insemination.
Today, however, surrogates are rarely genetically linked to the baby. Using in vitro fertilization, embryos created from the father's sperm and the mother's egg or a donor egg are implanted in a surrogate, who then carries the baby to term.
Though numbers are growing, the percentage of couples who choose surrogacy remains small. The legal and medical processes—not to mention individual temperaments and group dynamics—require a great deal of patience and stamina on all parts.
Fortunately for Hope, she and Sarah clicked immediately. In fact, the two blond, curly-headed women with wide smiles were often asked if they were sisters.