Heartstrings, hard work, hope and a baby named Hank

Just when the world was starting to feel impossibly cruel and full of depressing news, along comes a story of hope and generosity that will restore your faith in both humanity and God. Treat yourself to the following story, shared exactly as beautifully written by and with permission from Cami Noffke, told in two eloquent Facebook posts:

Hank Michael Noffke is here!

Two years ago we spent Thanksgiving week picking up the pieces of our hearts as I recovered from one of many life-saving surgeries that left me unable to carry another child.

This Thanksgiving we are spending the week as a family of four, soaking up every single second of this precious new life. “Thankful” is a profound understatement. Since March, we have watched in amazement as Carissa Pomeroy gracefully grew and cared for our baby, giving us a gift that is quite literally larger than life. Surrogacy is something we never knew we would need. We, in a sense, launched ourselves into this process without much knowledge about how impactful it would be on us and those around us. Carissa, along with her husband Tom Pomeroy and their entire family have made this journey one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed or experienced.

A year and a half ago when we sat across the table on the night we met the Pomeroys we had no idea that we were facing two people who, in a few months time, would become our family. We look forward to the day that we get to describe to our son the absolute incredible amount of love that went into the process of getting him here. All of the doctors, nurses, embryologists, scientists, support groups, our surrogate agency, friends, family, Carissa, all of her friends and family, her incredible care team, and God.

We are beyond grateful for every single person who had a hand in this unbelievable miracle. Carissa told us early Monday morning that it was time to head to the hospital- our son was on his way. We had no idea how incredibly overwhelmed we would be by what we would all experience a few hours later. She asked me to help deliver him and (as you’ll see in a photo below) I was completely overcome with emotion as I met my son.. it was an honor I will never forget. Step by step Carissa has given me back so many of the experiences that were taken from me years ago and I will be grateful for the rest of my life. There is no way to express the gratitude we have for this incredible experience and for the life of our little boy. Thank you Carissa and Tom! Thank you surrogacy! Thank you God!

The backstory

Everyone has hardships and everyone has pain, which is a big reason that I was not ready to share this story until it was a story of hope instead of hurt and until a tragedy in my life could possibly be used for purpose to help someone else.

Rewind back to summer 2019, Mike and I were overjoyed to be expecting our second child. As time went on, and having been pregnant a few times before, including one successful pregnancy with Ruby, I had an inclination that something was not right. A few weeks went by with a substantial amount of pain, and it was finally time to see our baby via ultrasound. The flicker of baby’s heart is one of the most beautiful things and when we saw it we felt a moment of relief. After reviewing the ultrasound, my doctor came into the room and sat down with a look on her face that I will never forget.

“I have never seen this before, I have only ever read about it…” she said as the air began to leave the room. She went on to say that our baby had implanted itself inside the c-section scar from my emergency delivery of Ruby two years prior. As the baby grew, the scar and my uterus were being stretched and if there wasn’t intervention soon, neither the baby nor I would make it.

The room began to spin as we were told this was an issue my doctor didn’t feel comfortable with and she wanted me to be with a team who can handle my situation. Knowing that my uterus could rupture any minute, the nurses came in to check my vitals while my doctor called down to alert the high risk obstetrics team in Madison where I was rushed immediately following my appointment.

We didn’t know what to expect as we entered the hospital but I prayed so hard that I would make it out alive as the scans showed that my uterine wall was “paper thin”. Several doctors made their way into my room to ask questions and they all made sure to tell us that they have no experience with this- and they too did not know what the outcome would be. They informed us that they were able to get in touch with a doctor out west who had seen it before, and they were using him as a guide to determine the best route for safety. I was quickly taken into surgery, with no idea what condition I would wake up in. What comes next is something so painful that it has taken me a year and a half to be able to talk openly about it.

I woke up from surgery with the doctor sitting next to me on the hospital bed. Mike and I, hand in hand, were told that they did absolutely everything they could, but they could not save our baby or my uterus. In 12 hours I went from expecting my second child to never being able to carry a baby again. We were absolutely gutted. We always dreamed of a large family with lots of kids running around. How could we possibly recover from this? Our dreams and my body were in pieces.

Several days later I was finally released from the hospital in a numb, foggy form of disbelief. Over the course of the next few months as I worked up the courage to function again, Mike carried our team physically and emotionally. He was unwilling to give up on our dreams, which has everything to do with where we are today. He would work all day, come home and care for Ruby and then research all night long about options to grow our family.

Since my ovaries were not affected at all from the trauma, my doctor suggested hiring a surrogate to carry an embryo created through IVF from Mike and me. Regardless of the amount of reading and research Mike had done, we were so lost. We don’t know anyone going through this process and quite frankly, it seems like most people don’t even really know much about it at all. We needed help, someone, anyone who could help us navigate this new life we found ourselves in. We met with a surrogate agency hoping for some direction (shoutout to Pink and Blue Surrogacy), and during our meeting we were told “I’m here to hold your hand during the surrogacy process”… music to my ears.

Then, in time, we chose a doctor based in Chicago to use our genetic material to make embryos that would hopefully be carried by someone else.
Fast forward through many meetings, appointments, procedures, and a few months of waiting, and we received an email that would change the trajectory of our journey and our lives forever.

“Carissa” was the title of the email that we received, followed by a picture of the most beautiful family you’ve ever seen. I fell to my knees in the middle of the kitchen as Mike and I both started crying. This woman, an angel on earth, had chosen to be our surrogate. I felt something for the first time since that original surgery in Madison… Hope.

A few days later we were able to meet Carissa and her husband Tom, and we could not have loved them more. There wasn’t a dry eye at the table as we talked about our lives and our hopes for a beautiful journey from both our perspective and theirs. Over the course of the past year, Tom and Carissa have gone above and beyond in every way to make this experience a positive time in our lives. Not only Carissa’s care team but also their entire family has taken us in and built a big community of love around us as we navigate an otherwise emotional time. I believe, whole heartedly, being matched with an amazing family like the Pomeroys was an act beyond human control. We will forever be grateful that they found us worthy of the most amazing gift in the entire world.

With the help of the agency, our doctors, Carissa and her entire family, science, and God…

If you want to know more about the process of surrogacy, please reach out. We know how lonely the beginning of the process can be- my main reason for sharing this is in hopes that it can help others. And, alternatively, if you have ever considered being a surrogate I encourage you to look into it, as there are so many women like me who need the help of an angel.

Baby Hank rode into this world on a wave of generosity and love.
A miracle celebration of science, humanity and divine intervention.
God is good and so are God’s people.
This picture tells such a beautiful story of maternal love, preseverance and faith.
“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Malachi 4:6
Welcome to the world, baby Hank and know you are loved.

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