I know not everyone is lucky enough to have a sibling, let alone one they feel tightly bonded to. That’s why I am eternally grateful for the relationship I have with my own sister. She’s my baby sister, almost six years younger than me (and in many ways she was my first “baby,” and always will be). There was a lot of turmoil in our childhood growing up, but I think that’s part of the reason we are so close.
Even though we live across the country from one another and don’t have the time to talk nearly as much as we wish we could, whenever we do talk, we only need to say a few words to know exactly what the other is thinking and feeling. And we’d literally do anything for each other.
That why I was so moved by a story I saw the other day, scrolling through Facebook on my phone. It was the story of two sisters, one of whom was facing recurrent miscarriages and infertility, and the beautiful and selfless way the other stepped in to help her.
Melissa Kayser, a 33-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska, had been trying for three years to have a baby. According to Inside Edition, after nine miscarriages, countless infertility treatments, and IVF, Kayser’s doctors suggested that the best route might be to have a surrogate carry her baby for her, using Kayser’s embryos.
And while Kayser desperately wanted to have a baby, the idea of a surrogate made her understandably uncomfortable.
“I was devastated because you think as women we are literally born to do one thing and that’s to reproduce and when you can’t do that one thing you feel like a failure,” Kayser shared with Inside Edition, “I didn’t know if I could emotionally handle another woman being able to carry my child.”
But all that changed when Kayser’s older sister, Lisa Auten, 35, offered to be her surrogate.
As Auten told Inside Edition, she couldn’t stand the fact that her sister was suffering from recurrent losses. “She hurt so badly and she just wanted a child so bad,” Auten shared. “If I could help give her a family, then I was going to do it.”
This amazing offer of sisterly love was life-changing for Kayser, and more than she could have ever dreamed of or asked for. “It was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders,” Kayser tells Babble. “I finally had hope again.”
Doctors recommended implanting two embryos into Auten, but didn’t expect both of them to take because one was of poorer quality. Much to everyone’s surprise, both embryos did take — and after an easy and uneventful pregnancy, Auten gave birth to Kayser’s twin daughters in April.
The babies, Tierney and Ashlynn, are currently 6 weeks old (and absolutely adorable!). Kayser told Inside Edition that she was able to feel bonded with her daughters throughout the pregnancy, accompanying her sister to the ultrasounds, and taking every opportunity to feel her little sweethearts move around and kick.
Although the babies are biologically Kayser’s, there is some red tape going on in terms of making everything official. Auten was automatically listed on the birth certificate when the girls were born, and they are still in the process of filing adoption papers. They expect Kayser to officially adopt the babies when they are 6 months old.
Although Auten told Inside Edition that she doesn’t plan on having babies of her own, she will be a highly appreciated aunt, for sure. Kayser shares with Babble that she has already started a scrapbook for the girls, to chronicle their unique birth journey.
“We want our girls to know that their aunt did such an amazing thing for us,” says Kayser. “We want them to know that Mommy’s belly was broken so Aunt Lisa used her belly to carry them.”
How incredibly sweet is that? (Excuse me while I wipe a big fat tear out of my eye.)
As for any mamas out there who are struggling with infertility, Kayser wants them to take her unconventional story to heart, and to keep up the faith. “Please know that you are never alone,” she tells Babble, “And as hard as this journey can be, never give up hope.”