About 12% of women ages 15 to 44 experience impaired fertility. That can lead many would-be parents to explore other options.
For one Texas couple, the answer was right here in North Dakota.
“It’s kind of like dating. You have to weed through the bad ones to get to the good ones,” says gestational carrier Tabatha Ballein.
If finding someone to carry your baby is like dating, then Ballein wound up being the perfect match.
She found the couple whose baby she delivered online of all places.
“And I was just very drawn to her. And we had a very long conversation the first time. And it was almost like fate. Like we just hit it off immediately,” says Ballein.
Ballein was a gestational carrier, meaning she did not use her own egg and is not genetically related to the baby she carried.
“It was the absolute hardest thing I’ve done physically. Because it was physically demanding for such a long stretch. But it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. It was very easy for me to do it knowing I was helping somebody else,” says Ballein.
And while Ballein knew she wanted to give the gift of life to the Texas couple who was her perfect match, her husband needed a little bit of convincing.
“My first thought was no. Absolutely not. The more I researched it, the more I looked into it and the more we had our conversations, I got more comfortable with it as time went on,” says Aaron Ballein.
The Balleins were compensated for the pregnancy, but Tabatha stresses that this was something she wanted to do from her heart.
“I keep saying it was worth it, but it totally was. When they send me their pictures and I see her with her mom and her dad, it just melts my heart. It makes me so happy,” says Ballein.
Sky Eloise Paskin was born on February 1, exactly one year to the day that the Balleins first met Shannon Mouser and Seth Paskin, proud mom and dad to baby Sky.
For the Balleins, the experience was a positive one. But they stress that it’s not for everyone. And to do thorough research before considering surrogacy.
“If you have any apprehension at all or you don’t have a supportive spouse or partner, then it would be almost impossible to do it,” says Tabatha Ballein.
A year after the two couples first met in person, Shannon Mouser and Seth Paskin brought home a beautiful baby girl.
And as for the Balleins, they took home a unique friendship that will likely last forever.
The Balleins have two children of their own, a ten year old girl and four year old boy.
They say they speak with the proud new parents on a daily basis.