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Siegel Babies

The Winding Road to Fatherhood

Together for 11 years and married for a little over three years, Matt and David talked about becoming parents very early on in their relationship. In 2012, they began to pursue adoption. After some time and realizing it was unlikely they were going to successfully adopt a child, they looked into surrogacy and decided to work with an international agency with services located in Mexico City. The path to parenthood via surrogacy took about 2½ years. Once the surrogate was identified, the couple began the gestational surrogacy process with 20 viable embryos. Two embryos were implanted via in vitro fertilization each time. There were two miscarriages early on and the other embryos didn’t take.

“It came down to the last two embryos and since they were implanting two each time, we knew twins were a possibility, but we weren’t expecting it because we weren’t having success. We were shocked and excited at the same time when we found out we were having twin daughters,” explained Matt.

The pregnancy was normal, but because she was carrying twins, the surrogate was seeing a high-risk pregnancy specialist in Mexico City regularly. The only concern was that one of the twins was smaller than the other. Both were progressively growing, but there was a disparity between the two and the gap was beginning to widen. Five days before birth, there was 23% difference in size between the twin girls and concern is elevated when the difference reaches 25%. Fortunately, the surrogate went into labor at 32 weeks before the twins reached the 25% threshold. Cecilia and Gabrielle were born via cesarean section, about eight weeks early, and were being cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Mexico City with their fathers staying nearby to watch over them. The surrogacy agency advised Matt and David that families often transfer their children closer to home once the babies are stable and breathing on their own.

Matt contacted his primary care physician to find out about how to transfer his daughters to El Camino Hospital. His doctor put Matt in touch with Jody Charles, the clinical nurse manager for the NICU. Jody took the reins from there.

Matt and David arranged for an air ambulance as premature babies cannot fly commercial. Then there was the mountain of paperwork that had to be completed. During this time, Cecilia, the larger of the twins, had been released from the hospital in Mexico City after just two days in the NICU. When speaking with the dads, Jody expressed concern because monitoring a preemie’s temperature every three hours is a standard practice in the United States and the fathers had not been told about this. With Jody’s assistance, Cecilia was re-admitted for continued monitoring and both babies were moved to a larger hospital in Mexico City.

The babies were then flown to El Camino Hospital at just 2½ weeks old. Cecilia was in the NICU in Mountain View for another week and Gabrielle stayed for 10 days. “The care at El Camino Hospital was fantastic. We were nervous and weary, and I’m sure we had that deer in the headlights look. But by the time the babies came home, we felt prepared to care for them,” said Matt.

“We were definitely part of the caregiving at El Camino Hospital and they showed us all the basics like how to feed them and change their diapers. There was this intangible way that the hospital staff cared for our daughters. It was so loving and one that I can’t really describe,” added Matt.

The girls are five months old now and doing very well. Cecilia is still a little larger than Gabrielle, but Gabrielle makes up for it in other ways. Gabrielle is talkative, feisty and likes to smile, while Cecilia is very relaxed, calm and cool and enjoys observing what is going on around her. The girls are sleeping and eating well and right on track in terms of their growth. Matt and David are excited, happy and adjusting well to fatherhood.

“We’re still trying to figure everything out, but getting more comfortable as time goes on. We get out more now and the girls have a pretty set routine. They don’t talk yet, but when we sing them a song when they wake up, they both light up. That double smile is really cute,” says Matt.