Special Delivery

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:48

    SPARTA-With daughters Chelsea, 14 and Alyssa, 12, Mary LaBarre has celebrated Mother's Day for more than a decade. What makes this year's Mothers Day unique is the addition of Payton, born Jan. 21. Unique, not because he's here, but rather how he arrived. When Rick and Mary married in 2000, Rick not only married the love of his life but felt lucky to become stepfather to Mary's two girls. "Rick stepped into a ready-made family and is great with the girls, very involved in their lives and activities," says Mary. The LaBarre's hoped to one day have add a baby to their family, but knew it would be difficult because Mary underwent a medically necessary tubaligation after the birth her youngest daughter. "We went to a fertility specialist who believed that I could become pregnant with the help of in vitro fertilization," recalls Mary. After a few failed attempts Mary become pregnant with twins, but miscarried in the fifth month. "It was all very emotional for us. The whole process of in vitro is very stressful, on everyone," states Mary. Following the miscarriage Mary was admitted to the hospital for an emergency hysterectomy and respiratory failure. Although Mary survived the ordeal, the couple knew their dream of having a baby was shattered. As fate had it, Mary's medical problems also brought the hope she needed. One of her hospital visitors was high school friend Patty Castellitto. The two women, one named Mary Patricia and the other named Patricia Mary, married at the same time, later divorced, and eventually remarried men both named Rick. "For some reason it was very difficult, very emotional for me to see Patty at that time, I knew that I would fall apart as soon as I saw her," stated Mary. The bond of friendship the two women shared lasted throughout the years since high school and, unbeknownst to them at the time, would soon grow even stronger. After some downtime to emotionally pull themselves together, Rick and Mary explored other options and sought out the advice of an attorney specializing in surrogate mother pregnancies. Weeks later when they met Patty and her husband Rick for dinner at which time Patty volunteered to be Mary's surrogate mother. "We said no. We could never ask friends to sacrifice so much of themselves. I went through the process of daily shots which cause your hormones to fluctuate to the point of drastic mood swings and severe night sweats and doctor appointments every other day to draw blood … It's not easy," recalls Mary. But Patty persisted and the LaBarres relented, agreeing that this was truly the best surrogacy that they could wish for. Following numerous legal, psychological, and medical meetings, the couples were now ready for the next step. "We had endless conversations about the affects this would have on our friendship, their two young children, Patty's husband, and especially Patty. I think we all had concerns" states Mary. The couple believed that although their arrangement was legal and based on a strong friendship, it was emotionally solidified during a night out with both families "I remember going to dinner with them, and one of their kids climbing all over my husband, Rick. They looked at us and said ‘we really hope we can give you one of those'. They were so amazing through this whole thing," recalls Mary of that fateful evening. Of the only four remaining embryos from Rick and Mary, only two survived the labs freezing process. Another embryo did not survive the implantation process and the remaining one made Patty officially pregnant and the LaBarres officially expectant parents. Throughout the next several months the two women shared in the pregnancy. Patty with more physical effects and Mary all emotion. "We communicated through endless emails. Patty would say, ‘Your son was up all night kicking' or send photos of her pregnant belly with a smiley face drawn on it," laughs Mary, who drove one and a half hours to be present at doctor appointments. "When the nurse would call Patty's name, we would both go in. The people in the waiting room didn't know what to make of us." Friends and family threw Mary a baby shower and right beside her sat Patty. "How many people can say that they drank wine at their own baby shower!" remarks Mary. The pregnancy was not uneventful. Patty was admitted to the hospital after she experienced difficulty breathing. Doctors feared a blood clot in her lung. "As much as we wanted this baby, all I could think about was saving Patty," Mary recalls. Patty was fine, but 10 days before her scheduled cesarean delivery, Mary herself was admitted to the hospital needing surgery to remove a very large ovarian cyst. It was questionable whether Mary would be strong enough to attend the birth of her own baby. "I made it, I was there but sitting in a wheelchair the whole time. I knew I couldn't handle standing in the delivery room, but Rick was there for the birth," said Mary. Finally the moment had arrived. Nurses handed a 7lb,14-ounce baby boy to the open arms of his waiting and already proud father. "I was amazed and astounded when they gave him to me. We had waited so long for this moment, and after everything we had gone through, it was overwhelming," stated Rick. The day to take baby Payton home also arrived and with it, the day to say goodbye to Patty and Rick. "Leaving the hospital, I broke down crying. I was so emotional about leaving Patty behind," remembers Mary. The two couples would now separate and return to their own lives, no longer intertwined by a pregnancy, instead, connected for life by a little boy. "Our families have a bond like no other," states Rick. "Patty is our angel who will always be an important part of our lives … especially our son's life."