No one ever aspires to undergo months of heartache. It is human nature to avoid pain at any cost—a simple side step in a different direction is what most embrace in an attempt to go through life with little or no sting.
But that was not the path Carrie and Jonathan Normand were able to elect.
Carrie, a high school English teacher, and Jonathan, Stephenville High School’s basketball coach had many hurdles to scale.
In 2011 Carrie was diagnosed with breast cancer, just three months after her wedding to Jonathan, who she affectionately refers to as Coach.
Carrie brought into the relationship two children from a previous marriage; son Cole, then 6, and daughter Carsyn, only 2. And her new husband endeavored to take the two little ones on as his own from the very beginning. But Carrie wanted them to add to the family with offspring of their making.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, we knew the chemo was likely to fry my ovaries,” she said matter-of-factly. “That’s why right before I started chemo we saw our fertility doctor, knowing I was at high risk.”
That timing to meet with a fertility expert could not have been more perfect. Carrie was literally within days of ensuring a possibility of augmenting the family.
“We saw the doctor in December, and I did blood work that very day,” she said. “The lab was about to close for Christmas, so everything had to be in a certain place for everything to work out right.”
The eggs the Normands sought to harvest prior to her chemotherapy treatments were in jeopardy of perilous timing. But the stars seemed to be in alignment for the couple.
“I did blood work on the day I was examined,” Carrie explained. “You have to take hormone injections 10 days before harvesting the eggs. The ultra sound, blood work and everything had to be in a certain place for everything to work out before the lab closed and I started chemo.”
The night after her initial testing at the fertility clinic had played host to a “Coaches for the Cure” basketball game in Carrie’s honor. She had put her phone on silence in order to enjoy the game.
“I got a voicemail that night from the doctor saying everything was perfect for me to prepare to harvest my eggs,” she said. “He told me to start the shots necessary immediately for us to begin the harvesting.”
Timing was of the essence for the Normands as the eggs were harvested on Dec. 17, the fertility lab subsequently closed for its annual clean up the 18th and Carrie’s chemotherapy began on the 19th.
The practice of cryopreservation of a woman’s eggs is a sophisticated one in which the ovum is frozen and stored until it is time to fertilize them. Carrie shared the process with her students.
“I told them they were not just eggs in a freezer next to the corn on a cob,” she said with a smile.
Carrie is pragmatic about the timing of the entire journey. She credits a strong faith as allowing everything to fall into place so perfectly. Surrogacy is a very costly endeavor.
“The cost is really high,” she said. “And Coach and I are a couple of school teachers. There’s a reason why you only hear of celebrities doing this.”
See next Sunday's edition of the E-T to find out what happens next in this story of one couple's desire to expand their family.