Erin Boelhower, of Illinois, spent years trying to ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇ a child with her husband, Matthew. Over the course of three years, she underwent nine ɪɴ ᴠɪᴛʀᴏ ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴢᴀᴛɪᴏɴ (I.V.F) transfers, taking more than 600 ɪɴᴊᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴs in the process. But nothing worked, and Boelhower, now 33, ultimately suffered a string of ᴍɪsᴄᴀʀʀɪᴀɢᴇs.
It was after the fourth ᴍɪsᴄᴀʀʀɪᴀɢᴇ that Boelhower’s best friend, 34-year-old Rachel Checolinski, proposed something extraordinary: She wanted to be the couple’s surrogate.
“I had been there through all of Erin’s ɪɴꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛs, I cried with her when she lost each one of her babies,” Checolinski told SWNS. “I would say to her, ‘I wish there was something I could do.’ I was in the shower one day, praying for her, and suddenly the answer came. I could be her surrogate.”
After Boelhower experienced two more ᴍɪsᴄᴀʀʀɪᴀɢᴇs, she accepted her friend’s offer. She and her husband raised $40,000 to cover the costs of the surrogacy agency and Checolinski’s medical bills.
In January 2018, two of Boelhower’s ᴇᴍʙʀʏᴏs were transferred to Checolinski’s ᴜᴛᴇʀᴜs. Later that month, a test confirmed she was pregnant, and on September 19, she gave birth to a baby girl named Scottie.
A series of emotional photos taken on the day of the birth show Boelhower crying as she meets and holds her daughter for the very first time.
“I have no clue how I lived this long without Scottie,” Boelhower said.
Boelhower’s struggle with ɪɴꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ was a long one. She and her husband tried to ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇ shortly after their marriage in 2012 but had no success for a year. Then, she learned that one of her ꜰᴀʟʟᴏᴘɪᴀɴ ᴛᴜʙᴇs, which carry ᴇɢɢs from the ᴏᴠᴀʀɪᴇs to the ᴜᴛᴇʀᴜs, was infected. The ᴛᴜʙᴇ was removed, lowering Boelhower’s odds of getting pregnant naturally.
After that procedure, Boelhower was diagnosed with both ʜʏᴘᴏᴛʜʏʀᴏɪᴅɪsᴍ and ᴘᴏʟʏᴄʏsᴛɪᴄ ᴏᴠᴀʀɪᴀɴ sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ. According to the Mayo Clinic, in ʜʏᴘᴏᴛʜʏʀᴏɪᴅɪsᴍ, the ᴛʜʏʀᴏɪᴅ ɢʟᴀɴᴅ doesn’t produce enough ʜᴏʀᴍᴏɴᴇs, causing wide-ranging sʏᴍᴘᴛᴏᴍs throughout the body and possibly impacting fertility.
And ᴘᴏʟʏᴄʏsᴛɪᴄ ᴏᴠᴀʀɪᴀɴ sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ, caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, is one of the most common causes of ɪɴꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ in women, according to the US Office on Women’s Health.
Next, the couple tried three rounds of ɪɴᴛʀᴀᴜᴛᴇʀɪɴᴇ ɪɴsᴇᴍɪɴᴀᴛɪᴏɴ (I.U.I), a procedure in which sᴘᴇʀᴍ is implanted directly into the ᴜᴛᴇʀᴜs. They progressed to I.V.F in 2014.
Checolinski had also struggled for two years to ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇ her daughter, now 5. “So I knew the ᴘᴀɪɴ of wanting something really badly and not being able to fulfill that dream,” she said. “I was most excited about seeing my best friend become a mom and holding the baby she had always wanted.”
Now, Checolinski is one of Scottie’s godmothers. “I want Scottie to know how big a role Rachel has played in her life,” Boelhower said. “It’s an unbreakable bond.”