For years, Katelin Buchanan never believed she would be a mother.
She and her husband tried to get pregnant for close to three-and-a-half years but suffered five miscarriages and went through unsuccessful and exhausting rounds of in vitro fertilization.
After coming close to giving up, Buchanan’s best friend since childhood, Erica Huston-Elem, stepped up and offered to be a gestational carrier.
In March, Huston-Elem finally fulfilled Buchanan’s dream of motherhood, giving birth to a boy and a girl.
Erica Huston-Elem (far right) performed the incredible and served as a surrogate for her best friend, Katelin Buchanan (second from left), giving birth to twins – a boy and a girl – in March
Huston-Elem and Buchanan (left, undated, and right, 2017) have been life-long best friends. Huston-Elem offered to be a surrogate for Buchanan as far back as 2015
Buchanan, 33, described in a blog post that she and her husband, Patrick, began trying to get pregnant in September 2013.
After trying for several months without success, the California couple went to a local fertility clinic and began intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures, which involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to aide fertilization.
IUI procedures increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and therefore increase the chance of fertilization.
However, after three tries to no avail, the Buchanans moved on to in vitro fertilization (IVF), hoping for a greater chance of success.
In the IVF process, an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or a laboratory dish before being transferred to the uterus.
Several rounds amounted to no success. During her first try, Buchanan suffered a chemical pregnancy, a very early miscarriage which occurs before the fifth week of gestation.
It is believed to affect as many as 75 percent of all pregnancies because most women who have had one never realize they have conceived.
The second try resulted in a nine-week miscarriage. The couple later discovered the baby had Down Syndrome, which increases the chance of miscarriage at 50 percent in the first trimester.
The third round of IVF resulted in an ectopic pregnancy, in which the egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus.
A fourth try developed into an anembryonic pregnancy, or a blighted ovum, in which a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but doesn’t develop into an embryo.
Buchanan (right, with Huston-Elem) tried for several years to get pregnant naturally as well as undergoing intrauterine insemination procedures and in vitro fertilization procedures
After her fifth miscarriage in January 2017, Buchanan’s obstetrician-gynecologist told her that her uterine lining was insufficient to carry a baby to term and suggested she use a surrogate (Pictured, Huston-Elem, left, and Buchanan, right)
After her fifth miscarriage in January 2017, Buchanan’s obstetrician-gynecologist told her that her uterine lining was insufficient to carry a baby to term and suggested she use a surrogate.
The idea wasn’t a new one. In 2015, Buchanan’s best friend, 34-year-old Huston-Elem, who lives in Virginia, had offered to be her surrogate.
Their mothers were best friends, with Buchanan’s mother even serving as Huston-Elem’s godmother. They grew up together, witnessing each other’s graduations, weddings and other major life events.
‘The moment I realized I could do something more to actually help her and volunteer to carry her babies for her was something I felt very passionate about. I told her: “I’d be more than willing to do it for you”,’ Huston-Elem told PEOPLE.
‘Over a number of years, there was a lot of loss and heartache on her part. For me, as her best friend, watching her go through that and feeling completely helpless, it was a really difficult situation.’
Buchanan finally took up Huston-Elem (pictured, on table) on her offer, knowing her best friend could carry a baby because she already had two children
After two tries at an embryo transfer, Huston-Elem (left, with Buchanan) fell pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl and, on March 20, she gave birth at 35 weeks
Although she initially refused, Buchanan finally took up Huston-Elem on her offer, knowing her best friend could carry a baby because she already had two children, an eight-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy.
The first embryo transfer resulted in a miscarriage and, while Buchanan was ready to explore adoption, Huston-Elem urged her to try one more time.
This time, it worked. Huston-Elem fell pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl in July 2017 and, on March 20, she gave birth at 35 weeks.
Buchanan and her husband were in the delivery room to welcome Oliver Daniel and Poppy Elizabeth into the world.
The twins remained in a Virginia hospital for weeks but Buchanan was able to take them to their California home in May
‘All of this was so worth it to see [Buchanan] as a mother. She has wanted this for so long and it’s so natural to her,’ Huston-Elem (left, with Buchanan) said
‘The mood in the room was so happy,’ Huston-Elem said. ‘When those twins came out and they got handed to Katelin and her husband, it was honestly one of the best moments of my life. It was so wonderful. It was like: “Okay, mission accomplished!”‘
The twins remained in a Virginia hospital for weeks, but Buchanan was finally able to take them to their California home in May.
‘All of this was so worth it to see [Buchanan] as a mother. She has wanted this for so long and it’s so natural to her,’ Huston-Elem told PEOPLE. ‘Seeing her happy…has just been the greatest joy of my life.’