Giving the gift of life through surrogacy

Staff Sgt. Grace Hoyt, 341st Missile Wing chaplain assistant, poses with baby Carolena and mother Gabby Baird Nov. 9, 2017, at Benfis Health System, Great Falls, Mont.

Staff Sgt. Grace Hoyt, 341st Missile Wing chaplain assistant, poses with baby Carolena and mother Gabby Baird Nov. 9, 2017, at Benfis Health System, Great Falls, Mont. Hoyt was a surrogate mother for Gabby and Rex Baird and delivered their baby with them by her side. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Delia Martinez)

Staff Sgt. Grace Hoyt, 341st Missile Wing chaplain assistant, poses for a photo Nov. 7, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Staff Sgt. Grace Hoyt, 341st Missile Wing chaplain assistant, poses for a photo Nov. 7, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Hoyt worked through an agency to provide surrogacy service for Gabby and Rex Baird and delivered their baby with them by her side on Nov. 9, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Delia Martinez)

Staff Sgt. Grace Hoyt, 341st Missile Wing chaplain assistant, prepares to give birth to her surrogate baby with her husband, Austin, and the baby’s mother Gabby by her side Nov. 9, 2017, at Benfis Health System, Great Falls, Mont.

Staff Sgt. Grace Hoyt, 341st Missile Wing chaplain assistant, prepares to give birth to her surrogate baby with her husband, Austin, and the baby’s mother Gabby by her side Nov. 9, 2017, at Benfis Health System, Great Falls, Mont. Hoyt was a surrogate for Gabby and Rex Baird and delivered their baby with them by her side. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Delia Martinez)

Rex and Gabby Baird hold their newborn baby, Carolena, Nov. 9, 2017, at Benfis Health System, Great Falls, Mont.

Rex and Gabby Baird hold their newborn baby, Carolena, Nov. 9, 2017, at Benfis Health System, Great Falls, Mont. Staff Sgt. Grace Hoyt, 341st Missile Wing chaplain assistant, was a surrogate for the Bairds and delivered their baby with them by her side. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Delia Martinez)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. – --

For most, a scheduled induction means leaving the hospital with a baby to take home.

On Nov. 9, Staff Sgt. Grace Hoyt, 341st Missile Wing chaplain assistant, checked into labor and delivery at 5 a.m. to give birth to a baby that she would not be bringing home.

Hoyt is one of a few mothers who has chosen to be a surrogate mother, to grow a baby in her body to be raised by another family.

The journey to delivery day was long, taking more than a year of coordinating, working through a surrogacy agency while undergoing numerous treatments and attending many medical appointments with the parents-to-be.

Surrogacy, it turns out, combines Hoyt’s ethics and who she is in her personal and work life. While many people have commended her selfless choice, Hoyt never thought of it that way.

“You don’t think about what you’re losing you just think about what the need is of the other person you are helping,” said Hoyt. “I was taught the same thing as a chaplain assistant… because my job is not about me.”

Hoyt’s decision to become a surrogate mother was influenced by her own experience in trying to start a family. After struggling to get pregnant, Hoyt and her husband adopted their first child then were successful in having three more children.

“I have never forgotten how hard it was to not be able to have children and I just feel so incredibly blessed that there’s a huge part of me that needed to pay that forward,” said Hoyt.

Once she decided to proceed with the surrogacy Hoyt still had a lot to think about and consider.

“As I learned more about it I realized that it was some amazing stuff and something that I want to do," said Hoyt. “But I had to go through the mental thought process of: ‘Can I do that?’, ‘Is this something that I can mentally do?’, ‘Is this something that I can physically do?’, ‘Is this something that I can do legally in my career?’, ‘Can I be an Airman and a surrogate at the same time?’, ‘Can I be a mom?’”

Hoyt eased some of her concerns when she decided to go through an agency to ensure there was thorough legal documentation and that she was taken care of.

The agency matched her with a family, then introduced her to Rex and Gabby Baird who have twins from another surrogacy experience.

“We couldn’t have children so I tried (in vitro fertilization) four times and that did not work, so we decided to try surrogacy and that’s how we were blessed with twins,” said Gabby. “The agency found the perfect person when they matched us with Gracie and from there on we just became family.”

It was important to Hoyt for the family to be very involved in the process and throughout the pregnancy.

“We were so happy that Gracie wanted us to be involved. We would go with her whenever she had an appointment, go to breakfast or lunch, spend time together and it was just like a family visit,” said Gabby.

Bonding with, and creating a new extended family, was helpful for Hoyt because as the pregnancy progressed, she lost two loved ones within weeks of each other.

“As a chaplain assistant we plan funerals, but when you are planning a funeral for a family member and for one of your own coworkers it’s really difficult, it’s different and it hurts,” said Hoyt. “I was blessed because at the same time I was planning funerals and mourning the loss of two people that I loved I was  going to the doctor’s office and seeing ultrasounds of this little baby girl growing in my belly and getting to watch her mom cry because she was so happy.”

Hoyt credits the surrogacy with being a blessing of distraction during such a difficult time.

“I got to help bring life into the world when my world personally was just kind of just on focused of life leaving this world,” said Hoyt. “It helped a lot with mentally processing the entire month of August.”

Despite the rollercoaster of emotions during the pregnancy, Hoyt was able to give the Bairds the gift of a lifetime.

“It’s a big gift that we are receiving from Gracie,” said Gabby. “It’s a possibility for us to grow our family. If it wasn’t for this approach we would not be able to have children, we are very thankful and excited.”

Hoyt said she was grateful for the opportunity to be a surrogate and is excited to see the baby grow up with amazing parents.

“I am so excited for this little baby inside me to be part of their family because she is going to have this great family,” said Hoyt.

On delivery day, Hoyt brought baby Carolena into the world with her husband Austin, and Carolena’s parents, the Bairds, by her side.

The Bairds said Gracie was giving them the selfless gift of growing their family – a miracle accomplished only through the love and giving of Hoyt and her family – and, most certainly, absolute grace.

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