(20 week ultrasound! BOY!! Due in early May 2015 ♥ )

We are Mariah & George (and Kingston & Camp the Pigeon!). Two working artists in love, hoping to start a family with the help of IVF and gestational surrogacy (Mariah's egg, George's sperm, and Havvah's womb!).

Opening up to the world about all of this was something we debated for months. We had been very private about our medical business as it's a very personal and difficult (yet increasingly exciting) journey for us. One of the scariest aspects being that there are no guarantees. And these procedures often fail. Additionally, we had to prepare ourselves for the many questions and judgements that could come. But at the end of the day, what's most true and important is that it's our truth, and we need the support more now than ever. Furthermore, through embracing vulnerability and sharing this with the world we thought... just maybe, someone will find solace in our story.

Mariah – [biological momma] 34-year-old fashion+portrait+travel photographer and creative director/designer.

George – [biological poppa] 34-year-old fine art painter and receiving manager/store opening team at Anthropologie.

Havvah – [gestational carrier] 27-year-old yogi, dancer, foodie, and most importantly, mother of two incredible & vibrant children, Lucah (5) & Haven (7).

Annnd the animals – a dog and a pet pigeon (who we rescued as an egg. See his whole story on Instagram. He's kind of a big deal. Follow @campthepigeon).

We have been together for 5 years, married for 1, and have always shared a passion for life, travel, laughter and the desire to become parents. We live in Lincoln Square, Chicago, and love practically everything about this city.

We've always known that IVF (in vitro fertilization) was likely in our future because of damage caused by a traumatic surgery Mariah endured as a child. When she was 11 years old, her appendix ruptured causing a gangrene infection in her abdomen that almost took her life. It destroyed her fallopian tubes and she had to get a bowel resection. This left her body with a massive amount of scarring. We began the IVF process in February, excited that she still has both of her ovaries and her uterus. But soon after, we learned that her uterus had also been obstructed over time by the adhesions. It was declared that the risk of miscarriage or development problems for the baby from lack of space to expand was extremely high. In order to proceed with IVF and try for a biological child, we would need to work with a gestational carrier.

This was hard news to digest. But we both knew we would continue to support one another & be strong sources of love for the world no matter how our situation turned out.

While exploring other options, adoption included (which has always been part of our vision for expanding our family), we received a phone call that changed our course: An opportunity to have a biological child with the help of a trusted gestational carrier – someone we know and love – an old friend of Mariah's named Havvah. In short, while we were going back & forth to the fertility clinic & hospitals, not speaking much to anyone, Havvah had simultaneously been feeling a "calling" to become a surrogate (knowing nothing of our situation, as we had kept it very quiet)! That first phone call is one we will never, ever forget.

And so, we have joined forces intimately over this potentially life-changing journey together, and spent a great amount of time navigating the complex path of laws & logistics.

The financial challenge is that once a surrogate (gestational or traditional) is involved, health insurance coverage exclusions & legal expenses abound. Unfortunately, the laws have not kept up with technology. And so we, and many other couples, have a burden to bear under these types of circumstances.

So, we decided to expose our story to the world and launch a 3-month fundraiser & online art sale in hopes of raising the additional money that we would need. We were really hesitant about doing this, full of uncertainty as to why anyone would possibly want to help us with such a personal cause, but Havvah encouraged us "why not at least try?!" We knew she was right. We figured that even if we managed to raise a thousand dollars, it would make a positive difference for us. Well, our fundraiser ended on Sunday, August 17th, and was a huge success (see our page here!). We managed to raise over $30K via — a massive help!! Talk about a humbling experience! (THANK YOU, BABY-BACKERS!!!)

We coined our supporters "Baby-Backers", and branded our entire fundraiser around this! Creating the hashtag #babybacker on Instagram, and gathering photos for a tribute wall online (see it here: The idea is that one day we, and hopefully little Naella-Keaton(!), can look back on this collection of faces with gratitude for the "village" that helped bring them into being!

Each and every bit of your love, support, compassion & contributions are appreciated beyond words. Here's a big cyber hug from us to you!

Stay tuned. We will update the blog along the way keeping everyone informed as things progress (link in the navigation menu above).