When Nicole Barattini was just 16, she was diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (or TTP), an autoimmune disease that can cause dangerous blood clots to form in the body. When her TPP flares up, Barattini has to receive a plasma exchange, which can sometimes involve up to 10 days in the hospital. However, there was a more unexpected consequence of her TPP: doctors told Barattini that the immunotherapy medications that she uses could harm a baby — and if she stopped the medication to carry a baby to term, she could harm herself.
Barattini and her husband decided adoption wasn’t for them because of the costs involved, so instead they froze her eggs. Doctors told her that the TPP wasn’t genetic, but one very important question remained: Who could carry their child?
“We had heard stories that sisters carried and mothers carried [eggs for women who could not carry], but I don’t have a sister and my mother is over the age [to be able to be a carrier],” Barattini told Cosmopolitan. “We just did it [froze my eggs] for precautionary reasons and hoped for the best.”
Although many of her friends generously volunteered to act as a gestational carrier, many of them were unable to carry Barattini’s embryo because doctors deemed them “unfit” to do so. Luckily, one Barattini’s best friends, Lianna Five, who had five children of her own, turned out to be a great match — and she was more than happy to help out.
“Lianna goes, ‘Well I have five. I’m looking to have one or two more,’” Nicole’s husband Kevin told ABC 7. “We looked at her, ‘What are you crazy?’ She goes, ‘Not for me.’ That’s when they offered to carry a baby for us.”
In June 2016, Five carried two of Barattini’s embryos, but she was unsuccessful. Then, in July of 2017, Five finally became pregnant. It was the sixth pregnancy for her and, obviously, Barattini’s first.
On February 10, Five gave birth to twins Dominic and Luciana, with Nicole and Kevin choosing the Fives as their godparents. Barattini is sharing her story in hopes that her situation can empower moms, with or without autoimmune diseases, with the knowledge that there are plenty of options available, even ones involving best friends.
“After hearing our story, I hope that there are people out there that will help other couples because they gave us life,” Nicole told ABC 7. “They changed our lives forever.”