When we first connected with the incredibly relatable yet inspiring Bryan and Chris, they were expecting twins after a very long and at times quite difficult surrogacy journey. Today, they’re enjoying the newborn bubble with their adorable twins Brecon Christopher and London Bryan. During our conversation, Bryan shared the highs and lows of their journey, including matching with then losing two gestational carriers, and the pain that came along with it – followed by a successful match, pregnancy and now the joy (and sleeplessness) of new parenthood. As Bryan says ‘our lives have been turned upside down…and we wouldn’t change a thing’. Read on for Bryan and Chris’s incredible story, how they’re educating and supporting others through their much loved tik tok (@itsbryanandchris) and instagram (@bryan.and.chris) accounts, and their thoughtful advice for intended parents just beginning their family building journey.
1. It’s been quite a journey since you decided to start a family of your own and you’re so open about the highs and lows along the way. Can you share your story and how it led you to today?
Chris and I always knew we wanted to have a family of our own but didn’t know if that meant surrogacy, adoption or foster care. In June 2020, we decided it was time to expand our family and that surrogacy was the option that best fit our hopes and dreams. Before we even started the egg donor / surrogacy process, we wanted to make sure our “stuff” was healthy and viable. After receiving a recommendation from a mutual friend, we chose Dr. David Smotrich with La Jolla IVF as our official IVF Doctor. Fortunately, our little swimmers were super healthy, both in viability and numbers. From there, Chris and I selected Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) out of Chula Vista, CA as our Agency to help guide us on the long journey ahead.
The first step was finding an egg donor. Initially, Chris and I wanted to find a donor that was half Japanese and half Caucasian so our babies would be a blend of each of us. Unfortunately, that criteria was far and few between, so we decided to match with a Caucasian egg donor based out of the San Diego area (Chris really wanted to carry-on his beautiful blue eyes). Once the initial screenings and legal contracts were complete, our donor completed an egg retrieval with Dr. Smotrich and blessed us with 22 eggs! The clinic split them equally between Chris and I, fertilized them and conducted multiple screenings for health and viability, leaving us with a total of 19 eggs. Once they were fertilized and reached blastocyst, we ended up with a total of 11 viable embryos, 2 from me and 9 from Chris. Unfortunately, many of my embryos were not compatible with life and/or were not viable for a transfer. Hearing this news was pretty devastating and it made me super nervous.
Skipping ahead a couple months later, Chris and I were finally ready to find a surrogate. Little did we know the next several months would test us more than we ever thought possible to expand a family of our own. In November 2020, we matched with our first (yes our first) surrogate via our agency’s database. She was kind, a wonderful mother of two and an all around great person. By the end of the 2 hour Zoom call, we knew she was the one we wanted to “work” with. Luckily, she felt the same way. A psych evaluation was scheduled the following week and she passed with flying colors. A couple weeks later, our IVF Doctor received our surrogate’s medical records and found a big discrepancy. Turns out she had a heart condition (a small hole in her heart) and denied her as a candidate. Carrying twins already brings higher risks than a singleton however, with her heart condition, stroke was also added to the table as a new potential risk. Our surrogate was shocked and didn’t believe the result was accurate so she asked if we would support her in doing more research. Our IVF doctor said if you take “this test” and your OB can confirm that the condition at hand is no longer an issue, we could proceed forward. Due to Covid-19 protocols, limited staffing and the holiday season (we’re now in December), results took a lot longer than expected and time was passing by. Finally in January 2021, our surrogate’s OB provided updated medical information to our IVF doctor that the heart condition was indeed still present. In the end, we sadly had to part ways with our surrogate. It was so hard to make this decision because we had bonded with her over the last two months.
After a few weeks of letting the dust settle, we met and matched with our second surrogate in March. She repeated the same steps including a psych evaluation, medical screening etc. and was quickly approved. Since we bonded really hard with our first surrogate, we sort of had our guards up and “settled” on not having as strong of a connection to avoid getting hurt should something happen again. It would seem like we were finally back on track. Attorneys drew up contracts from both sides and we signed our paperwork and wired a huge deposit to our surrogacy trust to begin next steps. A day or two passed and we noticed our surrogate still hadn’t signed her contract. Unfortunately, we received an email from our second surrogate a few days later (copying the agency as well) stating she could not proceed forward with our journey after discovering she was pregnant. One thing I forgot to mention, while we were drawing up legal contracts, our surrogate was instructed to stop taking her own birth control and begin taking a new prescription that was prescribed by our IVF doctor. We can’t say for certain, but our assumption is she didn’t wait the required amount of time to have unprotected sex in between the old and new birth control. When we read the email, my heart sank and I fell to the floor crying. Side note: we were only 4 weeks away from our implantation date.
I remember that moment like it was yesterday and I started to think that God and/or the universe was trying to tell us that we weren’t meant to be parents. I fell into a dark hole for about a month dealing with not one but two HUGE losses. Luckily, Chris, being the strong and amazing husband that he is, helped me heal and pushed me not to give up on our dream of having a family. By the time we were ready to explore finding yet another surrogate, it was late May and I distinctly remember the weather started to change. Our agency said they found us the PERFECT match for us. This candidate was a proven surrogate, which means she successfully completed one or more surrogacy journeys in the past. She lived in Southern California, was very knowledgeable about the entire process (she used to work in the surrogacy industry) and was a kind human being. She was a wife and a mother of 2 who was looking to complete one more surrogacy journey before she “retired” next year at the age of 40. She also wanted to help out an LGBTQ+ couple, so it felt like a match made in heaven. With walls nervously up, we went through the matching process again, and luckily, everything worked out as planned and all paperwork and contracts were signed in June. At this time, she immediately started her new birth control and hormone regimen prescribed by our IVF doctor. About 6 weeks later and a number of doctor visits to ensure her body was ready for implantation, our double embryo transfer happened on July 15, 2021. In the end, Chris and I put in one embryo from each of us, a girl from Chris, and a boy from me.
Once the transfer was complete, our surrogate was assigned to a monitoring clinic near where she lived and had a beta + pregnancy test scheduled at the end of July. Chris and I joined her at these appointments and found out together that she was not only pregnant, but BOTH of our embryos survived the transfer and were growing safely inside her uterus. Tears of joy fell down our faces when the monitoring doctor announced (without hesitation) that both embryos made it. Over the next few months, our surrogate continued to see her monitoring doctor to ensure the pregnancy was going smoothly. After a few more appointments following the first fetal heartbeat, our surrogate was released from the clinic and assigned to her OBGYN in Los Angeles. From there, Chris and I drove up to LA every month to attend each appointment with our surrogate. As the months passed, our surrogate continued to grow while conquering every traditional symptom and discomfort. By the end of December, we completed the second trimester and only had a few months left to go. Due to the higher risks that come with carrying twins, our surrogate was assigned to a high risk doctor near her OBGYN. Appointments were scheduled every couple of weeks and Chris and I made time to attend every appointment to see how the twins were developing.
Fast forward to March 9, 2022, the exact day we chose for delivery, we welcomed our son, Brecon Christopher Lambillotte, and daughter, London Bryan Lambillotte into the world. Brecon weighed 7 lbs 8 oz while London weighed 6 lbs 8 oz. It was such a beautiful moment to witness the birth of our children and Chris and I even got to cut the umbilical cords. Our surrogate was an absolute trooper. She recovered in her maternity room right next door to ours and all three of us were able to reunite before being discharged a few days later. Since the twins were born just shy of 37 weeks, the hospital required them to stay overnight for a minimum of two nights to ensure they could breath on their own, regulate their temperatures and feed by the bottle. On March 11, 2022, the hospital discharged our new family of 4 and we headed home back to San Diego. 7 weeks later, our lives have been turned upside down, sleep is a thing of the past, and we wouldn’t change a thing. Brecon and London continue to grow right before our eyes and we feel truly grateful to finally have a family of our own.
2. You’ve documented how hard it was to find a gestational carrier and how your current surrogate is “a bright light in our lives”. What was the process like, and what is your advice for other intended parents currently at this stage of the process?
Finding the right surrogate using a large database can be quite daunting. But with the help of our Surrogacy Agency, they were able to help narrow down the search with specific criteria we requested, ie. location, age, willing to do twins, willing to work with a same-sex couple, etc. Before finding the surrogate we had today, we matched and lost two other surrogates due to health and medical conditions. It was really difficult losing our first surrogate because we immediately bonded with her and developed a great relationship before she was no longer approved to continue – she found out that she had a small hole in her heart. Losing our second surrogate was a little different because it wasn’t medically related. Unfortunately, after starting her new birth control prescribed by our IVF doctor, she discovered she was pregnant just 4 weeks before our implantation date. This was super frustrating for us because the money and time we had spent was lost and couldn’t be recovered but more importantly, we were back to square one. After a few months (and having doubts of stopping altogether) we met and matched with our third and final surrogate. She reminded us of our first surrogate candidate and we hit it off right away. She was a surrogate once before and also worked in the surrogacy industry so she was very familiar and knowledgeable about the entire process and how important it was to carefully follow all instructions from our IVF Doctor, Agency and Attorneys.
3. You seem to have an amazing relationship with your fertility clinic and IVF doctor. You describe your clinic as a “supporter and advocate of our journey”. What factors did you look for when deciding on which providers to work with?
To be honest, we didn’t know where to start when it came to finding an IVF clinic + doctor. Luckily, one of our close friends knew some people in the surrogacy industry and highly recommended La Jolla IVF and Doctor David Smotrich. After meeting with Smotrich and his team, we knew in our hearts that he should be our IVF doctor. Fun fact: Dr. Smotrich was one of the original pioneers to help bring a case to the Supreme Court to allow two (2) men to be listed on a birth certificate stemming from a surrogacy pregnancy. He’s also an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and has helped several same-sex couples and individuals create a family of their own.
4. Your instagram and tik tok have really taken off and you’re raising so much awareness on LGBTQI+ family building through your platforms. First of all, thank you for everything you’re doing! Second, how has sharing your story and engaging with the social media community helped you as you navigate the surrogacy process?
Sharing our story on social media has definitely helped bring more visibility and education to all things surrogacy, IVF, gay families and parenting from a father’s perspective. When we started sharing our story (embryo transfer stage) we didn’t know how it would be received and where it would take us. As of today, we have more than 600K followers between TT and IG (or as I like to call them, our amazing virtual community) and the amount of love and support we have received is overwhelming. It’s crazy to see how many people (that we don’t personally know) reach out to us on a daily basis and thank us for sharing our journey. Some have told us our journey has helped them come out to their families because they want what we have someday. People have said we bring them hope and positive encouragement following a miscarriage or (sadly) losing their newborn at or shortly after birth. We can’t even fathom losing one of our own BUT to hear and see that WE bring some form of support and hope to others is absolutely astounding.
5. What advice would you give to intended parents on GoStork who are just beginning their family building journey?
I would say “TAKE A DEEP BREATH” and take your time. Having a baby is the biggest most important decision you will ever make and one should take the time to do some research and ask as many questions as you can. A good place to start before you get too deep is getting checked out first. For men, take a sperm test to determine your numbers and the quality of your swimmers. For ladies, take an ovulation test to track and confirm your cycles (hope I said that part right). Once these steps are complete, chat with a Surrogacy Agency to see what type of services they offer and if they can recommend an IVF doctor that would be a good fit for you. Steer clear of looking at any surrogate or donor profiles until you are 100% dedicated to this journey and have connected with an agency who will be there to help guide you along the way.
Thank you Bryan and Chris, for sharing your story so openly and for encouraging so many others, especially in that ‘amazing virtual community’ as they navigate their own family building journeys. Congratulations on … everything! We wish you and your beautiful family of four all the best in the world.
Intended parents, check out Bryan and Chris on Instagram @bryan.and.chris and TikTok @itsbryanandchris for more inspiring, funny and relatable content on family-building through surrogacy, and egg donation, and now also on parenting! And if you’re looking into beginning your own surrogacy journey, check out our Surrogacy Agency Marketplace where you can find, compare and connect with over 60 top surrogacy agencies (including Bryan and Chris’s: SAI) all in one place. It’s free to use and you can start through a quick and easy registration process here!