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Tales from a modern family
Jordyn and Sawyer arrived in this world basked in love.
They don’t know it yet, but they have two adoring daddies, family, friends — and a growing number of supporters from all over the world.
Daddies Justin Mallard and Brett Rancourt, could not be more thrilled, enthralled and proud of their bundles of pure joy.
You can feel the intense pocket of love the tiny babies are swaddled in as soon as you enter the family’s well-appointed home on Promontory.
“This story has touched many people already, on so many levels,” explains Justin.
The circle keeps widening as their story acquires a global following. Several well-wishers came forward after reading the blog that Justin started called, Love and Science: Our Modern Family.
The blog was created to be a precious gift.
“I wanted our kids to see what it took to bring them into the world. The blog is for them. It took a community to bring them into the world it’s not something we could have done on our own.
What they didn’t expect was the huge reaction.
“The messages we get from people daily are just incredible.”
Thousands are now following the online story. They follow the trials and tribulations.
The joyous posts Justin wrote on blogspot.ca have received more than 170,000 hits so far, and have inspired others to go for their dreams of having a family. He chronicled the details of the surrogate pregnancy, the beautiful gender reveal party, the baby shower, the hospital experiences and the birth. All of it, including the ups and downs of it all.
“The support has been overwhelming, but in a good way,” says Justin.
A few weeks into fatherhood, the married couple works as a team. They share the feeding shifts every four hours, as they fall into a kind of routine of parenting their newborns. They work in synch, changing, dressing, feeding, burping, and holding the babies with a light touch.
“It’s not a one-person job,” Justin says. “You have to constantly work together and make sure you’re supporting one another.”
Having several people in their lives who were willing to help made all the difference. It helps that they both have sisters with kids under two who could be consulted about child-raising.
They are so gobsmacked and so grateful for so much now. But especially to the wonderful pair of friends, who agreed to be surrogate mother and egg donor, Raylene Bussinger and Lisa Wooldridge, respectively.
That’s what happens, Justin says, showing the Progress journalists his forearm, transformed by goosebumps, as if proof of something. Maybe the transformative power of parenting.
It happens more than once during the interview. The goosebumps, that is. It happens just talking about all the synchronicity and happy coincidences involved in bringing the babies into the world.
Jordyn and Sawyer were born several weeks premature at 34 weeks. They spent some time at Royal Columbian Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, but are settling in nicely to their Chilliwack home. Several things had to line up nicely for all this to happen.
Raylene Bussinger, a co-worker of Justin’s, says she felt compelled to do something to help Brett and Justin have what they wanted most: a family.
“Justin was very open about wanting kids, and we’d talked about it.”
She decided she wanted to help. The guys were going over all the options open to them, from adoption, to surrogacy. She discussed it with her own family first and then went for it.
Raylene and her husband, Jeremy, have three kids of their own, and she knew she could do it. And without attachment. She could carry that baby and then give it up to her friends when the time came.
“I will do it for you, if that is what you want,” she remembers telling Justin. She had it all planned out.
Justin and Brett had been looking into using an egg donor clinic in the states.
“But they found out that if you use fresh eggs, you have a higher success rate,” she recounts.
She phoned her friend, Lisa, to see if she would consider it.
Things went surprisingly smoothly from there. They implanted two embryos and both took.
When everyone found out Raylene was pregnant with Justin and Brett’s twins, everyone was ecstatic.
Amazing, is how Raylene describes the experience of being their surrogate. She was back to work just a few weeks after the birth of the twins.
“It was the best experience of my life,” she says.
Lisa Wooldridge says she didn’t think twice about becoming the egg donor for Brett and Justin.
Raylene had already agreed to be the surrogate, and when she got the call one day asking if she would ever consider being an egg donor, that was it.
“Right away I knew it was for them. I didn’t think twice. I said, ‘I would love to.’ I wanted to help them experience the love you feel as a parent, knowing they would be wonderful parents. I didn’t have to think twice.”
It’s not something she would do for just anyone.
“It’s because of who they would be as parents,” she explains.
“I knew they would be so well loved and taken care of. I love that I was able to help fulfill their dream.”
In terms of everything that went right, how does Raylene explain it?
“It was meant to be,” she replies.
When Lisa saw the babies for the first time, it was surreal.
“They’re a part of me, but I don’t think of them as mine. I didn’t do it for me. I did it for them.”
Justin is now back at work at Murray Honda, while Brett is taking a year off as the stay-at-home dad from his job at HSBC.
Part of what’s special is the unbelievable bond the twins have.
The first night they had Jordyn home and Sawyer was still in the hospital with breathing problems that have since been resolved.
“She was finicky,” Brett remembers. She was definitely missing her brother.
When they are put together, even just touching, there is an audible sound of relief.
“Their connection is so special. It’s more than anyone will know.”
Chilliwack has been exceedingly supportive as well.
“I had my reservations,” Justin admits.
It made him hesitant at first to even think about putting down roots.
“Coming from the city, I wasn’t sure how Chilliwack would perceive our little family. Well, every single person has proven me wrong. We’re so blessed.”
These days they get recognized in public because of how many people have seen the blog.
“One of the cool things is that now I will go to Tim Hortons or the Toys R Us Express and someone will recognize us from the blog photos,” Justin says. “It’s pretty cool that people are following our story.”
The readers are eager for updates.
“I’ve received so many messages from all kinds of couples going for in-vitro or other kinds of fertility assistance.”
Brett describes the visceral moment he saw the babies as “instant love,” and was unprepared for how strong the feeling was.
“It was an instant bond and connection.”
He shared that when he came out, at about the age of 15, he knew he definitely wanted kids.
“The biggest struggle was thinking about how I could have a family. I wanted to give my mom and dad some grandkids.”
“Yay!” offers grandma, Brett’s mom, from the kitchen.
Brett says he was less concerned about Chilliwack’s acceptance of them as a community than Justin was, having grown up here.
“Sure it is the Bible Belt and there’s a large religious element, but we found that so many are starting to accept us for who we are, and support us.
“Once they get to know us, they like us.”
To follow their story, go to loveandscience-ourmodernfamily.blogspot.ca