At the age of 16-years-old Nicole Barattini was diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenia purpora. This autoimmune disease can cause tiny blood clots to form throughout the body resulting in extreme exhaustion and the need for a plasma exchange. When doctors helped to identify Nicole’s symptoms as TPP she was immediately prescribed a medication commonly used for patients with cancer that helps to fight against a low immune system.
Now at the age of 29, Nicole has spent over a decade living with her TTP, never knowing that there would be more marks left on her life by the effects of her autoimmune disease. In 2010 she married her husband, Kevin Barattini, and together the couple had plans for the future family that they wanted to build together.
However, one year later during a doctor’s appointment she found out that having children would be a life or death risk for not only herself, but the life of the children they would conceive.
The medication that Nicole takes to treat her TTP could be harmful to a baby and if she was to stop taking the medication it would then put her at risk. It would not be impossible for Nicole to conceive or carry a child, but the risk of both her and the baby becoming very ill was incredibly high.
Trying not to lose hope, Nicole and Kevin looked into adoption, but found the whole process to be too expensive. Nicole found out that her TTP was not genetic so she went ahead and had her eggs frozen, with the hope that one day they would find a surrogate to carry a child for them.
Unfortunately, all of their surrogate options began disappearing one by one (In the state of New York it is illegal to pay someone to be a surrogate).
Because of the huge sacrifice that goes into carrying a baby for 9 months, Nicole didn’t think they would ever find anyone who would do it for free.
Then, to their complete surprise, a dinner with an acquaintance changed everything.
One night in December 2015, Nicole and Kevin went to eat with Shawn and Lianna Fives, who were only acquaintances at the time. Lianna had known that Nicole was unable to carry a child and had always wanted to help. However, because she and Shawn were working on building their own family she had never been able to offer herself as a surrogate.
Now with five of their own children, Lianna told Nicole that she wanted to be a surrogate for them, for free!
“At first it was difficult for me to get a sense of why she wanted to do this,” Nicole told People. “She is an angel. She wanted to do this out of the kindness of her heart.”
Overjoyed with excitement, both couples began preparing for the pregnancy and by July of 2016 Lianna was officially pregnant with not just one, but two of Nicole and Kevin’s babies!
Nicole and Kevin were at every doctor appointment and joined Lianna in the delivery room when it was time for the babies to be born. Nicole told People that it wasn’t weird for her to have someone else carrying and delivering her babies.
“It was actually a relief that they were going to be healthy, and there was less stress for me knowing that a really good person was carrying them.”
Dominic and Luciana were born on February 10, 2017 and were perfectly healthy!
Kevin and Nicole immediately asked Shawn and Lianna to be godparents to the twins ensuring that the strong and special bond between the two families will last for the rest of their lives.