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Making Babies At The Border

Cover image for podcast episode

A California couple tries one more time to have a baby by crossing the border and getting fertility treatment in Tijuana. It’s a story about the lengths you’ll go through when the future you envisioned is suddenly out of reach.

Follow “Port of Entry” online at www.portofentrypod.org, or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/portofentrypodcast) or Instagram (www.instagram.com/portofentrypod).

Support our work at www.kpbs.org/donate. Search “Port of Entry” in the gifts section to get our sling bag as a thank-you gift. If your business or nonprofit wants to sponsor our show, email podcasts@kpbs.org.
Text or call the "Port of Entry" team at 619-452-0228‬ anytime with questions or comments about the show.

Port of Entry is a production of KPBS public media and PRX. It's written and produced by Kinsee Morlan. Emily Jankowski is the co-producer and director of sound design. Alisa Barba is our editor. Lisa Morrisette-Zapp is operations manager and John Decker is the interim associate general manager of content.

This program is made possible, in part, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

From KPBS and PRX…

This… is Port of Entry…

Where we tell cross-border stories…

That connect us.

Soy Alan Lilienthal.

Before we begin, I just wanted to let you know that….

Port of Entry is on Instagram and Facebook and we’d love it if you could friend and follow us on those platforms if that’s your thing.

We’re “at port of entry pod” on Instagram and all you have to do is search for “Port of Entry” on Facebook and you should easily be able to find and follow us there.

We’ve also got a group going and it’s specifically for transborder, fronterizo/fronteriza people like you….so, again if that’s your thing, find and follow our Port of Entry page on Facebook then send us a message letting us know you’d like to join the group and we’ll send you an invite.

OK. On with the show...which, by the way...does include a few curse words….

***
So, first comes love…

Then comes marriage…

You know how this thing goes, right?
Then comes the baby in the baby carriage…

And...if your mom is anything like my mom...

Those babies…

They cannot come soon enough.
Grecia IVF Clip 14
The pressure was crazy to have kids. Oh my God.
Mark IVF Clip 14
To the point where we were getting bugged all the time from the tias and tios and everybody's saying, when are you guys going to have kids when you have kids? And just like, I don't know, you know, look. A common, a common against, it'd be like, when you have your next one, you know, when you have your next kid and we'll have, we'll have our first, you know, it was just like to the point where it was like, overwhelming,

BEAT

So...these are the Devlins…..
Mark IVF Clip 1: Introduction
So my name is Mark Devlin….
Grecia IVF Clip 1: Intro
And I’m Grecia Devilin, Mark’s better half. [laughs]

Mark and Grecia met in Orange County California….about nine years ago…

They dated for a few years...and eventually got engaged and married…

And the baby thing?
They had definitely talked about it.

They were in…

But they both wanted to wait a few years first….
Mark IVF Clip 13
But I wanted to have a kid by the time I was 30. The reasoning was that I would look back and I would say, okay, so if I'm 50, my kid's going to be 20, which means I'll still be able to beat him down the non on a snowboard or on a dirt bike or go surfing. I was like, I still be better than though. Right. That was like my mentality.

BEAT
But then...three years into the marriage...a surprise.

Grecia IVF Clip 65
And I realized I was like late. And I was like, Oh, shoot, that's not normal. And so I took a test, found out it was positive, and then we were kind of happy about it.

They were pregnant...a bit ahead of schedule….

But they were OK with that...

BEAT OUT

Grecia IVF Clip 17
And then four days later, I started getting like really bad cramps, like really, really uncomfortable, like worse than menstrual cramps. And so I was at work and I just had to leave. Like I dropped everything and left. And I remember calling Mark from my cell phone and crying. And I was like, there's something wrong with me. I think I need to go to the ER, like it's super painful. But instead of going to the ER, I drove home and I just ran a bath and, you know, just cried my eyes out the whole time.

BEAT

And I remember like, Screaming to Mark. And then we realized that our pregnancy had passed and you know, it was a failure and it was pretty sad. It was a tough day, very painful.
Grecia IVF Clip 16
Yeah...it was super tough.

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 23
You know, when you go through your miscarriage as a women, like, you obviously see that as a big failure. I failed, like my body failed. I could not, you know, grow this child inside of me.
Grecia IVF Clip 23
And so I immediately was like, you know, there's something wrong with me.

BEAT
Nothing was actually wrong with Grecia…

But something was off…

BEAT

Mark IVF Story Clip 15
We had no idea how lucky that that one pregnancy actually was. Well, not only that, but to find out, you know, quickly after that, that we were going to have complications, like to have an actual normal conception to quickly find out that that is incredibly rare with our situation. You know, we had no idea how lucky people were for that pregnancy. And then, you know, of course it ending and failure was just, it was tough for sure.

BEAT TRANSITION

Today in “Port of Entry”...

We’re continuing our series on medical tourism at the border….

With a story about Mark and Grecia…

Who..... ended up wanting to have a baby so badly...they were willing to cross the U.S.-Mexico border for infertility treatments...just for the chance to become parents.

Mark IVF Forward Promote
For me, it was like the light bulb, ding! I was like, well, TJ is right here and we love Mexico. I was like, well, why don't we just think about Mexico?

It’s a story about what happens when the future you envisioned is suddenly .. out of reach…

And you’re willing to do almost anything to try to get that future back.

Mark IVF Clip 34
You know, if, if, if it came down to it and you had to pay 25 grand to have, you know, your, your child born, like you're going to do it, you know. But if you know how to use the internet, then you know how to find other options. And that's exactly what we did.

No te vayas. Volveremos en unos segundos

BEAT FADE
MIDROLL 1

Ya estamos de regreso.

***
Wedding Tape
It’s a great pleasure for me to present to you Mark and Grecia as husband and wife. Un aplauso...Beso. Beso, beso….[applause, laughter].
On a rainy day in April 2014…
Grecia and Mark tied the knot.

Mark, by the way, is one of those guys who takes his GoPro camera everywhere…

And for their big day...he actually convinced the priest to wear the camera during the ceremony.
Wedding Tape
The wedding was in Valle de Guadalupe…

The famous wine region of Baja...just a few hours south of the San Diego-Tijuana border.
Both Mark and Grecia feel really connected to Mexico…

So there was never a question of where the ceremony would be held...
Mark IVF Clip 10
I've always said that Mexico is kind of like the last frontier. Mexico is just an amazing place to be, and you can really do whatever you want. And the cost savings involved. There was just so many different things that led up to us being like, nah, it's gotta be in Mexico.
Grecia IVF Clip 10
I would call it my second home. And then a big factor for me was, um, choosing a place where my family in Mexico that wasn't able to cross the border because they don't have visas or passports. I have a lot of aunts and cousins who lived down there that are very special to me, and I wanted them to be part of my big day.
The wedding was a beautiful, traditional Catholic one…

And the reception was a huge party that ended up lasting until sunrise the next day...
Mark IVF Clip 11
I remember, uh, Grecia’s dad came over and brought like a bunch of, you know, really nice tequila and really nice whiskey for the room. And everybody just had a really great time. but, uh, the party was just an absolute blast and there was just so much fun to be at.
Grecia IVF Clip 13
There was a lot of dancing. And we decided to get married in April so that vineyard, the grapes were like really green, cause it was a really pretty time in the valle...I tell Mark all the time, I'm like, we should get married again. I want to have another wedding! [laughs]
BEAT FADE
Three years later...came that surprise pregnancy…
And then...the miscarriage.

Grecia IVF Clip 15
And I think that kinda like made us realize like, wow, like we sorta got happy when we knew we were going to have a baby. And now that we don't, we're kind of sad. And it made us want it even more. So then, we decided that it was a time to start trying, you know, like we were ready to take the next step and try to have a baby…

BEAT
So yeah, after the miscarriage…

Mark and Grecia officially started trying for real this time….
Grecia IVF Clip 18
To the point where like, you start monitoring your cycles, you know, like, Oh, you read on like how to conceive a child, you know? We tried for a whole year, to March 2018. And that's when I was like, you know, maybe there's something wrong because, you know, uh, we've specifically like tried to have kids exactly for a year.
So Mark and Grecia did what lots of couples in this situation do...
They went to see a fertility doctor…

In Dana Point, where they live.

California, by the way, has become a top destination for fertility treatments.
Clients are coming in from China and all over the world to get top-notch fertility treatment here...
The state is home to some of the country’s most innovative biotech labs, surrogacy brokers and egg donation agencies…

And California's good weather and beaches even play a role.
Because if you have to get reproduction assistance you may as well do it somewhere nice.

BEAT FADE
In any case….

when Mark and Grecia’s tests from their visit at a fertility clinic came back…
The results were not at all what they expected….
Grecia IVF Clip 25
It was very shocking because we did not suspect Mark at all. I don't know why, but we just didn't. And so when we got it, it was very like, Oh, like, Whoa, that's not what we wanted to know.

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 25
We went on a walk one day and Mark was like, you know, like, I don't know if I'm going to be able to provide for you in the sense, like, I'm not going to, I don't know if I'm going to be able to give you children. So if that's something that you really want, maybe we need to talk about like, if we're going to work out together as a couple, if we can't have kids, like, is this what we want together? And if not, like, should we go our separate ways so that you can find children with someone that you can, or….And I was like, What are you crazy?

BEAT
So…

There’s all kinds of scienc-y terms for what was going on with Mark…

But basically... he’s got plenty of sperm, but they move slow and just aren’t that interested in their job, which is swimming quickly toward an egg.

The news was a total gut punch for Mark.
Mark IVF Clip 18
Definitely felt some pain and some fear and some embarrassment. And just the overall sense of not feeling like the same man I was before I knew that information.
Mark IVF Clip 48
Like this whole feeling of being lesser of a man. Like why can't I give her an easy pregnancy? You know, why.
BEAT
Mark IVF Clip 17
And I don't know, like, um, I'm not a Mexican machismo, but I definitely, uh, echo with that sentiment of, you know, the man being the head of the household and you know, what it, what it means to be a man and all that stuff. And I instantly was like, I am half the man I was before I knew about this. And that was the most emotional thing for me, which is just first of all, like, are we ever going to have children now? Is it even possible?
Mark IVF Clip 19
At the very beginning I was deflated and took it as, you know, took it as the end.

BEAT Fade
But...it wasn’t the end.
Actually…

It was just the beginning…
Immediately after talking them through the test results…

The fertility doctor presented Mark and Grecia with a menu of options…

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 22
They read you like the cost of things, you know, like, you know, this is what you have to do. If you want to conceive a child, that's going to cost this much for a medication, this much for surgery, this much for blah blah blah. And so, yeah. And so after they read you their options, then you choose, if you want to proceed with that doctor, or like, how far do you want to go through this process of, you know, having a child.
Grecia IVF Clip 28
And then you start researching a bunch of stuff. Like I remember just like clicking up articles and articles and articles about all this information and learning like, Oh, this person tried this and this doctor says, you know, you should do this first. So I don't know. It's just a very overwhelming time. I remember it was very overwhelming.

BEAT
All the research Mark and Grecia did after that appointment…. ended up pointing in one direction…
In Vitro Fertilisation…or IVF.

It’s hands-down the most effective fertility treatment.
At first, Mark and Grecia were just shopping around…
Meeting doctors who all had something different to say about their chances of IVF success...
Grecia IVF Clip 30
So all this is like a big process. And like, as you're going through, like, you're just swiping the credit card, right? Like every consultation is like not covered by insurance. So it's like, you know, that's how you start IVF.

BEAT TRANSITION
But….each consultation left Mark with a bad taste in his mouth…
It just all felt way too...transactional…..

Mark IVF Clip 24
I felt like they were taking advantage of us, you know? Like, like you're telling us, it's not likely gonna work, but you're also saying that maybe give it a chance, you know,
Mark IVF Clip 37
It’s like, so like, are you really here to help us? Are you here just to make some money off of us? And that's when I was just like, you know what, screw these people.
The prices they were being quoted were about $25,000 dollars for the cost of the procedure plus all the medications and follow-ups.
And their insurance... was gonna cover exactly none of it.
Every state is different, but in California, insurance companies are required to cover some infertility treatments….

But IVF... is not one of them.
Mark IVF Clip 26
And you're just like, wait, what? 20? That's when you start questioning the U.S. healthcare system, we're like, wait a sec. So if humans are kind of required in our society to continue our society, like why isn't something like infertility covered by your health insurance? You know, like that seems like, like. One of the most important things to have covered, in my opinion. If I want to continue my bloodline, I want to make sure that I could do so. But I guess I can't. And now I got to do it all out of pocket and seeing that price tag on it, I was just like, wait, wait, wait, wait, this is gonna be $25,000??? And that's when we started looking at other options.
BEAT FADE

So Mark is a techy guy who works in the software industry….

And he was just totally convinced there had to be a better option out there…
An option he could find if he just searched the internet long and hard enough…

BEAT
Mark IVF Clip 28
I was on Reddit looking around on Reddit. But also, you know, looking into other avenues and people would do these things where they do like pregnancy vacations, where they would go to, uh, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic into all these other areas where, you know, if I'm going to spend $25,000 anyway, why do it in my backyard and while I'm staying at home, why not go spend a month in Puerto Rico or spend a month in wherever, um, in order to enjoy the scenery, because you're gonna have to be doing constant weekly meetings and ultrasounds anyway. Right? So a lot of people like, you know, the, uh, the IVF, our pregnant fertility, um, tourism thing is, is a real thing that people do.

That's when that lightbulb went off and Mark thought…..what about Tijuana?"

Mark IVF Clip 29
I have never done any medical tourism in TJ, cause you know, for everything in my life, insurance has covered the United States. So why would I go south of the border? But I have had friends experience, you know, dental work and TJ and stuff with, with great success. So, you know, it was like, Hey, let's, let's, let's go. At least let's do a consultation down there before we make any decisions. And that's, and that's when TJ got into the mix.
Grecia, though, was not down.
Her family is from Mexico and she spends so much time there... she considers it her second home..
But she still had some preconceived notions...especially when it came to Tijuana, a city cursed with a bad rep….
But also about the quality of medical care in Mexico…

And...she’s not totally off base.

Really terrible things have happened when it comes to IVF...and not just in Mexico...they happen on this side of the border, too.

BEAT FADE

IVF News Montage
The business of reproductive medicine is not subject to proper oversight. That’s one of the conclusions drawn from an in-depth Reveal study from the Center for Investigative Reporting..
There’s even an entire season of the public media podcast called “Sick” that’s focused on an IVF doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate his unsuspecting clients.

He’s fathered at least 70 children.

Here’s one of them talking to the podcast hosts.

IVF News Montage
You never had an interest in finding out who your biological father was,
Yeah
You obviously know now…
Yeah
Does that like sorta mess with you a little bit?
Yeah, like, for the sheer fact that...he was playin God...did he get into this profession to basically violate women and get off on it. So that messes with you....like am I who I am sometimes because of him?

BEAT

There’ve also been stories about doctors implanting the wrong eggs into women and other IVF nightmares…

And then there are lots of stories about botched plastic surgeries and weight-loss procedures that U.S. citizens get in Tijuana to save money….

Some of those people have died or ended up in emergency rooms back on this side of the border.

BEAT FADE

Grecia IVF Clip 34
When Mark brought up Tijuana I was like, heck no. Because I had heard horror stories of people going down to Mexico to get, you know, I don't know ladies going to get their boob job or like getting their lipo or like work done on their face. And like, Oh, they stole someone's kidney while they were under anesthesia. Or, you know, like this lady started hemorrhaging and they had a driver across the border to get medical help. So I was just like, Oh my gosh, no, like, I, I don't want to do that down there. And I was like, Ooh, they're probably gonna steal my babies or, you know, like stuff like that. Yeah, I was just hesitant about it.

Mark...though... kept bringing up the Tijuana option.
And Grecia kept hesitating.
But Mark was persistent enough that Grecia eventually was willing to at least check it out....

BEAT

Grecia Clip 35
And then we finally went down there and we get there and this clinic is like super nice. It was clean, the people were very friendly and like, you know, we were sitting in the lobby and I was like, Oh wow. This is like legit. I was very surprised of like how the place was…. like I did not expect that whatsoever.
Mark IVF Clip 31
It was such like a different experience.
Grecia IVF Clip 66
Yeah. After the first time I was like, Oh yeah. Okay. We'll do it. You know, it's, I, it wasn't scary at all.
Mark IVF Clip 31
I don't feel like I'm being handled here. I don't feel like I'm being stiffed by anybody. Because it was expected, right? That's not exp not expected that they were haggling or stiffing me that I was going to be paying for a service.
Mark IVF Clip 35
I think they quoted right out the gate, like something like 6,500 bucks, um, for, for the egg extraction full first off for the medications. Right. And the medications have their own influence on the process. Medications, which are a huge cost in the United States for this procedure, the extraction, the conception, the implantation, I think all of that was quoted at like 6,500 bucks.
Mark IVF Clip 36
We're like sold, you're a guy you know?
BEAT FADE

From there….Mark and Grecia had appointments nearly every Wednesday for several weeks…
They’d drive to Tijuana in the morning…about an hour and a half or two hour drive depending on traffic….
Go to the appointment, then get in the Sentri lane and cross right back to the U.S.

Mark’s role...was….simple...
Mark IVF Clip 44
My job was to ejaculate into a cup…

But Grecia had to do all kinds of really difficult things…

Grecia IVF Clip 43
I definitely think like the process we went to, like, it takes the fun out of everything. Like, it takes the fun out of like having, getting pregnant, you know, it's not a fun process. It was like work, you know, tough work, emotional and like physical work for me. Like, I was literally sacrificing my body.

BEAT

First, Grecia had to sorta act like she was pregnant already.

No drinking. No strenuous exercise.

She had to make some lifestyle changes to make herself the perfect vessel for carrying a baby.

Then, she had to take medications to control her cycle.

Next, she had to start growing her eggs, which involved injecting herself in the stomach….

Grecia IVF Clip 39
And like, they give you like a box of needles and like syringes. And that was crazy ‘cause then you're like, Oh shoot. Like I have to drive like a box of syringes and needles across the border to inject myself. but it was scary. Yeah. I do feel, I did feel like a drug dealer. I was like, Oh no! [laughs]

And then...about three months later….

It was egg retrieval day...a process that required Grecia to go under anesthesia so the doctors could carefully extract the eggs she’d worked so hard to grow.

This was actually the most intense, scariest part of the whole process for Grecia….

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 40
And I remember like sitting like in the patient room before they took me back to the operating room and I was just like, Oh my gosh, like, what am I doing? Like, I was very uncomfortable because at that point, my stomach had gotten really swollen because I had like 20 eggs inside me. And so I knew I wanted them out. So it was painful and I was just tired and scared to be in like a different place by ourselves. You know, who was I going to call? We're like in Tijuana and nobody knows where here and, you know, worst case scenario...
Mark IVF Clip 38
I remember like being like, fuck, are you going to really do this? Like, you know, I, I definitely had some concerns per se….
Those concerns, though...were put to rest a few hours later…
Grecia was fine. But pretty uncomfortable...

Grecia IVF Clip 41
I remember like puking on my way home. It was gnarly, but yeah. Yeah. Cause I mean, you just had surgery, they put you under anesthesia, you know, like it's like anything, if you had your appendix out or something like that, you know, you're on drugs. So I remember like I vomited on a drive back and it was very painful.
In the car, crossing back from Tijuana to San Diego…
Mark remembers feeling a huge amount of guilt…
All those injections...all the meds...all the checkups and poking and prodding...everything Grecia was going through was because of him.

And he’d added to the stress by making her go through it

...all while outside her comfort zone...in Tijuana.

Mark IVF Story Clip 49
Why does she have to go through this in a different country? You know, maybe not so much guilt from the fact that, you know, we had to go through IVF in the first place, but guilt that maybe I dragged her down into Mexico to do it.
Mark IVF Clip 50
She went through the brunt of it all. I, I had it fairly easy, you know, I, I was essentially just the bank and she was the one that had to take the pain. And she really was the one that sacrificed everything because of my biological failures.

BEAT FADE

Grecia’s extracted eggs were mixed with Mark’s sperm…

Then it was back down to Tijuana so the doctor could put two of the fertilized eggs back into Grecia’s uterus.

It’s another part of the process that Mark couldn’t resist capturing on his gopro….

More IVF Audio From Video Clip 1
Going to Mexico one last time. Where are we going babe? To Mexico. What for? I don’t want to...it’s awkward….Going to pick up our babies! Mexico….

BEAT

I wish you could see the video of this moment….

Because the look Grecia gives Mark is soooo classic...she’s just completely annoyed by Mark and she clearly just was not in the mood for a gopro cameo….

For Grecia...this was a really big moment…

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 47
We woke up really early to get down to Mexico. I think it was like 5:30 AM. So I was very tired and the night before I couldn't really sleep because I just like, it was like, you know, you're like, Oh, shoot. Tomorrow is a really big day, you know, like I'm gonna get an egg implanted into my stomach and that's technically a baby because it's fertilized.

BEAT

Audio from Videos Clip 1
Mark: Concibo....

Mark again...with his gopro out while they were waiting for Grecia to be taken back to the operating room….

Audio from Videos Clip 1
Down here in TJ. Grecia is about to get two embryos implanted into her. She's very nervous.
[Grecia laughs.]
I’m not.
Grecia IVF Clip 45
And, uh, yeah, they just laid on the table and in goes embryo. And you lay there for like 20 minutes and then you're all good to go and then we just get in the car, drive back home..
Grecia IVF Clip 48
After I had the procedure, I was very excited and very cautious because I didn't want to do something bad that would jeopardize my pregnancy or my, my procedure. Like we just spent all this money and it's like, Oh my God, like, I need a walk on eggshells so. It was very stressful for me, I felt like I had a lot of weight on my shoulders to carry.

BEAT FADE

Grecia and Mark allowed themselves to feel a little excited…

But mostly...they felt really nervous.

One or both eggs the doctor had injected into Grecia could take and start growing into babies...so they could be having twins…

Or...neither egg could take and they’d be back to square one.

BEAT

We’ll find out the results...after a quick break.

No toques ese dial digital.
MIDROLL 2

Bienvenido de nuevo.

So...Mark and Grecia waited two very nerve-wracking weeks…

Then...Grecia took a pregnancy test.

And….they were crushed..

It was negative...

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 42
I was angry a lot. That was really hard. I remember like after our first implantation, like it was unsuccessful. That was like, I was very pissed. I was like, what did I do to deserve this? Like, you know, like, why did I have to be the one person that has infertility?
Grecia IVF Clip 51
So it was very like another blow to the heart, you know, like, oh, this isn't gonna work either. What am I going to have to do?

For the first time, Grecia remembers feeling a little anger…

Toward Mark.

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 45 - 2
There was definitely like a lot of, um, I would, I guess….hostility is a very tough word, but like, I was very like, this isn't fair because I have to stop from, you know, doing a lot of fun things for us to have this child, you know? So it's just like a very mind taxing, like emotional thing for me. And I was very kind of angry that Mark wasn't feeling it physically the same way I was.

BEAT TRANSITION

At this point….

Grecia and Mark were down, but not out.

Not yet anyway.

They had to wait for Gracia’s cycle, but the next time she was ready, they went right back down to Tijuana to try again.

They had more fertilized eggs waiting in the lab in Tijuana and they weren’t ready to give up just yet.

Again, the doctor implanted two eggs to increase the chances of success.

Audio from Videos Clip 2
Mark: how do you feel babe?
Grecia: Normal. I don't feel anything different?
Mark: You don’t feel anything different?
Grecia: No, I just felt like I had to pee like a million times.

Another gopro moment outside the clinic in Tijuana after the second implantation.

Anyway...this time around, they wanted to let themselves feel hopeful….but not too hopeful….

It was a tricky emotional space to navigate…
Mark IVF Clip 52
I didn't want to get my hopes too up, because you know, if it failed, then it would just be another set of disappointment, another period of failure for us where, it's something that's so emotional that, it's almost like you're so drained at that point. It's like it can continue to fail and you can almost be indifferent again because it's like, well, what is, what is worse than what we're already in? You know, from the sense of, you know, trying to have a child and you can’t have it so….

Beat Transition

Then...came the waiting game again…
They had to wait about 10 days until they could take another pregnancy test...
Grecia IVF Clip 46 - 2
I had like a mental breakdown because I hadn't felt a thing. You know, I felt completely normal. I felt like I hadn't gone through anything. Nothing in my body felt different. I didn't notice anything, you know, off, or anything different from the first time that failed.

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 46 - 2
So I remember like breaking down in the kitchen one day, crying and I told Mark, like, it didn't work. I know it didn't work because I feel the same way I felt the first time when it failed...
Grecia IVF Clip 47 - 2
Two days after that, I just, out of the blue, decided that I should take a pregnancy test, like a few days before I had to, before the deadline.

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 47 - 2
And it turned out to be positive.

BEAT Transition

Grecia IVF Clip 47 - 2
And I remember like, I was like, Oh shit. Like it actually worked like, wow. And it was just like it was, it's like a very happy feeling, but then you're also very guarded because I already had gone through a miscarriage, like few years, few years before, and the first cycle had failed. So I was like keeping my guard up for failure because we had been through a lot at that point.I knew that I had to be guarded and be happy, but only to a certain degree because I didn't want to like break my heart.

BEAT

Finally, Mark and Grecia were pregnant.

But... like Grecia said...they felt like they could allow themselves to be happy, but not too happy...at least not yet...just in case something went wrong.

Every pregnancy, whether IVF or not…

Is typically kept quiet until the women reaches the second trimester and the chances for a miscarriage drop dramatically.

But as the weeks went on and on, they slowly and very cautiously allowed themselves to relax...

Grecia IVF Clip 48 - 2
We started getting like really happy. Cause we were like, Oh my God, like it's actually growing. And it's growing really good. And it looks really healthy. And I remember it was the week of Christmas, Christmas Eve. And um, on Christmas Eve night was the first day I got nauseous. And that was like, I felt the worst I've ever felt in my life because it's the terrible feeling. And you can't smell anything cause like you just want to vomit. But then like, I was like the most happy as I've ever been because I'm like, Oh my God, it actually worked.
Grecia IVF Clip 49 - 2
That was when it all started to becoming like a big reality to me. And I think at that point I started losing a lot of my fear for my pregnancy, you know? Like I was more like welcoming it and like, I was actually letting myself start getting happy.

BEAT Fade

Eventually...Grecia and Mark did feel confident enough to share their big news with the world.

Mark made a video, of course….and it’s a little cheesy...but also very charming...

Audio from Videos Clip 10: Birth Announcement

Then... late one night…..Grecia went into labor...

And….at about 4:50 a.m. the next day….. August, 24, 2019….
Birthing Video Audio

Grecia and Mark finally met their baby girl.

Birthing Video Audio

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 59
It's a very surreal moment. Like when they pulled, um, my baby out, um, you just like stare at it and they were like, Oh my gosh, like it's alive and it's here and it's moving. And you're just like, you're very happy and like so much in love,I felt so tired and so overwhelmed, but then like, I just wanted to like hug my baby, you know, it's like, just give her to me. Like, I don't, you just find like the strength out of nowhere and you just like, get the power to do this, you know? Cause you're so much in love and all of my hard work, all of this like journey I had gone through IVF and then my pregnancy. And then finally I had seen like the fruit of my labor here breathing and crying at me. [laughs] So I don't know. It's just a very happy experience...

BEAT

Mark IVF Clip 59
I remember just, you know, the crowning process being like this is by far the most intense visual thing I've ever seen, but to also see either the top of her head that was already her head being the baby's head, which was already kind of full of hair, um, coming out and, and, and, you know, seeing her face for the first time and, um, you know, the whole emotions of that and seeing, you know, Grecia finally feeling a sense of relief, you know, emotionally and physically. And I don't know, it was just more than overwhelming. It was sensory overload by, by all means, you know, it was the most intense thing I've ever gone through and I've gone through absolutely wild shit in my life, but that was just like next level.

BEAT

So yeah...Mark and Grecia are the proud parents of a healthy little bilingual girl.

BEAT

Audio from Videos Clip 9: Grecia and Daughter speaking Spanish

BEAT

But at first…

Grecia and Mark didn’t tell many people what they went through to have her...

They were a little embarrassed...ashamed even….

Mark IVF Clip 40
Most people probably still don't even know that, you know, technically our daughter was conceived in Mexico.
Mark IVF Clip 42
It's like, I don't, first of all, I don't, you know, Grecia is pregnant. Okay. Well, that's great. You know, you're pregnant. Fantastic. When did you guys start trying, you know, meanwhile, they don't know that we've for the last two years, we've been going through hell to even get to this point, you know? So it was just like, there's just, I don't know. It just wasn't something that we were openly eager to talk about at the time.

BEAT FADE

But…over time, their feelings changed.

And both Grecia and Mark found themselves wanting to share their story…

So people stuck in their situation can learn about other options… in Tijuana...

Mark IVF 64
there was a shift of embarrassment to pride that happened, um, embarrassment that you had to even do that in the first place, um, to prideful that you were successful in it, and that you were able to go through all of that and accomplish the goal that you set up to do. maybe there was the pride in Grecia maybe was the pride in the process. And both of us, um, made me want to talk about it

BEAT

Grecia IVF Clip 61
But I think the shift for me was, um, like. It's it's nice. Well, not nice, but like hallmark said, it's something like, I'm proud of that. I went through like something that made me a stronger person, and now I feel like I want to share it and share my experience.
Grecia IVF Clip 62
And I just don't want people to feel alone and, and the more I'm sharing with friends and people that I'm meeting, like the more I'm learning and finding out that a lot of people are struggling to get pregnant. I feel like it's something that we need to normalize more cause people only speak of the happy experiences and like the oops babies, but no one really likes to share about the hard struggles and bad sides of pregnancy. You know what I mean?

Mark actually went on Reddit...where he wrote these very intimate posts…

Sharing all the details of their IVF story there...

Mark IVF 64
The story is worth telling and, and it's, it's something that I'm prideful about now, you know, and it's, you know, it is abnormal to seek this out of a different country and do that. But I wanted to just tell that experience

BEAT/TRANSITION
Mark and Grecia’s daughter will be two in August….
Mark IVF Clip 65
And she, uh, uh, probably needs a sibling now. So we've started the process of just understanding, you know, how many of those do we have done the Mexico is still, you know, and is this the time in our family planning that we should probably start thinking about revisiting, uh Concibo in TJ and understanding, uh, what it's going to take to get some of those other things implanted, you know, do we need to start buying some meds again?
Grecia IVF Clip 63
I definitely want to have another baby. And, um, luckily we still have some embryos left. Just the whole nervous, anxious part is gonna start all over again. [laughs] But yeah...very exciting.

BEAT
So...while we were finishing up this episode...

Mark and Grecia did end up crossing the border again...

And...of course...Mark took his gopro and recorded the appointment with their doctor in Tijuana….He’s a funny guy who really wants Mark and Grecia to have two babies instead of just one this time...

Audio from Videos Clip 8: Doc wants them to have twins
I hope so twins.
That's what you said last time, you know, doing tell. I hope I hope I got.
Preguntas? do you have a question, Mark? You want twins?
No, the answer is no…..
Mark IVF Clip 69
We might even pay that extra money to find out of the embryos we have left, which ones are males, so that I can finally, you know, get my son who is just chilling down in Mexico right now…

BEAT

Next time on “Port of Entry”...

Tanzania Audio Diary Clip 1
Good morning. It is 7:39. I have my appointment today at Obesity Not for Me in Mexico and Tijuana to be specific,
A serious health problem causes a plus-size model to cross the border for weight-loss surgery.

Tanzania Audio Diary Clip 14
I miss tacos so much, but I'm being strong.

How she’s handling the life change privately... and publicly….

Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 30
I honestly feel like if the body positive community, you know, has an issue with that, are they really body positive?

BEAT

Port of Entry is written and produced by Kinsee Morlan. Emily Jankowski is the co-producer and director of sound design. Alisa Barba is our editor. Lisa Morissette is operations manager and John Decker is the interim associate general manager of content.

This program is made possible (in part) by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people."

I’m Alan Lilienthal… Gracias por su atención.

Port of Entry podcast branding

Port of Entry

These are cross-border stories that connect us. Border people often inhabit this in-between place. From KPBS and PRX, “Port of Entry” tells personal stories from this place — stories of love, hope, struggle and survival from border crossers, fronterizxs and other people whose lives are shaped by the wall. Rooted in San Diego with tendrils reaching into Tijuana. Hosted by Alan Lilienthal, produced by Kinsee Morlan and sound design by Emily Jankowski.