Miracle of Birth
Thanks to a local woman, a New York dad is able to raise twin sons as his own, a life event he didn’t even think was possible until only a few years ago.
Michael Melcher compares life before his children’s births to that of the main character in “The Wizard of Oz” movie.
“Dorothy said the first part of her life is black and white,” he said. “Then she wakes up in Oz and it’s all in color.”
On March 5, identical twins Mateo and Nicolas Melcher were born at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls via gestational surrogate Caitlin (Rosin) Altman.
She is a 2007 graduate and Hardwick native living in Luverne. She and her husband, Aaron, also an LHS 2007 grad, have three children of their own, ages 7, 5 and 3.
“I feel my children are the best things that happened in my life,” she said. “Why not be able to give that to someone else?”
That someone else turned out to be Melcher, 51, a New York City partner in a mentoring company assisting executives with specific leadership goals. He never thought he could reach one of his own personal goals with his partner of 20 years, Jason, to have children of his own.
“I grew up in an era for gay people when it wasn’t clear that we could have children,” Melcher said. “A lot of people my age are not alive. A lot of guys in my peer group died in the early ’80s and ’90s before they had a chance to be in a changed society where things like being a parent are possible.”
Almost three years ago, Melcher attended a conference in New York titled, “Men Having Babies.” Besides guest speakers, the conference included representatives from various fertility clinics and surrogate agencies. Fate led Melcher to choose a Minnesota agency to find a gestational surrogate.
“I have a real soft spot for Minnesota,” he said. “Maybe because I grew up watching ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ … the Midwest is full of very solid people.”
The International Assisted Reproduction Center (IARC) in Maple Grove paired Melcher with Altman, whose Google search found IARC.
Both filled out biographies, each reading the others before the agency arranged the introductory phone call that lasted two hours.
“He is very thorough,” Altman said. “I felt very confident and comfortable everything would go well.”
For Altman and Melcher, No. 1 became a well-used number:
•Altman was the first surrogate Melcher talked with.
•Both only wanted to carry and raise one baby.
•Only one donor egg was used.
•The first in vitro fertilization treatment resulted in a pregnancy.
Altman’s first ultrasound revealed she was carrying two embryos.
Shock was the initial reaction to the news of identical twins.
Melcher thought the medical equipment was faulty.
“I thought maybe … (in the Midwest) they don’t have the most up-to-date ultrasounds and they are just looking at the same one from two different angles,” Melcher said.
For Aaron Altman, Caitlin’s tears were thought to be an emotional response to having a child for someone else.
His viewing of the ultrasound showed two distinct fetuses inside one placenta. Caitlin was afraid of the possible complications as the babies developed. This was never a concern before during her other easy pregnancies.
However, none of those concerns occurred and Mateo (5 pounds, 13 ounces) and Nicolas (6 pounds, 6 ounces) were delivered as two healthy babies at just over 35 weeks of gestation by Caesarean section. Caitlin’s worry of extra stretch marks, a possible miscarriage or development of genetic defects was over.
At 12 days old, the boys went home with Melcher, their biological father, to New York.
Time spent with the twins in the neonatal intensive care unit allowed Altman to ease into the inevitable giving up of the babies to Melcher and his partner, Jason. Melcher himself also made the transition easier with his desire to keep the Altman family involved in the boys’ lives.
“I want my kids to know their whole story,” he said. “I view Caitlin and Aaron and the egg donor as extended family.”