(TOLLAND, Conn.) — A selfless woman is carrying a child for her sister who experienced the heartbreaking loss of newborn twins.
Anna Howat is due to give birth to her niece, Charlotte Grace, on Feb. 2. Howat offered to carry her sister Beth Gaudino’s baby when Gaudino had difficulties conceiving after losing her son and daughter at 20 weeks pregnant.
“She’s healthy, she’s beautiful, so we are getting really excited,” Gaudino told ABC News Wednesday of the upcoming birth of her daughter. “My sister says to people, ‘Well, wouldn’t you do that for your own sister?’ To her, it’s not a choice that had to be made. Of course she would do it. I think it’s amazing and I’d do it for her.”
Gaudino, 32, of Tolland, Connecticut, unexpectedly went into labor halfway through her pregnancy, in August 2015. Both babies died.
Due to complications from the pregnancy and a struggle with endometriosis, Gaudino underwent several surgeries on her uterus. She and her husband tried getting pregnant again via IVF from December 2015 until the last transfer failed in April 2017, she said.
“I would always say, ‘I don’t think I want children’ just because I am a very career-oriented woman,” Gaudino said. “And then I met my husband. I was like, ‘I’m so in love with you. I want to have a mini Justin [her husband] and Beth running around.’
“Dealing with that emotion [losing the twins] and trying to heal from it and look to the future..then having all these medical issues, it gave us so much stress and it literally ruled my life.”
Gaudino’s sister, Anna Howat, 29, was still pregnant with her own daughter, Penelope, now 1, when she told Gaudino that she’d like to carry a child for her.
Howat said she had suffered three miscarriages before having Penelope.
“I feel like it’s not the same losing babies at 20 weeks as opposed to my miscarriages at 8 weeks, but I could know what she was going through in a sense,” Howat told ABC News. “Seeing your sister struggle even harder, of course you would do it.”
In May 2017, Howat underwent a successful embryo transfer and became pregnant. The Gaudinos will name the baby Charlotte “Charlie” Grace Gaudino, after their twin baby girl, Grace, whom they lost two years ago.
Kathy Varkal is a registered nurse the third-party program coordinator at the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services in Farmington, Connecticut. Varkal worked with the women during the transfer process.
“I think their closeness and the way they interact is going to make this usually very tumultuous process a breeze because these two, they finish each other’s sentences, joke with each other and they have each other’s support,” Varkal told ABC News. “It’s been really hard for both of them, but they laugh at every visit and they carry each other through.”
On Sept. 30, Howat and Gaudino both participated in a photo session with women who are expecting their own rainbow babies.
Photographer JoAnn Marrero invited the sisters to be part of her project after they hired her for maternity, birth and newborn pictures.
“I called Beth and Anna and I said, ‘I’m doing this rainbow thing do you guys want to join me? and they said, ‘Absolutely,'” Marrero told ABC News. “It’s such a beautiful story. They both had such losses, but were happy to join in.”
“It was nice to hear people’s stories and how they’re getting to their happy endings,” Gaudino said of the photo shoot.
Howat said she is looking forward to helping her sister welcome her daughter, Charlie, into the world. She hopes Charlie will be close to her cousins, Penelope and Finley, 11 months.
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