There's always something special about siblings who seem to get along like the best of friends. Chrissy Knott and her older sister, Annie Johnston, were lucky enough to share this sort of relationship. The grew up together, went to college together, and even moved into nearby neighborhoods.
But it wasn't until Chrissy did something remarkable—and unusual—in order to help her sister overcome a particularly difficult personal situation that proved just how close their bond really was. Would you ever do this for your sibling?
Chrissy Knott and her older sister, Annie Johnston, had a lot in common. Both met their respective husbands, James and Joby, as students at Ohio University, and even settled just a few houses away from each other in Delaware County, Ohio.
Chrissy already had two young sons, Oliver and Wendel, while Annie and James—who didn't get married until August 2005—opted to wait a few years to have children. By 2008, however, they felt more than ready to start a family.
Yet their efforts seemed fruitless. Annie went through in vitro fertilization (IVF), but that didn't yield results. After a second attempt at IVF failed in March 2011, Annie's frustration extended to her sister. "As an older sister I was just devastated," Chrissy said.
"I was just thinking, 'What can I do to help them?' You feel hopeless," she explained. "And the only thing I could think of was that if Annie for some reason couldn't get pregnant and that was what was preventing them from having a child…"
If her sister couldn't conceive, Chrissy realized, "then I would totally do that for her." She approached Annie and Joby with her unusual offer, and they were shocked. "When she first offered, we weren't really ready to go that far, to ask her to do anything like that for us," Annie admitted.
Still, the offer remained on the table. "At that point in time, it wasn't like, 'Let's do this now,' it was more, 'if you ever in the future, if it comes to this, I would be happy to try and carry a baby for you,'" Chrissy recalled.
"Last summer, we got to that point and we said, 'We just want some babies,' and if I carry them, or someone else carries them, it doesn’t really matter, we just want them to be here," Annie said. After Chrissy agreed she was still interested in helping, the plan was in place!
The next step, which came on Valentine's Day in 2013, was to simultaneously transfer embryos into both sisters, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy. Five days later, Annie and Chrissy each had two embryos implanted. After that, it was a waiting game...
Then, almost inexplicably, both sisters became pregnant! There was still the question of which embryos would take, though. "Some crazy friend said that it was probably two and two and we were like, 'No, it couldn't be!" Chrissy recalled.
Apparently, it could happen—they could each have their own set of twins. "Doctor Williams found the first little sac with the flickering heartbeat, and then he found one more." Annie said. Amazingly, the surprises didn't end there...
That was when the doctor detected two additional heartbeats! "We just laughed," Chrissy said. "At that point, what do you do? You go from being so hopeful for something for so many years to having what we're calling a baby explosion!"
It became clear that both sisters would require C-sections, but that didn't matter: the babies would be quadruplets! Chrissy would give birth to two girls, while Annie would have two boys.
Thirty-eight weeks later, despite incredible odds, Chrissy gave birth to two boys named Charles and Thomas. Shortly after that, Annie gave birth to her twin girls, Hadley and Grace. Just like that, Annie was a mother of four!
It may have taken five difficult and trying years to accomplish, but Annie and Joby finally had the (surprisingly large) family that they'd always wanted—and it was all thanks to Chrissy.
Knowing that the couple's hands were—literally—full, Annie's parents were kind enough to offer their help in taking care for their four newborn grandchildren. It was officially a family affair!
None of this was easy for Chrissy, but she never really considered the alternatives. "I guess it is a sacrifice as they're renting my body, [but] to me, it's completely worth it," she explained.
Chrissy had no problem seeing the children she carried for nine months sent off with her sister. "I think of them as my nephews, and I know I'll be very involved in their lives," she said. "It would be harder if they lived far away."
Chrissy was confident that her sister would've done the same thing for her. "When it just comes out of love, you don't really think about the consequences to yourself," she said. "You're just trying to help […] start a family."
Annie was sure that she made the right move, too. "I was probably a little more relaxed this time because the pressure was off us a little bit," she explained. "So I can't say had we not used her it would have worked out this way."
Annie now had a big, beautiful family of her own, and a great deal of that was thanks to the selfless generosity of her younger sister. Those kids sure were lucky to have such a special aunt!