Denham Springs couple, NICU nurse share surrogacy story to offer hope to families

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. – Like many young couples, Savannah and Mason Kent met, fell in love, married and dreamed of starting a family.

The Kents married in September 2020 and were overjoyed when they got pregnant one month after they started trying. Their baby boy was due in the fall of 2021.

Everything was going smoothly until Savannah was about 14 weeks pregnant. She learned during a high-risk ultrasound at 17 weeks that their baby was terminal. Sadly, baby Reece died on June 11, 2021.

Savannah, who was born with a severe liver condition, had a liver transplant ten years ago. She knew there was a possibility she might not be able to get pregnant. After losing their son Reece, doctors told her and Mason that, medically, it would be best if they found another way to have a baby.

Savannah and Mason Kent shared their story of life, loss, love and hope on their journey to parenthood via surrogacy with Olivia Lustig, a NICU nurse, in an interview with UWK. Photojournalist: Chase Brouillette

So the Kents explored their options and started considering a gestational carrier. A gestational carrier, or surrogate, is a woman who carries and delivers a child for a couple or individual. Surrogates are usually impregnated through in vitro fertilization or IVF, according to Yale University.

Their journey to become parents again led them to an unexpected but familiar place.

Giving the gift of life through surrogacy

Olivia Lustig is a registered nurse who works in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Ochsner Baton Rouge. As a NICU nurse, she cares for newborns daily who are in their most fragile state and she also knows firsthand about the heartbreak of losing a child.

Olivia and her husband, William, who have three children, lost two babies and had a couple of years of infertility on their journey to parenthood. Olivia felt moved by her faith to carry the couple’s baby.

She offered to be their surrogate and the Kents agreed. Once the couple worked through the Louisiana laws for gestational surrogacy, they moved forward. Olivia became pregnant and during the pregnancy, the couples grew closer. They attended church together, ate dinners and went to doctors appointments.

As a surrogate, Olivia wanted Savannah and Mason to experience the pregnancy as if they were carrying the baby and going through the pregnancy themselves.

“I loved most of it, ya know, pregnancy is hard,” Olivia said. “It was definitely the hardest pregnancy I’ve had just because of hormones and IVF.”

“But it was beautiful,” Olivia continued. “I got to share this with someone who was just as, or even more excited about it than I was. Everything that happened I got to have someone to talk to about it and just gush over.”

Olivia’s husband William was supportive and says surrogacy brought their families even closer together.

“It was totally worth it for me to support her [Olivia] and grow in our relationship with the Kents,” William told UWK.

  • The Kent Family - Baby Brooks, Savannah and Mason

When it was time for Olivia to deliver, the couples spent two nights together in the hospital room. She was in labor for 36 hours. Just as Savannah and Mason stepped out of the room, they got the call, or text, they’d been waiting for, “Y’all come now!”

“Even the nurses were hollering down the hallway ‘Run, run, run!’,” a joyful Savannah exclaimed with a big smile on her face. “It was amazing!”

“We opened the door and Savannah, actually gowned and gloved up and was able to deliver and hold Brooks,” remembered Mason. “It was indescribable.”

Mason said it was like watching a movie and he felt a rush of adrenaline.

“It was completely amazing,” exclaimed a beaming Savannah. “It was incredible… everything was just perfect!” 

Never stop looking for the butterflies

The Kents wanted to share their story to give other families hope, so they wrote a book and produced a full-length documentary with the Lustigs called, “Piece by Peace: Life, Loss and Love“, about their journey to parenthood through surrogacy.

“My Blue Butterfly and Me” was written to help parents and children dealing with loss.

Their children’s book, “My Blue Butterfly and Me“, is about a turtle and his friend, Blue Butterfly, who disappears one day. The Kents wrote the book to help them talk with their son Brooks (Turtle) about his big brother Reece (Blue Butterfly). The Kents hope the story also makes it easier for other families who have experienced the loss of a child, loved one, or even a pet to talk to their children about loss and process their grief.

“Never stop looking for the butterflies of this world” is one of the sayings in the book. The Blue Butterfly signifies the special people in life, the Kents say, who show up in our lives during desperate situations to remind us that the end of something can also be the beginning of something beautiful.

The book is available online from the following sellers:

The Kents are scheduled to host two book signings in the Capital City area:

Saturday, February 10 at 2 p.m.
Barnes & Noble

7707 Bluebonnet Blvd #100
Baton Rouge, LA 70810

Saturday, March 23 at 10:30 a.m.
Livingston Parish Library

8101 U.S. Highway 190
Denham Springs, LA 70726

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on the latest news across the Capital area. 

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