If I told you I met a lady who was pregnant with her brother’s baby you would probably recoil in disgust, throw a few Tasmanian jokes my way or reminisce about reading Flowers in the Attic. This next story is exactly that, but how it came to be is a medical miracle.
Surrogacy is the gift that keeps giving and when I met a Gold Coast mum who proudly wore a t-shirt with the slogan ‘I’m carrying my brothers baby’ I knew she had an interesting story to tell.
When Renee White’s brother Craig came to her for help to carry his and wife Jenny’s embryo she was more than happy to give them the gift of a life. She already had a little family of her own, so her womb was available for a short-term renter. If you have ever wondered about the ins and outs of surrogacy maybe their experience can help.
Renee, how did you become a surrogate and carry your brother’s baby?
My brother and his wife were able to create a beautiful healthy embryo, but were unable to carry a pregnancy to term so it was super easy to offer up my womb, for a little bit, and we had this amazing little boy, Luca, in the middle of December and everyone is doing great
There’s so much emotion tangled up in this, after you had the baby was he hard to give up?
No; he was never mine to keep, and that amazing feeling that comes with giving is just multiplied by a million to be able to see them hold him. It was just incredible.
So talk me through that, how did it all go with the birth?
We had a planned caesarean, which was medically necessary. So I just laid there with a stupid grin on my face and popped out this beautiful little man and everything was great.
Was he handed straight to them because normally they put the baby straight on the mama’s chest for breast feeding and skin to skin, so what happened in this situation?
We had a birth plan that he would go directly to his mum and dad and of course they brought him to me for a bit of a look and a little cuddle and then when I was in recovery they went back to the ward for the skin-to-skin time.
Has your brother’s wife taken any medication to breastfeed?
No, straight onto the bottle, I did give some colostrum in the early days but he went straight to the bottle and is now a healthily chubby little bubba.
Did you speak to him in the womb?
We did chat a lot to him. My boys did especially; they did silly things like bring bugs to my tummy to show him, which he kicked off sometimes. We tried to get a few things going, I don’t know if it made a difference, like I used the same moisturiser that Jenny (my sister-in-law) used while I was pregnant and ate foods she would eat so maybe he would get used to his mother’s smells and things like that. You don’t know if it rubs off, but it was worth a try.
This is the greatest gift anyone can give, I don’t think you will need to give another Christmas present ever again, are you now the family favourite?
Ha, absolutely, I am the favourite child forever more, my parents love me more, and my brother too, I win!
How are you going now, how do you go seeing him?
I have babysitting duties once a fortnight and I see him on Saturdays, which I get excited about. But it’s important to try not to mother him and to let them create their own little family unit and get their routine down and not smother them. They are doing an incredible job.
Do you have motherly feelings for him?
My girlfriend described it as grandmotherly feelings for him, so you have your distance, but it feels a closer bond than an aunt. I do have feelings of missing him if I haven’t seen him for a week, so I drive and have a cuddle, and as soon as I have a cuddle I feel fine and am glad to give him back.
Will you do this again for them?
No, it was a one-off; it took three years to create him from the time we started. I had a miscarriage along the way and several failed embryo transfers so I think it would be a lot to put my family through again. It’s a lot for Craig and Jen to go through too, it was a huge physical and emotional toll on the family. And they have Luca now; he is perfect with the best squishable cheeks you have ever seen, why go for any more?