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Friday, May 8, 2015

Surrogate friends helps 'paralysed bride' becomes a mother

Rachelle Friedman Chapman was preparing to marry the man of her dreams when tragedy struck four years ago.

The then 28-year-old American broke her neck after being playfully pushed into a pool at her own hen's party. She then feared her dreams of starting a family would never come true.

But Rachelle and her husband Chris Chapman are celebrating the birth of their first child, thanks to a friend who acted as surrogate for the couple.

"Everyone!!! Meet Kaylee Rae Chapman born at 10:48 after under 3 hours of labor!! Laurel did amazing and is resting after some hard work. Thank you for the most beautiful gift we will ever receive!" Rachelle posted on Facebook on April 26.

College friend Laurel Humes offered to act as surrogate for the couple after the accident left Rachelle unable to safely carry a baby. The embryo was created via IVF using Rachelle's egg and Chris' sperm before being implanted in Laurel's uterus.

"My husband was a sperm donor for some of our friends, a same-sex couple, and that inspired me to think about surrogacy," Rachelle told People last year.

Laurel said that she was excited to be part of creating the new family.

"When I heard Rachelle was looking for a surrogate, I told [Chris], 'You helped a couple. I'd like to really make this offer and see if she'd be interested in me doing this for her," Laurel explained to

"I remember how exciting it was to see and hear my son's heartbeat for the first time in utero. It was really special to be able to share that with Rachelle."

One of the first things Rachelle asked after the accident, which left her paralysed from the chest down, was whether or not she would be able to have children. Doctors assured her many paralysed women went on to carry their own baby.

However the couple soon learned that medication Rachelle needed to help control her blood pressure would damage any embryo she carried.

When news of the surrogate pregnancy broke last year, some questioned whether Rachelle's physical disabilities would make it too difficult for her to care for a baby.

Rachelle answered the critics saying she is more capable than people often give her credit for. Also Chris and her own mother, who lives nearby, would raise the child with her.

"No one ever questions the physical ability of a single parent, and yet there are two of us in this effort," Rachelle said. "You have Chris, who is completely able-bodied, and then there's me, who maybe can't do as much as he can - but I can do a lot more than people think.

Rachelle has a customised cot which will make it easier for her to get her baby in and out while in her wheelchair. Photo: Facebook

"It's not going to be easy and we're completely aware that it may not be 50-50. But this wasn't just my decision, it was Chris's, too.

"As a team, as a family, we'll just find a way to work this out. We all want this."

Rachelle, who has gone on to become a motivational speaker since the accident, said she and Chris originally hoped to have two children, but that the expense of IVF meant the couple would probably only have baby Kaylee.

"So my plan didn't work out exactly like it was supposed to, but I'm having a baby and that was what I always wanted," she said.

"You never know what the future holds. You never know what five years down the road our life will be like."


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