A bright kid, I’d expected top marks for my school project. That can’t be right! I thought, seeing 48/50. Asking my grade 7 teacher why, she showed me my bestie Bec’s report: 50/50. Hers was perfect!
I’m good, but I’m not Bec good, I thought. But I was fine with that. No-one deserved credit more than my brave buddy.
Born with cystic brosis, a life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs, Bec had to battle harder than anyone I knew.
We spent countless hours together growing up and even went to the same uni in Townsville.
Over the years, not once did her positivity falter. That’s why, flicking through Facebook in 2016, an out-of-character post from Bec, then 28, stopped me in my tracks.
What’s going on, babe? I messaged her. I’d recently moved to South Africa for my hubby Jeremy’s work. We’d been blessed with two beautiful kids, Piper, then two, and Oskar, one. Back home in Townsville, Bec had recently married her man, Gareth.
They were desperate to become parents but Bec’s condition meant she couldn’t carry a baby.
It’s all just hit me, she replied.
My heart broke for her, but I had a solution. They just needed someone to carry their child.
I have babies, I’m good at that, I typed back.
Like that, I’d offered to be my friend’s surrogate – from half a world away.
‘Not a chance, you’ve just stopped breastfeeding,’ my hubby said.
But I knew him. And I knew that sometimes I just needed to let an idea percolate for a little while.
Sure enough, a few months later, after watching a moving video clip about cystic fibrosis online, he was on board.
‘We’re really lucky,’ he said, looking at our babies. ‘You should help Bec.’
Breaking the news to Gareth and Bec, they were ecstatic.
Living in different countries, we had the compulsory counselling sessions via Skype.
Discussing every possible scenario, it was confronting.
‘What if Bec dies?’ the counsellor posed.
Cystic fibrosis sufferers did have a reduced life expectancy of 37, but Bec’s condition was closely monitored and she was healthy. She’d be around to see her bub grow up. Our next hurdle was to get pregnant.
So, last May, I flew to Brisbane for just one day to have Bec and Gareth’s embryo transferred into my uterus.
Video calling Bec two weeks later, I did a pregnancy test.
As the two lines appeared, she was in complete disbelief. I was pregnant!
At our six-week scan, I recorded the drum of her baby’s heartbeat so she could listen to it with Gareth.
Each utter and kick I felt – even the weird cravings I had – I described in minute detail for Bec.
‘Wow,’ she’d breathe, confiding that she hoped it would be a boy. I was 16 weeks along when Bec’s health suddenly deteriorated. She often contracted lung infections, but this time was different. The drugs just weren’t working. We’d planned for me to fly back to Townsville for the 20-week scan.
With Bec so unwell, Gareth asked me to come home a week earlier. Then, Bec’s health took another dip and I brought my flights forward a few days.
I’m going to bring the baby home soon and you’re going to be fine, I texted her.
Just before I was due to travel, I had a scan to make sure I was fit to fly.
We were meant to nd out the bub’s sex together. But my belly buddy was having none of that, practically waving his bits about in the grainy image.
And it’s so lucky he did. The next day, Gareth called with devastating news.
‘Bec’s really bad, we don’t think she’s going to make it,’ he said.
Tearfully, I told him they were having a son. As I left for the airport the next day, Gareth phoned again.
‘Bec’s gone,’ he said, distraught.
Boarding the plane, I brought their baby boy home for his mummy’s funeral.
It was heartbreaking and rubbing my tummy I ached for the bub who would never know his amazing mum.
Back in South Africa, as my bump grew, I missed sharing everything with Bec. Then, on January 20, four months after his mummy passed away, I gave birth to her son in Townsville.
It was hugely emotional as his daddy gave him his first cuddle.
‘His name’s Rixon,’ Gareth smiled, bursting with love.
Before she’d died, Bec had chosen her son’s name.
With just 10 days before flying back, I squeezed in as many cuddles as I could. It was hard, but I’d known Rixon was never mine.
‘Gareth will be an incredible dad,’ I told Jeremy, feeling honoured to have given Bec’s family such a special gift after she’d gone.
Now five months, he is the cutest bub and Gareth’s pride and joy.
Bec would be so proud of her two main men. Her family truly is her greatest achievement.
Read more in this week's issue of that's life, on sale now.