REAL LIFE

Why I gave my babies to strangers

'I felt like I was marvelling at a friend's belly.'
HelloBABY Photography

Cassie wanted to share the joy of parenthood.

Here, Cassie, 29, tells the story in her own words.

Can we squeeze any more love in here?! I wondered. Excited to see their new baby sibling, I’d brought my kids Jai, then seven, Elijah, five, and Maddison, three, to my 10-week pregnancy scan. Along with my partner Mick’s precious son, Loki, three, our beautiful blended family was going to be getting even bigger. Scarily, the sonographer seemed worried. Sensing his concern, Mick, 30, took the little ones outside. ‘I’m so sorry, but there’s no heartbeat,’ the sonographer said gently. It was devastating. ‘Sometimes babies are needed to look after other little babies in heaven,’ I explained to the kids later.

Visiting the doctor for a check-up soon after, he said I’d fall pregnant again easily. ‘You’d make some of my patients with fertility issues jealous,’ he smiled. His words kept rattling in my head. Mick and I already had a brood of gorgeous kids we adored, and decided not to try for another baby of our own. Maybe we can give another family that gift instead, I mused. Joining the Facebook support group Egg Donation Australia, I began learning all I could about the process. Discussing it with Mick, he was behind me all the way. So I offered to help a lovely couple named Steve and Neil, who lived in the Blue Mountains, NSW.

In March 2016, eight months after I’d lost my own bub, I gave them the first piece of the puzzle – my eggs. Nineteen were harvested, making six embryos. All the counselling and injections had been worth it to make two amazing daddies-to-be so happy. Now, I wanted to do even more. ‘I’d like to be a surrogate,’ I told Mick. ‘Okay,’ replied my man without even flinching. Joining a surrogate forum on Facebook, a post jumped off the screen. It was a picture of the most beautiful family. Christian and Juan had just returned from Mexico with their newborn son, Anxo, who’d been born there via a surrogate. Now, they were hoping to give him a sibling.

That’s them, I realised, falling in love instantly. Reaching out to Christian and Juan, we decided to meet at a park in Sydney. Both enveloping me and Mick in huge hugs, I felt like I’d known them forever. Still, I hadn’t agreed to anything yet. First, I needed to see how they got on with my children. Over Skype, my kids were shy, but with big smiles Christian and Juan coaxed them to open up. Soon, they were besties, chatting about school and Pokémon. They’re naturals, I thought. ‘I’m going to help them have a baby,’ I explained to the kids. Breaking the news to Christian and Juan, they were overcome with joy. Then, as we were starting the surrogacy legal process, I met Mike and Glenn online, a couple from Melbourne who needed an egg donor. Again, I felt like I was chatting with long-lost friends. With Christian and Juan’s blessing, I decided to donate my eggs to them before I fell pregnant, so they were harvested in January 2017, ready for another surrogate. It felt amazing to be able to help another couple achieve their dream.

Atlas and Cassie
Me and beautiful little Atlas (Credit: HelloBABY Photography)
Anxo and Atlas
Anxo and Atlas (Credit: HelloBABY Photography)

Then two months later, a single embryo was implanted into me – made from Christian’s sperm and a donor egg. Incredibly, I fell pregnant straight away! I was also cursed with hyperemesis gravidarum – chronic morning sickness – until I was 20 weeks along. As my bump grew, it was different to feeling my own babies grow inside of me. With each kick, I truly felt like I was marvelling at a mate’s pregnant belly.  Every day I talked to my tum. ‘You just wait until you meet your daddies,’ I’d coo. I was worried about the kids getting too attached, but I needn’t have. ‘We’re not keeping it, we like sleep too much!’ I overheard Elijah tell his pal. When I was about to pop, Mick took me out for a dinner. ‘You’re having a baby – how wonderful!’ the waitress said.‘It’s not mine,’ my man said, as her jaw dropped. ‘It’s not hers either,’ he added, gesturing to me. ‘I’m a surrogate,’ I laughed.

After a horrifying 26-hour labour, I gave birth to a perfect little boy, Atlas, in December. Placed straight on Christian’s chest, he had vital skin-to-skin contact with his father. Terrifyingly, I’d lost 2.5 litres of blood and had to be whisked to surgery. ‘It’s too risky for you to ever carry a baby again,’ the obstetrician told me and Mick the next day. In the room, too, Christian and Juan were upset for me.‘We’re so sorry – thank you for giving us the world,’ they repeated over and over. It was a shock, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Now four months old, Atlas is a chubby little cutie! To him, I’m Aunty Cass and I get to see him all the time. When he’s in my arms, he gives me a gummy grin and falls asleep instantly. And I can’t wait to meet Mike and Glenn’s bub, due next month. They’ve forged an incredible bond with Christian and Juan, too. We’re truly one big happy family, which is why I ignore criticisms from others. ‘How can you give up your baby?’ I’m often asked. ‘I didn’t,’ I reply. ‘I gave back their baby.’ Really, I was the ultimate babysitter! 

Juan and Christian with Atlas and Anxo
Juan and Christian with Atlas and Anxo (Credit: HelloBABY Photography)
one big happy family
We’re now one big happy family! (Credit: HelloBABY Photography)

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life!

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