Real Life

REAL LIFE: Meet the New Zealand woman who paid it forward with a baby

''Being a surrogate wasn’t easy but I’d do it again.''
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Lacey Owen, 35, from Whangārei, NZ, shares her sweet story.

Jumping into bed, I excitedly shoved my barely-dry pregnancy test in my husband Nick’s face.

“I’m pregnant!” I cried.

“That’s incredible!” Nick replied, hugging me tight.

I was over the moon. As a little girl my only wish was to be a mum.

And now, at 24, I was ecstatic to discover we were expecting our first child on Christmas Day, 2011.

But just three weeks later, I started bleeding heavily.

As I stood in the shower losing our child, Nick climbed in fully clothed to hold me in an attempt to settle the uncontrollable shaking as deep, soulful cries ripped through my body.

Lacey had wanted to be a mum since she was a little girl.

(Image: Supplied)

If I’m ever given the opportunity to become a mum, I will pay it forward, I swore to myself, hoping I could prevent someone else from experiencing this despair.

In 2013, thankfully Nick and I welcomed our first child, Calais.

Our son Declan arrived a year later, and in 2018, I gave birth to our son, Jake, completing our family.

In 2019, I received a message from my friend, Arrun.

We’d formed a firm friendship when he was my flatmate 10 years earlier and had kept in touch sporadically over the years.

Arrun told me about his recent move to Wellington, New Zealand, with his husband, Jake, and sent me a photo of his dogs.

Living life with our fur babies, he wrote.

We’ll have a real human baby one day I am sure!

Lacey with her husband Nick and children Jake, Calais and Declan.

(Image: Supplied)

After Arrun told me they’d just joined a surrogacy group, I joked to Nick that I should carry their child.

“Well, you’ve always said you wanted to,” he said. “They’d be perfect.”

“That’s true,” I replied, remembering my promise to pay it forward.

Nick and I had often discussed the idea of me carrying a child for someone else after we’d completed our family.

After hearing about Arrun and Jake’s surrogacy plans, it felt like fate had brought us together.

It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but I felt so incredibly grateful to have had my own dreams realised and was more than willing to help my friends achieve their own parenting wish.

I’d love to be your surrogate if I qualify, I messaged Arrun.

OMG that would change our lives! he replied.

Lacey offered to carry Jake and Arrun’s baby.

(Pic credit: Whangarei Birth Photographer)

I had one condition: I would only be a gestational carrier – I wouldn’t use my own eggs.

I knew wholeheartedly I could never give up a child who came from my own genetics.

Arrun and Jake were happy to agree to this and soon found a selfless friend who was willing to donate her eggs.

The months that followed entailed hours of research, appointments, testing and numerous counselling sessions for Arrun, Jake and me as we compiled our application to have our surrogacy reviewed by the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology in New Zealand.

After an agonising two-week wait, we were finally given the green light to start IVF.

“I’ll give it three attempts,” I told Nick.

I fell pregnant on our second round of IVF, but my elation soon turned to complete and utter devastation when I miscarried at five weeks.

Jake, Declan, Lacey and Calais at Lacey’s maternity shoot.

(Pic credit: Whangarei Birth Photographer)

I was racked with guilt when I called Arrun and Jake to break the news. But they were so kind and compassionate, and just wanted to make sure that I was okay.

A few months later, I showed up for my third round of IVF, terrified of losing another embryo.

Being the ever-impatient woman that I am, I took a home pregnancy test four days later, which immediately showed positive.

After a blood test confirmed I was pregnant, we all remained cautiously optimistic until the first ultrasound.

Seeing the tiny flickering heartbeat on the screen had us all crying like babies.

“My wife’s pregnant with another man’s baby,” Nick started telling everyone, taking great delight in watching their confused reactions.

Six weeks before my due date, the region where we live went into a surprise lockdown as COVID-19 numbers were on the rise.

Lacey climbed into the birthing pool as she could feels things quickly moving along.

(Image: Supplied)

Within 24 hours, Arrun and Jake had packed their bags and boarded a flight to come stay with us as we awaited bubba’s arrival.

At 39 weeks, my waters broke just as I was excusing myself from the dinner table.

Next morning, I went to the hospital where Arrun and Jake were able to join me once I was officially in labour.

When I could feel things starting to move quickly along, I climbed into the birthing pool.

Arrun and Jake sat beside me, speaking words of encouragement.

As I gently breathed the baby’s head out, I looked up at them.

“You’re about to be dads,” I said.

Niko was born with Arrun and Jake by his side.

(Image: Supplied)

Moments later, their son, Niko, was born.

“He’s beautiful!” Arrun cried, besotted.

Seeing Niko’s dads dissolve into tears of happiness was a special moment I’ll never forget.

Sadly, my postpartum journey was far from smooth sailing.

Saying goodbye to Arrun, Jake and Niko at the airport a week later was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

I didn’t miss Niko specifically.

Lacey holding Niko with Arrun and Jake.

(Pic credit: Whangarei Birth Photographer)

My heart knew he was safe and loved by his dads, but my head and hormones were screaming at me to be holding and feeding a child.

But a few months down the track, I started feeling much more like myself.

I’ve been so fortunate to have the most amazing support from my family, as well as Arrun and Jake, who constantly check in and send me photos and videos of Niko.

My role of Aunty Lacey is one I’ll forever carry with pride.

“Would you do it again?” is the most common question I get now.

And the answer is yes. In a heartbeat.

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