I was watching my favourite TV show when one of the characters mentioned becoming a surrogate for her brother and his wife, who couldn't carry her own kids.
What a kind thing to do, I thought.
If ever any of my loved ones faced an obstacle like that, I was certain I'd do the same for them if I could.
But I was just 17 and still in high school. Having a baby seemed a whole lifetime away.
Two years later, I met Trent while I was working as a waitress and I was instantly attracted to him.
He was a bouncer, just a year older than me, and we had loads in common.
We dated for two years and I gave birth to our daughter, Leilani before we married not long after.
Strange as it sounds, I actually missed being pregnant after that, so we tried for another and a year later I had a son, Isaac.
From my big tummy through to breast-feeding, I loved everything about pregnancy.
But Trent felt that two kids, one of each sex, was enough to make our family complete.
I wasn't so sure I was ready to give up pregnancy for good.
"What if I became a surrogate?" I suggested, remembering the tv show I'd watched years earlier.
Trent looked at me in concern.
"Are you sure you could hand the baby over?" he asked. "You might get too attached."
I understood his worry, but the feeling of helping another couple would surely outweigh anything else.
The law stated that you had to be at least 25 to be a surrogate, which meant I'd have to wait two more years before putting any plans in motion.
Once I was finally old enough, I leapt at the chance.
All I needed was to find a couple that wanted my help.
After much thought, I made a placard saying, Womb for rent.
Trent photographed me holding it and I later uploaded the images to social media.
Word spread, but none of the people who contacted me felt quite right, so I decided to go to a surrogacy seminar in the hope of finding someone.
That's where I met Kate, 35, and her partner, Kris, 36.
The three of us clicked so well it was like we'd always been mates.
"I can't carry children of my own," Kate confided. "I don't have a uterus."
"Let me do it for you," I offered.
She and Kris were moved to tears by my offer.
"I don't have the words to thank you," Kate choked.
We spent the next year going through counselling, doing psychological assessments and legal work before we got the go-ahead.
Kate had four embryos, but our first two attempts failed.
"I'm so sorry," I said. "I feel really guilty."
Kate and Kris insisted I wasn't to blame and, thankfully, the next transfer delivered a positive result.
"You're going to be parents!" I squealed.
Now the reality had set in, I sat Leilani, then five, and Isaac, three, down to tell them.
"Mummy's having another baby," I began, "but it's not for us to keep."
"Cool!" Leilani cried.
They were both still too young to really understand but Isaac started talking to my ever-expanding belly.
"Hi baby, how are you?" he asked.
Kate and Kris were never far from my side.
We did a photoshoot and they joined me for all the scans and appointments.
We found out it was a boy at 10 weeks.
Kate and Kris later organised a baby shower at their home when we were 34 weeks' pregnant, with all of their family and friends present.
My family and a couple of my friends also came along.
At 37 weeks, I was home alone when I started bleeding and was rushed straight to hospital, where I gave birth to Jack.
Kris cut his cord before handing Jack to Kate just minutes after he was born.
Little Jack was adorable.
"He's got his mum's hair and eyes," I marvelled to Kate.
She and Kris were overcome with emotion.
"You're such an incredible woman, Michelle," they said. "Thank you."
Watching them become parents at last was one of the most rewarding moments of my life.
Although I thought Jack was adorable, I felt no motherly connection to him – he was theirs, not mine.
Due to complications with the placenta, I'd suffered a severe haemorrhage and needed surgery.
I knew then that I'd never give birth again.
"You've done an amazing thing," Trent said.
Jack is three months old now and I've been pumping breast milk for him.
The kids are often with me when I do that so they keep meeting Jack.
Kate and Kris even refer to me as his cool aunt Michelle!
I'm sharing my story to show what a joy surrogacy is.
I'm so glad I helped make Kate and Kris's dream come true and hope I can inspire others to do the same.
KATE TELLS TAKE 5:
When we met Michelle, we didn't dare dream that she would choose us to go on this crazy ride with her – especially when there were so many other deserving couples out there.
All throughout the pregnancy, our main focus was making sure that Michelle and her family were comfortable.
I was in such awe of her all throughout the birth.
Michelle and Trent will always be Jack's aunty and uncle and he will certainly know their role in helping him come into the world.
It is so hard to describe just how much Michelle gave us – it's a gift we will cherish forever.
- PuzzlesTake 5 Pocket Puzzler Issue 195 Online Entry Coupon
Prizes To LoveDec 25, 2020