A woman who was told that having a baby could kill her has realised her dream of becoming a mum – after her friend agreed to be her surrogate.
Sophie Tristram, 29, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and was warned by doctors that getting pregnant could trigger fatal pneumonia.
But her dream of starting a family finally came true after her friend and colleague Emma Grave, 37, volunteered to carry the baby for her.
Sophie’s eggs were fertilised using her husband Ben’s sperm and the embryos implanted into Emma’s womb last March – days before the first national lockdown.
Thankfully, the pregnancy was successful and Emma gave birth to 6lb 10oz Harry on November 23 last year.
The friends, who both work as health and safety advisors and live close to each other in Wolverhampton, West Mids., say they are now “one big family”.
Sophie said: “I have got cystic fibrosis and was diagnosed when I was six months old so have lived with it my whole life.
“About four to five years ago I had an initial conversation with my doctor.
“I wanted to know if getting pregnant was going to be possible but due to a particular bacteria in my lungs we found that could turn into a form of pneumonia which could be fatal.
“It was a massive blow for me that I wasn’t going to be able to carry my own child.
“I had some counselling to get my head around it and that led us to surrogacy so we went to a few functions to get more information.
“One day I was having a lift to work with Emma’s husband Paul and he was asking me how everything was going.
“I told him we were looking at surrogacy and he suggested Emma might help us.
“He spoke to her that night and she rang the next day and said she’d love to be our surrogate. We were blown away.”
Sophie and husband Ben, 29, met with surrogacy agency Nappy Endings who successfully appealed to allow the couple to be present at the birth.
Because the pregnancy took place during lockdown, the friends were only allowed limited contact as Sophie was advised to shield due to her condition.
Sophie added: “In early 2020 I had my eggs extracted and Ben did his part and then the embryos were implanted on March 9, 2020.
“Only two weeks later we were all sitting outside in the garden and found out that Emma was pregnant and it had worked but due to the coronavirus rules we couldn’t hug each other because that was the day the lockdown was announced.
“Emma was sending me footage of the scans as I was told to shield so it wasn’t until 24 weeks that we could go too.
“It was hard for Emma as any decisions that needed to be made about the baby her viewpoint on it was it wasn’t her decision to make.
“We had planned it and thought we were going to be seeing each other every day but I only saw her on the odd day I went into the office. We relied on FaceTime and messaging.”
When Emma gave birth at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, Sophie and Ben were allowed to be her birthing partners.
Sophie said: “Still to this day it doesn’t feel real and some morning’s I’ll wake up and he’s there smiling at us.
“We’re a little family now and Emma will always be a part of Harry’s life and Paul too, even their girls. We’re all a close-knit family now.
“There’s nothing I could ever do to say thank you to her and Paul for what they did for us.”
Emma, who has two teenage daughters Abi, 19 and Hannah, 16, said she was delighted to help her friend.
She said: “It was a good time for use as our girls are a lot older and I was still young enough to have a healthy pregnancy so I didn’t overthink it.
“It’s just what we do for friends.
“During the labour I was okay I wasn’t overly emotional but it was hard being on the ward listening to other women getting upset because partners weren’t allowed in – there was only a very short window for visiting.
“But it was Sophie and Ben’s baby so they should be with me and I wanted them there so they were getting the full experience.
“People always ask me about attachment but that was never a question. It was their baby for the start; there’s no genetic connection at all.”
The couples were helped through their journey by surrogacy agency Nappy Endings.
The company was founded by Rachel Westbury who had four surrogate babies for childless couples.
She said: “I just wanted to try and make a difference and felt everybody had the right to be a parent so put two and two together and that’s where we are.
“We’ve also recently helped intended parents attend scans.
“We felt fertility was an exceptional circumstance so we managed to get it overturned to help our surrogates and the intended parents.”
To find out more about surrogacy, visit www.nappyendings.com