Mother-of-two is carrying a baby for her sister whose rare heart condition left her body unable to cope with the stress of pregnancy – but insists being a surrogate is ‘no big deal’
- Lauren Hooper was born with heart defects that left her too weak for pregnancy
- The 31-year-old and her husband Michael, 36, wanted to have a family together
- Her sister Ebony Hutt, 35, a mother of two, offered to carry a child for the couple
- She said she didn’t think twice about being their surrogate, saying it was ‘natural’
A mother-of-two who is pregnant with her sister’s baby insists being a surrogate is ‘no big deal’.
Lauren Hooper, 31, of Okehampton, Devon, was born with rare heart conditions that left her body too weak to cope with the stress of carrying a child.
But her older sister Ebony Hutt, 35, already a mother to Tegan, nine, and Sonny, six, was determined to help her sister realise her dream of motherhood and offered to carry the baby for Lauren and husband Michael, 36.
Now, after several failed attempts, Ebony is almost 25 weeks pregnant.
Selfless act: Ebony, right, a mother of two, offered to carry a baby for her sister, Lauren, left
Expecting: Lauren, 31, and Michael, 36, celebrate seeing their son in a pregnancy scan
Lauren said: ‘Finding out I wouldn’t be able to carry a baby was devastating but when Ebony made her offer to be our surrogate, we were so overwhelmed.
‘It’s not been an easy journey, but now we are over halfway through the pregnancy and I can’t wait for us all to meet our little one.’
Ebony insists the selfless act is not so remarkable, saying: ‘Offering to be a surrogate for Lauren was never really a decision I had to make. It was always something that was just in me, before I had even had children myself.
‘We are such a close family that it is just natural for us to help each other through everything.’
Involved: Ebony gave Lauren and Michael a pot of her urine so they could perform the pregnancy test. After three failed attempts, Ebony is now 25 weeks pregnant
Longed for baby: Lauren and Michael’s baby boy, pictured, is due in August
In childhood Lauren underwent four open-heart operations after to correct the heart problems she was diagnosed with as a baby.
She only realised the condition would affect her ability to carry children shortly before she and Michael tied the knot in 2014.
When she mentioned the nuptials at her annual check-up, her consultant broke the devastating news that they didn’t think her heart would cope with pregnancy.
The couple were not trying for a baby at the time, but they knew they wanted children in the future.
Family: Lauren and husband Michael, right, with Ebony and husband Gavin, left
Devastating news: Lauren and Michael only found out it would be a risk to have children themselves shortly before their 2014 wedding, pictured
Lauren, who was 26, recalled: ‘Because my heart condition was so rare, there are no medical records in the world of anyone with it having a baby.
‘Doctors compiled information from other heart conditions, to help give us an idea of what could happen. They gave us six possible outcomes; four of which were fatal, not just for me but for the baby, too.
‘I was willing to risk something happening to me, but I never wanted to do something that would intentionally harm our baby.’
Initially, when Ebony offered to be their surrogate, Lauren wanted to explore other options to see if she could carry the baby herself.
But, when it became clear that surrogacy was the only way they would ever have their own child, Lauren knew that her sister was the only person she would ever want to take care of their baby for nine months.
Support: Friends and family raised money for the second, successful round of IVF, pictured
The couple were entitled to a round of IVF to produce three fertilised embryos but had to pay to have them implanted into Ebony’s womb.
The first embryo was implanted in April 2016 but Ebony suffered an early chemical pregnancy, when the embryo falls away within the first few weeks.
The second embryo implantation was unsuccessful and Ebony suffered another chemical pregnancy in January 2017.
With the help of their families, Lauren and Michael raised the £15,000 they needed to have the entire procedure repeated privately. They underwent another round of IVF in November 2017 and an embryo was implanted weeks later.
Stay-at-home mother Ebony gave her sister and brother-in-law a pot of her urine so they could perform the pregnancy test.
Eagerly awaited: Ebony, pictured, is now 25 weeks pregnant with her sister’s child
And, at the seven-week scan, they saw their little baby on the screen for the first time.
Lauren said: ‘It was an incredibly emotional day for us all. We couldn’t believe we finally reached the stage for a scan. We fell instantly in love.’
Ebony, who also lives in Okehampton, does all she can to make the couple feel involved.
Lauren continued: ‘I don’t think I will ever be able to thank her enough for this. She is such an incredible person and my family have been so amazing every step of the way – looking after us and helping us to raise money for the treatment.
‘It means so much to me that I am able to go through this with my sister and she will always be very special to our baby.’
Ebony added: ‘It pains me that my little sister isn’t experiencing the pregnancy herself but the happiness always outweighs that pain.
‘Every milestone we hit is so exciting because, after such a long and difficult journey, I am one step closer to giving this precious little soul back to his or her mummy and daddy.’
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