A labour of love After three kids of her own, this mum gave birth twice more... and gave the babies back
HOW could you give the baby away? Becoming pregnant, life blossoming inside you, hearts beating together, growing bigger – together. “Easy,” surrogate Melissa Holman said.
“I’m not giving the baby away. It was always hers (the intended mother). I am just giving it back.”
This remarkable Queensland mum has been a surrogate twice – making Mother’s Day possible for two desperate women.
Melissa said witnessing the love between the mothers and newborns was a defining moment in life.
“The baby is born. The mother is cutting the cord and then they wrap the baby up and give it to her,” she said.
“And I think: ‘wow, I got to be involved in this’.” Melissa said surrogacy was not like giving up a baby. And, from her own experience, it was not like adoption.
“From the beginning it is always their baby,” she said. Melissa also said that as a surrogate her connection was with the parents, not the child.
“You get to know these women as close friends,” she said. “You get to see their strength, resilience and desperation.” This is how Melissa first became a surrogate.
“When I first heard about surrogacy I thought I couldn’t do that and I didn’t consider it at all until a lady I was going to be an egg donor for told me she’d found out she was pregnant,” she said.
“She had already had all these miscarriages and other health issues. We were so excited.
“And then she lost the pregnancy.
“Her whole world was falling down and her resilience and strength amazed me.
“And then she was told she could not carry a baby because she could die.
“She needed a surrogate. I’d offered and suddenly I was needed.”
Melissa said from there the first steps were legal advice and counselling.
“Then I had to go through some checks with a doctor to make sure everything was medically okay,” she said.
After that they embarked on the IVF. Melissa miscarried twice.
“I was exhausted by then because I’d been pregnant for six months but had no baby to show for it,” she said.
“Emotionally it gave me a really good case to be on the other side of the fence. It was emotionally hard.
“My friends would say to me ‘when is enough, enough?’ And I’d say ‘when I say it is enough’.
“But she was such a good friend I just had to keep trying. “So I said let’s try one of my eggs.”
Melissa fell pregnant again. And it stuck.
“We saw an obstetrician by eight weeks and did the dating scan. Then saw the obstetrician once a month,” she said.
Before the birth the intended mother came and stayed with Melissa.
“She was there for the birth. She had been staying with me for a few weeks,” Melissa said.
“We went in and had an induction.
“It couldn’t have gone better.
“That night I went to bed and she took the baby and looked after it. She’d come in and I’d express milk.
“It never felt like I gave the baby over, it was always her baby.”
In January Melissa gave birth to another beautiful baby – this time a little boy – and happily gave him over to his mother.
“He was perfect – a screaming newborn mess, lifted off my stomach and put gently into his mother’s loving arms.
Melissa said although it was hard at times, being a surrogate was one of the best things.
“People say I must love being pregnant but I hate being pregnant,” she said.
“And it’s odd when that clucky sensation sets in and you don’t have to do anything. But with huge risks comes huge rewards.”
While she has no plans to be a surrogate again just yet, Melissa said “never say never”.
The 34-year-old is a mum to three: her 13-year-old and nine-year-old daughters and nine-year-old stepson.
A nurse by trade, Melissa is studying to become a midwife. “I’ve always been a huge advocate for women’s health and if I can help put the babies in there, I can help get them out,” she said.
“For me midwifery is a natural follow on from nursing and it has been a passion for a while.”
One woman has given two other desperate women a chance to become mothers after she acted as their surrogate.
◗ Tereasa Trevor, baby Nina, and Melissa Holman.
◗ From left, intended mothers Kelly, Tereasa Trevor and surrogate Melissa Holman.