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Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

s Sally Ober­meder and her hus­band Mar­cus gazed at their longed- for sec­ond child for the first time, they couldn’t have been more elated. In five short years they had dealt with IVF, breast cancer, mis­car­riage and the loss of Mar­cus’s mum. So when baby Elyssa was born via a sur­ro­gate in De­cem­ber 2016, it seemed life had fi­nally smiled on them.

Their el­dest daugh­ter, Annabelle, wasn’t as con­vinced. Hav­ing had her par­ents to her­self for five years, she wasn’t im­pressed that a squawk­ing, poo­ing, not very ex­cit­ing baby was sud­denly the cen­tre of at­ten­tion. Twenty months on, how­ever, her lit­tle sis­ter has grown on her, so much so that she’s ready for the fam­ily to grow again.

“She’s now ask­ing for an­other baby,” says Ober­meder, laugh­ing as she grabs some rare free min­utes to talk to Stel­lar be­tween hosting af­ter­noon television

and tak­ing Annabelle, six, to swim­ming lessons. “I could’ve fallen over,” she con­tin­ues. “I re­minded her that when Elyssa was first here she didn’t like hav­ing a baby around. But she said Elyssa was now heaps of fun – and she’d like a brother as well.”

As to whether she’ll get her wish, “I wouldn’t say no, I re­ally wouldn’t,” says Ober­meder, who turns 45 this week. “When you’re in the midst of that first year you’re so ex­hausted that you can’t imag­ine hav­ing an­other one, but then that passes and you think, ‘I feel great.’ So the door is still ajar – I could def­i­nitely en­ter­tain it [ hav­ing an­other baby], but it’s not straight­for­ward.”

Hav­ing been di­ag­nosed with an ag­gres­sive form of breast cancer the day be­fore Annabelle was born in 2011, Ober­meder was told she couldn’t carry an­other baby be­cause preg­nancy could cause the cancer to re­turn. With com­mer­cial sur­ro­gacy il­le­gal in Aus­tralia, she and Mar­cus found an “al­tru­is­tic sur­ro­gate” in Amer­ica but the process didn’t go smoothly. Their sur­ro­gate, Rachel, fell preg­nant with one of the Ober­meder’s frozen em­bryos, but then mis­car­ried at 11 weeks. When Elyssa was fi­nally born, in the mid­dle of a freez­ing Mil­wau­kee win­ter, it was the joy­ous cul­mi­na­tion of a two-year strug­gle.

Even now, Ober­meder still cries when­ever she speaks to Rachel. “I think she thinks I’m a lu­natic but I’m just so grate­ful to her. Every time I tuck the girls in at night I can’t be­lieve how for­tu­nate we’ve been. I never thought I would live long enough to see Annabelle grow up, let alone have an­other baby.”

Ober­meder re­cently dressed Elyssa in a cute pink and white bunny suit that Annabelle had also worn as a tod­dler. Her older daugh­ter wanted to see a pic­ture of her­self in the suit, and when Ober­meder dug it out she gasped at the sight of her­self, post- chemo, with barely any hair. “It still takes my breath away,” she says pen­sively. “The fur­ther you get away from it, you start to for­get – which you’re sup­posed to – but see­ing those pictures, the raw­ness and the mem­o­ries flooded back. Even

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