LOVING GIFT: Emma Barwick is a surrogate mother for Merri Anderson who struggled to have children. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
LOVING GIFT: Emma Barwick is a surrogate mother for Merri Anderson who struggled to have children. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Two bundles of joy soon to be born through surrogacy

AFTER 17 years, 15 failed IVF attempts and the death of a premature baby, Merri Anderson refused to give up hope that she would one day become a mother.

It is that courage and unwavering faith that will see her and partner Peter welcome not one but two little miracles into the world any day now - but not without a little help.

Merri and Peter began their journey to parenthood many years ago and after trying to conceive naturally, were forced to turn to IVF when they found out one of Merri's tubes were blocked.

That also proved to be a dead-end street paved with heartache, with four cancelled cycles and 10 unsuccessful cycles before the 11th go when they finally fell pregnant.

But they lost their little girl after she was born premature and lived for just three hours.

"They said I could either adopt or try surrogacy but the adoption agencies wouldn't approve us because of my lung problem and surrogacy was still illegal," Ms Anderson said.

Their options were dwindling but all that changed when surrogacy in Queensland became legal and by a stroke of luck, the pair was given an email address for Bundaberg woman Emma Barwick who had been considering becoming a surrogate.

"We emailed back and forth for a few months getting to know each other," Mrs Barwick said.

"It was the most nerve-wracking day meeting each other after six months," Ms Anderson added.

Mrs Barwick and her husband Paul have two children - Ella, 16, and Mason, 13 - and said nine months was a small price to pay to make dreams come true.

"Nine months of my life will give them a lifetime of happiness," Mrs Barwick said.

When the four finally agreed to go ahead with the surrogacy, one attempt failed, the second ended in a miscarriage and the third resulted in something none of them imagined in their wildest dreams - twins.

Mrs Barwick is due to give birth to the twins, a boy and girl, any day now and says the whole process has forged an incredible bond between the two families.

"They will know that I was the birth mother," she said.

"We'll be aunty and uncle to the twins and see them all the time and they will be like cousins to Ella and Mason."

Mrs Anderson said she did not know what she would do without the incredible generosity of the whole Barwick family.

"She's my life saver," Mrs Anderson said.

"I don't know how I was ever going to get through life without kids.

"I've wanted them since I was little and I never ever gave up and I knew one day I would be a mum somehow."

One day is now just around the corner with the twins due on March 27, but doctors have said that if they haven't arrived by March 11, they will induce labour.

"She's been so patient the past 17 years but this last two weeks has been crazy for her," Mrs Barwick said of the mother-to-be.

"She's getting impatient."

Mrs Barwick said her family, especially husband Paul, had been incredibly supportive but both extended families had been sceptical when they first told them about the surrogacy plans.

"Both our families were a bit strange at first but they have all gotten used to it," Ms Anderson said.

"My family was terrified that she would keep them even though they're biologically ours. It's very scary. I had to put all my trust in her."

The surrogacy has cost $100,000, which includes paying medical and other expenses and lost wages for the surrogate mother, but that's only a portion of what the couple has spent on IVF and related expenses over the years.

"We don't gamble or party or anything like that and we even put off having a wedding," Ms Anderson said.

"We've put everything we have into this. It's not covered by Medicare."

Ms Anderson said it would all be worth it when she and her husband held their little boy and girl in their arms.

"This is the moment we've been waiting for 17 years," she said.


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