The story of one woman’s generosity as a surrogate for a couple looking to add to their family met an unexpected turn.
Shaniece Sturdy decided after watching a documentary as a teen about surrogacy that one day she would like to become a surrogate herself.
She went on to have her own son, Rylee, and years later Shaniece decided to pursue surrogacy for another family, contacting a local agency to get the ball rolling.
She explained, “I was only 21 at the time, but I wasn’t interested in partying and drinking. I wanted to help another couple fulfill their family dream.”
Shaniece met Joanna and Steve and knew she wanted to help them with growing their family. Eventually, she shared the news with her family and later flew to a specialist clinic in Los Angeles to have the embryo implanted.
It was a successful implantation. Maybe too successful! Sturdy soon noticed that she was sporting a pretty big baby bump and, during her first prenatal scan, Joanna and Steve (and Shaniece, of course) discovered that she was having twins.
That wasn’t all. When Shaniece returned for a 10-week scan, they were in for another surprise. The surrogate wasn’t pregnant with twins at all…it was triplets!
The Daily Mail reports: “Joanna and Steve, who live in the UK, were thrilled they were expecting triplets and Shaniece now visits them every year for their birthdays.”
Shaniece said of the experience: “Even though I was only 21 and it was a huge responsibility carrying their babies, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I had no morning sickness or cravings, the whole pregnancy flew by and with the support of Joanna and Steve, it was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone.”
She explained: “I was only supposed to be helping the family have a brother or sister for their little girl but I ended up giving them three babies at once. At our first scan at just a few weeks pregnant, we were all told I was carrying twins, Joanna and Steve had already picked their twin pram.”
Shaniece added, “At the 10-week scan I joked, ‘I wonder if they will find another heartbeat,’ and just minutes later, they did. I was now expecting triplets and at just a few months pregnant, I was already bigger than I had been with Rylee at eight months, I looked huge.”
As for the babies’ birth, she noted, “We all opted for a planned C-section at 33 weeks but my waters broke on Halloween. Joanna came down to theatre with me and although I was nervous all I cared about was ensuring the babies were delivered safe and healthy.”
The couple named the triplets Willow, Daisy, and Harrison, and as Shaniece explains, they were taken to intensive care, but “were all perfectly fine, weighing 4lb. 2oz., 3lb. 7oz. and 3lb. 11oz.” The triplets spent two weeks in the hospital before coming home.
Shaniece noted that visiting them is always special, explaining, “I always get so emotional when I see them, not because I miss them or want more children of my own but because I’m so happy that I was part of their journey.”
She further clarified: “I think a lot of people presume you have to use your own eggs when you’re a surrogate but that’s not the case at all. I had Joanna and Steve’s embryo inserted in Los Angeles so it’s biologically their child not mine, I was just the host womb.”
She’s hoping that UK surrogacy laws will change in the future because they currently treat the surrogate as the legal parent of the child until parenthood is transferred, which can take months.