This is a love story. A love story that gives birth to a dream.
This is a story of unrelenting hope and unwavering and fearless determination to live a full life even though life as it was known was swept away in an instant.
This is the story of a gift. A gift given so purely and freely. No strings attached, no ulterior motives...just pure love.
I had the honor of not only documenting this journey, but being the doula at this miraculous birth.
This is Kaylee's story.
Rachelle was a soon to be bride having fun with her friends at a pool for her bachelorette party when she suffered a freak accident and became paralyzed from the chest down. Rachelle said that her first thoughts after being injured were whether or not she would ever be able to have children. Despite the accident, Chris and Rachelle were married and soon realized that even though she could carry a child, that her chronic low blood pressure and the meds used to stabilize it would be a danger to their child, so they made the decision to pursue surrogacy
. Once they posted about their decision to pursue surrogacy, Laurel, an acquaintance from college and not a close friend, immediately contacted them and offered to be their surrogate.
When I look at Rachelle, I do not see her physical limitations. When I look at her, I see the spirit of a warrior. I see in her the same fierce determination as the scoffed at adenturers who were told they were crazy for even thinking of climbing Mt Everest. When I close my eyes and think of her, I see her on top of a mountain, proud and strong. She has not let this accident take her spirit, but has instead become a beacon of light for others with spinal chord injuries or other disabilities.
She very well could have curled up in the bed and just given up long ago, but she made the decision to get up and live and live fully. That is more than many of us can say.
When I look at Laurel I see a woman with such pure and compassionate love. It pours from her and her husband and it is quite the gift to be in their presence and see the simple way they live and how selflessness plays a huge part in that. I don't find there are many people like them in this world: people who do good without looking back and without the end goal of gaining glory or praise. The way they love their son Avett gives just a glimpse of their beautiful hearts.
When Laurel heard about Rachelle's desire to have a child of her own she leaped at the chance with no reservations. A gift given with open and willing hands.
The bond between these two women was something sacred. I could sometimes see the hint of sadness in Rachelle's eyes as she watched Laurel carry her child. Her longing for those intimate moments of feeling kicks and rolls, but at the same time complete awe over the process of her journey to motherhood.
Laurel was such a key in keeping Chris and Rachelle connected throughout her pregnancy and inviting them into all of the milestone moments as Kaylee grew inside of her.
This is a love story of a man and a woman who love so deeply and so completely. They both wake up every morning and choose to be grateful for life and for one another.
After a long wait, Laurel finally started contractions about 8 am on a Sunday morning. By the time I arrived at her home she was in transition and we all headed to the hospital, I texted the nervous first time parents during the drive since they were right behind us in a separate car.
Things were a bit hurried and chaotic once we all arrived at the hospital. There was a lot going on and not a lot of time to figure out how best to support Laurel as she brought Kaylee into the world.
In the middle of all the chaos I watched as Rachelle rolled over and calmly grabbed Laurel's hand. An exchange between their eyes of excitement and yet a little bit of fear. It was moving to watch those women support each other as the hard work of labor was happening to bring the long awaited child into the world.
The second Kaylee was born the tears were flowing and in the blink of an eye I watched as Laurel finished her part and handed over the baby to her parents. A job very well done.
So much love was flowing in there. Love flowing to Laurel for her sacrifice and gift, love flowing between new parents as they grew in their love to one another. Love to the new little person that brought them all together.
This journey of parenthood will not be easy. It will be many times more work than most people have to put into parenting. But Chris and Rachelle have an endless well of love to draw from and in the end, that is what matters.
**You can learn more and follow Rachelle and Chris here
TLC will be following their first few years of parenthood and will be debuting in December 2015. So make sure you tune in!