'I was grieving the fact that I couldn't have a third baby' -Toni Street opens up about long road to surrogacy




Broadcaster Toni Street has revealed  that she and her husband Matt France will be having a third baby in August, this time through a surrogate who's a childhood friend.

The former TVNZ1 Seven Sharp presenter announced the news last night in an Instagram post.

"My battle with the auto-immune disease Churg-Strauss means I can't carry another baby myself," she says in the post.

The rare and incurable condition was diagnosed after Street gave birth to her second daughter Mackenzie in 2015.

The couple had always invisioned heading a big family but it seemed those dreams were out of reach when she became so sick with her condition, folowing her latest birth, that she was in the early stages of organ failure. 

Street undertook six months of intensive treatment for her Churg Straus syndrome, which causes auto immune systems to overreact, leading to allergies, tissue damage and death.

Specialists say the syndrome can reappear without warning.

Last year Street discussed her desires to have another baby with her doctor to which he replied "I don't think you should," she told Weekend Herald.

Her doctor had warned that her life was the risk she was taking and after thinking about not being around for her daughters Juliette and Mackenzie, she decided that she couldn't go through with such a risky pregnancy.

The decision not to have a third child had a surprising hard-hitting affect on Street and husband France.

"I tried to reason with myself that it wasn't happening for me, I wasn't having a third baby - but I felt really down," she revealed.

"I didn't expect that, I thought it would just go away, but I felt this constant nagging, kind of like I was grieving the fact that I couldn't have a third baby."

"Ideally, we would have liked to have more kids, but I just wanted Toni well," said France, who could see that Street was grieving.

The Braggins then made the offer that would reignite Street and France's dreams of a bigger family.

Braggins had apparently made the offer in the past but Street says she had never given it any serious thought, thinking she could bear more children.

Street said she had mixed emotions when her friend persevered with her offer.

"I initially dismissed it, but Sophie came back and said 'I am serious, I really want to do this' and she bombarded me with text messages to reiterate that this wasn't a pie in the sky offer.

"So, we sat down to have a serious discussion about a year ago."

Braggins, who is the chief executive of a New Plymouth law firm and the chair of the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce, is now 14 weeks pregnant with Street and France's son and is due in August, reports the Herald.

Braggins has two children of her own with husband Michael Braggins. The two couples attended university together and lived together when they moved to Auckland.

"I'm over the moon that this is happening for my most special friends, Toni and Matt," said Braggins.

"It's been a wonderful journey so far"

Street and France wanted to share their story to raise awareness surrounding surrogacy in New Zealand, and wanted to cleear up misconceptions about their choice to go down this path.

They explained that the approval phase of the process took about six months where the couples had to undergo counselling an meet with specialists to check everyone involved was up to it.

When the baby is born, Braggins will be the legal guardian so Street and France will have to adopt their son.

Street says the vetting process was a long one and there was still the IVF and implantation process to come. 

The couple had just one viable embryo and were told that there was a 40 per cent chance of it taking in Braggins' womb.

"We only had one shot," said Street.

"We were extremely lucky to even have that one embryo so it was a very nervous wait."

Street said the wait was agonising but when the ews was good, they were thrilled to share it with close family and friends.

"It was kind of like we needed a whole lot of little miracles to happen to get to that point - and we got there," said France.

The couple are relieved that they can finally share their big secret - and their daughters cannot wait to tell everyone who will listen about their new baby brother.

The fact that it's a boy, Street says, is icing on the cake and will complete the family.

Street said it was an incredible bonding experience having her best friend as a surrogate - but she also had to find a balance between being interested and supportive of the pregnancy and hovering like a nervous parent-to-be, report Weekend Herald.

It is illegal for Street and France to pay Braggins any remuneration for being a surrogate, but can pay all the medical costs.

"We would love to pay Sophie and her family back for this, not in money but by doing something amazing for them.

"But in reality, what do you give someone who is making this kind of sacrifice for you, we can't think of anything yet that we can do for them to show how grateful we are," said Street.

"I said to her 'you're going through nine months of pregnancy and at the end you don't get a baby out of it, you don't get any joy'

"She said 'yes I do, the reason I am going through this is to give you your much-wanted third child'.

The pair have hired an obstetrician in New Plymouth and another in Auckland - the same one they had for Juliette and Mackenzie.

Braggins had her first scan in New Plymouth, which Street watched over a Facebook live stream and was able to ask questions and talk to her best mate.

The next scan will be in Auckland and Street and France will be in attendance.

Street will be at the birth, but whether France or Braggins' husband will be present is yet to be decided.

Street said she felt "incredibly calm" about the pregnancy and baby.

France said it was "weird" for him knowing he was having a baby but not having a wife with a pregnant belly.

Their biggest supporters for the newest baby France were their daughters, who are excited to be older sisters.

Street says the whole process has been an anxious one but after all the vetting, counselling and work with lawyers, but feels like they can now get excited.

"Obviously I would have loved to carry my own child, go through a pregnancy again and deliver it myself - but when I think about what I am getting at the end of it all…. As long as Sophie is ok and the baby is ok - I'm happy. "

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