Surrogate nearly died giving birth to her gay friends' twins
Woman who agreed to be a surrogate for her gay friends just six months after first meeting them almost died giving birth to their twins – but insists ‘it was still worth it’
- Kerry Stevens, from Torbay, Devon, was left bleeding internally at 36 weeks
- She was rushed into theatre for emergency surgery to deliver the baby boys
- Horrified dads Ondrej Simecko and Abel Lantos watched on helplessly
- A team of 15 medics battled to deliver twins – and they were born shortly after
A woman who agreed to be a surrogate for her gay friend has revealed how she nearly died giving birth to his twins.
Kind-hearted Kerry Stevens, from Torbay, Devon, was left bleeding internally at 36 weeks when the placenta sheared away from the wall of her uterus just moments before a planned Caesarean.
She was rushed into theatre for emergency surgery to deliver the baby boys after their oxygen supply was cut off and Kerry, 38, was left in agony while horrified dads Ondrej Simecko and Abel Lantos watched on helplessly.
A team of 15 medics battled to deliver the twins and midwives told Kerry that if she had been even 10 minutes away from the hospital when the placental abruption happened, the babies wouldn’t have made it.
After being rushed into theatre, identical twins William and Arthur were born on 9 July 2019. Luckily, the twins arrived safely thanks to a quick delivery, while Kerry needed a longer hospital stay to stabilise her after losing so much blood.
A woman (pictured centre with her friends and their two boys, who she gave birth to) who agreed to be a surrogate for her gay friend has revealed the moment she nearly died giving birth to his twins
Kind-hearted Kerry Stevens (pictured left during surgery and right, with the fathers) from Torbay, Devon, was left bleeding internally at 36 weeks when the placenta sheared away from the wall of her uterus just moments before a planned Caesarean
She underwent blood transfusions where doctors pumped the blood she was losing back into her body while the twins were pulled from her womb at exactly the same time.
‘It was a total nightmare,’ Kerry said ‘One moment we were all in the hospital smiling and taking pictures together before the planned Caesarean, and then I started to get excruciating pains in my left side.
‘I was screaming in agony and knew something wasn’t right. The placenta sheared away from the wall of my womb, meaning the twins could have died.
‘I’d wanted to help my friends have a family but when doctors said they couldn’t find the babies’ heartbeats and I was bleeding internally – everyone was panicking.
‘I’ve had five babies now and this labour was by far the worst. It was scary but it was worth everything to see my friends holding their gorgeous babies.’
She was rushed into theatre for emergency surgery to deliver the baby boys (pictured recently, before their first birthday in July) after their oxygen supply was cut off and Kerry, 38, was left in agony while horrified dads Ondrej Simecko and Abel Lantos watched on helplessly
A team of 15 medics battled to deliver the twins (pictured left with their dads and right, shortly after their birth) and midwives told Kerry that if she had been even 10 minutes away from the hospital when the placenta abruption happened the babies wouldn’t have made it
Kerry, who has three children of her own, had never thought of being a surrogate before meeting Ondrej, 31.
But he’d mentioned it on the very first day they worked together at a care home for autistic adults where Kerry was the deputy manager and he was a support worker.
‘As soon as we started talking he jokingly asked me to be his surrogate,’ said Kerry.
What is a placental abruption?
A placental abruption is when the placenta, or afterbirth, starts to separate from its attachment to the womb before the baby is born.
It usually presents with either vaginal bleeding or severe abdominal pain. Sometimes it can bring on early labour or labour-type contractions. If it is severe, it can be very risky for both the mother and baby.
It increases the risk of the baby being born prematurely, having growth problems, being stillborn or dying in the first 28 days of life.
Placental abruption is diagnosed in up to one in 50 pregnancies.
It’s most likely to happen in late pregnancy, or during active labour.
‘At the time I laughed it off because I didn’t realise how serious he was, but over time we became close friends and I found out how much he and his fiancé Abel wanted to have a baby.
‘They’d looked into surrogacy in America but it was too expensive and then adoption. But there was always a problem and they began despairing of ever being dads.’
She added: ‘We’d celebrate birthdays and go out for coffee on weekends and became really good friends.
‘I could see how desperate they were to have a family, and it played on my mind that I could help them have the baby they so badly wanted.’
Six months after they met, Kerry mentioned the idea to her husband, gas engineer Gary, 46, and their children Elliott 18, Taylor, 17, Honey-Louise, 13.
‘They all thought it was an amazing idea,’ Kerry says. ‘I asked my mum and sisters what they thought too, and everyone understood and said they’d support me. I wanted to give my friends something they struggled to have for many years.
‘So I thought, why not carry their baby for them? My only worry was whether the IVF would work. I didn’t want to let them down as they were paying huge amounts of money for it.’
Kerry rang Ondrej in January 2018 to tell him she would be their surrogate. ‘He couldn’t believe it,’ she says. ‘He was really emotional and crying down the phone asking me if I was serious and sure about my decision. I’d never been more sure of anything.’
Over dinner, the two couples discussed the terms of the surrogacy which would be put in a binding legal agreement. Kerry did not receive a fee and was paid basic expenses for travel and maternity clothes.
They agreed Ondrej’s cousin Katalin’s eggs would be fertilised by Abel’s sperm and an embryo would be implanted in Kerry.
She was artificially inseminated on 14 November 2018 at the IVF treatment clinic, The Centre for Reproduction & Gynaecology Wales, just outside of Cardiff.
They then were told to wait two weeks before she could take a test to see if she was pregnant.
After being rushed into theatre, identical twins William and Arthur were born on 9 July 2019. Pictured: The 18 week scans of the twins
Luckily, the twins (pictured with their dads) were delivered so quickly they were fine, while Kerry needed a longer hospital stay to stabilise her after losing so much blood
‘I knew I was pregnant before I took the test as I started feeling really sick,’ she said. ‘I was so excited when the test was positive, I took a picture and sent it to the couple who were visiting family in America. They couldn’t believe it and couldn’t wait to come back home.’
But Kerry was shocked when she went for her five-week scan at the clinic with Abel, 39, and was told that she was expecting twins.
‘Everyone was shocked,’ says Kerry. ‘They’d been so desperate and waited for so long to have one baby – and then two come along! They couldn’t believe their luck.
‘Abel went white and nearly collapsed – he had to be fussed over and sat down with a glass of water while I was left with a probe inside me! It only really hit me that I was having two babies a few days later.
‘I was really excited to be having twins when one baby would have been enough for them. It was a little miracle.’
Doctors explained that the fertilised egg had split after it had been implanted into Kerry at seven days old, which would normally happen between three to five days after fertilisation.
This had resulted in monochorionic twins – identical twins that share a single placenta.
Kerry underwent blood transfusions where doctors pumped the blood she was losing back into her body while the twins (pictured recently) were yanked from her womb at exactly the same time
‘I was worried about how big I was going to get,’ she added ‘But luckily I was the same size as my previous three pregnancies. I didn’t have any food cravings but I had an obsession with drinking cold lemonade until it numbed my tongue.’
Kerry and her daughter, Honey-Louise, would spend ages watching the babies kick inside her belly, which the mother said she found reassuring.
‘It was comforting to know that they were OK,’ she said. ‘It didn’t stir any maternal urges in me, it just made me happy to know they were alright.’
Apart from suffering from severe sickness, Kerry’s pregnancy went smoothly and on 9 July 2019 went to Torbay Hospital in South Devon for her C-Section which was planned for 2pm.
But while everyone was taking pictures, Kerry started to feel sharp pains in her side and realised that something was wrong.
‘About a week before the birth I’d started to suffer from really bad back and side pain,’ she said. ‘I assumed that I’d pulled a muscle trying to roll over in bed, as it often took me three of four attempts to change sides.
Kerry was shocked when she went for her five-week scan at the clinic with Abel, 39, and was told that she was expecting twins (pictured)
‘Looking back now we know it was the start of the placenta starting to shear away from the wall of my uterus. Luckily, I was in the hospital when it came away completely.
‘Everyone was really panicked,’ added Kerry. ‘In theatre Abel and Ondjre were standing at the back in their scrubs looking terrified.
‘I don’t remember much because I had an epidural soon after I started screaming in pain, but everyone was worried because the babies had stopped receiving oxygen and I’d started bleeding internally.’
Minutes later William Leo and Arthur Leo Lantos were born at exactly the same time, weighing 4lb 9 and 5lb 6.
‘It’s a terrifying thought that we could have lost them. Once the surgeon had got the babies out and he saw the mess inside me, that’s when he realised what had happened and told us how lucky we had all been to have survived.
‘We’re all incredibly lucky to be here. I was worried about the babies surviving but actually I might not have either. It was scary to think I might not have come home to my children or husband. It sounds dramatic, but it could have been true.’
Following the birth, Kerry was whisked to the post-surgery ward – after saying she didn’t want to be taken to the maternity ward.
Kerry, who has three children of her own, had never thought of being a surrogate before meeting Ondrej (pictured right, with his partner)
‘I didn’t feel any maternal instincts after I’d given birth but I was worried about that changing,’ said Kerry. ‘I didn’t want to be surrounded by mothers and their babies so asked to be taken to the post-surgery ward instead.’
Kerry got a glimpse of the twins who were given to their dads after being checked over. The trio had previously agreed that the babies would be taken straight to their fathers.
Despite having breastfed her own children, Kerry didn’t want to express milk and chose to stop her milk production medically.
‘I breastfed all my children for 18 months each,’ she added, ‘But a week before the birth I chose to collect six syringes of 1ml of colostrum before they were born and then stop the milk.’
The twins were well enough to go home the next day but Kerry had to stay in hospital for three days because her bladder and bowel had been so badly affected by the operation.
‘I was in such a bad state I could barely move,’ she said. ‘My abdomen was severely swollen and my blood pressure wouldn’t stabilise.
But before taking the twins home, Abel and Ondjre took them to see Kerry.
‘They’d put them in their car seats ready to go home as a family,’ she says. ‘They were all wrapped up and looked so gorgeous, but I was overwhelmed with pain and couldn’t really interact with anyone.
Ondrej (pictured right with one of his sons) mentioned it on the very first day they worked together at a care home for autistic adults where Kerry was the deputy manager and he was a support worker. Pictured left, the twins recently
‘Abel and Ondjre gave me flowers and chocolates to say thank you. It was really lovely to see them all together so happy, but I was in so much pain at the time I just wanted to sleep.’
After three days in hospital Kerry returned home and was looked after by her family.
‘Even when I returned home I continued to bleed heavily and Garry had to help me move around,’ she explained. ‘I hadn’t expected to be left so ill, but I was still glad I’d gone ahead with everything. It was a small sacrifice to make.’
When they were just over a month old, Kerry and her family went to meet the twins properly for the first time.
‘It was just like holding friend’s babies,’ she said. ‘There were no maternal urges or instincts. It was funny as I was the only one who struggled to hold them, they felt so delicate and I was really worried about dropping them.
‘It was really weird having given birth to them but not having any maternal feelings towards the babies. Afterwards friends asked me how I could give the twins up. But they were never biologically my children.
‘I was just doing it to help friends who couldn’t have children themselves and needed someone to help them.’
Kerry has played an active role in the twin’s lives and tries to see them once a month as the couple lives close to them in South Devon.
‘We are now all looking forward to the twins’ first birthday on 9 July,’ said Kerry. ‘Even if we can’t celebrate because of lockdown I’m still going to buy them a massive present and drop it on their doorstep.’
Ondrej said: ‘We’d gone down so many roads trying to adopt and find a surrogate without it coming to anything. We were really disheartened. So when Kerry said she would carry our baby for us we were ecstatic.
‘And finding out she was expecting twins was unbelievable – she gave us our two little miracles.’
Abel, a payroll administrator, said: ‘What Kerry did was completely selfless. She put herself at risk for us when she had a husband and three of her own children to look after. Kerry will always be our hero.’
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