6:00 a.m. December 30, 2021
It started as a conversation on a girls’ vacation four years ago, but a powerful act of friendship saw a family in Suffolk spend their first Christmas with the little girl they thought they would never have.
Sarelle Payne and Coral Putus have been friends since they met at the Douglas Bader pub in Martlesham Heath as a teenager.
The couple grew closer after Sarelle offered to carry her friend’s baby.
Coral, of East Bergholt, has learned that she will not be able to bear a baby as a teenager and has indicated that surrogacy and adoption will be possible options.
In July 2017, while on vacation, the friends were chatting when Sarelle learned of Coral’s situation, offering to do some research and act as a surrogate.
Coral, who attended St Albans School in Ipswich, said: âFrom the age of 17 I was told I couldn’t carry a baby.
âI was told that I can have a surrogate mother. Doctors and people make it seem a lot easier than it is. When we started looking down this path, we found out how difficult it was to finance a surrogate, to go through stress.
“She [Sarelle] was absolutely shocked and said ‘I’ll carry your baby’. I thought she knew.
“Friends have made these comments before, and I think it’s a way to make you feel better, but after Sarelle got married she kept talking about it, that’s when that I realized how serious she was about it. “
Sarelle, who is mom to Joey, 11, and Charlie, four, said: âWhen I found out that she couldn’t have children or have her own, I just couldn’t imagine. the moment your child is born is delivered to you I cannot explain this feeling and imagine that someone cannot have this feeling and cannot realize it on their own. “
Lumi Putus was born on September 30, 2021 after numerous appointments, counseling sessions and national confinements, in what was the “most incredible morning”.
Sarelle, 33, gave birth early in the morning but when alerting her friends, things “really accelerated”.
Coral said that by the time the couple entered Sarelle’s living room in Melton, she was in the birthing pool with Lumi in her arms.
The new mom said, “She’s such a happy little thing.
âWe stayed with Sarelle and James until around 2pm with our little baby. It was the most amazing morning, I was completely doped up with dopamine.
âShe’s the first granddaughter, so it’s very special.
“It’s really hard to understand. Lumi wouldn’t be here without Sarelle.”
The surrogacy process for both families has been long and âanxiety-provoking,â Coral said.
After speaking to husbands Harry and James, the surrogacy process began, meeting the team at Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic in Wickford.
Together, the families had to seek legal advice to understand their rights and receive advice.
Sarelle, who attended Kesgrave High School with Coral’s husband Harry, said that during her pregnancy the emotional connection was different from that of her own children.
The mom of two said, “You never know how you’re going to feel. You have the counseling to make sure you understand the emotions, the hormones. It was a bit of a worry.
“But when it’s your own child, you imagine the future with the kids in it. I was carrying their baby and I wasn’t thinking about my friends’ child.”
Lumi was born using one of Coral’s fertilized eggs that was transferred to Sarelle, having done an egg drive the week before the country was plunged into lockdown for the first time.
Coral said: âI was given two appointments and I went for the March date and a week later we went into a full lockdown and the clinic closed. Who knows where we would be right now. ? ”
Then, in January 2021, a new lockdown was announced, but the clinic was allowed to remain open and allow embryo transfer.
But due to restrictions Harry and Coral weren’t allowed to be by Sarelle’s side, which usually happened and had to wait outside in the parking lot.
Coral said: “We came and sat in the parking lot and waited for that to happen, and we were hoping Sarelle would come out positive.”
Both women praised the midwifery service for navigating the restrictions and being able to make Coral and Harry feel included during the restrictions when the number of people on appointments was limited.
During the 20-week scan, Sarelle learned the gender of the baby to organize Coral and Harry a gender reveal party and later a baby shower.
âNormally when it’s your baby shower you’re not involved in the planning. I was getting it ready for Coral,â she said.
Before Christmas, families enjoyed a visit to the zoo.
Sarelle added: “It is [Christmas] is going to be really special to them. ”