Toni Street's surrogate Sophie Braggins speaks candidly about the emotional journey of bringing baby Lachie into the world

It hasn't been easy, but wee Lachie will always be a treasured part of Sophie’s family too, as she tells Woman's Day in her own words.

By Sophie Braggins
Surrogacy certainly wasn't something I ever thought I would do, but Toni needed help and I knew I could do it. I'm quite a determined person, so I just put my mind to it, and it's turned out to be the most rewarding and beautiful experience for both our families.
I viewed the situation as me looking after their son for them and helping him grow. I wouldn't say that I bonded with him, but I talked to him, nurtured him and loved him just like I did with my own babies.
As the day got closer, I was really excited and also a little nervous. It all happened really fast in the end, but I felt a sense of calm. We were all so ready for him.
The only thing I needed to accept was that my husband wasn't going to make it to Auckland in time for the surgery. But the team in the operating theatre was pretty incredible, and although it was an intense, uncomfortable and scary experience, I had my amazing friends right beside me as support.
I honestly can't articulate how it felt in those hours after Lachie was born. I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness, loneliness and relief. Having him out safe, healthy and snuggled with his mummy was the most incredible moment, and all that really mattered.

I could tell that Toni was emotionally torn – she is the sort of person who needs to make sure that everyone around her is OK. And there were a few hard moments, like waking in the night in a maternity ward with babies crying and pain from the Caesarean, but no baby.
I tell myself I'm fairly thick-skinned, but there have definitely been tears.
There have been moments where I've felt a sense of missing the wee boy in my tummy, but as I recover physically and emotionally, it's just an incredible feeling of accomplishment at what we have created together. I feel great relief that Lachie is where he is meant to be and that I'm free of responsibility.
Mike, my mum and the kids have been the perfect comfort and support. Everyone has had cuddles with Lachie, and Bella asks for photos, FaceTime and updates from Toni every day. He's definitely a part of our family and I adore him. I stare at photos of him just a little too long.
He's beautiful because of everything that he represents to all of us – a boy who completes their family and the outcome of a journey that we all went through together.
Surrogacy is certainly not an easy option and it's most definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But if people are educated on the process and their hearts are truly in it, then it's the most beautiful experience.
I feel proud that I was able to help, that we all had the courage to start the process and that we made it happen. Toni and Matt don't need to thank me – I don't need anything but our friendship.

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