Being a surrogate mother has got to be one of the most selfless acts I can imagine. To give over your body to nurture and grow a baby that will never be yours and go through the birth process for someone you will likely never know is an incredible sacrifice and act of kindness. To do it once is amazing, but to do it 13 times is unbelievable.
That's just what Carole Horlock is preparing to do, however. According to The Sun, the 46-year-old mother is pregnant with the 13th baby that she'll deliver and immediately hand over to another couple as she has with the previous 12. She holds the world's record as "the most prolific surrogate mother," and to date, she has delivered eight girls and four boys, including one set of triplets and one set of twins.
Why would someone do this? I mean pregnancy is no easy gig no matter how you look at it. Thinking of her doing it 13 times for someone else makes me wince ... and feel like a wimp when I think to how much complaining I did throughout my two pregnancies. Harlow, who has two grown daughters of her own, says she loves being pregnant. While she receives some money for expenses, it's not about that. It's about making a difference in people's lives. She told the paper she first heard about surrogacy in 1995 while she was working in a launderette.
I was never going to change anybody’s life working in a launderette but becoming a surrogate has enabled me to look back and think I’ve done that and helped so many couples. Although I was still in my twenties I was divorced with two girls — one just a year old. I had loved carrying my babies and I couldn’t imagine how devastating it would be not to be able to have kids.
She says each baby has been handed over to its parents immediately, and that she doesn't ever bond with the babies while she's pregnant. That seems hard to believe, but seeing as how she continues to do it, she must be able to somehow block or overcome that attachment. She said the only thing she asks for from the parents after the birth is a letter and photograph each year so she knows how the children are doing.
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Unfortunately her acts of kindness haven't been completely without problems. In 2004 she gave a couple a baby that turned out to be one she conceived with her own husband accidentally. They had been using condoms after she was inseminated, but DNA tests showed that didn't work. Can you imagine?!
While she said it was incredibly traumatic, she decided to let the other couple keep the child. She didn't let it stop her either, and after her husband got a vasectomy, she soon she was pregnant with triplets.
She says while people question her motives -- and I agree it's difficult not to -- she really just loves being pregnant and making couples' family dreams come true. So I'm casting my skepticism aside and saying good for her. I can't imagine doing what she does, but I'm sure each family she helped create will be eternally grateful that she did.
Do you think you could ever serve as a surrogate for someone? Can you imagine doing it for 13 babies?
Image via one tiny spark/Flickr