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Using a Surrogate Isn't for Wimps

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In the wake of Sarah Jessica Parker announcing the arrival of twins via surrogacy, we decided to talk to a woman -- and wife of actor David Koechner, star of "Anchorman" and "Get Smart" -- who used two surrogates to have three of her children. She had two VERY different experiences -- but wouldn't have it any other way.

the koechner family and surrogate moms

Leigh Koechner: I almost died when I had my son, Charlie. I had placenta accreta. I started hemorrhaging in bed. They didn't talk about this in Lamaze.

My husband Dave and I drove to the hospital for an emergency C-section. Charlie was born within the first 10 minutes. I had to remain on the operating table for the next three hours. The doctors transfused seven pints of blood because I had entered DIC -- that is when the blood stops clotting. It was leaving faster than they could transfuse it in. After trying five clotting agents, the bleeding stopped. The doctor removed my uterus and closed me up.

It was heartbreaking because I wanted to have at least four kids. But, after I got out of intensive care, the doctor reminded us that I still had my ovaries, so we could have more children of our own. She explained that we could take the eggs from my ovaries and mix them with my husband's man juice. We could make babies, I just couldn't carry them.

We decided to use a gestational surrogate. We investigated agencies to find a woman to carry our baby.

There was the high-end, mucho-dinero agency that Kelsey Grammar and Joan Lunden used. There was a less expensive agency with no stars attached. And the least expensive agency primarily catered to homosexual couples. We decided to go with the medium-priced agency.

We met Susan the surrogate and we got along great. Susan said it was her lifelong passion to be a surrogate. She was a bit heavy, but had already had 5 healthy babies. She loved being pregnant, knitting, and went to church. Come on! Let's get this gal pregnant.

The doctor took my eggs and fertilized them using Dave's man juice. Three days later, they selected the three healthiest embryos. The doctor, Dave, Susan, and I held hands and prayed. And with a squirt, the doctor shot the embryos through a clear plastic tube into Susan's uterus.

In two weeks, Susan and I went back to the doctor to do a urine test. We were pregnant! I thought we would be lifelong best friends, attend her kid's birthday parties, and go on vacations together.

After the first trimester, I started getting phone calls from Susan that would make my heart stop. (Oh, by the way, if a surrogate gets put on bed rest, they get an additional $500 a week.)

Susan said the doctor couldn't find the baby's heartbeat.
She was painting her kids' rooms.
She had a fire in her house and suffered smoke inhalation.
She went camping and got 2nd-degree burns and got dehydrated.
It was 105 and her air conditioner broke.
She had a headache and was loading up on Tylenol.
She got in a wreck.
She's not eating.
She fell off a ladder.
She doesn't feel my baby move.
She is spotting bright red blood!

I don't know if there is a situation where a woman is more powerless than not being able to care for her baby. I dropped to my knees. I prayed for God's help. I thanked God for the baby he had created. I heard an inner voice say, "Don't worry, my hands are protecting your baby."

When our baby was born, it was a healthy baby girl! We named our little delight Margot. When we look into Margot's big blue eyes, it was all worth it. We would do it 1,000 times again ... or at least one more time, anyway.

When we had enough money saved up to do it again, we did it a little different. The director of the Kelsey Grammar and Joan Lunden agency introduced us to the surrogate that picked us, Karen. We were pleased. She was lovely. We entered into the relationship cautiously and professionally. We were blown away. Dave and I didn't know something so out of our control could go so beautifully. Karen was wonderful to her belly during the nine months she carried the babies. On June 2, 2006, Karen gave birth to our twins, William Sargent and Audrey Violet.

When a child comes to you through your vagina, C-section, adoption, a surrogate, a foster child, it doesn't matter. It is your child.

Karen and I will be lifelong friends. I wrote her a note recently: "Thank you for giving us the most beautiful gifts. We are blessed to know you ... Are you ready to do it again?"

see more photossee more photos
Celebs Who Used SurrogacyThe Koechner Family

next: Adoption Journey: Back to Ukraine?!?
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Chanda April 29, 2009, 9:54 PM

Wow, what a story. What an experience. What beautiful children. And an awesome Mom!

Jennifer April 30, 2009, 9:53 AM

I just watched your segment on the Today Show and I couldn’t concentrate on what you were saying because I was horrified by your fur vest! How could you wear that on national TV, or at all. Even if it was “faux”, it was most likely made from in China from a dog! Shame on you!!

6packmom April 30, 2009, 10:25 AM

SJP not such a ” hero” just doesn’t want to ruin her figure! No big mommy hugs here for her and MB!

ann April 30, 2009, 11:02 AM

I saw the piece on the Today Show. I agree with Jennifer, I did not hear a word. I wonder if Leigh is aware how animals used for fur are killed? Many are electrocuted via the anus. Many are skinned while still alive and able to feel what is happening to them. It’s really quite horrific. I am hoping that Leigh does not know these things and that maybe she will educate herself. Being a good mother is being a good role model.Teaching compassion is so important, and wearing fur speaks volumes!If Leigh *is* aware of the realities of the fur industry, then she is a cold-hearted person and a poor choice for a spokesperson for a website dedicated to parenting!

N April 30, 2009, 12:21 PM

oh shut up Jennifer, there is just no pleasing you anti fur nazis!!!!!!!!

Jennifer April 30, 2009, 1:01 PM

I beg to differ, “N”. It is very easy to please us “anti fur nazis”. Simply don’t wear fur! Especially on national TV representing a parenting website!As for your “shut up” comment- wow- very mature.

Pamala May 1, 2009, 1:28 AM

Oh please can’t you just address the stupid article rather than what someone wore on a show. I’m sure you’re perfect people after all and never do anything that makes people mad. Get off your high horses.

mom September 21, 2009, 4:31 PM

Really come on there are two sides to every story. Makes me wonder what her story is? I am glad you have 3 beautiful children via surrogacy.

hellos January 20, 2011, 8:49 AM

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