Sara Gamzo-Letova, 43, a training and development manager, lives in Leeds with her husband Kobby, 47, an IT manager, and their three-year-old twin girls Liron and Maayan.
“Walking out of the delivery room with my two tiny daughters in my arms in March 2018 was the proudest moment of my life. After years of pain and loss, our children were here. But it would have been impossible without our surrogate Laura.
In 2000, aged 22, I went travelling to Israel and met Kobby, an IT manager at the company where I was teaching English.
We started dating in 2001 and, after moving back to the UK, got married in 2004.
Four years later, we were delighted when I became pregnant aged 29. But at eight weeks I started to bleed, and at the early pregnancy unit they took us to a room with comfy chairs and tissues to confirm I was miscarrying.
We were devastated – but it was just the first of 10. Getting pregnant was never an issue, but the losses kept coming – in February 2009 and again that May, always before nine weeks.
My heart ached as I began investigations on the NHS. For months I sat in waiting rooms, surrounded by pregnant women, and had painful procedures. But still I got no answers.
I battled anger and guilt, and the lack of control was horrendous. So we turned to private clinics. At first our health insurance covered investigations, but soon we had to fund everything ourselves.
Between 2010 and 2014, I was continually poked, prodded and pumped full of steroids and blood thinners. Tens of thousands of pounds later, we were no closer to a baby.
We’d used up our ‘baby fund’ – money we’d saved for maternity leave and things the baby might need. Each pregnancy still ended in a devastating miscarriage, and each time I fell apart.
No one could tell us why it was happening. Finally, in summer 2014, I knew I had to stop. I was an emotional wreck and starting to lose myself.
IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT SURROGACY
That December I began researching adoption, and then Kobby mentioned that an organisation called Surrogacy UK (SUK) was having a local event the following month and suggested we went along.
Walking into the event in January 2015, I was sceptical, expecting a room of weird hippy types. Instead, we met a lovely group of normal, nervous people – a mix of hopeful intended parents and surrogates.
SUK isn’t a matching service – once you are a member, it’s up to the surrogate to read your profile or meet you at a social event and decide if they’re interested. So even once we were approved to join SUK that March, it was nerve-wracking. Would we be picked?
I just focused on being myself, attending socials without trying to ‘sell myself’ to anyone. In August 2016 I saw a message on SUK’s online forum from Laura, 38, who wasn’t a member but was interested in an upcoming event.
I had no idea she was a potential surrogate, but she lived nearby and I offered her a lift. We chatted for the entire two-and-a-half-hour drive and by the end she felt like a friend.
We were thrilled to learn the following month that she’d chosen to be our surrogate. Laura was amazing. A finance manager, she was single and a first-time surrogate.
The three months we spent getting to know her and her two amazing children were unbelievably fun. It also gave us all the chance to see if the surrogacy could work. We had a lot to discuss.
In the UK, surrogates can’t gain financially, but their expenses can be met. You explore everything from what happens if the intended parents both die, to how you feel about screening and termination. Our conversations only made us more sure this was the right fit.
The first two embryo transfers, in March and May 2017, both failed. But another in July worked. I was so happy but couldn’t let myself believe it meant we were certain to have a baby. Then at the seven-week scan we learned we were having twins, and I burst into tears.
Our family and friends were thrilled. In the UK, the woman giving birth is legally the mother until the parental order is granted, but I never once worried that Laura might keep the babies.
Our friendship only solidified in those nine months and every day my admiration for her grew. I was by Laura’s side for the planned caesarean in March 2018, overwhelmed at what she was doing for us.
The moment I held Liron and Maayan in my arms, I felt complete. They were here, and Laura had made that happen. Our fertility journey cost us £50,000, but having the girls was priceless.
In the years since, our friendship has remained strong. Laura is a big part of all our lives and I wouldn’t be a mother without her. She isn’t a surrogate to me – I call her a dream maker.”