After years of infertility struggles, NBC News’ Kristen Welker and her husband, John Hughes, shared this morning on TODAY that the couple will welcome a baby girl in June with the help of a surrogate. Just weeks before they become a family of three, Welker wrote a personal letter to her daughter to help explain their family’s special journey.
To my sweet baby girl,
I am writing this just weeks before your arrival and I cannot wait until the moment I hold you for the very first time — it is all I have dreamed about for years.
I share this with you so that you know — from your very first breath — your special journey to this earth was nothing short of extraordinary. Your story is one that your daddy and I will always be proud of and celebrate. It is a reminder of how much we cherish you.
Even before your daddy and I met, we both dreamed about becoming parents. When we got married, we couldn’t wait for you to join our family! When you didn’t arrive at first, we worried something might be wrong. So, we went to a doctor to ask for help. She was so smart and explained that I might need some extra help to bring you here.
Your daddy and I wanted to do whatever it took to meet you. We started a long process, called IVF, that involves almost daily visits to the doctor and required even more patience. We felt like those things were so small compared to how much we wanted to meet you. And we were so hopeful at first.
But that year stretched into the next and then another, and before we knew it, nearly three years had passed and we still hadn’t met you. In that time, we saw four different doctors and it didn’t seem like anything was working. Like many people going through the same thing, we felt very alone. Your daddy and I cried a lot during that time, but we never, ever gave up.
"There will be heartbreaks in life; some won’t ever fully heal, others will make you stronger."
Then, on a chilly weekday morning as I was walking into work, a doctor called with the most difficult news. The doctor said that, unlike most mommies, I would not be able to carry you in my belly and I would need a special helper to carry you inside her belly. That person is called a "surrogate." On that day, I cried so many tears that I didn’t think they would ever stop. I felt as though I had let you down because I couldn’t carry you myself.
Your daddy and I didn’t know what to do and we again felt very alone. We didn’t want to give up on you, and yet we had never imagined that we would need this kind of help to bring you into this world. We spent a lot of time talking to doctors and family and reading as much as we could. We slowly started to connect with other families who used helpers and learned that we were not alone.
So, with an incredible team (or surrogacy agency) and family support system, your daddy and I found a special helper who has turned into our hero. It’s important that your daddy and I also share with you that while our journey may have been tough at times, we still feel so thankful because many families, for many reasons, do not have the resources it takes to find a special helper like we did.
Our special helper and hero is a young mom who says being a helper is her purpose. She even said to me, “My calling to become a surrogate came long before I even had a child of my own. I first heard about it back when I was a teenager. My cousin told me about the many miscarriages she’d had over the years. I remember the hurt and pain in her eyes as she told me the story. She was given a few options to think about down the line and surrogacy was one of them. While it was not one of those topics that many talked or even knew about, it intrigued me. I did some research and it’s been a dream of mine ever since.”
Now, her dream is helping us make our dream come true. And this past fall we received the greatest news of all: You were on your way! The moment that we found out was the happiest of our lives. Your daddy and I were on the road driving to New York where I was working on a big project. We pulled over when the call came in and when the doctor said you were on your way, we cried again, only this time they were tears of joy.
Your daddy and I have learned so many lessons trying to bring you here and we want to share them with you: Every journey is unique; don’t compare yourself to others. There will be heartbreaks in life; some won’t ever fully heal, others will make you stronger. It is OK to ask for help; in fact, it can be empowering. Families are made in all different ways, come in all different shapes and sizes, and all families should be celebrated. And, finally, while I didn’t carry you in my body, I have always carried you in my heart and I will always be your mommy.
My sweet baby girl, your daddy and I haven’t met you yet, but we have loved you forever.
Learn more: On Weekend TODAY, Kristen Welker will examine the many aspects of infertility, from talking to kids and family about it, to the daunting emotional and financial toll infertility and surrogacy can take on hopeful parents.