A woman who became a surrogate for her brother has described the child as her "extra special nephew" and is ready to repeat the process.
Sabreena Henderson, 30, decided to help her brother, Shane Petrie, 33, and his husband, Paul, 37, start their family. She offered to be their surrogate, using her egg and Paul's sperm.
Baby Tristan was born last September, and the family recently celebrated his first birthday. Sabreena, who already has four children of her own, sees Tristan as her "extra special nephew" due to their unique bond.
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Feeling an "intense pride" over her surrogacy, she has volunteered to do it again when Shane and Paul decide to give Tristan a sibling.
Sabreena, a property manager from Riverside, California, US, said: "Tristan is perfect, and healthy, and very very loved. Shane and Paul are the best dads – they talk about him all the time and call Tristan their little 'monkey'. With Tristan, I have such a special bond because I helped create him – there aren't really words to describe it, but it's an intense love. A lot of people try to tell me that because my egg was used, he's my son so I should be his mum, but Tristan is their child. He was never mine.
"Everyone has a story of how they came to be – his is just extra special. I see him as my 'extra special nephew' and I call myself his 'favourite aunt' – I think I've earned that right. I'm proud of what I was able to do for Shane and Paul so I've told them I'd be happy to do it again."
Sabreena and her four sisters all said they'd become a surrogate for Shane when he came out as gay at 16. When Shane and his husband decided they wanted to become parents in 2020, Sabreena was the best candidate for the surrogacy and was happy to help.
This is because her eldest sister had already had three C-sections, her middle sister had experienced difficult pregnancies, and her two youngest sisters were still teenagers at the time.
Sabreena agreed to use Paul's sperm and her egg so both fathers would be related to the baby. November 2020 to December 2021 saw five failed insemination attempts and a miscarriage before finally she became pregnant again in January 2022.
She said: "When we found out I'd miscarried we were absolutely heartbroken. I bled so much and even needed surgery as my body wasn't naturally letting go of the pregnancy. It was awful. But it didn't put me off helping my brother and when we got the all clear from the doctor, we tried again.
"The day I found out I was pregnant again was wonderful, although we were all tentatively optimistic because of our previous experience. It was a tense nine months, but thankfully everything was fine this time around."
Baby Tristan, born to Shane and Paul on September 28, 2022, celebrated his first birthday last month. His aunt Sabreena, who was the surrogate, said the tot is "very happy" and "very very loved".
Sabreena found the surrogacy experience so rewarding that she's offered to do it again. She shared: "A lot of people said they couldn't do surrogacy emotionally – thankfully that was never the case for me. I can channel all the love I have into being a good auntie, and I'm proud of myself for being a part of it. It gives me a glow."
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She also revealed that another baby might be on the cards. "We've definitely talked about another baby and they do want another. When they're ready, I'd be happy to do it again," she said.
Shane expressed his joy over their growing family: "It's been so crazy, a total whirlwind. It feels like yesterday I could hold him in one arm and now he's taking steps on his own! I couldn't imagine my life without Tristan now. My husband and I both came from close families with siblings and I wouldn't want to deny him that bond, so we have discussed a second baby. With Sabreena, we couldn't have asked or hoped for anything better."
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