It was two years ago when local paramedic Aleisha Hart first answered a post on Facebook.
The post was from two Auckland men, Christian Newman and Mark Edwards. They wanted a child and were looking for someone to help them on their journey.
Aleisha, who works for St John’s in Nelson, had a feeling. She had thought about donating her eggs before and had already had two other children. She wondered how she might be able to help another family.
Then, six weeks ago she gave birth to a baby boy called Francis.
But technically it wasn’t hers. Francis was created using Christian’s sperm and his sister-in-law’s eggs. All they needed was a surrogate – someone to bear the child for nine months.
“Seeing their ad, it was just this feeling I had,” says Aleisha. “And as soon as I met the guys I never had a bad feeling about it.”
Now, she and Newman’s sister-in-law are both known as ‘mum’ to go along with Francis’ two dads.
“I never thought it would have ever been this positive,” she says. “It’s a real modern family.”
But it has been a long journey – the law has not kept up pace with the state of such modern families, Aleisha says.
“We had to go to lawyers, counselling, psychological testing, medical testing, even before anything could even happen.”
They then had to submit a report to an ethics committee to approve the procedure.
“It’s been a pretty long journey, I probably didn’t even realise how long it had been until now looking back.”
Aleisha says she saw helping Christian and Mark as just another experience in life.
“Another thing to learn from to make me a better person. It has enriched me so much and I have gotten so much out of it myself. Just seeing Francis with the guys is so wonderful,” she says.
She says it was a different experience to having her own children, Paris, 13 and Cayden, 5.
“It felt exactly the same. Obviously, I love my children more than anything but … in some ways it was almost better. Like when people become grandparents they describe it as that – like all that love but a bit less of the pressure and responsibility.”
Even her own children are calling Francis their “little brother”.
Aleisha did not get paid for helping the guys, just her expenses. She says that is the way it should be. But the journey is not over yet.
Francis is still legally Aleisha’s child. Now Christian and Mark need to legally adopt their own child from her – a process which is also drawn out.
“Things need to change and hopefully our story has highlighted that a little bit.”
For now, however, it’s time for Aleisha to relax.
Because despite having just given birth to a new-born: “I won’t be having to get up in the middle of the night.”