Rachelle Friedman, known around world as the "paralyzed bride," has a major reason to celebrate this Labor Day weekend: She's expecting her first child via surrogate!
Friedman was just another bride-to-be at her bachelorette party four years ago when a lighthearted moment changed the course of her life forever. One of her bridesmaids, her best friend, pushed her into a pool. Instead of splashing in, she hit the bottom of the pool headfirst, breaking her neck and causing a severe spinal cord injury. The freak accident paralyzed her from the chest down, and she suddenly became known as the "paralyzed bride."
She and her fiancé Chris Chapman had to postpone their wedding, but they managed to tie the knot a year later. Though she didn't let her injury get her down — she was surfing and playing wheelchair rugby within 13 weeks of the incident — she did worry about how her condition would affect her ability to have children.
"I knew it was bad because I remember looking down and not being able to feel the coldness on my legs," Friedman, now a motivational speaker and blogger for several national websites, tells People of her initial reaction to the freak accident. "It was very scary," she says. "I knew I was paralyzed and the first thing I asked the paramedics was whether I could have kids. I was ecstatic when they said yes."
Her joy turned to sorrow soon after, though, when doctors told her the medicine she takes to keep her blood pressure up could be dangerous to a fetus. It was Laurel Humes, a college friend they hadn't spoken to in nearly a decade, that would change their hopes once again.
Humes reached out to the couple immediately after reading one of Friedman's blog posts, in which she detailed her need for a surrogate. "My husband was a sperm donor for some of our friends, a same-sex couple, and that inspired me to think about surrogacy," Humes told People. That encouragement facilitated Friedman and Chapman's dream to become parents.
"We're just so excited," Friedman says of their impending parenthood (Chapman is six months pregnant). We can only imagine!