Same sex couple 'blessed' with triplets via surrogacy

Christo and Theo Menelaou with their newborns.
Christo and Theo Menelaou with their newborns. Photo: Sky News

They feared they would never get to be parents, but a same sex couple is now adjusting to life at home with newborn triplets.

South Africans Christo and Theo Menelaou say they feel "blessed" to have been able to welcome the babies, two girls and a boy, into the world on July 2 thanks to a surrogate mother.

The babies were conceived using two donor eggs. One egg was fertilised with Christo's sperm while the other egg was fertilised with Theo's sperm. 

The surrogate then had both embryos implanted into her uterus in the hope she would give birth to two babies. However one of the embryos split in two, creating the twin girls, while the other embryo also implanted.

"When you are gay, there is always the thought that it just may not be possible to be a parent no matter how much you would love to be," Christo told Sky News.

"It's very hard to be accepted for adoption and we were told we would always come after heterosexual couples. And then we just never thought we'd ever find a person who would want to be surrogate to a gay couple."

In an interesting twist, the couple ended up meeting their surrogate as a result of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius' murder trial.

The couple and the woman all live in the same apartment complex where Pistorius killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. During the athlete's murder trial, residents formed a support group to help each other deal with the aftermath of what happened in their complex.

The fellow residents became firm friends, and the woman, who was already a mother, agreed to act as surrogate for the couple.

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South Africa's strict surrogacy laws meant both intended fathers, the surrogate and the surrogate's husband had to sign affidavits and appear before a judge to state they were all willing participants in the surrogacy. They also had to declare the surrogate would not benefit financially and would only be compensated for medical expenses.

When it was discovered the woman was pregnant with triplets during an ultrasound at 10 weeks, doctors urged all involved to consider terminating two babies in order to give the third a better chance at being born at full term.

However  Dr Heidra Dahms from Sunninghill Hospital agreed to help deliver all three babies. The pregnancy proceeded until 31 weeks, when the triplets were born via caesarean.

"It is extremely rare. I have never heard of this before," Dr Dahms told Sky News. 

Baby Joshua was born weighing 1.82kg, Zoe weighed 1.4kg, and Kate was the smallest at just 1.3kg. The babies were put on breathing machines and monitored at hospital until they were strong enough to leave with their fathers.

The couple still has two nurses to help care for the newborns, who are each fitted with a breathing monitor which sounds and alarm if they stop breathing.

Despite the triplets' difficult start to life, Christo and Theo are enjoying new fatherhood.

"We feel so blessed. We really do," they told Sky News.