If they had to do it all again, Linda Sirois and Angel Hebert might think twice before sharing their story with the world.
“We were kind of hoping it would be a local story and that’s it,” Hebert said Monday. “It’s kind of exploded.”
Added Sirois: “I don’t wish for it to go any further.”
On Aug. 17, Sirois, 49, gave birth to a boy, Madden Brian Hebert. She carried the child for nine months in her uterus, but the egg and sperm belonged to her daughter and son-in-law. Hebert, 25, has a heart condition that could have complicated a pregnancy.
Since the story was first reported by media outlets in Maine, it has been picked up all over the world. Sirois, who lives in Madawaska, has fielded interview requests from ABC and NBC, and calls from Norway, Australia, Los Angeles and elsewhere.
“I don’t have caller ID,” she said. “Maybe I should get it.”
So far, Sirois has turned down most of the requests. She’s not interested in extending her 15 minutes of fame.
“People have done this before, right?” she said.
Surrogate pregnancy is growing in popularity. More than 1,000 babies are born each year to surrogate parents, said Sherri Smith, East Coast program administrator for the Center for Surrogate Parenting. But it’s rare for a grandparent to be the surrogate.
“I would say that the intergenerational surrogacy incidence rate would be very small,” she said. “We see a lot more with sisters and friends. But it’s also not surprising or shocking.”
The headlines – “Maine woman gives birth to her own grandson” (CBS News) and “The mother of all births keeps it in the family” (The Age) – were enough to make the story spread like chickenpox on a playground.
Hebert, a Presque Isle resident, said the fact that she and her mother live in northern Maine likely had something to do with the national reaction.
“They probably think we’re in the boondocks up here,” she said with a laugh.
The story has generated emotional responses, positive and negative. Many readers commented online that they were inspired by Sirois’ selfless act. Others were weirded out.
“It’s great if people are inspired by this,” Hebert said. “But there is a lot of negative stuff. That’s a little disappointing.”
Hebert said she and her husband, Brian, 29, never felt weird. Consider the alternative, she said: If the couple had asked or paid another woman to be a surrogate, things may not have worked out the same.
“We had better access; I felt more comfortable saying, ‘Eat this and eat that,’” Hebert said.
As for Sirois, people wondered during the pregnancy whether she would have a hard time giving up the child. But the child is still her grandson. She’ll get to see him often.
She just wants to do it in private.
“I think everyone just wants to enjoy this little guy,” she said.
Hebert said she feels bad that her mother, such a private person, has been subjected to so much attention.
“She’s been a celebrity here in Madawaska for months now,” she said. “But she deserves to be.”