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Brittle Bone Disease Won’t Stop Marie Andrews Being A Wonderful Mum

February 9, 2014

This post is part of the DisAbility And Parenting debate.

Marie Andrews and her partner chose to have their baby through surrogacy. This is not a route everyone would choose- but they have lots of love to give him and surely, that’s all that really matters.

Your comments are very welcome, as always.

After years pining for a baby, Marie Andrews can hardly ­believe she’s a mum at last.

Cradling her bundle of joy the 31-year-old beamed: “He’s a dream come true. I have to pinch myself.”

Marie is wheelchair-bound with a severely twisted spine and brittle bone disease , which means even a cough can break one of her ribs.

She has had more than 200 ­fractures over the years but tries to lead a full life.

She said: “I have ­always dreamt of a baby even though I have only half a working body.

“Some might say someone as ­­disabled as me shouldn’t be a parent.

“But while I’ll never be able to run around with my son, disability won’t stop me being a wonderful mum.”

She and scientist husband Dan, 32, owe son Mark to a surrogate.

Marie said: “Giving birth could have killed me so we were overjoyed when a mum came forward to have our baby and said my disability didn’t worry her.

“We’re so grateful to her for making us a ­complete family.”

Becoming a mother has ­added ­poignancy for Marie ­because when she was born doctors ­feared she might not ­reach adulthood.

Her mum Ann had lost a son, Mark, to brittle bone disease aged nine.

Marie said: “I have scoliosis – a terribly twisted spine – as well as respiratory and heart problems which make me more prone to infections, so my future looked bleak.”

By the time she was eight she’d broken ­dozens of bones all over her body and was in a wheelchair.

Marie recalled: “I went to a ­mainstream school but I was so ­fragile I needed a full-time carer.

“It was heartbreaking ­seeing friends ­going to discos ­without me.

“I had dreamt of being married and ­having a baby since my early teens. And ­although I did have boyfriends, the relationships didn’t last.”

Marie met Dan in 2002 when she went to work as a school receptionist.

She said: “He was talking to the pupils about his job as a planetary scientist and we got chatting.”

Over the next few weeks the couple clicked.

Dan told the Sunday People: “She had an amazing sense of humour and fun.


“One night we went out and it seemed natural to give her a kiss. And from then on we were inseparable.”

Despite Marie’s disability, they travelled all over Europe.

She also earned a first-class Open University degree in ­educational and social policy.

But one thing was still missing from their lives – a baby.

Marie said: “Being childless wasn’t an option.

“We looked into adoption and I was devastated when social services wouldn’t even consider us because I was too disabled.”

A friend offered to have a baby for them – but was then felled by back trouble and had to withdraw the offer.

“Finally the couple joined an agency that matched surrogates to wannabe parents.

Marie said: “It was hard. We’d go to parties where surrogates would choose who they wanted to have their ­babies for.

“Undoubtedly some were worried how I’d cope.” But after 18 months the phone rang.

She said: “A mum of four had chosen us to be a surrogate for.

“We were over the moon.”

The couple, of Milton Keynes, Bucks, got to know their surrogate in the following weeks.

Marie said: “We hit it off straight away.”

Using Dan’s sperm, the woman was pregnant inside two months.

At 20 weeks a scan revealed they were having a little boy.

Dan said: “Marie and I went out on a little spending spree buying lots of little blue clothes and ­decorating a nursery.”

Last June the couple were married in a packed church, with Marie going up the aisle in her wheelchair.

She said: “The most emotional part was when Dan announced we were having a baby. Until then we’d kept it under wraps.”

Mark was a healthy 8lb when he was born in November.

Marie said: “He was handed straight to me. It was the most wonderful moment of my life.”

A few hours later they took him home.

Since then their lives have been a whirl of feeds and nappies like any other first-time parents.

Marie, who has full-time help when Dan is at work, admits it’s tough.

She said: “I can change nappies and feed him but someone else has to lift Mark and by 18 months he could be as big as me.

“But he’ll grow up accepting me as I am.

“It’s going to be frustrating for me not to be able to run around with him but he’ll have his dad to kick a ball with.”

Meanwhile Marie drives a specially adapted car and says she can get most places in her wheelchair – which also pushes Mark’s buggy.

She added: “Most importantly I can give Mark lots of cuddles.

“I’ll read to him, help him with his homework – all the normal things any loving mum does.”

And they haven’t ruled out another child – one day.

But for now they are enjoying just being a new mum and dad.

Marie, who is expected to live to at least 60, said: “I hope my story encourages other disabled people or anyone with the odds stacked against them to follow their dreams of a normal life.”

Marie is blogging about being a new mum for disability charity Scope at



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