DELRAN — To say the road Bibek Sharma and Anuja Nepal took to get to their current situation is a bumpy one is an understatement. Within the next few days, however, it will all be worth it when their family becomes whole.
The Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania couple will soon welcome a son into this world with the help of a surrogate mother, 32-year-old Victoria Spulock of Delran. The three want to dispel the notion that not giving birth to a child means it’s not yours.
Spulock is a gestational carrier, meaning the egg was provided for her and her DNA isn’t included in any way; so Sharma and Nepal, originally from Nepal, will have a child that essentially still came from them.
“Whatever the reason is that one cannot carry children of their own, you can still have a biological child of your own through surrogacy,” Spulock said. “You still can have your child. You might not be carrying it, but it’s still your child.”
Sharma and Nepal decided to try having a child a few years ago, but their efforts came to a halt when Nepal was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Fortunately, the cancer was detected early enough to prevent the need for radiation treatment; but an ensuing hysterectomy meant she couldn’t carry a child of her own. That’s when they began looking for a surrogate.
At first, the search wasn’t going very well.
“We were with a different (surrogacy) agency before,” Nepal said. “We had picked a surrogate. We thought things were going to go well and we were going to have a family soon, but things didn’t work out with that surrogacy agency. They backed out. We lost a lot of money, and not just money (but also) our emotions, our time… Everything was lost. So Bibek and I thought maybe it was not meant. Maybe God didn’t want us to become parents.”
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The couple decided to give it one more try with another agency, and ended up hitting it off with Spulock. Though things seemed to be going just fine, doubts still crept in their minds over Spulock possibly backing out, the success of the surrogacy and a number of other things. Evening out that skepticism was Spulock’s optimism.
“It was a relief finding her,” Nepal said, “and one of the nicest things about Victoria is she was always positive. Many times, me and Bibek would be like, ‘Oh man, this isn’t going to work,’ but her confidence (to say), ‘This is definitely going to work,’ (helped).”
Spulock also started looking at surrogacy a couple years ago. She worked hard to make sure she had all the health qualifications to finally be matched with a couple, and then the pandemic began in the first quarter of 2020. After a few months, the ball got rolling again and she soon met Sharma and Nepal.
Carrying a child for someone else is just another way for her to pay it forward.
“I love helping people,” Spulock said. “My son will tell you. We’re always pulling over because someone’s tire’s flat. (If) somebody’s credit card didn’t work at the grocery store, (I’ll say), ‘Here, just pay it forward.'”
As a result of the hysterectomy, doctors were unable to save any of Nepal’s eggs. To get the closest possible thing to her own eggs, she purchased several from a donor egg website. On the site, donors disclose information and photographs, so Nepal simply went through the site and found a donor with similar traits.
The couple originally wanted to find a surrogate to give birth in their home country. There, they said, surrogacy isn’t discussed openly despite the fact that it does happen. They hope that their openness about the process can bring an end to the stigma.
“People are doing it, but they do it hush-hush,” Nepal said. “We are openly doing it, and we’re telling people we’re doing it, because we want to educate people.”
The concerns haven’t been limited to the couple, however. Spulock has also had friends and family asking a wide variety of “what ifs” that she’s had to debunk.
“I’ve got people asking me, ‘What if they don’t want their child? What would you do,'” She said. “Well, I would adopt it. I would totally take it as my child… I’m not going to let you go into the system.
“There are so many steps before I could even attempt to want to have their child.”
The child, a boy who the couple will name Neev, had an initial due date of Dec. 26. As of Monday afternoon, Spulock had not gone into labor but is hopeful for progress in the coming days.
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If all goes well and the couple wants another child down the road, she’s already expressed interest in helping them out once again. Until then, she’s already in the process of carrying for another family in Burlington County. She’ll be able to begin that process as early as four months after the birth of Neev if it’s a natural birth.
“I guess if I had a not good pregnancy or I had symptoms, I would be like, ‘Yeah, you know, I’m going a lot for them,'” Spulock said. “But I don’t feel like I’m going anything. I’m doing a lot, and I get that, but it’s been smooth sailing. There’s been no complications; there’s been no fear; there’s been no ‘what ifs,’ especially coming toward the end. I’m happy for them. I feel great. I would totally do this again. I want to do this again
Ahmad Austin Jr. is a lifelong South Jersey resident telling stories within the healthcare and cannabis industries for Burlington County Times, Courier-Post and The Daily Journal. For story tips, reach out at [email protected]
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