Paralyzed Bride Hopes to Become a Mom via Surrogacy

Rachelle Friedman Chapman in a jean jacket

Rachelle Friedman Chapman wished to get married at age 24 and start a family by 27. Despite a delay in her planned nuptials — a tragic accident during her bachelorette party that left her paralyzed from the chest down and made her famous in the news as the "paralyzed bride" — Freidman eventually made it down the aisle in a wheelchair to marry her fiance Chris Chapman. Now, at age 28, she tells Today Moms that she's ready to go for the next part of her dream.

Although Chapman says she is physically able to carry a child, she takes powerful medications to control her blood pressure and help manage residual pain from the accident. These medications could be harmful to a developing baby, so the couple is turning to a surrogate for help. Since surrogates are expensive, and the young couple has already dealt with financial hardships since their wedding, they've set up an online fundraising campaign where family and friends can contribute to help cover the costs.

Chapman says she knows parenthood won't be easy and that Chris will have to do more than the average dad. But she's gotten stronger since the accident and is getting some feeling back in her left side — even though it shows up as "tingly nerve pain." She has no finger function in her arms, and her legs are paralyzed, but she does have strong biceps, shoulders, and wrists, and is able to pick things up. She's also received parenting advice and encouragement from other moms who face physical challenges similar to hers. That gives her hope.

"I have quadriplegic friends who raise kids," Chapman told Today. "They get their kids dressed in the mornings, and they can change diapers, so I'm going to be able to do that, too. Chris and I feel like the last part of our happiness would be just having a family."