Television host, lifestyle blogger and cancer survivor Sally Obermeder welcomed her second child, Elyssa Rose, via surrogacy last December. Obermeder had been diagnosed with cancer during her pregnancy with her first child, Annabelle, and began chemotherapy after the 2012 birth, later learning she wouldn’t be able to safely have another child. Obermeder, 43, tells Kate Waterhouse about her surrogacy journey and Australian attitudes around it, the thrill of live TV, and her new range of frozen smoothies.
Do you love being a mum the second time around? It’s so different this time. I said to [husband] Marcus, “I can’t remember Annabelle smiling, I can’t remember this, I can’t remember that” … It was so tough at that time with Annabelle. It’s almost like this is, not like becoming a mum for the first time, but this experience, this new-born experience, is my first experience of it in this way and it is heavenly.
What was your surrogacy journey like? It was really good. Rachel [the surrogate mother, who lives in the US] is amazing. I still speak to her all the time … I think we’ll have a very tight bond for life.
Will [Rachel] be involved in your life going forward? Yeah I think so. We FaceTime all the time … it feels very natural. It’s just like sending photos of your kids to your friends.
What were the biggest challenges you faced during your surrogacy journey? A long distance is definitely hard because you’re not going to the appointments, you can’t physically. I would get up at 2am to be on a call when she was at an ultrasound or whatever … I think it’s also a challenge with Annabelle, because even though we talked about the pregnancy all the time and that her sibling was coming, for her it wasn’t in her face every day … And then suddenly you take her overseas, you’re like, “Bang, here’s the baby.” She’s like, “What?”
How is Annabelle [aged five] adjusting to being a big sister to Elyssa? She is a lot better now … I think she [initially] thought she was getting a sibling she could play with [right away], so she was not happy at all … With Elyssa, I see how her face lights up when Annabelle looks at her. It is amazing to see that bond that is already there…
What advice would you give to someone going down the surrogacy path? I’d definitely say, “Do it … If you can afford to do it and you want to do it, do it.” I have not one bad thing to say about the experience.
What attitudes did you experience in response to surrogacy? I think people are really blown away, obviously, by Rachel’s kindness … You will always get people who say things like, “Oh, you just went and bought a baby” … There’s nothing you can do about it. For us and for our family, this is like an amazing dream come true … If I could have adopted, I would have, but … adoption laws need to change because they’re so backward. Surrogacy laws need to change, they are just as backward … I would like to see it become legal and I would like to see paid surrogacy become legal.
Where do you see yourselves in five years’ time? I don’t know, I think I’m still so obsessed with having a baby. I said to Marcus today, “I could have another one.” He was like, “Are you mental?”
Congratulations on your new frozen smoothie range, Super Green Smoothies. We’ve been working on that for about three years now … I had been doing smoothies for ages, and to really do them well, in a sense that you’re being efficient with your time and with your money, you need a prep day … I had this light bulb [moment]: I was like … why can’t you just buy it ready done? And then you can just add the liquid, like I would at home … We really agonised over making sure that everything is in there that you need, so that you’ve got this great big shot of health.
How do you juggle it all? There just always is someone unhappy. If you’re spending lots of time at home, then someone at work is unhappy. If you’re spending too much time at work, then someone at home is unhappy. And it’s very hard. For a long time, I drove myself crazy trying to make this perfect set routine … Now I’m like, “Oh, I give up” .. I really just roll with each day as best I can …
When do you head back to work [on Channel 7’s afternoon show The Daily Edition]? I go back at the end of August … I popped in a couple of weeks ago to introduce Elyssa to the team … The adrenaline rush comes back and it’s funny … that buzz of live TV, there’s nothing like it.
What do you love most about live TV? It’s not pre-recorded, and then if something happens, it’s just on. It’s unfolding as you speak … You realise there’s more to the world than the small little bubble that you live in, and that’s actually really quite exciting … To be a part of it and to be able to share it, it’s amazing.
What has been your biggest pinch-me moment in your TV career? In terms of celebs, definitely I would say Jon Bon Jovi, just because it’s like that was the era that I grew up in. I went to every Bon Jovi concert. The whole time the 13-year-old in me was like, “I cannot believe that this is happening”.
WE WENT TO
Mr G’s, InterContinental Sydney, Double Bay
Fish tacos with kingfish tartare, finger lime and flying fish roe; King crab sliders with Alaskan king crab, cucumber, celery and lemon aioli; French beans with smoked bacon and herbs; BBQ creamed corn
Still mineral water
Vintage Levi’s and a Swiish choker knit