Kristen Welker, NBC News’ chief White House correspondent and Philadelphia native, and her husband tried for years to have a baby — but nothing seemed to work.
After three years and four doctors, Welker, the Weekend Today cohost, and her husband, John Hughes, a marketing executive, learned they would need a surrogate. Welker, 44, said she cried.
But surrogacy worked for the couple. Welker shared the family’s journey Friday morning on Today, during National Infertility Awareness Week, announcing their daughter is due in June. While more parents turn to assisted reproductive technology, like in vitro fertilization, there still seems to be stigma attached to having a child born through a surrogate.
Welker penned an open letter to her baby, published on Today.com, aiming to raise awareness of the emotional struggles and triumphs of infertility.
“I felt as though I had let you down because I couldn’t carry you myself,” Welker wrote to her daughter, describing the family’s journey to finding a surrogate, who she identifies as “our special helper and hero.”
“While I didn’t carry you in my body, I have always carried you in my heart and I will always be your mommy,” Welker wrote in the letter. “My sweet baby girl, your daddy and I haven’t met you yet, but we have loved you forever.”
Welker, who has roots in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia and is a graduate of Germantown Friends School and Harvard University, married her husband in 2017 at the Bellevue Hotel in Center City. She was 40 at the time, and had always wanted to be a mom. The couple immediately started to try to have a baby. When that did not work, they tried IVF. Then she learned she would not be able to carry a child.
Welker described the lonely and emotional experience of trying to start their family.
“I was going to the doctor in between live shots at work and just feeling like, you’re a failure, frankly,” she said on Today.
Then the couple decided to turn to a surrogate. By the second try, it worked. While Welker moderated the final 2020 presidential debate, she was thinking of her daughter.
“I can’t wait to tell my daughter that,” Welker said she remembered thinking. “I credit her with the fact that I remained calm that night.”
Welker began her career in Redding, Calif., as a reporter at ABC affiliate KRCR-TV in 2001. Four years later, she returned to her hometown and worked as a reporter and anchor at NBC10. She remained there for five years, until 2010, when she signed on with NBC News as a correspondent based out of Burbank, Calif. The following year, the network made her a White House correspondent.
Welker hopes sharing her story can inspire others to never give up on their dreams of starting a family.
“I am writing this just weeks before your arrival and I cannot wait until the moment I hold you for the very first time — it is all I have dreamed about for years,” Welker wrote to her daughter. “I share this with you so that you know — from your very first breath — your special journey to this earth was nothing short of extraordinary. Your story is one that your daddy and I will always be proud of and celebrate. It is a reminder of how much we cherish you.”
Read the full letter here.