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Kristen Welker shares advice for families during National Infertility Awareness Week as she looks back on her own infertility journey and challenging road to welcome daughter Margot
As this year's National Infertility Awareness Week comes to a close, Kristen Welker has a message for those who may be struggling with starting a family: don't give up.
The co-anchor of Weekend TODAY and NBC News' chief White House correspondent, 46, welcomed daughter Margot via surrogate in June 2021, and while the road to becoming a mom was a challenging one, Welker tells PEOPLE "it was all worth it."
"I feel like in the past few years, I've learned that it was worth it. All of the tears, the struggle, the heartache were all worth it to have Margot," says Welker. "And every morning when I wake up to her little face, standing up in her crib waiting for me, I can't wait to just hug her and hold her. And that reminds me that it was all worth it."
"That really is my message to other families who are going through infertility: when you feel alone, when you feel hopeless, do not give up, keep pushing forward because it is so worth it in the end."
"Every time she says mama, it melts my heart," she continued. "And I, as someone who thought about what it would feel like to not ever be able to be a mom and to have a child, every time she says mama, it just reminds me of the journey that we traveled and just how grateful I am to have her."
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While Welker and husband John Hughes decided to use a gestational surrogate — whom they still have a "wonderful relationship" with today — she emphasizes "however you decide to expand your family, it's beautiful."
"Whether it's through surrogacy, whether it's through adoption, some couples decide that their family is going to just be the two of them, that after a long fertility struggle, they're not going to pursue having a child and that's a wonderful, beautiful decision as well," she says. "That really is my advice and to ask for help because I got through the long journey that I had with the support of family, with the support of friends, and the support of work colleagues as well."
Before welcoming Margot, Welker went through a years-long infertility journey that included multiple rounds of failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. "I had a lot of days feeling like John and I were alone on an island and that no one understood," she recalls.
"So many families are going through the pain of infertility and feel alone in their struggle. And so I think it's important not just to speak out about my experience, but to continue to speak out and to be a part of the community, to help raise awareness, to help raise funds, because I think it's important that people have access not just to services like IVF, but also mental health services around infertility," adds Welker.
"The more that I and others can speak out about our experiences and the more that we can help other families who are going through similar struggles now, to continue to be a voice, hopefully, for people to know that they're not alone and that there is an entire community of people who've gone through infertility, who are going through infertility."
"If we are open about it, I think that we help to lift each other up and support each other in the toughest moments," she adds.
Welker continues to celebrate her experience with surrogacy and wants Margot to know her surrogate and build a relationship with her.
"She's already met her, and I want that to continue for her life so that she knows how she got here," says Welker, who says her surrogate is "truly my hero."
"I think it's important that Margot knows that we are celebrating her journey to this earth because she is something to be celebrated, the way that she got here and every single day of her life," she adds.
"I feel so grateful to have the support, to have the resources that I had to be able to pursue the journey of surrogacy, and it's not something that's available to everyone, and that's part of why I continue to stay engaged with groups who are working on this to expand awareness and expand the resources for other people" Welker adds.
"I've done stories about it and I will continue to do stories about it to shine a light on the need to continue to help lift up families who are going through this struggle."
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