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The gold medal winner just welcomed daughter Georgie via surrogate after a years-long struggle with infertility
Tara Lipinski has a new baby — and a new bestie.
After a years-long fertility battle the gold medal-winning figure skater, 41, has welcomed daughter Georgie via surrogate. And while she never pictured surrogacy as part of her road to motherhood, Lipinski says it changed her life for the better.
"I loved the surrogacy journey, I really did," says Lipinski, who, with the support of husband Todd Kapostasy, 40, looked into the fertility option after experiencing four painful miscarriages. "I had so much trauma around pregnancy," she shares. "Something just clicked where my outlook changed and it became less about me and my experience. It wasn't about the pregnancy anymore."
When they were matched with a surrogate named Mikayla last year, "there was an immediate connection," she says, of their initial phone call. "It was just one of those moments where you're like, this is my kind of person."
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Lipinski says Mikayla helped soothe her fears about the process. "Someone like me, I love control. There's a lot of things that wouldn't make me the perfect match for surrogacy. But after this experience, my mind is blown."
That said, there were still hurdles. "The scans were terrifying for me," says Lipinski of Mikayla's routine checks. "I'd been through too many times not hearing the [baby's] heartbeat, so I never asked to hear it." It was Mikayla who urged her to listen at her last scan. "We were teammates," says Lipinski, "on the deepest level."
During Georgie's birth, "It was me Todd and Mikayla in the room," she describes. "I'm holding her hand and she's crying and I'm sobbing. If I thought we were bonded before...she is my family now and vice versa."
Looking back on it all, "We're in awe and we're just grateful," she says. "These five years have changed me in ways that I'll never get pieces of me back, which I'm okay with. I am proud that I got through it. It wasn't always easy and I had to do it my own way."
As for Georgie, "She's just as cute as a button and I can't stop staring at her," says Lipinski. "Everything just feels emotional and surreal."
For more on Tara Lipinski's road to motherhood, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, available Friday.
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Read the original article on People.