"I can't stop thinking about those babies and what's going to happen to them," Melissa Cook tells PEOPLE

By Johnny Dodd
March 15, 2016 12:15 PM

For Melissa Cook – the California surrogate mom at the center of a custody battle over the triplets she delivered last month – the physical scars from her ordeal are healing much faster than the emotional ones.

“Every day is hard,” Cook tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview from her home in Woodland Hills, California. “I go through moments of crying and I try and force myself to think of something else. But I can’t stop thinking about those babies and what’s going to happen to them.”

The 47-year-old mother of four found herself entangled in a complex headline-making legal battle earlier this year, set into motion after she refused the biological father’s demands to abort one of the babies she was carrying because he’d allegedly run out of cash.

On Feb. 22, Cook gave birth to three baby boys and watched helplessly as hospital nurses whisked the infants away from her. She now believes the father, a deaf, single 50-year-old postal worker who lives with his elderly parents in Georgia, is unable to care for the infants.

Melissa Cook
Gregg Segal

She has filed lawsuits asking to have the state’s surrogacy law declared unconstitutional and grant her custody of one of the children – although she’s prepared to care for all of them.

“They wouldn’t even tell me how much they weighed,” says Cook, describing what happened moments after she gave birth. “All they would say is, ‘Sorry, we can’t tell you.’ When I asked if they were healthy, they said the same thing: ‘I’m sorry, we can’t tell you.’ I’ve been treated like I had no part in any of this. I still haven’t been allowed to see them.”

The infants, created from donated ova and sperm from the biological father, were born seven weeks premature and are reportedly still being cared for at a Los Angeles hospital. The father, identified only as C.M. in court papers, has refused Cook’s request to let nurses give the infants her breast milk.

“I’m still pumping my breast milk and have been putting it in the freezer. I’ll donate it if I can’t give it to the triplets,” says Cook, who adds that her C-section incision has almost healed.

Legal experts who study reproductive medicine issues say cases like Cook’s are extremely rare – and that she faces an uphill legal battle for custody of the triplets. In February, a Los Angeles court ruled in favor of the birth father, saying that under California law, parental rights are given to the intended parents [or parent]. Cook’s attorneys are expected to file an appeal to the decision later this week.

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