Jeff Lewis's Journey to Fatherhood: From Hearing Baby's Heartbeat to Being Sued by His Surrogate
The Flipping Out star and his partner, Gage Edward, documented the whole process of starting their family on TV
Flipping Out star Jeff Lewis and his partner, Gage Edward, are “devastated” after news broke on Tuesday that the surrogate who carried their now-19-month-old daughter, Monroe Christine, is suing them, as well as Bravo, and Authentic Entertainment, the production company of their show, claiming she never consented that the network could film her delivering the baby.
In documents obtained by PEOPLE, Alexandra Trent claims they filmed her vagina without permission and that Lewis and Edward had personally humiliated her by making “disgusting” comments on the show. She is seeking damages for unlawful recording, invasion of privacy and fraud.
Reps for Bravo did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but Lewis, 48, told PEOPLE that the lawsuit took he and Edward by surprise.
“This is like a blow to the head. We are completely blindsided by this,” Lewis said, via phone. “We are just devastated. I thought we had a nice relationship, a friendship. We treated her like an extended member of the family. So you can imagine this is pretty stunning.”
The reality stars documented their journey to fatherhood through surrogacy over several seasons of their show. Here, a look back at how they started their family — from their happy first meeting with Trent to the rush to the delivery room and plans for baby number two.
Season 8, Episode 8: Jeff Lewis and Gage Edward’s First Meeting with Alexandra Trent
Edward and Lewis, along with his longtime number two, Jenni Pulos, met with Trent over dinner in season 8, episode 8. Edward described her as “just perfect” and “a good person.” While Lewis didn’t quite show his hand, he did relay he was told she had “a beautiful uterus.”
Trent, who at the time already had two children, 3 years and 6 months, also told the group her motive for wanting to be a surrogate. “I’ve grown up with a lot of gay couples around me and a lot of them who I’ve seen struggle with starting families. I think it’s unfair, so I want to balance the playing field.”
Season 9, Episode 1: Lewis and Edward Decide Whose Baby Trent Will Carry
The story picks up in season nine, when Lewis and Edward have settled on Trent as their surrogate and are deciding which embryos to use in their attempt to get pregnant. Despite, the rather clinical conversation, the process clearly strikes a chord with Lewis, who wonders, “I mean I’d like to think I’m going to be a good parent, but I’m sure I’m gonna make lots of mistakes. We should just have two in case I f— up the first one.”
Jeff also reveals he wants to use his embryos first because he’s older, at 48, than his partner.
Season 9, Episode 2: The Embryo Is Implanted
In the very next episode, viewers see the soon-to-be expectant dads watch from behind a wall of glass as a team of doctors get ready to implant Jeff’s embryo. He jokes that he bets they get it wrong and use the wrong one all the time to an already anxious Edward.
They sit in the waiting area, as the medical staff in the procedure room can be heard saying, “Jeffrey Thomas Lewis, one embryo number 14” and “Let’s make it happen. Here it goes.”
Season 9, Episode 5: Lewis and Edward Hear Their Baby’s Heartbeat for the First Time
After a successful procedure, the fathers-to-be have their first ultrasound with Trent, where they got a look at their baby and a listen to her heartbeat. Lewis has an uncommonly emotional reaction. After initially saying the baby didn’t look like much, he’s clearly awed by the sound of her heart. “When we heard the heart beat, that was cool. That’s when I was like, okay, there’s a baby in there.”
They also get a surprise when the doctor lets them know there is a second gestational sac, and Trent says, “I kind of felt like that might be the case.” Of course, as it turns out, the couple learns they are not, in fact, expecting twins.
Season 9, Episode 6: Ultrasound Number Two Puts a Smile on Lewis’s Face
Lewis and Edward missed their second ultrasound in episode 6 of the season. “We were disappointed we couldn’t be there,” says Lewis, who jokes he “should be able to make it” to the birth. They video chat with the doctor and Trent during their appointment and watch their baby girl, then just a few centimeters long, moving around. “She’s dancing, I think,” Lewis says, as the call ends with both dads smiling.
Season 9, Episode 10: As the Baby Grows, Things Get Real for Lewis
At another ultrasound, Edward explains of his partner’s reaction to the experience, “I’ve been excited since the heartbeat, I think Jeff . . . he’s now really seeing it. Every time, it becomes more and more real.”
“I was like holy s—. We’re having a baby. That’s a baby,” says Lewis. “This just got real. It’s exciting.”
Season 10, Episode 1: Lewis and Edward Stress About Getting to the Hospital as the Due Date Approaches
As their due date gets closer, the couple realize being present for their daughter’s birth is more complicated than they expected. Trent lives in Chico, in Northern California, and they will need to fly there as quickly as possible when they find out she’s in labor.
“I can’t imagine where we just couldn’t get up there and she was just born and we’re not the first people to meet our daughter. It’s just a nightmare that runs over and over in my head, that we would miss the birth,” says Edward.
Season 10, Episode 3: Trent Goes Into Labor
They finally get the news that Trent’s labor is imminent while out to eat with Jeff’s family, and make the call to head to Chico.
Clips of the birth episode have been removed from Bravo.com, but Lewis and Edward did make it to Trent’s birthing suite in time and were there to welcome Monroe Christine on October 25, 2016.
“At 4:22pm today, I grew up. Welcome Monroe Christine Lewis,” Lewis wrote in a Facebook post at the time.
Despite the legal drama now surrounding their first delivery, he announced on his SiriusXM radio show, Jeff Lewis Live, in October that the couple is already trying for baby number two with a new surrogate. This time around he said, they’ll use Edward’s embryo, a boy.
“So hopefully we are going to have a boy,” Lewis announced. “Not yet though, we’re not pregnant yet.”