Jeff Lewis and his partner, Gage Edward, were “blindsided” after news broke that the surrogate mother of their 19-month-old daughter, Monroe, is suing them, Bravo, and Authentic Entertainment, the production company for their show, Flipping Out, claiming she never consented to the network filming her delivering of the baby. But when the trio first met, there was no drama in sight.
Lewis and Edward first crossed paths with Alexandra Trent during season 8 of their renovation show (see the video below). They met the woman who would carry their baby at a restaurant, and were also joined by Lewis’s executive assistant and co-star Jenni Pulos.
After Trent arrived — with “organic goodies” in tow from her parents’ farm — Lewis kicked off the conversation by saying that their doctor had paid her a unique compliment.
Trent laughed at the comment, replying, “Thank you, I grew it myself.” She continued the conversation by delving into why she is so passionate about being 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,” she explains in the clip, noting that she has two kids of her own, then three years and six months old. “I think it’s unfair so I want to balance the playing field a little bit.”
In her recently filed legal complaint, obtained by PEOPLE, she says that promoting surrogacy is what led her to agree to filming ultrasound appointments for the show, but, she claims, she drew the line at filming the birth.
The sit-down was clearly a success, with Edward claiming she was “just perfect.”
“There’s a certain energy I think about people and she just is so — just a good person,” he said.
Trent continued to appear on multiple episodes over two seasons of Flipping Out. However, a season 10 episode that documented her delivery with Monroe is now at the subject of their legal battle.
After his daughter’s birth, Lewis made a joke during interview setups filmed later and spliced into the episode. “If I was a surrogate, and I had known there was going to be an audience, I probably would have waxed,” he said. “And that was the shocking part for Gage. I don’t think Gage had ever seen a vagina, let alone one that big.”
Trent then filed a lawsuit claiming that Lewis and Edward had personally humiliated her and left her “deeply damaged” by making the “disgusting” comment on the show about her, according to the filing.
Her suit also alleges that camera operators secretly filmed from behind a curtain, despite telling her they wouldn’t. They noted that doctors were unaware cameras were rolling and her blurred-out vagina was shown on-screen. She’s accused the network and producers of filming her vagina without permission, claiming that she had never given consent to have her delivery filmed and that it “caused incredible anguish, self-loathing, contempt and depression.” Trent is seeking damages for unlawful recording, invasion of privacy and fraud.
Though reps for Bravo did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment,Lewis, 48, told PEOPLE that the news of the suit took he and Edward by surprise.
“This is like a blow to the head. We are completely blindsided by this,” Lewis said. “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.”
“We were upfront and honest from the beginning, to the point where her appearance release was a part of the surrogacy agreement because the whole idea was to document this journey,” he said. “It was part of her agreement, it was all tied in. So how do you now say that you didn’t know you were being filmed? It’s a broad appearance release!”
He adds, “Shame on her for mudding such a beautiful experience.”