"We're all just waiting for the phone to ring," says Friedman Chapman, whose friend is serving as her surrogate

By Michelle Boudin
Updated April 15, 2015 09:20 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Helen Joy

Her first child due any day now, Rachelle Friedman Chapman and husband Chris Chapman don’t let their cell phones out of their sight.

“We’re all just waiting for the phone to ring!” Rachelle, 29, tells PEOPLE. Rachelle, who became known as the “paralyzed bride” after a freak accident at her bachelorette party four years ago left her paralyzed from the neck down, revealed to PEOPLE last summer that she was expecting her first child through a surrogate. In January, Rachelle revealed to PEOPLE that, to her delight, the baby was a girl.

Rachelle and husband Chris, 33, chose to have a child through a surrogate after doctors told Rachelle that while she was physically able to have children, the medication she takes to control her blood pressure could make pregnancy very risky.

Sharing the Milestones

Rachelle’s surrogate is her college pal Laurel Humes, who joined the couple for their baby shower in March.

Then, Humes told PEOPLE, “We try to include each other in the milestones, like the shower and the ultrasounds. We did the hospital tour together. Rachelle and Chris even recorded their voices reading stories and other things and I play it for the baby at night using the belly buds Rachelle bought me so [the baby] can hear her parents’ voices.”

Humes just hit the 39-week mark and Rachelle is convinced she won’t make it to her April 18 due date. “I personally don’t think she’s going to wait that long,” Rachelle tells PEOPLE.

That’s why everyone has their bags packed. Rachelle’s mom, Carol Friedman, will join the couple on the drive from their home outside Raleigh, North Carolina to Humes’s hometown of Asheville, where she will have the baby at a nearby hospital.

The parents-to-be spent Easter weekend with Humes, her husband, Charlie, and their 3-year-old son, Avett, on their family farm, and posed for some special maternity photos.

“It’s so nice to have those photos and to be with her as she’s this far along,” Rachelle tells PEOPLE. “It’s crazy because I am not pregnant and we’re not dealing with all the changes that come with being pregnant.”

“My life is the same this second as it was nine months ago and one day my life is just going to be different. It almost doesn’t seem real, but we’re super excited and seeing Laurel helps make it real.”

Getting the Nursery Ready

The couple is also very excited about their future baby girl’s newly decorated nursery. They’ve painted it turquoise and grey and just put in the crib, specially designed so that the new mom’s wheelchair can fit under it. The base of the crib is from Humes’s son Avett’s old crib. The rest was custom-built by a furniture maker in the Raleigh area.

The couple is also getting used to having more people around. They’ve just started shooting a reality show as part of a new series in production at TLC about first-time parents and their newborns.

“The crew is here in town waiting by the phone like we are,” Rachelle says. Rachelle is excited to document her life as a new mother because she wants people to see that, despite being paralyzed, she can still be a great mom.

“I think a lot of people ,when they heard we were having a baby didn’t understand how I could do that,” she tells PEOPLE. “People think as a quadriplegic I can’t move anything, that’s not true. This is mostly about educating people about parenthood, what I’m capable of, what it’s like to have a spinal cord injury and our relationship. There’s a lot I can do and I want people to see that.”

She says she is prepared to share everything – except the baby’s name. For that, the world will have to wait.