Rachelle Chapman Friedman learned the happy news from her mom
Credit: Allison J. Meder

Rachelle Chapman Friedman secretly wanted a girl. That’s why the 29-year-old bought a special pink dress just for the gender reveal party she and husband Chris, 32, hosted in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Jan. 4.

Chris, of course, wore blue.

“I was so sure it was a boy, ” he said. “We made a bet. Whoever wins gets to go on a shopping spree.”

Rachelle’s mom, Carol Friedman, was the only one who knew the baby’s gender. Even the couple’s surrogate – the woman actually carrying the baby – didn’t know.

“I really love surprises, ” Rachelle said. “But it was so hard knowing my mom knew.”

Rachelle was paralyzed from the neck down in a freak accident at her bachelorette party four years ago when one of her bridesmaids playfully pushed her in the pool.

She revealed to PEOPLE in June that she and her husband – who married a year after the accident – were trying to get pregnant with the help of a surrogate. Doctors told Rachelle pregnancy wasn’t a good idea for her because of the medication she’s on that controls her blood pressure.

That surrogate, Laurel Humes, a friend of the couple from college, is now 25 weeks pregnant with their baby. She travelled from her home in Asheville to be with them and forty of their friends and family as they all learned the gender of the baby.

“My mom gave us this giant box filled with balloons and told us to open it,” Rachelle tells PEOPLE. “We did, and balloons came flying out. They were all pink so we knew. I don’t usually cry. But I teared up, I was so excited.”

“It was neat. The pregnancy process has been really interesting,” Chris said. “In some ways we feel so detached, so it’s really cool to have the milestones, the ultrasounds and especially the reveal party. It makes it real to us and lets us experience some of the excitement of the pregnancy.”

“It was really cool having our surrogate there, seeing her baby bump. It just made it real,” he said.

The couple is documenting their baby journey on their website. They’ll welcome their daughter in the spring, and the parents-to-be are thrilled.

“I was obsessed with Barbie dolls and still have about thirty of them in a box, ” Rachelle says. “I can’t wait to give them to my little girl.”

And she’ll have more to give her daughter. Having won a boy-or-girl bet with Chris, Rachelle is already planning her shopping spree – for lots of girl baby clothes.

“Laurel says the baby is kicking a lot at night and that she has a strong kick,” Rachelle says. “I joke that I really wanted a girl, but that’s all we want, a healthy baby.”