One of the world’s most photographed models, mum-of-two Caprice Bourret talks to Jessica Jonzen about her new autobiography, business feat and surrogacy success
There are times, when deep in the trenches with small children and wild-eyed with exhaustion, that it can be easy to forget what a miracle it is to be a mother. For the women lucky enough to conceive naturally and have uncomplicated pregnancies and births, it can be even easier to forget. But sometimes we are reminded when we hear about the extraordinary lengths that some women will go to in order to become a mother. Caprice Bourret – the supermodel turned business woman – has one such story.
“You couldn’t make it up,” she laughs over the chatter of her two-year-old sons, Jax and Jett at her Notting Hill home. Her boys are not twins as one would assume, but were born just one month apart. “They truly are miracle babies,” she says.
Now 43, Caprice spent her twenties and thirties pursuing her modelling and presenting career in London, dating ‘playboys’, footballers and rock stars. She lived a glamorous life but didn’t meet the man she wanted to have a family with until she was 39. Ty Comfort, a London-based financier six years her senior, had three children from his previous marriage but understood Caprice’s need for a child of her own. After only a few months of dating, they moved in together and started trying for a baby around her 40th birthday. But hope turned to despair when she miscarried twins. Caprice recalls it in her new autobiography: “Through the curtain of physical pain the word ‘twins’ filtered into my awareness and as I lay there in agony, my heart felt as though it were breaking… I cannot possibly explain the feelings of loss and sadness.”
In the spring of 2012, the couple sought the help of a fertility doctor in America with a staggering success rate. The doctor identified that the lining of her womb was unusually thin, meaning an embryo would find it difficult to embed itself. In order for IVF to have a chance of success, Caprice was given oestrogen injections to increase the thickness of the lining by around 1mm a day until the environment was right for an embryo to be implanted. However, three attempts failed and the doctor made a suggestion: a surrogate. Caprice was still producing healthy eggs. A ‘gestational carrier’ could carry Caprice and Ty’s biological child. The couple had their concerns, but as time marched on, their window of opportunity became smaller and smaller and they decided to find a surrogate in America.
“We would have done it [surrogacy] in England but the laws in this country say that even though it’s your biological child, the carrier could take your child away – they have more rights than in the USA so you have to be very careful, and that’s why I went to the States,” Caprice says. “It also meant my carrier could get on with her pregnancy in peace, away from the media.”
After rigorous questioning and screening, they found a woman who suited them perfectly. A 32-year-old, mum-of-four who had decided that while her own family was complete, she wanted to give the gift of motherhood to another woman. Caprice is fiercely protective of her surrogate’s privacy and calls her ‘Tina’ in her book. ‘Tina’ even contributed a chapter about her experience. Tina was impregnated with twin embryos – a boy and a girl. Delighted but discombobulated as her children grew in another woman’s womb 2,000 miles away, Caprice threw herself into work and was training rigorously for TV show Splash! with Tom Daley when something truly miraculous happened: Caprice had conceived a baby.
She’s clearly still amazed, and she recalls finding out, “I did test after test after test because I just couldn’t believe it. I had really looked after myself, though. I had detoxed, had no caffeine, no alcohol, took folic acid and 31 vitamins a day and was exercising regularly, so I had really taken care of myself for five years, but trust me it was totally against all the odds,” she says. Sadly, Caprice’s surrogate lost one of the babies – a girl. “But we ended up with two beautiful, healthy biological boys so it is such a blessing”, she says tearfully.
Tina agreed to eat an entirely organic diet and was in touch with Caprice throughout her pregnancy, and they have maintained a strong bond ever since. In the summer of 2013, the couple flew to the States for the arrival of their sons and their first child’s birth was nothing short of extraordinary. “There I was with my mom, my sister and Ty and my carrier’s husband in the theatre, and I was having my first child while I was eight months pregnant,” she says incredulously. “I was holding my carrier’s hand and the second my son came out I cut the umbilical cord and stripped off all my clothes and he stopped crying the second he touched my skin – and that was my bond. That moment was unbelievable, it was one of the best moments of my life.”
To Caprice’s amazement, her carrier then started taking pictures. “She had just popped my first child out and then she started taking pictures of us! It was really special.” The new family stayed in the States where about a month later Caprice delivered their second son by caesarean section. “I breastfed them both straight away so my first son had to wait a month but he still got my colostrum,” she says proudly.
Initially, Caprice hadn’t wanted to talk about her experience and she still feels strongly about never revealing to the public which son was via the surrogate. “Surrogacy is still taboo – it’s not traditional and there are not a lot of women who have gone down my road,” she explains. But The Sun found out what was going on while Caprice and her carrier were pregnant and told her they were going to publish the story. “I was scared people were going to ridicule me, and even more so, I was scared for my children. I don’t want them to go through that and they shouldn’t have to. I could have been litigious but then the story would still be on the internet forever so Ty and I decided to be open about it. The support I got was overwhelming.”
This led to her writing her autobiography along with a ghostwriter which recounts her childhood in California, her first modelling jobs and that fateful move to London back in 1996 – and it was here that she made her name and graced more than 300 magazine covers. It’s a fun read, but the chapters about her quest to become a mother are searingly honest and eloquent.
What advice does she have for women who want to have a family? “If you’re thinking about it, please, don’t just think – act,” she says. “I wish I’d thought about it at 30 rather than 35.”
Today, Caprice juggles her successful business By Caprice, which includes her lingerie, swimwear and bedding lines, with running around after her two boys. “Sleep isn’t part of the equation – you learn not to sleep and you have to be wonder woman,” she laughs. “We just have to get on with it and figure out how to make it work. It’s empowering because mothers are the glue of our families – if we’re good then our family is solid. I moved my office to my house recently and that’s really helped.” A good work-life balance is high on Caprice’s agenda, and she is keen to inspire others as she continues to share her vision in many influential speeches.
This autumn, she launches her By Caprice home line (stockists include Very, House of Fraser online and Look Again); a new mummy blog; and in early 2016 an interactive children’s playcentre. “It’s so hard to find a good one – I want to be able to sit down in a nice area and see my children, and not have to run after them all the time, a place where you can meet other mummies and a place where my kids are going to be educated as well as entertained. Everything that I saw and experienced as a first-time mum, I want to cater to, as I know what is needed.”
Caprice – My Boys, My Body, My Business is published by BLINK Reality.
£16.99 at capricebourret.com