By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — When Breanna Lockwood’s first child, a girl, is born in November, Lockwood and her mom, Julie Loving, plan to tell the girl that she was “wanted so much that we did everything we could to bring you into the world.”
The newborn will be the biological child of Lockwood and her husband, Aaron, but she is being carried in pregnancy by Loving, who is serving as the gestational surrogate for her daughter.
“I feel like my mom is the closest place to home she can be rather than my own body,” Lockwood, 29, of Illinois, told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “My mom wants to be a grandma just as much as I want to be a mom so she’s doing everything she can.”
Lockwood, a dental hygienist, and her husband, Aaron, began trying for a baby almost immediately after they wed in 2016 because Lockwood’s grandfather was terminally ill and she wanted him to meet his great-grandchild. After one year of trying naturally without success, Lockwood began seeing a fertility specialist.
Nearly two years later, after multiple rounds of in vitro fertilization, multiple surgeries and several miscarriages, including a pregnancy with twins, Lockwood’s fertility doctor told her that she would need to start considering surrogacy, because although her embryos were healthy, her uterus was unable to withstand a pregnancy.
“Struggling with infertility was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through,” said Lockwood. “When you have a plan for your life and then something like infertility gets in the way, I felt like I couldn’t see what I pictured anymore, that it could be taken away from me.”
Lockwood’s doctor, Brian Kaplan, of Fertility Centers of Illinois, suggested that finding a family member or friend to act as her surrogate would be a good option as the cost of a surrogate through an agency can be more than $100,000.
Lockwood never thought her surrogate could be her 51-year-old mom, even though Loving was on board from the start and was the one who suggested the idea to her daughter.
“I’ve run 19 marathons and done many triathlons,” said Loving, who also has a 27-year-old son. “I felt like health-wise I could do it and I had really easy pregnancies with my two kids.”
“Once she had the miscarriage with the twins I started to talk to her about it,” she said. “She was not on board and thought I was crazy, but I just kept pursuing it.”
Loving’s idea started to become a reality when she accompanied her daughter to an appointment with Kaplan for the first time several months ago.
“My mom came with me as my support person and she brought up that she wanted to carry,” recalled Lockwood. “When he met her I could tell that he was really starting to think about it as a possibility, but he didn’t tell us yes right away. There were a lot of hoops we had to jump through to make it possible.”
Kaplan said he remembers looking at Loving and thinking, “How can I look this women in the eye and say, ‘You’re not healthy.’ You’re healthier than everybody here.”
After that visit, Loving started a series of tests and was seen by five specialists, including Kaplan as well as a high-risk obstetrician, her own OBGYN, her primary care physician and a psychologist.
“She got past all of us with flying colors,” Kaplan told GMA. “I think it’s very important for me as a physician and for this field for people to know this is not routine and not everybody can use their mom. It has to be a unique situation.”
Because of Lockwood’s past disappointments, the family did not get their hopes up that Loving would successfully become the gestational carrier, instead taking things week by week and test by test.
Even when Loving had a successful embryo transfer on the first try in February, and became pregnant with her granddaughter in March, the family held their breath, according to Lockwood.
“Even when we got the positive pregnancy test result we couldn’t jump for joy yet because we’d had so many losses and so much trauma,” she said. “Just now, halfway through the pregnancy, we’re starting to get excited and shop and plan.”
Loving is due on Nov. 12. She said she has had a relatively smooth pregnancy so far and has been spoiled by Lockwood, whom she sees daily.
“She’s been very helpful,” said Loving. “She’s always spoiling me with clothes and making sure I’m comfortable and have everything I need.”
Adding to Lockwood and Loving’s unique pregnancy story is the fact that Loving’s pregnancy was confirmed in early March, about one week before the country largely shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Loving has taken a leave of absence from her job at a grocery store in order to try to stay as safe as possible. Lockwood described practically wrapping her mom “in bubble wrap” so that nothing could go wrong.
“We’re just doing what we can at this crazy time in the world,” said Lockwood. “With doctor’s appointments, I have been able to attend every appointment, but sometimes I have to really beg to let me go. My husband hasn’t been allowed to so we video everything we can and fill him in on everything when we get back to the car.”
Loving is creating a baby book for her granddaughter during her pregnancy so she can one day show her all the love and dedication that brought her into this world.
“We’re going to be really open with her at a really young age and tell her when we feel like she can understand,” said Loving. “And just tell her the truth.”
Kaplan, Lockwood’s fertility doctor, said that in his nearly three decades of medicine, this is the first mother-daughter surrogate birth he’s handled.
“After 29 years, I was taught a lesson,” he said. “I was taught about family strength. You can see the intensity of their family and their unity and love. It’s really humbling as a physician.”
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