Julie Loving had already gone through childbirth twice. She was an empty-nester and done with menopause. Basically, she was home free! So why would she ever put herself through the hormonal and physical challenge of becoming a surrogate mother at age 51? Out of extraordinary love for her 29-year-old daughter, Breanna Lockwood, who is unable to carry a child herself.
Breanna and her mother are on “the wildest ride of our lives,” Breanna wrote on her Instagram account, where she is chronicling the pregnancy. “We are so grateful for my mom and that we were given this opportunity,” she continues, the “we” in this case being Breanna and her husband Aaron. “She’s pushing reproductive science out of the box, as ONE of only a handful of surrogates NATIONWIDE to deliver their grandchild via gestational surrogacy!”
OK, are you feeling like an inadequate mom yet? As in, what have YOU done for YOUR kids lately?
Who Does This?
Breanna Lockwood, a dental hygienist, has kept track of what she’s been through in her quest to have a child:
64 blood draws⠀
7 surgical procedures ⠀
3 rounds of harvesting eggs⠀
19 frozen embryos ⠀
8 IVF frozen embryo transfers total⠀
4 failed embryo transfers⠀
1 singleton miscarriage⠀
1 twin miscarriage ⠀
1 ectopic pregnancy ⠀
What mother wouldn’t ache for her daughter, watching her suffer like this?
“In the past few years, I saw my daughter’s beautiful eyes begin to fill with despair and pain as her dreams of being a mother seemed to slowly slip away from her and I knew I could help if she wanted me to,” Julie wrote in an Instagram post, explaining what she tells people who ask her why she has done this.
But what mother would then volunteer to do what her child’s body cannot? The first few times Julie said she would carry a baby for her, Breanna dismissed the idea with an appropriate “Are you crazy?” But Julie was persistent, which is in keeping with the set-a-goal-and-go-for-it trait that has helped her finish triathlons and the Boston Marathon in 2016 and 2018. Says Breanna: “She is in tip top shape, better health than she was in her 20s when she gave birth to me!”
We do believe that’s very possible, being in the best shape of your life at this age, but most fertility clinics don’t acknowledge this. Breanna reports that many IVT clinics have a cut-off age of 45, but after her mother passed a battery of tests (blood work, stress test, psychological examination), she got the OK.
How Does a Post-Menopausal Woman Get Pregnant?
To get Julie’s body ready to carry a baby, the doctor had to take her out of menopause using hormone therapy. Back through the looking glass. Then, back in February, an unspecified number of the frozen embryos Breanna and her husband had waiting were implanted. And one embryo took to its grandmother’s womb.
At the time Julie got pregnant, her daughter and son-in-law were living with her and her husband (who has been very supportive through the process, mom and daughter say). “It was tight quarters but all worked out so nicely,” Breanna wrote in a post. “Aaron and I were able to be hands on with all injections and appointments! Anddddd got to spend our quarantined first trimester together on the couch right next to mama.” The young couple has since bought their own home.
Breanna’s Instagram account shows photos of her and her mom rejoicing over a positive pregnancy test, displaying an ultrasound print out (where they learned the baby is a girl), and shopping for baby goods. There are also beautiful posed shots of mother and daughter alone and with dad-to-be Aaron. In all the photos, Julie truly glows, whether she’s cupping her bump in a pale pink dress that was chosen by Breanna or getting a pedicure from her daughter at week 27, which Breanna declares is “when you officially can’t see your toes any longer.”
The only major symptom Julie has felt, according to Breanna, is feeling “superrr tired!” She continuted: “I mean really, in that first trimester i’ve never seen a person sleep so much!” Julie has also reported heartburn and waking up every two hours in the later stages of her pregnancy. How would you like to return to that?
Julie’s also had a craving for sweets. “She has dreams about eating cake every night! Had a dream her couch was made of cake and she was trying to eat the whole arm of the couch. Hilarious,” Breanna reports.
To Delivery and Beyond
Distance-runner Julie calls this pregnancy “a different type of marathon,” one with a finish line coming up in November. As Aaron and Breanna Lockwood get the nursery ready, Julie is getting bigger, more uncomfortable, and enjoying feeling the kicks of her granddaughter.
“I still have no regrets in this whole process,” she wrote in her most recent post. “Seeing my little girl’s happiness come back makes it all worth it.”
All three are getting psyched for the big day. After a visit to the hospital, Breanna wrote that “the nurses answered all our questions and we discussed a `birth plan.” I put that in quotes and say it lightly because we don’t have any expectations and plan to just go with the flow. With the exception of mom saying, `Epidural please.’ Haha and I absolutely agree! Whew!”
Some traditional delivery room customs had to be re-thought. “We talked about who the baby would go to first, and we’ve always discussed she will go straight to me. Talking about how that will look in the delivery room had me and my mama’s eyes swelling up a bit. We are sometimes so alike it’s scary.” And now so bonded as well.
We can’t wait to see a photo of three generations of women, brought together by love, science, and sacrifice. And can we just say, Will there ever be a grandmother who’s closer to her grandchild?