51-Year-Old Grandmother Prepares to Give Birth to Her First Grandchild – Chicago Parent

Well have a lot to talk about, Loving says.

Earlier this year, the 51-year-old Chicago-area woman became the gestational carrier of her first grandchild for her 29-year-old daughter, Breanna Lockwood. On Feb. 25, an embryo from one of Lockwoods eggs and her husbands sperm was implanted into Lovings uterus.

And then the world shut down, Lockwood recalls, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two years ago, after Lockwoods miscarriage of twins, her mother brought up the idea of carrying a baby for her.

Ill happily do it, Loving told her daughter.

I told her, Oh Mom, no, but thank you, Lockwood says. I laughed off the idea at first.

Lockwood and her husband, Aaron, are high school sweethearts who married in 2016. Aaron was initially leery about the idea, concerned for the health of his mother-in-law and the future of his first child. His hesitation eventually gave way to hope.

I think this is going to work, he told his wife.

I think so too, she replied.

Dr. Brian Kaplan, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, performed the highly atypical procedure at Fertility Centers of Illinois.

Its a very, very uncommon situation, he says. And it shouldnt be common.

Most surrogate women are under age 40, not over 50 with two adult children.

But this is a reflection of Julies remarkable health, Kaplan says.

Loving has run nine marathons, including the Boston Marathon twice, in addition to many years of bicycling, swimming and triathlon competitions. Before the implant procedure in February, she was running up to 50 miles a week.

Being healthy and eating healthy allowed me to do this for my daughter, Loving says.

Kaplan resisted when she first introduced the idea. He then had her checked out by a handful of medical specialists, including a high-risk obstetrician and psychologist, before proceeding with the implant procedure.

This is an exceptional case, without a doubt. However, all the checks and balances were done carefully, Kaplan says. I wanted to make sure we lowered the risks as much as possible.

Lovings pregnancy has since been described as textbook, unlike her daughters multiple attempts at pregnancy, which were anything but storybook.

What Breanna went through to even get to this point is remarkable, Kaplan says.

Over the course of 1,311 days, Lockwood underwent 476 injections, 64 blood draws, seven surgical procedures, eight in-vitro fertilization frozen embryo transfers, four failed transfers, one singleton miscarriage, one twin miscarriage, one ectopic pregnancy, and three rounds of harvesting eggs producing 19 frozen embryos.

And countless tears, she says.

The implant procedure with her mother was deemed a success story, though with understandable cautiousness. The Lockwoods held their breath and counted their blessings as Loving carried their unborn baby girl through the first trimester, then the second. On June 5, Lockwood posted photos of her mother with a baby bump belly.

Baby Lockwood will be brought into this world via gestational carrier, and this little miracles carrier is quite a special one. MY MOM, Lockwood wrote. Made with a lot of love and a little bit of science. They say, It takes a village to raise a child, but for some it can take a village to HAVE a child.

The biggest supporter in my life is giving us our biggest blessing, she wrote. Defying the odds at 51 years old, shes pushing reproductive medicine out of the box as one of only a handful of surrogates nationwide to deliver their grandchild via gestational surrogacy! She is the pure example of you would do anything for your kids, and if I can even be half of the mother she is, I know Im doing something right.

Lockwood soon heard from thousands of well-wishers from around the world.

Never in a million years did I expect to receive so many touching messages of women struggling with infertility and loss, she posted two days later. Dont be ashamed of your story, it will inspire others.

Her story immediately inspired other couples struggling with IVF challenges, who asked Lockwood, Why didnt I ever think of that? She replied rhetorically, Whats the difference between having a sister carry your baby or your mom carry your baby?

Loving and her daughter became media darlings with an appearance on Good Morning America and stories in multiple publications including The Washington Post.

We didnt expect any of this media attention, Lockwood says.

She began receiving baby shower gifts from strangers, selected from her online registry and delivered to her front porch. Its been overwhelming, she says.

An Instagram page was created to share the details of the pregnancy with more than 80,000 followers, atinstagram.com/ivf.surrogacy.diary. One detail that wasnt shared the name of Baby Lockwood, due on Nov. 12.

Only a few members of our family know, Lockwood says.

Shes been discreetly asked, Are you going to someday have more children? Its a possibility. The couple has eight more frozen embryos available. Would Loving carry a second baby? Lets first see how this one goes, she tells her daughter with a laugh.

In early October, Loving was feeling very pregnant.

Its getting a little uncomfortable, she says. I dont remember being so uncomfortable when I was pregnant with Breanna and her brother. This is a completely different experience. A lot more stress. And a pandemic. Its been a scary journey.

Lovings husband has done all the shopping and public interactions throughout her pregnancy. Hes been so supportive of everything, she says.

During the early stage of the pregnancy, Lockwood and her husband lived with her mother and father. They now live 15 minutes away from each other. The baby girl will be the first grandchild for both sides of the family.

She will be spoiled, Lockwood says.

Lockwood looks forward to someday joining her mother and her infant daughter for their neighborhood strolls together. Loving already has a jogging stroller ready to go.

Were going to tell her about all this pregnancy at a young age, Loving says.

It wont be a major sit-down moment, Lockwood adds. Well answer her questions as nonchalantly as possible.

Someday, when shes in school and asked to share a fun fact about herself, she will tell the other students how she came to be. It will be a mic-drop moment.

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This article also appeared in Chicago Parent'sholiday 2020 magazine.

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