“We’re so lucky and fortunate that this was able to happen for us," says daughter Breanna Lockwood
51-year-old Julie Loving is five months pregnant, with her daughter's baby. The thing is, Loving's daughter, Breanna Lockwood, struggled with infertility for years. She experienced four failed embryo transfers, two miscarriages, and an ectopic pregnancy. A dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure also left Lockwood with problematic scar tissue in her uterus. That's when she and her husband Aaron turned to the idea of using a gestational carrier. According to TODAY, a gestational carrier is someone who carries and delivers the biological child of someone else without using any of her own eggs or DNA.
Knowing of her daughter's struggles, Loving lovingly offered to become a “surrograndma” and serve as the gestational carrier for her 29-year-old daughter’s baby. “It’s been a textbook pregnancy,” Loving, who is 35 weeks along, said. “Everything’s been perfect.” Dr. Brian Kaplan of Fertility Centers of Illinois, said being a gestational carrier is something most Americans cannot afford. “It’s over $100,000.” Apparently, this wasn't the first time that Loving had offered to carry Lockwood's baby. She'd offered several times in the future, but Lockwood kept refusing.
“I was really in a sad place,” explained Lockwood, who lives in the Chicago area. “I knew she wanted to be helpful, but I just kept kind of saying no.” But, despite the rejection, Loving, a two-time Boston marathoner, and triathlon participant, kept persisting. She even went along with her daughter for a fertility agreement because Lockwood's husband couldn't. “In the car before the appointment, I had said, ‘Don’t say anything about it. Don’t make it weird,’” Lockwood said. Towards the end of the appointment, Loving hinted to Doctor Kaplan that she would like to be her daughter's gestational carrier.
“My immediate reaction was, ‘This is not a good thing,’” said Kaplan. He has performed more than 20,000 in vitro fertilization procedures in the span of his 29-year career. “Normally a gestational carrier should be under 40 years, but in medicine, you have to look at an individual and personalize it.” Without making any promises to the family, he decided to discuss with his colleagues and made Loving undergo rigorous tests. “We made her go through all these hoops to make sure she was as healthy as possible (and) as educated as possible about the risks involved,” Kaplan said.
“We took it very seriously. Each of the physicians that saw her agreed this was unique. This is not something we would do regularly or advise people to do. This was absolutely exceptional.” Loving, who passed the tests with flying colors, was given permission to be her daughter's gestational carrier. The family was about to grow bigger! “Fortunately she got pregnant the very first time with the very first embryo,” Kaplan said. “I’ve been with Breanna for years with so much trauma and intensity — the resilience was mind-boggling. If she did not have her mom, she wouldn't have a baby.”
Lockwood had been regularly sharing her infertility journey on Instagram, and she finally announced the good news. “I shared my fertility journey publicly with strangers, but I hadn’t shared it with personal acquaintances in my life,” she said. “I had that Instagram account where I connected with strangers I knew I’d never meet. The morning I was putting it up with my personal story for everyone to know, I was a nervous wreck.” Lockwood shared the announcement with the caption: Made with a lot of love, and a little bit of science... Baby Lockwood will be brought into this world via GESTATIONAL CARRIER, and this little miracle’s carrier is quite a special one. MY MOM.
This was met with kindness and happiness from people all over the world. “I would say 90% of the responses and feedback I get are fantastic and wonderful, but there are that 10% of internet trolls that have nasty things to say about whatever they can online,” Lockwood said. “I think a lot of it comes from lack of education where they don’t understand IVF or what a surrogate is, or they think this baby is my sister.” Loving's due date is inching closer and the mother-daughter duo is quite excited about it. “I’m so ready,” Lockwood said. “We’re so lucky and fortunate that this was able to happen for us.”