A 61-year-old woman serving as the gestational surrogate for her son and his husband gave birth to her own granddaughter last week.
The woman, Cecile Eledge, delivered the nearly 6-pound baby, Uma Louise Dougherty-Eledge, at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha at 6:06 a.m. last Monday.
After her son, Matthew Eledge, and his husband, Elliot Dougherty, decided to expand their family, Dougherty’s sister, Lea Yribe, offered to donate her eggs. The couple planned to find another surrogate to deliver the child, but they found the process confusing and weren’t completely confident about navigating in vitro fertilization as gay men.
“Nebraska is a bit more conservative, and we were hesitant to go into agencies, and had a bit of fear that maybe some things would hold us back being a gay couple,” Matthew Eledge said.
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That’s when Cecile offered to be the couple’s gestational carrier.
“I just never hesitated,” she said. “I was just so excited to be able to be part of this adventure with them. … It was just unconditional love.”
At first, her son was skeptical. Was a 61-year-old woman in a position to deliver a baby?
“I put my foot in my mouth,” Matthew Eledge recalled. “I told her, ‘Mom, you’re postmenopausal. … You can’t do that, right?’”
But according to doctors, she could. After they gave her a clean bill of health and the go-ahead, the whole family prepared for the pregnancy.
“It was really exciting to know that my mom and dad and whole ancestry and family lineage were going to be a part of her,” Dougherty said of his baby daughter.
Dougherty lost his own mother recently, but he’s found comfort in seeing how much Uma resembles his family.
“I was feeding her, and it was early, and she wasn't eating very fast, and I just looked at her face, and I saw my mom's face there,” Dougherty said. “In a way it just felt like I was taking care of my sweet mom.”
Dougherty and Matthew Eledge said they anticipate difficult conversations and narrow-minded reactions over Uma’s unconventional birth story, but the couple is prepared to explain the circumstances to Uma when she gets older.
“I’ll tell her Aunt Lea gave a piece of her,” Matthew Eledge said. “She gave a seed to start the gift of life, and her grandmother provided the loving garden for her to bloom, and I think that’s gorgeous.”