It is evident from Cecile Eledge that a mother’s love never wanes. The mother gave birth to her granddaughter, Uma Louise Dougherty-Eledge, after giving of herself to serve as a surr.ogate for Matthew and his husband’s child.
Matthew Eedge, 32, and Elliot Dougherty, 29, both from Nebraska in the United States, wished to begin a family and have kids. They didn’t seriously consider surrogacy as a viable option when Matthew’s mother, Cecile, offered to be their su.rrogate when they first started thinking about IVF. She said to Matthew, “If you want me to be the sur.rogate.” “In a heartbeat, I’d do it.”
Cecile Eedge was ᴘᴏsᴛᴍᴇɴᴏᴘᴀᴜsᴀʟ and in her 60s, so they weren’t sure if it could be done. When Dr. Carolyn Maud Doherty was presented with the proposal, she said it was worth a try. And after a series of tests, Cecile was approved to be a ᴄᴀʀʀɪᴇʀ. Doherty said that Cecile’s case is something of an outlier.
The doctor stressed that it’s important for people to realize that not everyone in their 60s is healthy enough to be a ᴡᴏᴍʙ sᴜʀʀᴏɢᴀᴛᴇ and that there are probably only a handful of people in the entire country who can do this, only a handful of people who have made it.
After Cecile was evaluated and approved, the couple used an ᴇᴍʙʀʏᴏ made up of an ᴇɢɢ donated by Dougherty’s sister, Lea Yribe, 25, and Matthew’s sᴘᴇʀᴍ. They used ɪɴ ᴠɪᴛʀᴏ ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴢᴀᴛɪᴏɴ, a process by which an ᴇɢɢ is ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴢᴇᴅ by sᴘᴇʀᴍ outside a woman’s body.
And 9 months later, on Monday, March 25, Cecile – at age 61 – delivered her own granddaughter. The family welcomed a healthy baby girl named Uma, weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces. And photographer Ariel Panowicz was there to capture the powerful birth.
Matthew, who lost his job as a Catholic school teacher in 2015 for being ɢᴀʏ, told that there is still work ahead. “It’s a bit ᴇᴍʙᴀʀʀᴀssɪɴɢ, my mom and I are ʟᴇɢᴀʟʟʏ Uma’s parents. Nebraska requires that the sᴘᴇʀᴍ ᴅᴏɴᴏʀ be the father and the person delivering the baby be the “mother,” even if she is not biologically related to the child. This looks really creepy to us.
But as of now, the couple is happy with their newborn. In addition, they are surrounded by the love and support of family and friends, including one who recently had a baby of her own and has offered to ꜰʀᴇᴇᴢᴇ and store her ʙʀᴇᴀsᴛ ᴍɪʟᴋ for Uma.
“Growing up as a weird, gay kid, I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better woman to raise me. She loved me unconditionally, she fiercely protected me from the world and never once did she sʜᴀᴍᴇ or ᴊᴜᴅɢᴇ me for who I truly was,” Matthew says. “Now, as a grown man, she still continues to be my guardian angel, as she has carried and nurtured our child for the first nine months of her life.”
For Dougherty, the whole experience has also been a “pinch me” moment. “It has been such a beautiful journey. We are so incredibly grateful,” he says on Facebook. “I can’t even begin to describe and capture all of the feelings I have… What an honor it is to have these two women in our life. What a beautiful gift this has all been.”
Although unusual, the case of Cecile Eedge is not the first in which a woman gives birth to her own grandchild, nor is she the oldest. In 1987, Pat Anthony, 48, gave birth to his daughter’s triplets in South Africa. In 1996, Edith Jones, 51, became the UK’s first sᴜʀʀᴏɢᴀᴛᴇ grandmother, helping her daughter and her son-in-law become parents. In 2016, the Greek Anastassia Ontou became, at 67, the oldest known woman to ɢᴇsᴛᴀᴛᴇ for another person, in this case her daughter.
One thing’s for sure: Baby Uma is so incredibly loved. Congrats to the whole family on their precious new addition!