Fifty-eight-year-old Julia Navarro of Provo, Utah, is about to become a grandmother for the first time. She’s as excited as most soon-to-be grandmothers are but she’s got a bit more invested already in this grandchild - a girl to be named Myla Juliette - than most grandmothers do. Navarro herself will be giving birth to Myla. Navarro is a surrogate mom carrying her daughter’s daughter.
Navarro’s daughter, Lorena, 32, and Lorena’s husband, Micah McKinnon, have wanted a baby for years. Lorena estimates she’s been pregnant as many as a dozen times but each pregnancy ended in miscarriage by the 10th week. They tried in vitro fertilization (IVF) and successfully harvested nine eggs. Embryos were created and implanted but the resulting pregnancy ended in miscarriage like the previous pregnancies.
The only two ways the McKinnons could become parents would be via adoption or surrogacy. They pursued surrogacy, adhering to every detail in the Utah Uniform Parentage Act of 2005, which strictly governs all aspects of surrogacy in the state.
Lorena asked a friend to be her surrogate but the challenge of meeting all the economic, medical, and legal requirements of state law proved to be too much for the friend. Lorena’s younger sister, Julissa Gonzales, who is childless and starting “to feel baby hungry” herself considered it but Lorena would not allow her sister to bear her first child knowing it would be raised by someone else.
Her daughter’s battle with infertility eventually began taking its toll on Lorena’s mother. She was so ready for her daughter to become a mother she volunteered for surrogacy duties herself.
Navarro proved to be physically fit for the challenge and met the economic and legal requirements for surrogacy in Utah but 12 years of menopause meant three months of daily hormone shots she administered herself. Until just recently, as her pregnancy has advanced, Navarro has maintained her three 12-hour shifts each week as a nurse’s aide at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
Navarro’s age meant only a 45 percent chance of success but the very first of her daughter’s previously prepared embryos took hold and started to grow. The McKinnons moved in with Navarro so they could help her through the pregnancy. All members of the household - Navarro, Lorena, and Micah - have undergone counseling to prepare emotionally for Baby Myla’s arrival.
In addition to working well into the pregnancy, Navarro reports no strange food cravings, no morning sickness, and no other typical discomforts of pregnancy. Her only (very minor) complaint is that sometimes her daughter, who’s never been pregnant for long, searches the internet for safe pregnancy tips and then expects her mom to follow them all. Navarro has had to remind her that she’s already had two perfectly healthy daughters herself and knows how to do it this time, too.
She feels no sense of possession with this pregnancy, though, which makes it different from her previous pregnancies. Instead, Navarro describes a profound sense of responsibility coming from this rare opportunity.
Micah McKinnon comes from a large family; he’s #7 of eight kids and he wants a big family, too. There are five more of the couple’s embryos in storage for future use. Will Grandma do this again? Probably not, since she’ll be too busy enjoying the life of a very happy grandmother.
Source: Stack, Peggy Fletcher. “A ‘grand’ parent: Utah mom to give birth to daughter’s daughter.” The Salt Lake Tribune. Media News Group. Jan 7, 2014. Web. Jan 15, 2014.