A grandmother who gave birth to her granddaughter in her sixties claimed it was ‘no different’ to when she had her own children 30 years ago – and admitted she’s been surprised by the publicity it’s generated as she didn’t think it was ‘that big a deal’.
Kind-hearted mother Cecile Eledge, 61, agreed to be a surrogate for her son Matthew, 32, and his husband Elliot Dougherty, 29, who were considering IVF to start a family after they wed in 2015.
Elliot’s sister Lea Yribe, 26, offered to donate her eggs and then Cecile suggested she carried the baby.
Despite having last given birth more than three decades ago – and going through the menopause 10 years ago – Cecile assured the couple that she ‘loved being pregnant’, and would ‘do it again in a heartbeat’.
After going through a series of medical tests, doctors deemed Cecile had the ‘body of a 40-year-old’ and she remarkably fell pregnant on the first attempt.
On March 25, Cecile gave birth naturally to Uma Louise Dougherty-Eledge at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, weighing five pounds and 13 ounces.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain today, Cecile told hosts Kate Garroway and Richard Madeley her pregnancy wasn’t much different to what she’d experienced in the past.
‘The morning sickness was more intense,’ she admitted. ‘It was funny because when I went to the doctor’s at the end they said, “Have you been having any contractions?” and I’m like, “I don’t think so,” but when we were in labour having the heavy contractions, I looked at my husband and was like, “Now I remember this!”
‘Once we had Uma and I had my granddaughter, I was not expecting so much publicity; to be truthful I didn’t think it was that big of a deal – any mom would do this.’
Asked whether she worried about being able to ‘hand over’ the child once she was born, Cecile said she never deterred from the feeling that this was her grandchild, not her daughter.
‘I was at the stage in my life when I no longer wanted children,’ she explained.
‘One of the coolest moments was, I was holding my other grandchild when I was four or five months pregnant, and it was the first time I felt Uma kick, and I thought, wow, not many grandparents can say, “I’m holding my grandchild here on earth and I have my other grandchild in my womb”.
‘That was just a cool memory and a moment I got to have that not a lot of people get to cherish.’
The trio revealed that Cecile offered to carry Matthew and Elliot’s baby over a family dinner one evening – and the couple thought she was joking.
Matthew recalled: ‘We’re from Nebraska, so for a queer couple, adoption and foster care were a little bit of a path we weren’t quite ready to navigate, so we decided we wanted to go for IVF.
‘When [Elliot’s] sister offered to donate her eggs, we were immediately excited by the option for a number of reasons, so we immediately said yes to that, then we were navigating how we would do the surrogacy; we had a conversation over family dinner and my mom volunteered.
‘At the time we thought it was a really kind gesture but we didn’t really think it was a realistic one. We laughed it off.
‘Then eventually when I was at the IVF clinic and talking different options I said it as a joke, off the cuff, and [the nurse] didn’t laugh so much and said, “Well that actually is a possibility,” so she asked if she was healthy and if she had a uterus, and so we started there.
‘From then on my mom had to go through a series of medical tests to see what her health would be like and she passed each test with flying colours.’
Cecile underwent a Pap smear, blood tests, cholesterol tests, stress tests, a mammogram and an ultrasound, all of which she passed easily by January 2018.
Additionally, the grandmother runs five miles every other day, is a regular cyclist and enjoys spending an hour on the elliptical machine, reported PEOPLE.
Cecile then underwent several hormone treatments. She began using estrogen in May 2018 to get her post-menopausal body to kick-start a menstrual cycle.
Using Matthew’s sperm, doctors implanted several fertilised eggs in Cecile’s uterus.
‘I loved being pregnant, and I knew I was healthy enough to do it, and [the offer] was something that naturally came out,’ Cecila revealed this morning.
‘After I said it you couldn’t take it back, it was too late, the deal was on the table!’
Matthew said his mother has refrained from interfering in their parenting of Uma, but said there is a ‘silent contract’ that they don’t move away.
‘Beyond that, she’s the type of individual that wanted to help us build a family and it was truly a selfless act,’ he explained.
Asked whether they’d experienced any negative reactions, Cecile said they kept their arrangement very private in the beginning, not because they were ’embarrassed or ashamed’, but because they weren’t sure what the outcome was going to be.
‘We were going outside the medical books, we weren’t doing the normal thing,’ Cecila observed.
‘High risk is usually around 40-45; you’re talking 20-something years past that, so we were very conservative during this whole process.’
Uma is fed with breast milk donated by one of the couple’s friends and Matthew stays home while Elliot works. Every Friday, Cecile and her husband, Kirk, babysit.
Matthew admitted that, despite feeling a ‘huge euphoric rush’ when Uma was born which made him want ‘a billion children’, five months with a crying newborn has changed his mind.
‘I’m like, I’m done,’ he joked.
Richard Madeley concluded by saying it was ‘one of the best interviews’ ever, revealing he intended to send a huge congratulations card signed by the GMB team to the family.
Many viewers were touched by the story, with some taking to Twitter to brand Cecile a ‘hero’.