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- Jul 2012
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Woman gives birth to her own grandchild
A GRANDMOTHER has given birth to her own daughter's baby girl - after cancer forced the young would-be mum to seek a surrogate.
Cindy Reutzel, 53, delivered the healthy tot, named Elle, this week.
Her daugher Emily Jordan and husband Mike had given up all hope of having their own kids after Emily was diagnosed with cervical cancer just over two years ago.
Then 29, Emily was about to undergo a radical hysterectomy when she was told she was pregnant.
Faced with saving her own life or their unborn child's, the young couple made the excruciating decision to go forward with her surgery. It meant losing the baby, and forfeiting any chance to become parents.
Or so they thought.
Emily's mum Cindy had heard of older female surrogates so when doctors shared the good news that they had been able to save Emily's ovaries, she immediately made the offer in Chicago, USA.
“What if I carried your baby for you?” she asked.
Emily and Mike didn't take it too seriously at first. “We didn't really think that was a realistic option,” says Emily, who works in hospital administration.
But after a process that included psychological evaluation and hormonal manipulation to prepare their bodies, doctors eventually implanted Cindy's uterus with an embryo created with an egg from Emily and Mike's sperm.
It was no easy process, with a regime of hormonal injections, interrupted work schedules and cancelled holidays.
But Cindy was committed to the cause. She said: "The thought of Emily and Mike not being able to have children and share that piece of their lives with someone just broke my heart.
“I want Emily to have that connection with another human being like I had with her."
As her bump grew, people started asking about “her baby". But she was quick to tell them the unlikely story that this was not her baby; she was Grandma.
Admittedly, she says, she worried about the physical toll pregnancy might take, though her body handled it better than she expected.
She also wondered how well she'd bounce back from a Caesarean section. That's how she had delivered Emily and her older brother, but that had been three decades ago.
Still, she reassured Emily and Mike throughout the pregnancy that the baby was fine, she was fine, everything would be fine.
Mike often teased his mother-in-law when they'd take her to dinner or do something nice for her.
“Are we even yet?” he'd ask.
“Not yet,” she'd reply, laughing.
In truth, Mike and Emily knew there would really be no way to repay the incredible gesture.
Emily said: "This is a continuation of everything that she has done her entire life for me, which is to make sure that I have the best life possible.”
Cindy downplays her role, adding: “I know I gave a gift. But I'm also getting so much in return.”
Last week, a few days after Emily's 32nd birthday, daughter sat next to mother, holding hands in the delivery room and Elle Cynthia Jordan was born.
“She looks just like you! She looks just like you!” Emily shouted, running from the delivery room to introduce their newborn to Mike.
Cindy is now recovering well and even says she'd consider doing it AGAIN.
“When I watch both of them hold that baby and look into her face, it's like everything I could have imagined wanting for them - better than I could have imagined,” she says, her eyes filling with tears.
“This is what it was all about for me.”
Hoping to be a student midwife in 2013!