When Lorena McKinnon, 32, began to accept that she may not be able to become pregnant, her mother Julia Navarro, 58, decided to do anything in her power to make her daughter’s dreams come true, even if that meant giving birth to her own granddaughter. Navarro is currently serving as gestational surrogate for her daughter Lorena and husband Micah McKinnon, and she says the unusual situation has actually brought the two closer.
"The psychologists wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting into — that we were mentally prepared," McKinnon told The Salt Lake Tribune. "Mostly, surrogacy contracts are with people you don’t know. It was weird to have a contract with my mom."
Gestational surrogates or gestational carriers enter an arrangement with another woman to carry and give birth to her child usually due to infertility. Eggs from the woman are fertilized than implanted in the surrogate to produce an embryo through in vitro fertilization (IVF). To qualify as a gestational surrogate, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends a complete review of the surrogate's medical history and a physical examination including a test for any viral infections such as HIV or hepatitis.
McKinnon and her husband, who married in 2005, began to consider the possibility of children around three years ago. While Mckinnon had no problem getting pregnant, she suffered close to a dozen miscarriages and began to doubt her family’s future. After IVF failed, the couple was left with either of two options: adoption or pregnancy. Unfortunately, a friend of McKinnon and her sister, Julissa Gonzales, decided they could not carry a child for someone so close to them, Navarro put her name in the running.
"As a family, we have to help each other," Navarro told The Salt Lake Tribune.
After Lorena accepted her mother’s offer, the long process of getting Navarro ready for surrogacy began. A complete physical examination, especially focused on cardiovascular risks and reproductive health, revealed no major health complications, and she was ready for three months of hormone injections to get her body ready for pregnancy. In spite of a successful physical exam and three months of hormone shots, doctors warned both McKinnon and her mother that the process had a 55 percent failure rate at her advanced age.
Thankfully, the first implanted embryo took hold and Navarro was pregnant with her granddaughter. Following the successful implantation, McKinnon and her husband decided to move in with Navarro to help her throughout the pregnancy. Although surrogacy usually costs a couple upward of $60,000, Lorena estimates she has saved $30,000 by enlisting her mother’s help. Navarro is expected to deliver her daughter’s daughter this coming February.