But today, there was someone else with a growing baby bump on the examination table: Lockwood’s 51-year-old mother, carrying her daughter’s baby.
After Lockwood, 29, battled infertility for several years, Julie Loving, her mother, insisted on carrying her baby for her.
Loving is Lockwood’s gestational surrogate, meaning an embryo made from Lockwood’s egg and her husband’s sperm was implanted into Loving’s uterus in February. She is now five months pregnant.
For Loving, the decision to carry her daughter’s child was obvious, she said.
“Breanna had wanted to be a mom since she was little,” Loving said. “When you see your child struggling with infertility, you do whatever you can to help.”
In the past four years, Lockwood has endured 476 injections, eight in vitro fertilization embryo transfers, seven surgeries, two miscarriages — including one with twins — and an ectopic pregnancy. It eventually became clear that she would probably never carry her own child.
Lockwood and her husband, who live in Chicago, were high school sweethearts and married in 2016. They planned to wait a year before starting a family, but when Lockwood’s grandfather became terminally ill, they started trying for a baby in the hopes that he could meet his great-grandchild.
But the couple learned that getting pregnant would not be easy for them. After months of unsuccessful attempts, they visited Brian Kaplan, a doctor who is a fertility specialist at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
“We went through multiple IVF cycles, and she got pregnant a few times, but miscarried every time,” Kaplan said.
From early on, Loving began considering the possibility of being a surrogate for her daughter and son-in-law.
“After the first miscarriage, I mentioned to my husband that if she continued to struggle with fertility, I would be her surrogate,” said Loving, adding that she hadn’t brought up the idea with her daughter.
That changed when Lockwood miscarried a set of twins at the end of her first trimester.
In December 2018, Lockwood brought her mother along for what she thought would be a routine ultrasound appointment. At 11 weeks pregnant with twins, she thought all was well.
During the appointment, though, they were given the painful news that neither baby had a heartbeat.
“That was traumatizing for both of us,” Lockwood said.
Her mother agreed: “That was a devastating day for me."
Lockwood was recommended to undergo a dilation and curettage, a surgical procedure performed after a miscarriage to remove the fetuses. She was warned of the slim chance that her uterus would be damaged.
“I was among the small percentage of women who are left with permanent infertility,” Lockwood said.
Given the damage to her uterus, Kaplan confirmed that there was a very slim chance she would be able to get pregnant, stay pregnant or have a full-term baby.
That was Lockwood’s breaking point.
“My mental health was terrible,” she said. “I couldn’t get out of bed and was really struggling with that fact that I might never have my own child and definitely would never carry my own child. It was a grieving process for almost a year.”
Aaron Lockwood, 28, suffered, too. “Going through the hard years of infertility and appointments was grueling,” he said.
Then, Kaplan recommended surrogacy, since the couple already went through the process of harvesting and freezing several embryos.
But the Lockwoods learned that the process comes with a hefty price tag, running as high as $200,000 to cover the surrogate’s medical expenses, IVF clinic fees and legal and surrogacy agency fees.
Since the cost was too much for them, the alternative surrogacy option was to ask a family member or friend to carry the baby — which, Lockwood knew, was no small or simple request.
“I don’t have any sisters or friends who would be a good candidate for a surrogate,” Lockwood said. “That’s when my mom started saying, ‘Well, what about me?’ ”
Loving, who is an athlete and has completed two Boston marathons, felt she was still fit enough to carry a baby. At first, Lockwood wasn’t in favor of the idea, but after speaking with Kaplan, they decided to run some tests.
“Normally, surrogates are under 45 years old,” Kaplan said. “But I look at each case individually. You can have a woman who is 35 and very unhealthy, and a woman who is 55 and very healthy.”
After a slew of tests, screening procedures and consultations with several specialists — including a high-risk obstetrician, a gynecologist, an internist and a psychologist — Loving was cleared to become her daughter’s surrogate. The whole family, including Lockwood’s father, was supportive.
In his 29 years as a fertility specialist, Kaplan said he has never heard of a mother carrying a child for her daughter. There are roughly 2,500 to 5,000 babies born through surrogacy every year worldwide, and Kaplan estimates that mothers carry for their daughters in less than 1 percent of these cases.
Since announcing Loving’s pregnancy on her social media blog, Lockwood, who works as a dental hygienist, said she has received mostly positive support but some negative reactions. Her story spread widely online and was picked up by local media.
“People comment that they think it’s weird, but it’s not biologically my mother’s child,” Lockwood said. “It’s not any different than a surrogate carrying someone else’s baby, and I actually prefer that it’s my own mom because I feel more connected.”
Kaplan agreed. “I think it’s easy to judge, but when it’s you who is suffering from infertility and will never carry your own children, you do what you need to do. The fact that her mother was uniquely healthy made it a case worth doing.”
In fact, for Kaplan, it has been a learning experience.
“After 29 years working as a doctor, these two women educated me about the human spirit, determination and family dynamic,” Kaplan said. “I appreciate that.”
It has also brought mother and daughter closer, they both said.
“My mom has been my best friend for as long as I can remember,” said Lockwood, who is living with her parents as she and her husband look for a new house. “She’s always been there, so I’m not surprised she’s here now doing this crazy thing for me.”
Halfway through the pregnancy, Loving said she’s feeling great. “I definitely have more good days than bad days,” she said. “I have a great support system of family and friends, so it’s been really good.”
The Lockwoods and the Lovings are counting down to November, when they expect to welcome a baby girl.
“Besides my own body, I couldn’t think of anyone I would rather have carrying my baby than my mom,” Lockwood said.
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