Cindy Reutzel, 53, gave birth to a healthy baby girl who was conceived using a fertilized egg from her own daughter, Emily Jordan. Reutzel offered to carry her daughter's baby after Jordan was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2010. An operation to remove the cancer meant that Jordan was unable to have children on her own.
"I can't describe what that was like after finding out you have cancer, after finding out your chance of ever carrying a baby is gone," Jordan 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," Reutzel said. "I want Emily to have that connection with another human being like I had with her."
So that's when Reutzel, who hadn't given birth in three decades, offered to help Emily and Emily's husband, Mike, realize their dream of becoming parents.
"What if I carried your baby for you?" Reutzel asked the couple.
"We didn't really think that was a realistic option," Emily said.
But after both mother and daughter underwent a series of tests, including psychological evaluations, doctors implanted Reutzel's uterus with an embryo created with Emily's egg and Mike's sperm.
Reutzel had regular medical checkups throughout the unconventional pregnancy and received regular hormone shots. And when the baby was due, Elle Cynthia Jordan was delivered via cesarean section.
Throughout the pregnancy, people naturally asked Reutzel how "her" baby was doing, but she says she was always quick to inform them that the baby growing inside her was actually her granddaughter.
"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," Jordan said.
And while Reutzel went the extra mile to help her daughter become a mother, she was quick to note she had her own stake in the process: becoming a grandmother.
"I know I gave a gift," Reutzel says. "But I'm also getting so much in return."
Emily Jordan and Cindy Reutzel teamed up for an unusual path to childbirth. (Sitthixay Ditthavong/AP)
- Family Health