Grandmother who gave birth to own granddaughter faces angry responseA 61-year-old woman has responded to criticism of her decision to act as a surrogate mother for her son and his husband, by saying "it was a gift". Cecile Eledge said people had wrongly assumed that she had sex with her son to produce her granddaughter, Uma Louise Dougherty. Others made homophobic comments about her son Matthew Eledge and his husband Elliot Dougherty.But the Nebraska native said she had done it "as a gift from a mother to her son". Ms Eledge gave birth to a baby weighing almost 6lbs two weeks ago at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Her son and his partner chose her granddaughter's name. Matthew Eledge said Uma’s birth led to the family being overwhelmed with messages on social media – adding that while the majority were positive, some were enormously angry.The family has been attempting to ignore the negative reactions, she said. “People from all around the world have been reaching out," Mr Eledge said. "They want to help in any way that they can.”Along with his husband, he added that he had been forced to fight prejudice and homophobia throughout their relationship. He lost his job as a teacher at a Catholic school after the pair announced they would be married. Concerned that they would be denied permission to adopt a baby in their conservative home state, they decided to try in-vitro-fertilisation (IVF) with a donated egg and a surrogate to carry the feotus.Mr Dougherty’s sister, Lea Yribe, offered to donate her eggs, which were then fertilised with sperm from Mr Eledge, giving Uma genetic material from both sides of the family.The men jokingly told their IVF doctor Mr Eledge’s mother had offered to be the surrogate – even though she was at that point 59 and had gone through menopause.“Matt would comically say, ‘Well my mum keeps offering but we know that’s not an option,’ ” Ms Eledge said.He added that the doctors just wanted to know if his mother was healthy – and if she still had her uterus. After testing to make sure that Ms Eledge’s body could tolerate the pregnancy, the embryo was implanted.Dr Carl Smith, a specialist in maternal and foetal medicine at the medical centre, said Ms Eledge was healthy and fit, and looked years younger than her age. Among possible complications for older mothers are gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, and the team watched her health carefully, viewing the pregnancy as high-risk.She took estrogen supplements for the first part of the pregnancy, Mr Smith said, until the placenta holding Uma was able to make hormones of its own.The politics of helping a gay couple and the unusual choice of a grandmother for a surrogate did not deter the team, Mr Smith said.He said: “We never gave that a second thought. She was pregnant and the circumstances of how she got pregnant are between her and her family.”When the couple said they wanted to have a child to expand their family, Ms Eledge offered to be involved in a very special way.“There was no moment of hesitation. It was natural instinct,” she told the KETV news channel/ “When you are gay and married and want to have a kid, you go into it with knowledge that you are going to have to create a family in a special way,” Mr Eledge said. “There are creative, unique ways to build a family.”He added: “We are thankful with how the whole process worked. We are really grateful that both Uma and her grandma are here, happy and healthy."Additional reporting by Reuters
When Matthew Eledge and Elliot Dougherty said they wanted to have a child to expand their family, Mr Eledge’s 61-year-old mother offered to be involved in a very special way.
“There was no moment of hesitation. It was natural instinct.” Ms Eledge told KETV-News.
After lengthy medical checks, doctors at Omaha’s University of Nebraska Medical Centre gave the go-ahead. A foetus was created using in vitro fertilistion (IVF), using Mr Eledge’s sperm and eggs from Mr Dougherty’s sister, Lea Yribe.
Last week, several weeks early, Ms Eledge gave birth to a baby weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces. The couple have named her Uma Louise.
“When you are gay and married and want to have a kid, you go into it with knowledge that you are going to have to create a family in a special way,” said Mr Eledge. “There are creative, unique ways to build a family.”
He added: “We are thankful with how the whole process worked. We are really grateful that both Uma and her grandma are here, happy and healthy.
“The entire team from doctors to nurses to lab techs showed a beautiful balance of professionalism and compassion. For the time being, we’re just going to relax and enjoy this moment.”
The birth was captured in a series of stunning images by Ariel Panowicz, who posted several to her Instagram account.
“Little tiny Uma Louise has ventured into this world and let me tell you, she is simply perfect,” she wrote in one caption.
“Carried and birthed by her 61-year old Grandmother, and created by her two dads and loving aunt, Uma is surrounded by an immense amount of love.”
She added: “Being a part of today was amazing. Cele, you are a warrior.”