The Ultimate Act of Love: Grandmother Carries Daughter’s Unborn Child

For four years, 29-year-old Breanna Lockwood and her husband Aaron tried getting pregnant, but nothing seemed to work. After trying the natural route for over a year, the Lockwoods decided to try IVF, but this proved to be one of the worst experiences of Breanna’s life. Following her last failed pregnancy, Breanna’s mother, Julie Loving, offered to carry her baby.

Breanna and Aaron in scrubs / Breanna holding a sign that says 1 in 4, then why do I feel like one in a million? Pregnancy and infant loss awareness month / Breanna and Julie shopping for baby stuff / Breanna sitting on the floor next to a crib looking at an ultrasound / Breanna and Julie taking a selfie with an ultrasound / Breanna and Julie posing holding her baby bump next to a brick wall

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary (all)

It was unconventional, but Julie was willing to do whatever it would take to put a smile back on her daughter’s face. It took some convincing, but Brianna and Aaron finally agreed. Fast-forward to today, and Julie is pregnant with her own grandchild! It’s been a wild journey, and the Lockwoods are more than ready to welcome their new bundle of joy into the world. So, let’s take a look back at Breanna’s road to motherhood!

It’ll Be Easy, Right?

Illinois-natives Breanna Lockwood and her husband Aaron first met in high school. Right after their 2016 wedding, Breanna’s grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. Breanna immediately knew that she wanted her grandfather to have the chance to meet his great-grandchild. So, the couple decided to start a family.

Breanna and Aaron holding out their hands, showing off their wedding bands

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

However, things didn’t go quite to plan. After a year of trying naturally with no success, the Lockwoods decided to visit a fertility specialist. Breanna had her first round of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 2017 and thought that she would be able to get pregnant after just one round. Little did she know that this was the beginning of some tough times.

Why Is This Happening?

By March 2018, Breanna was feeling frustrated. By now, she had been trying to get pregnant for two years. While she struggled with infertility, everyone around her was continuing with their lives. It seemed like nearly all her friends were pregnant, and although Breanna was happy for them, their pregnancies triggered something inside of her.

Breanna and Aaron posing together dressed up

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Why couldn’t she get pregnant too? So, Aaron and Breanna decided to take a little vacation to clear their heads. They went camping on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. With breathtaking views and no cell service, it was the perfect destination. But the day after the Lockwoods returned home to Chicago, they received some bad news…

More Devastating News

Not only was her second transfer negative, but her grandfather had lost his life to cancer. He would never meet the baby she was trying so desperately to have. A few weeks later, Breanna decided to start trying for a baby again. She decided to have a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to see if there was anything wrong with her uterus.

Breanna and Aaron dressed in hospital scrubs holding up two fingers

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

“I was terrified for my HSG. I’ve heard the horror stories on the support pages and use google way [too] much,” Breanna wrote on Instagram. The procedure went flawlessly. Doctors found polyps, which was one of the reasons why Breanna couldn’t get pregnant. After clearing her tubes, Breanna was positive that her infertility problems were finally behind her.

Lucky Number Three?

Excited, Breanna began her next round of IVF in June 2018, with her third transfer scheduled for the end of July. Now all the Lockwoods could do was wait to see if the embryo took. Breanna anxiously took an at-home pregnancy test and was stunned by the results. There were two lines! “I literally had to go look at these tests every hour or so,” Breanna wrote on her Instagram page.

Breanna and Aaron in scrubs holding up three fingers

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

“I couldn’t even believe it. This was the first time I had ever seen two lines.” But little did she know that her rollercoaster had just begun. On August 17th, Breanna received the soul-crushing news that she had a chemical pregnancy. A few weeks later, Breanna and Aaron decided to take another trip to clear their heads.

Hitting the Road

This time, Aaron and Breanna hit the road to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. “Every time my husband and I get bad, real bad news, we plan a trip,” Breanna wrote in 2019. “It gives us something to look forward to, even if it’s just a drive or weekend trip.” But it seemed like nothing they did helped them escape the reality of their infertility.

Breanna and Aaron on a hike

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Feeling defeated, Breanna prepared for her fourth transfer in October 2018. Maybe this time, Breanna would get lucky. A few weeks later, the couple received some amazing news. Her beta levels were rising, meaning that she was possibly pregnant! The Lockwoods scheduled an ultrasound, anxious to see what the technician would find.

Double the Trouble

After what seemed like an eternity, the ultrasound technician finally began to speak. “Okay, so there’s a heartbeat here, oh and also a second heartbeat,” she told the couple. Twins! Breanna was pregnant with twins! “My mind went fuzzy and instantly sobbing,” Breanna wrote. “Looking over at Aaron, he looked white and maybe even scared!”

A photograph of the ultrasounds for Breanna’s twins

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

At eight weeks, the babies looked perfect. Their growth was right on track, and their heartbeats were strong. The couple finally got what they had wanted for so long! But when Breanna went to her first OB appointment at 10 weeks, she received some devastating news. Her doctor couldn’t find a fetal heartbeat in either baby.

A Gut-Wrenching Loss

Breanna had to wait over a week for the D&C. “I couldn’t eat or move. I think I just cried for hours on end,” Breanna later wrote on her Instagram page. “How can life be so cruel? How can you run every test in the book known to doctors and still have this outcome?”

Breanna wearing a shirt that says ‘IVF is a mutha’ / A photograph of an ultrasound machine with sad and angry emojis placed on it

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

After sharing the devastating news on her Instagram, Breanna says that she was overwhelmed by the love and support from her followers. “It’s nice to speak with other women going through the same things, this journey can be so isolating,” she wrote in March 2019. “I can’t wait to cheer on everyone else through this process as well!” It’s nice to see that the Lockwoods found a support system.

Finally, A Diagnosis

After her fifth embryo transfer failed, doctors finally figured out why Breanna couldn’t get pregnant. She has Asherman’s Syndrome, which is the formation of scar tissue in the uterus. While Google says it is a rare condition, Breanna learned that it is actually more common because it often goes undiagnosed.

Breanna and Aaron holding up five fingers while wearing scrubs

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

She also learned that many doctors are not only untrained to look for signs of Asherman’s, but they do not know how to remove it. After doing lots of research, Breanna found a community of women on Facebook who were suffering from the same condition. Some women recommended an Asherman’s specialist who worked out of Boston. So the Lockwoods packed their suitcases and headed to the east coast.

Trying Different Routes

The doctor ran a few tests and tried to remove excess scar tissue from Breanna’s uterus, but nothing seemed to work. After her sixth transfer failed, Breanna realized that she might never be able to get pregnant on her own. If she wanted to have a biological baby, Breanna was going to have to start considering surrogacy.

Breanna and Aaron holding up six fingers

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

However, this was an expensive option, especially since they had been trying IVF for the past few years. So, the Lockwoods made the difficult decision to sell their house. Luckily, Breanna’s parents welcomed the couple into their home with open arms. “It’ll be tight living, and ups and downs along the way, but my parents are like my best friends and closest people in my life,” Breanna wrote in November 2019.

Her Only Option

Breanna says that there are two options for surrogacy, but they are both very expensive. While some couples prefer to find a surrogate through an agency, Breanna and Aaron decided to take the independent route. Breanna hopped on Facebook, where, she says, there are great groups that help intended parents and possible surrogates chat and hopefully match.

Aaron holding Breanna in his arms next to an ATV

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

After her last and final egg retrieval, which was her best one yet, Breanna received yet more devastating news. Her doctor informed her that the damage to her uterus is irreversible, and she will never be able to carry her own baby. “It’s like if you walked into this room, the walls look fine, but the foundation, under the floorboards, is bad,” he told her. Surrogacy was her only option.

Found a Match!

After chatting with several surrogates online, Breanna says she was shocked at the number of kind women who are willing to help those who are struggling to get pregnant. Breanna and Aaron began sorting through profile after profile. But even with a full inbox, the Lockwoods felt helpless and overwhelmed. They couldn’t find the perfect match.

Breanna and Aaron lying face down on a bed overlooking a beautiful ocean view

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Then on January 23, 2020, Breanna announced that she and Aaron had finally found a surrogate! “In the end, we ended up having someone that was a perfect fit for us,” Breanna announced. “Someone local that I can feel I can do my part and be there for her through all the worries and questions. Respecting her privacy at this time as well.” The Lockwoods were now one step closer to becoming parents.

Passing the Test

Although Breanna was excited, she says that the entire surrogacy process was scary, especially since she didn’t know what to expect. The couple first met with their doctor, who started off by asking Breanna a couple of questions like “Would you feel jealous that someone else is carrying your child?” and “How would you explain to your child, and at what age, about how they were born?”

Breanna wearing a shirt that says ‘IVF is a Mutha’

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Luckily, the couple passed the questionnaire with flying colors. Now, all the Lockwoods needed to do was wait for their chosen surrogate to pass a series of medical tests. The surrogate completed several rounds of bloodwork, an EKG, and a three-hour glucose test. Once the surrogate was cleared, she headed to downtown Chicago to test her hormones.

Meet Breanna’s Surrogate!

It seemed like everything was a go! In March 2020, Breanna announced that her surrogate was pregnant. It took Breanna a few months to reveal the identity of her surrogate, but in May 2020, she was finally ready to share the exciting news with the world. “My mama is carrying her grandchild,” she wrote on Instagram.

Breanna and Julie posing together for a selfie / Julie Loving holding her baby bump posing next to a tree

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Her mother, Julie Loving, went through the wringer of health tests to see if she could even qualify. Several doctors told the Lockwoods that her 51-year-old mother was too old to get pregnant, especially since the standard cut-off age for surrogates is 45. But Julie was in tip-top shape. Not only is she a double Boston Marathon runner and a triathlete, but Julie also says that she is in the best shape of her life.

Healthier Than a Horse

“I’ve run 19 marathons and done many triathlons,” Julie told Good Morning America. “I felt like health-wise, I could do it, and I had really easy pregnancies with my two kids,” Julie says that the idea to carry her daughter’s baby actually came to her after Breanna miscarried twins. Although Breanna wasn’t on board at first, Julie kept pursuing the idea.

Julie and Breanna wearing scrubs in a hospital room

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Then came the meeting with Breanna’s doctor, Brian Kaplan. Julie accompanied Breanna to an appointment as her “support person,” and that’s when she told Kaplan that she was interested in carrying. Kaplan was hesitant, but he sent Julie to five specialists, including a high-risk obstetrician. “This is not something we would do regularly or advise people to do,” Kaplan told the Today Show. “This was absolutely exceptional.”

Cautiously Excited

Because of Breanna’s past disappointments, she didn’t want to get her hopes up. Even after her mother got pregnant after the first transfer, the family held their breath. Even when they received the positive pregnancy test result, Breanna and Aaron couldn’t jump for joy, especially since they had had so many losses and trauma.

Julie lying on the gynecologist’s table with Breanna sitting next to her / Julie holding her belly with a sign next to her that says 11 weeks

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

As the weeks passed, Breanna and Aaron realized that they had nothing to worry about. Julie’s pregnancy was going off without a hitch, and the couple couldn’t be happier. “Sharing this adventure with my mom has been the most unique and amazing experience,” Breanna wrote in June 2020. “She is the pure example of ‘you would do anything for your kids.’”

It’s a Girl!

In June 2020, the Lockwoods and her mother found out the gender of their baby. Julie was pregnant with a baby girl! Half-way through the pregnancy, Julie says that the experience is very similar to when she was pregnant in her twenties, but this time, she is much more grateful.

Breanna and Aaron holding up a balloon spelling out Girl

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

“When I think back to my pregnancies with my own children, I can’t help to laugh in disbelief at how much I took for granted,” Julie wrote to Breanna’s Instagram followers. Julie got pregnant and knew she was having a baby. She didn’t know how easy she had had it. Watching her daughter suffer for the past three years really made Julie understand the agony infertile women go through on a daily basis.

An Easy Decision

Julie also says that people often question her decision to carry her daughter’s baby. However, Julie says that the decision was very easy. “The love of a mother feels the pain of their children when she can see the sadness in their eyes instead of happiness,” Julie began.

Breanna and Aaron posing with ultrasound photos and a sign while Julie holds Breanna’s hand

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

“In the past few years, I saw my daughter’s beautiful eyes begin to fill with despair and pain as her dreams of being a mother seemed to slowly slip away from her, and I knew I could help if she wanted me to.” Julie says that she will never forget the emotional pain she experienced when Breanna was told that she lost her twins. Even though she is pregnant, and the baby is healthy, Julie is overwhelmed with fear that she could lose the baby.

Everything’s Looking Up

However, with each kick, Julie says that she is reminded that Breanna’s baby girl is growing and thriving. “Each day that passes, my heart is filled with joy when I see Breanna’s eyes beginning to sparkle again, and that is the light that keeps me going being a mother,” Julie says. It seems like things are finally starting to look up for the Lockwoods.

Breanna and Aaron posing in front of their house

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Not only do they have a baby on the way, but they finally bought a new home! While Breanna says that she enjoyed quarantining with her pregnant mother, she is excited to move into her new home and begin her new life as a family of three. With the baby due in November 2020, Aaron and Breanna don’t have that long to wait!

Preparing for a Baby

With a new house and a baby on the way, Breanna and Aaron have their hands full. They shopped for a new car seat and picked out a new stroller, things that Breanna never thought she’d be able to buy for herself. The Lockwoods have also begun working on their nursery.

Breanna and Aaron in the stroller section of the store / Breanna standing next to the new crib with flowers painting on the part of the wall behind her

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Breanna says that she has been dreaming of a floral nursery for years and cannot believe that the time has finally come. She found a set of sheets for the crib that perfectly match her wall decal. It fills our hearts to see Breanna having so much fun preparing for her baby daughter’s November arrival, especially after all that she and Aaron went through. She deserves to enjoy every minute of it!

First Lesson in Motherhood

For Breanna, the most important milestone in her mother’s pregnancy was at 24 weeks. At the beginning of her fertility journey, Breanna says that she was always looking to get past certain hurdles. Whether it was retrieving viable embryos, getting a positive pregnancy test, or hearing the baby’s heartbeat, the thought, “If I can just get past (insert) it’ll be okay,” consumed Breanna’s mind.

Breanna and Julie standing outside of a baby store holding a teddy bear / Breanna tearing up after a doctor’s appointment

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

As time went on, however, Breanna realized that this is her first lesson in motherhood. There are always going to be things that Breanna and Aaron will be worried about. “I will forever be worried about this little human,” she wrote on Instagram. She’s right. You never stop worrying about your child.

Entering the Third Trimester!

As Julie enters her third trimester, Breanna tries her best to keep her mother comfortable and that includes painting her toes! At the beginning of Julie’s pregnancy, Breanna admits that time felt like it was standing still. The weeks crept by, and all she wanted was to meet her baby girl. Now that her mother is at 27 weeks, time is flying by!

Breanna painting Julie’s toenails with their dog sitting next to her on the couch

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Breanna, Julie, and Aaron can’t stop giggling at the 3D ultrasound of their daughter. Whose eyes will she have? What about her nose? Now that Julie is nearing the end of her pregnancy, Breanna has also been thinking about the delivery room. She’s even had some crazy reoccurring dreams about her baby’s delivery, which has definitely put her on edge.

Go with the Flow

To calm her nerves, Breanna, Julie, and Aaron completed a labor and delivery tour at a local hospital. Given the current pandemic, Breanna didn’t think that her husband would be able to be present at their daughter’s birth. Typically, only one support person is allowed, but given their unique situation, both Breanna and Aaron will be allowed in the delivery room!

Aaron Breanna and Julie posing outside of the hospital / Julie, Breanna, and Aaron posing with another man inside of the hospital near the delivery ward

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Breanna says that while the couple has a birth plan, they don’t have any expectations. The Lockwoods plan to just go with the flow. The trio have also talked about who the baby would go to first. The plan always was that Breanna would have the first skin-to-skin contact. However, Breanna says that talking about it this close to delivery makes her question her decision.

Reaching 30 Weeks

At 30 weeks, Breanna says that her daughter is very active. Julie sends Breanna videos of her belly moving all the time. “So fun to feel her kick, but I swear soon as I put my hand on her stomach, she stops!” Breanna wrote in September 2020. While Julie typically eats very healthy food, this pregnancy has her craving all kinds of sweets!

Breanna and Julie sitting by a lake / Julie and Breanna posing by sunflowers

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Breanna even says her mother has dreams about eating cake every night. While everything seems to be going great for Julie, she does have one complaint: horrible heartburn. Breanna says that they have tried every remedy under the sun, but nothing seems to work. It seems that TUMS just isn’t cutting it anymore.

The Size of a Pineapple

At 33 weeks, Breanna’s daughter is the size of a pineapple, which also happens to be the symbol of the fertility community. Breanna says that some people have a theory that eating pineapple during the time of embryo transfer can help with implantation. She often saw ladies rocking pineapple pins, socks, shirts, and even leggings while sitting in infertility clinic waiting rooms.

Breanna holding a pineapple while Julie holds her baby bump / Breanna eating a slice of pineapple while Julie holds the whole pineapple out

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

It’s a symbol of hope, she says. A symbol that you’re not alone. “Fighting so hard to become parents, our drive is strong,” Breanna writes. “It takes a tough exterior, like pineapple, to weather all the hormones, appointments, needle sticks, procedures, the heartbreak of failed cycles and loss. But through that tough exterior, inside is sweet.”

Understanding Crissy

When Chrissy Teigen lost her third baby in October 2020, Breanna says that she was overcome with emotion. When Breanna lost her pregnancies, her mind went down a dark path. Even to this day, Breanna has a hard time talking about what she went through. “The day we Iost the twins, my earth shattered,” the 29-year-old wrote.

Chrissy Teigen in a hospital bed while John Legend holds her hand and lays his head next to her

Source: Instagram / chrissyteigen

“I collapsed, knees weak on that cold floor. Sobs and an ache I’ve never experienced before.” Julie tried comforting her, but Breanna didn’t want to be touched. It wasn’t that she didn’t want her mother’s hug, it was that the hug meant the miscarriage was real. After the D&C, Breanna’s mental state only got worse.

Suffering in Silence

She suffered from post-partum depression and stayed in bed for days on end. When Breanna returned to work, she had to put on a happy face and act like everything was fine. But nothing was fine. Breanna would go to her car to cry during lunch and then pull herself back together again like nothing happened. It was a living nightmare.

Aaron and Breanna giving each other a quick kiss on the steps

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Now, the 29-year-old says that she receives messages from people asking how they can support loved ones suffering from the loss of a baby. Breanna says that the best thing you can do is just be there for them. Let them know that you’re thinking about them and that this isn’t their fault.

Grandma Julie Checking In

At nearly 35 weeks, Julie writes another post to Breanna’s followers. “They do everything in weeks and not in months, this took some getting used to because everything was in months when I was pregnant with my kids,” she wrote. Julie also lets everyone know that she gets checkups on a weekly basis.

Julie holding her belly and petting their dog

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

Doctors check to make sure that the baby is doing well, and, so far, everything has been spot on. At 32 weeks, Julie says that Breanna’s daughter was developmentally a week ahead! As for Julie, everything is going well. She is up for at least two hours a night, and other than the heartburn, she can’t complain. Julie also is very thankful for her husband, Rick, who has gone above and beyond to support his wife and daughter’s growing baby.

The Final Touches

At 36 weeks, Breanna’s daughter is the size of a papaya! She is facing head down, which is excellent news! Breanna says that she and Aaron just finished putting the final touches on their new home, and the nursery is officially done.

Two photographs of Breanna and Julie in a corn field holding a large pumpkin

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

They finished buying their baby items, and their hospital bags are ready to go. After all, their daughter will be joining us any week now! The only baby item that Breanna has had a hard time deciding on is a baby carrier. Does she get a carrier or a wrap? It’s a hard decision so she’s reached out to her followers for some suggestions. We can’t wait to see what Breanna decides to buy!

A Beacon of Light

Breanna needs to document her journey, especially because infertility is more common than people think. One in eight couples have trouble getting pregnant, but, sadly, they suffer in silence. Breanna hopes that her journey will give struggling couples out there a bit of hope. When she originally created her Instagram page, she used it as a platform to connect with other women who were going through the same struggles with infertility.

Julie and Breanna posing back to back / Breanna, Julie, and Aaron posing together in a grassy field

Source: Instagram / ivf.surrogacy.diary

“This was the place I didn’t have to feel completely alone through the process,” Breanna wrote. Breanna is happy that she decided to share her story. “Every message I’ve received of women sharing their stories reminds me of why I hit post. I looked for these stories and clung to them for hope.”