Then Matt said, ‘Mum, I’ve got something exciting to tell you. Elliot and I want to start a family.’
I couldn’t help but let out a scream. ‘Oh my gosh,’ I cried. ‘I’m so excited!’
Twelve years earlier, Matt had nervously confided he was gay. I’d felt sad he hadn’t told me sooner and had gone through the turmoil alone. I’d been anxious too, about how he might never experience marriage.
Fast forward a decade, and miracles had taken place, with the law changing to allow same sex couples to wed.
After our brunch, Matt and Elliot went on to research adoption, surrogacy, egg donors and all the complicated protocols.
In the end, Elliot’s sister Lea offered to donate her eggs and I found myself making an offer...
‘From the bottom of my heart and with no hesitation,’ I told Matt, ‘I’ll be your surrogate.’
He burst out laughing.
We’d always shared a mischievous sense of humour, so I cracked up too as he said, ‘Oh Mum, thanks so much but we’re going to pass!’
I’d been in menopause for nearly a decade but I was fit, healthy and had enjoyed three smooth pregnancies. I knew I was the woman for this special job.
In time, and with my husband Kirk’s blessing, the boys accepted my offer.
Though I did have a few ground rules… ‘I’m not breastfeeding, nobody’s seeing my vajayjay and you’re not allowed to move away with my grandbaby for at least a decade!’ I laughed.
With hugs, smiles and tears, the boys agreed.
Doctors tested my blood, heart, uterus, kidneys and lungs, and I passed with flying colours.
In April 2018, doctors collected 24 eggs from Lea and mixed them with Matt’s sperm in the lab.
Four embryos were frozen. Then I began hormone treatment. Like any couple going through IVF, Matt and Elliot spent hours researching success rates – the average was just 30 per cent.
I was nervous too. If it worked, it would be the most nerve-racking nine months of my life – the responsibility for carrying my son’s precious cargo was huge.
We made the most of the funny moments.
Every time Elliot, Matt, Kirk and I were called into the IVF doctor’s room, patients stared at us, baffled. Here we were, this ageing couple and two young men all going in for a consult!
Months shy of my 60th birthday, an embryo made of my son Matt’s sperm and his sister-in-law’s egg was transferred into my womb.
Days later, feeling sick, I did a test, but we didn’t get the result we’d hoped for and Matt rushed over for a hug.
‘That test may be negative, but I feel rubbish,’ I said.
Matt looked at the test. ‘Mum,’ he said. ‘I think I can see a faint line!’ A few hours later, I did another and it was clear as day.
I was pregnant!
We called Elliot and all screamed down the phone. The embryos had all been female so we already knew it was a girl.
We kept our family’s unique journey to ourselves, scared people might fail to understand the science and judge us.
We savoured the precious moments privately.
One afternoon, I was holding my first grandson Jimmy, two, when I felt a swoosh in my belly.
It felt like a miracle that I was holding one grandchild in my arms, while feeling another kick inside me.
A week before my due date, my blood pressure started rising so in March 2019 I was induced.
Elliot and Matt were on one side of the bed, while Kirk was at the other.
As the contractions swelled, I reminded the boys about my rule, ‘Don’t move down to the business end, you hear?’ We all laughed.
After seven hours in labour, I heard a small, but determined cry. Baby Uma was placed on my chest as Matt and Elliot sobbed.
Once Uma’s umbilical cord was cut, I handed my granddaughter to her daddies. ‘Thank you so much,’ they wept.
Watching Matt and Elliot tenderly hold their precious girl made my emotions bubble over, and I recalled a promise I’d made to Jody, Elliot’s mum before she’d passed away from lung cancer aged 58.
I’d promised to love Elliot like my own. If only she could be here with us, I thought.
Returning home the next day, I was feeling exhausted but happy. Now, I adore watching Matt and Elliot grow into their roles as parents.
Since sharing our family’s story, many women in their 40s have told me they’re inspired to see a woman my age carry a pregnancy successfully.
Uma is healthy and so unbelievably loved. What a true miracle she is. ●
Matt Eledge and Elliot Dougherty said:
As Uma stared at us for the first time in that hospital room, it was as if she knew she was finally home.
Uma looks so much like Jody, it’s like she’s coming back to life.
We’re so grateful to everyone who has supported us, but without Lea and Cecile, Uma wouldn’t be here.
Thank you both from the bottom of our very happy hearts.
To follow the family’s journey on Instagram search @ephemeral.elliot