I’d struggled to fall pregnant, and already suffered the heartbreak of losing a pregnancy, but the doctors didn’t know why.
The next few days were a blur as I had an operation to remove my twins.
Then came a cruel twist.
The surgery had left my uterus with scar tissue, a condition known as Asherman’s syndrome, which meant it was unlikely I’d ever carry a child.
Life felt so dark – I’d wanted children for as long as I could remember.
‘Where’s that sparkle you always had?’ Mum asked.
But it felt like it had gone with my babies.
‘What if I could help?’ Mum pressed. ‘I could be a surrogate.’
She’d mentioned it before but I’d never taken her seriously. She’d turned 50, and even though she was a super-fit, long-distance runner, she’d gone through menopause.
Of course she couldn’t have my baby!
‘That’s sweet of you to offer,’ I’d say, without taking it further.
I loved her more for even suggesting it, but it was never going to actually happen. Plus, many fertility clinics said 45 was their cut-off age for treatment.
But then, with the support of my dad, Rick, 50, Mum mentioned it to my fertility doctor at one of my appointments.
‘Let’s put you through the tests to assess suitability,’ he said, to my shock.
Even as she passed the blood tests, fitness tests and psychological exams, I never took it seriously.
Then, in December 2019, to my surprise and delight, Mum, then 51, was given the okay.
‘Apparently it’s quite easy to reverse menopause,’ Mum shrugged, taking the news in her stride.
‘She can do this,’ Dad added. ‘Stop being stubborn and let her help you.’
So, Mum took hormones to prepare her for pregnancy. Then, in February last year, one of mine and Aaron’s embryos was transferred to Mum’s uterus.
At the same time, I had an embryo implanted into my womb, just in case it would work. It didn’t, but thankfully, the embryo Mum was carrying hung in there.
‘I feel great,’ she said, a few weeks later. ‘A bit nauseous and tired but just like when I was pregnant with you and your brother.’
Aaron and I watched in wonder as the months went by and our baby grew inside Mum’s body.
At 13 weeks, we found out our bub was a girl, and by 21 weeks, we could feel her kicking when we put our hands on Mum’s tum.
‘You’re amazing, Mum,’ I told her.
I had an Instagram page charting my fertility journey, @ivf.surrogacy.diary, and I announced our news.
My mum will be carrying and delivering our baby! I wrote.
My post went viral with comments from all around the world.
The response was overwhelmingly positive.
Then, in November last year, Mum was induced.
I was by her side through a tough labour and eventually our beautiful daughter, Briar Juliette, was delivered by C-section, weighing 3.2 kilos.
After my precious girl was checked over, she was handed to me. Everybody was in tears as Aaron and I sat with our new bundle, marvelling over her.
After two days, we were all back home.
Cradling Briar, I knew why Mum had done what she had. I’d do anything in my power for my daughter, too.
Four months on, and we’re all doing well.
Briar is healthy and we’d love to give her a sibling one day using a different surrogate. Mum has done more than enough for us already.
Thanks to her, our dream came true.
Julia, 52, says:
My friends are used to me doing crazy things so they weren’t surprised when I decided to be a surrogate.
Everyone was so supportive. Holding Briar for the first time was wonderful.
Breanna thanks me all the time but it’s just wonderful to see her back to her old self.
Lots of mums would do what I did for their kids and I was just lucky that, medically, I could.