A 54-year-old mother is pregnant with her own grandson after stepping in as a surrogate for her daughter who was born without a uterus.
Maree Arnold wanted to do anything to make her daughter’s dream of becoming a mother become a reality after she was born with a rare disorder.
Her daughter Meagan White was diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH) at 17, meaning she was born without a uterus and had no hope of carrying a baby.
The now 28-year-old, who has a background in nursing, feared her dream of becoming a mother would never come true after a Canadian surrogate sadly miscarried a baby girl at 21 weeks.
But after doing research, Maree discovered she could be a surrogate for her daughter – and is now 30 weeks pregnant with her own grandchild.
Meagan, from Lilydale, Tasmania, Australia, said: “When I was a teenager, I was waiting around to start my menstrual cycle and it never happened.
“Mum and I went to see a doctor and discovered I had MRKH, which means I was born without a uterus and therefore would never have a period.
“It also meant I could never carry a child, however I did have working ovaries so I could have a biological child with the help of a surrogate.
“Of course, as I was just a teenager at the time, I didn’t think about it much.
“But after meeting my now-husband Clayde, 28, in 2015, I knew I wanted to start a family and be a mother.
“Thankfully he was always so supportive of me and said we were going to be parents one day no matter what it took for it to happen.
“We looked into surrogacy and found a volunteer overseas in Canada through an agency named Allison in January 2019.
“We got to know her virtually for nine months, before flying over there in September 2019 to meet her in person.
“Shortly after returning home to Australia, we went ahead with the first transfer which failed, but the second was successful and Allison got pregnant in December 2019.
“But in March 2020, doctors told us our baby girl had not developed kidneys and would not be viable with life.
“Everyone was heartbroken, and after that I just felt like giving up. Then once the pandemic began, overseas travel was prohibited, so everything felt impossible.”
Maree said she was heartbroken watching her daughter suffer but never imagined she could volunteer to be a surrogate, as she believed she would be deemed ‘too old’ to be allowed to carry a child.
But after extensive research, legal advice, medical screenings and psychological assessments, doctors deemed that it would be possible.
With Maree already having gone through menopause, she was given medications to reverse the process and thicken her uterus lining to prepare for pregnancy.
Mum-of-five Maree, who runs her own farm, said: “I always just assumed I’d be too old to do something like this but it just goes to show you always need to ask questions.
“I believe 45 is the usual cut off, however as I am her mother, the doctors are more lenient.
“I was very happy once we got past the first 20 weeks, after that I was really confident.
“It is such a special experience for me and I’m over the moon to be able to help my daughter.
“I think there are many different ways people get pregnant these days, and this is just another option.
“We really want to raise awareness to let people know this is possible. We all can’t wait to meet our grandson.”
After three failed embryo transfers, Meagan and Maree said they both began to feel a bit defeated and thought perhaps the process was not going to work.
But thankfully, the fourth transfer was a success and Maree is now nearly 30 weeks pregnant with her grandson, who is due in January 2022.
And despite it being 22 years since she has been pregnant, Maree says she feels great and is embracing the journey.
She said: “I know that I’m obviously older with this pregnancy, and I do get a bit more tired than when I was last pregnant 22 years ago.
“But I’m still up and about, mowing the lawns and doing this around the house. I feel great.
“Everyone in our family is so excited and I can’t wait to meet our grandson.”
Maree could possibly be Australia’s oldest surrogate to date, with Antonietta Di Maggio, from Sydney, making headlines back in 2015 for giving birth to her grandson for daughter Claudia Luca at the age of 53.
Meagan’s little boy is due to enter the world in January 2022 through a C-Section.
She added: “It’s so funny, for the first 20 weeks I’ve been worrying about the baby, but now I’ve been worrying about mum.
“Mum and I are so close, we talk every day. I can’t even put it into words how grateful I am for my mum. It’s so special.
“There is nobody else I’d rather be going through this with.”