Breanna Lockwood always knew she wanted to be a mother — but after an ectopic pregnancy, four failed embryo transfers and three miscarriages, she wasn’t sure it was in the cards for her.
Enter Julie Loving. A 51-year-old in “tremendous physical shape,” she was the perfect surrogate for Breanna — and also just so happened to be her mother.
“Seeing your daughter so sad for four years, it affects you,” Julie tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “[So] I said, ‘Let me be your surrogate.’”
Though certainly an unconventional road to motherhood, it’s worked out for Breanna, 29, and her husband Aaron, as Julie gave birth to 7-lb., 1-oz. Briar Juliette on Nov. 2 at AMITA Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee, Illinois.
“It’s been a whirlwind of bottles, diapers, spit-up and burping, and I could not be more in love and in awe of this little human,” says Breanna.
The idea that she might give birth to her own grandchild blossomed for Julie in August 2019, after Breanna lost a set of twins in a third miscarriage and was diagnosed with Asherman syndrome, an acquired condition resulting from a damaged uterus that can cause permanent infertility.
For more on Julie and Breanna, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.
[primary_media_image caption="Julie, holding her granddaughter Briar, with (from left) son-in-law Aaron, husband Rick and Breanna" primary_image="12385096" orientation="default" /]
A doctor suggested surrogacy, but the price tag — which can be upwards of $100,000 — felt “out of reach financially” for Breanna and Aaron, high school sweethearts who married in 2016.
“I was talking to [my husband] Rick about it after her first miscarriage, and I told him that if it came to that, I would want to do it,” says Julie. “I actually texted her, and she laughed, but I was very serious about it.”
Though the family’s fertility specialist Dr. Brian Kaplan tells PEOPLE that surrogates are typically 40 and under, Julie’s active lifestyle — she has run 19 marathons and several triathlons — encouraged him to give her a shot.
After passing a series of screening tests with flying colors, Julie was implanted with an embryo in March created from Breanna’s egg and Aaron’s sperm.
“I’ve had two kids, and I had no issues,” she says. “I went into this feeling more positive.”
Though Briar had to be delivered via emergency C-section due to a sudden erratic heart rate six hours into labor, the newborn has already been welcomed home with open arms by her loving family.
“That’s not quite how I wanted the delivery to turn out,” says Julie. “But Briar’s here safe, and that’s all that matters… Breanna is such a great mom. We’re just so happy to see her back to her old self. Even after all the shots and medications, I would do it all over again.”
Adds Breanna: “The feeling of how I would do absolutely anything for this child reflects back on what my mom did for me. The sacrifices she took to bring this little slice of heaven into our world takes my breath away.”
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