“All the forces on this planet will never beat that of a mother’s love.” – Elle Smith
At the age of 16, 31-year-old Tracey Smith was diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome (MRKH). This is a congenital disorder characterized by the absence of or incomplete formation of the vagina and uterus. One major side effect is the inability to menstruate or conceive. Approximately 1 out of every 4500 females is born with this condition.
Ever since the age of 15, She wanted to be a mother, but her hopes were dashed a year later when her condition was diagnosed. Since the external organs of the reproductive system are intact, it’s always difficult to detect MRKH until girls are well into their teenage years. Often the first sign of MRKH is the absence of the first menstruation by the age 16.
When her mother, 55-year-old Emma Miles was informed about her daughter’s condition, she was willing to do anything possible to make things easier for her. Many years later, she did exactly as she’d promised.
A Journey Fueled By Unconditional Love
In an interview with the Wales News Service, Tracey said her mother had always subtly reminded her that she’d do anything for her (Tracey) to be a mom.
“Straight after my diagnosis, mum made an offer to do what she could to help,” Tracey said. “I knew that she meant one day she’d carry my child for me. Over the years she mentioned it in passing but we never really made a firm plan. It was only after I met Adam and we got engaged in 2016 that he broached the subject of children.”
Surrogacy is the process of implanting and gestating an embryo in a uterus outside of the mother’s own. Tracey and her mother conceived through full surrogacy (aka host or gestational surrogacy) which involves the fertilization of the intended mother’s egg with the interned father’s sperm via IVF and implanting the embryo in a host uterus. Partial surrogacy (aka straight or traditional surrogacy) involves the father’s sperm and the other woman’s egg. It’s the easiest and most affordable form of surrogacy, but it also means the surrogate host is also the genetic mother. In this case, for obvious reasons, full surrogacy was used.
Full surrogacy is possible for women with MRKH because their ovaries are usually intact. An embryo created through IVF would be transferred to the surrogate’s uterus. It also doesn’t matter if the surrogate is past childbearing age, just like Emma, who had already been through menopause. The uterus, along with hormone therapy is all that’s needed.
“I remembered mum’s promise to me,” Tracey said. “So the next time we met up I asked her if she’d been serious about carrying our baby. I was delighted when she replied: ‘Of course I was’. She had just been waiting for me to ask.”
Emma says she was devastated when she was informed about Tracey’s disorder, it was that she knew- she’d make any sacrifices needed for her daughter.
‘She rarely felt able to open up but when I had the chance just after her diagnosis I remember sitting on her bed and saying: “I’m here if you need me.” Despite my age, I wasn’t worried about giving birth at all. All of my focus has been about doing this special thing for my daughter,” Emma said.
Having a child at 55 is no small feat. Emma Miles is most likely one of the oldest surrogate mothers in the UK. Her husband, 61-year-old Robert Miles stood by her throughout the entire journey and offered his full support. After signing over all parental rights to Adam and Tracey, they were ready to express their love to its fullest potential.
To help increase the chances of success Emma had to lose 84 pounds (38kg) in order to be physically fit for the process, and for the pregnancy to take. She was also placed on hormone therapy to get her reproductive system in shape for the gestation. Since Emma was already passed menopause she had did not have any eggs, however, they aren’t needed for full surrogacy. Even after menopause, her womb is still fit enough to carry a child.
To begin this whole process, Tracey was placed on fertility treatments in preparation for in vitro fertilization (IVF). Following the egg extraction and insemination, the fertilized embryos were transferred to Emma’s uterus. Implantation occurred at the first attempt, against all odds.
Pregnancy at a late age comes with a lot of risks, all of which the family was aware of. Some of these include pre-eclampsia, miscarriage, higher chances of birthing kids with congenital abnormalities and defects, high blood pressure, and increased risk of complications during delivery.
These possibilities were all there, but on January 16, 2019, weighing 7lbs 7oz, a happy, healthy, and bouncing Evie Siân Emma Smith was born. She was brought into this word by cesarean section due to her grandmother’s prolonged labor.
Tracey’s Joy Knew No Bounds
“Adam and I were allowed to both stay by mum’s side as Evie came into the world,” Tracey said. “It was such an incredibly emotional moment. I was so nervous that everything would go well for mum and for the safe arrival of our baby. Adam saw Evie come into the world because of a reflection on the lamps in surgery and I just waited to hear that cry and burst into happy tears.”
Emma said she doesn’t mind doing it all over again if her little granddaughter even needs a sibling.
“I don’t feel any more attachment to Evie than any other proud grandmother,” Emma said. “Tracey is my baby and I did it all for her to be a mother. Now I’m glad to be back to work and getting back to normal. But I have offered to do it all again if they ever want a little brother or sister for Evie.”
Could love get any stronger than this?