Cathy Donnelly (58), from London in Ontario, Canada, is six months pregnant with her daughter Shannon’s child. Despite the health risks the post menopausal mother wanted to be a surrogate but admits she doesn’t know how she’ll feel when she has to give up her baby.
Recently, an Irish American Sara Connell released a book called “Bringing in Finn: An Extraordinary Surrogacy Story” which tells the tale of her own mother being a surrogate for her son, including the highs and lows of this amazing journey she took with her family.
Now Donnelly, the mother of three and grandmother of six, is pregnant with her own grandchild. Her own daughter Shannon Fischer is unable to have children due to scarring on her uterus.
Fischer told the Daily Mail, “The day I came home from my surgery mum said "I'll do it". She didn't hesitate.”
Donnelly explained “I felt bad for them - I just thought what’s nine months of my life? They are going to have a child for the rest of theirs? It's not like I'm busy doing anything.”
A specialist at the Northern California Fertility Medical Center, Michael Murray, said that although, like the Connell’s case, there have been other situations where mothers have acted as surrogates for their daughters, it’s not a usual topic on which the medical community advises.
He said “Usually it’s a close friend or a sister that acts as the gestational carrier - women who are over 45-years-old are not normally in good enough health.
“Pregnancy for older women is much riskier. The most common complications are high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and premature child birth.”
Donnelly was entirely willing to accept these health risks. She admits that the pregnancy has not been easy.
She said “It was long process and involved a heavy dose of fertility drugs for both of us but in the end it all paid off.
“I was standing in line for a coffee when I got a call from my doctor confirming I was pregnant. I was just bawling - people must have thought someone close to me died.
“But it has been challenging. Now I’m showing I make sure people aren’t staring or looking at me because they’re probably thinking ‘look at that old lady.’”
In the back of her mind Donnelly admits she had mused on the idea of whether she is doing the “right thing”. However, when she felt her grandchild move for the first time any doubts cleared from her mind. Now what she’s worried about is handing the baby over to her daughter.
She said “I don't know if I'll feel like I've lost her, I don't know how I'm going to feel.”
Fischer plans on calling the baby Zoey Hope Catherine after her mother and said the experience has made her cherish their mother-daughter relationship. She said “It just changes your relationship 360 degrees. We were close before but it’s just on a whole new level. I want to be like she is to my own daughter, that caring and willing to do stuff for her."