A 61-year-old woman in Chicago has given birth to her own grandson, having served as a surrogate for her daughter. Kristine Casey has made medical history as she's one of the first women over 60 in the world to do so.
Casey decided to help her daughter, Sara Connell, have a child after she had spent years trying to have a baby. Connell and her husband, Bill, are the biological parents of Finnean Lee Connell who was born by Cesarean section last week.
Connell and her mother cried and prayed as Finnean was delivered. Connell told the Chicago Tribune what an emotional moment it was when Finnean was finally born. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. She said, "I lost it…It's such a miracle."
Dr. Susan Gerber, obstetrician and maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital said, "The surgery itself was uncomplicated, and the emotional context of this delivery was so profound."
In 2004 the Connells decided to try for a baby. Sara, now 35, discovered she was not ovulating. Having undergone infertility treatment she got pregnant but gave birth to stillborn twins and latter had a miscarriage.
Casey had three prior pregnancies. Her last pregnancy was 30 years ago. Her pregnancy with Finnean went smoothly.
Since 2007 Casey has been retired and spends her time walking, meditating, taking classes and socializing but she felt that she had another calling.
Casey said, "At the beginning of 2009 I decided for once in my life to take some time to think about my life and find something that seemed right for me, where there was no pressure to do a specific thing."
Once she had the idea she said, "I thought, 'Wow, three of the happiest days of my life were giving birth to my daughters,' and I thought I could choose to do this for someone I love."
When she suggested the idea to Sara she said to forget about it if Sarah thought it repulsive. Casey insisted that she was doing it for herself as well as for her daughter and family.
Months later they discussed their options with the Reproductive Medicine Institute.
Connell said, "The idea of having a family member being open to doing this for us was so extraordinary for us."
Bill, her husband, said he was very appreciative of the offer but at first thought it was impossible. He said, "I just wanted to make sure the science was there. I didn't want us to subject ourselves to another very risky, possibly devastating, scenario. Infertility is one thing, but putting your mother-in-law in danger kicks it up to another level altogether."
Casey's husband, also named Bill, also questioned whether it would be possible. He feared the pregnancy would jeopardize his wife’'s health.
However, their concerns were set aside once she was got the all clear on her medical tests. Casey went through multiple medical and psychological tests. The family also drew up a legal agreement.
She began taking hormones to prepare her uterus and Casey got pregnant on the second cycle of in vitro fertilization. The baby was born without any complications to either his or his grandmother's health.
Casey plans to return to her Virginia home in two weeks and take on the role of grandmother.
She said, "From the very beginning, the moment I've wanted is the moment the baby is in their arms. I've been clear since after my third child that I didn't need to have any more children, and as much as I will be delighted to be a grandmother, I don't want to take a baby home."
Connell is very appreciative to her mother for her love, generous spirit and "her special gift.”
She said, "It grew beyond the two of us having a child. It was about the closeness with my mother, and our family having this experience that was unique and special."