Made in Aldridge
‘Made in Aldridge’ is a regular e-news feature which tells the story of a woman’s or couple’s experience at MFS and the impact of the result on their lives.
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‘Made in Aldridge’ oftens refers to the importance of the support of parents, family and close friends for any women or couple going through fertility treatment. This issue’s story focuses on the story of one mother who went further than many to help her daughter and son-in-law realise their dream of having a baby.
Written by Lucy Laing.
A 57-year old woman has made British history by giving birth to her own grandchild – making her the oldest surrogate in the country. And her story is yet another milestone marker for MFS.
Pamela Butler gave birth to her grandson Josef for her daughter Nichola and son-in-law Mathew after Nichola was unable to carry a baby.
It took four attempts at IVF treatment, before Pamela finally conceived with an embryo created by using an egg taken from Nichola which was fertilised with her husband’s sperm, during treatment at MFS.
Pamela gave birth to the couple’s son Josef, weighing a healthy 5lb 12oz, at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, in August, after a healthy pregnancy. And his birth has catapulted the family into the record books – as at 57 Pamela is the oldest known surrogate in Britain.
Nichola (35) a quality assurance officer for the local government, knew that she wouldn’t be able to get pregnant after doctors discovered at the age of 18 that her uterus had failed to develop properly.
She met her husband, a mechanical engineer, in March 2003, and married the following year, in June 2004.
She said: “I had told Matthew from the start that I would be unable to have a family, so we decided to look into the possibility of surrogacy or adoption as we really did want to be parents.”
“Mum had always said to me that she would be a surrogate for me. We have a great relationship and both my parents are extremely supportive.”
The couple, who live in Newport, Gwent, and Pamela went to see experts at MFS in April 2006 after reading about another couple who had treatment at the clinic where the woman’s mother was the surrogate.
Nichola said: “The doctors at MFS were really happy with mum’s medical health. They said she was medically fit to go through with a pregnancy.
“We knew that she was going to be an older surrogate, but age wasn’t a barrier for her. She was in very good shape.”
In June 2007, the couple underwent their first fertility treatment at MFS. Eggs were collected from Nichola, fertilised with Mathew’s sperm, and two embryos were placed into Pamela’s uterus. But the treatment failed.
Then a second attempt, using frozen embryos, was carried out in December that year, but that failed again.
Nichola said: “We just thought it was going to work first time, and none of us could understand it when the treatments failed. We were all devastated, especially mum who was just desperate to help us.
“We had all gone to her house the second time to carry out the pregnancy test and it was so emotional when we found out it hadn’t worked.”
In September 2008 the couple underwent their third fertility treatment and that failed too.
Then in December 2009, they had a fourth cycle using frozen embryos from the previous cycle of treatment.
Two embryos were put back into Pamela’s uterus and they faced an anxious two week wait to see if the treatment had been successful.
Nichola said: “Mum phoned me and said she had done a test and she could definitely see a positive line. I ran straight around to her house and I looked and it, and there it was, the blue line. None of us could believe it.”
On Christmas Day 2009 Pamela started to experience some bleeding and they were worried that she was going to lose the baby. But a scan showed that there was still one heartbeat.
Nichola said: “I went with her for the scan and it was so amazing seeing that one little dot on the screen. It was our baby at last.”
From then on Pamela’s pregnancy went smoothly, and she didn’t even suffer from any morning sickness.
“I was worried about her because of her age, and she was doing it all for us. I was with her every minute of every day, checking that she was fine,” said Nichola.
“But the doctors kept saying she was in peak condition. She had lost a stone in preparation for pregnancy, so she really was very healthy.”
Baby Josef was delivered eleven days early by Caesarean, as doctors didn’t want Pamela to have to go through the stress of labour.
Nichola said: “I went in to the operation theatre with her and it was just the most amazing moment when Josef was lifted out.
“We all just looked at him and it was so emotional. Mum never saw him as her baby, she always said he was mine and she was just carrying him for me.
“Now Josef is seven months old and he’s such a great baby, he’s always happy and smiling.
“And all our family and friends know that mum carried him for me, and they are all just so pleased for us. Some of mum’s friends said they would have done the same thing at that age for their daughters.
“Mum may have been 57, but I always trusted her completely. She knew that she was the best person for the job.”
Pamela added: “It was wonderful seeing Nichola holding the baby and seeing her as a mum now. I never hesitated to step in and help her. It was something we had talked about for a long while.
“I was worried about my age but the doctors were very supportive at MFS and everything went smoothly. I wanted to help Nichola more than anything; it was the greatest gift I could give her.”
Dr Gillian Lockwood, Medical Director of MFS said: “When Nichola and Pamela came to us for help I had great sympathy with a mother who so wanted to help her daughter.
“To have a grandmother who has already had a successful pregnancy herself is a good basis for a surrogate and Pamela had a thorough medical examination and screened very carefully.
“There are problems associated with pregnancy, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and with age the risk of these problems increases, but we didn’t have any concerns about Pamela as she was in good medical shape.
“We have had occasionally mothers who have been surrogates for their daughters, but no one as old as Pamela. It was an extremely generous thing for her to do.”