A 51-year-old mother with multiple sclerosis gave birth to her own
granddaughter in North Dakota, acting as a surrogate for her daughter.
The pregnancy came with an unexpected and welcome side effect.
get pregnant after marrying in 2013, but they had trouble conceiving
and opted for in vitro fertilization.
she subsequently went into early labor and lost the baby, which she
“There’s so much excitement,” Stephens, 32, said. “You carry the baby
for so long, and then it’s all ripped apart and taken away. Your whole
“Watching your child lose a child is the definition of sadness,” Dickson
said. “I can’t describe it any other way. It breaks your heart.”
Because Stephens’ cervix opened early, doctors warned the couple that a
premature birth could happen again, though there is a procedure that may
allow women with cervical insufficiency to carry their own baby.
“I decided that if they needed somebody to carry their child, I would volunteer,” Dickson said.
of her own. But there could be complications because of her age and
diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the
central nervous system.
“The disabling effects of the disease may make it physically difficult
for the mother to carry a pregnancy,” according to Johns Hopkins
Medicine. “Muscle weakness and coordination problems may increase the
likelihood for falls.”
whose MS was in remission: Becoming pregnant might help keep it that
last year, Dickson was pregnant with her daughter and son-in-law’s baby.
“Pregnancy was easy,” Dickson said. “I was very fortunate … I was
playing tennis a week before I delivered, and working out with my
trainer, but the delivery at 51 was way harder than the delivery at 33
with my last baby.”
“It’s indescribable,” Dickson said. “There are times I look at … [the
baby] and say, ‘We did that, you know?’ We gave her what she wants. Not
that you ever make up for a baby you lost but you give someone that
hope, you know?”