A rare birth defect left a Jefferson City woman unable to carry a child normally, but thanks to medical science and incredible support from her family, Meghan Holliday and her family will hang another stocking on the mantle this Christmas.
Baby Brynley is her parents' best Christmas present ever. But the story of how she came to be started 12 years ago when Brynley's mother found out she was born with no uterus and could never be pregnant with a child of her own.
It is a rare birth defect called Rokitansky syndrome, or Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome. Fertility specialist Dr. Gil Wilshire with Mid-Missouri Reproductive Medicine and Surgery in Columbia says women with the syndrome have normal hormones but never get their period.
"They develop normally, they have ovaries," says Wilshire, "They are otherwise completely healthy, but they just don't have a uterus they never menstruate."
According to the National Institutes of Health the syndrome affects one in 4,500 girls.
It was a really big shock," remembers Meghan. "Because my whole life I was walking around with you know, pillows in my belly and I baby-sat since 5th grade It was my life that, was all I wanted was to be a mom."
After she married Justin they looked into hiring a surrogate to carry a child, but quickly found out the cost would be $60,000. $30,000 for the surrogate, plus legal fees and the cost of In Vitro Fertilization, IVF.
Inspired by an episode on Oprah detailing how a 63 year old grandmother gave girth to her grandchild, Meghan and her mother Carol Bedford of Mexico starting talking.
Carol was 51 and had not gone through menopause, but Dr. Wilshire says even older women can be surrogates.
After consulting with Carol's regular obstetrician and Meghan's fertility specialist Dr. Wilshire, there was agreement that it would be safe for Carol to be a surrogate for Meghan and Justin's baby.
"She is slender, healthy and fit," says Wilshire. Still, doctors recommended Carol be implanted with just one fertilized egg and not risk carrying twins at her age.
First Carol had to get her body ready for IVF. That involved shots, pills, and creams. Estrogen and progesterone treatments were timed precisely to get Carol's uterus ready to be implanted with a fertilized egg. It was Meghan and Justin's biological child, nurtured in the womb of her grandmother.
Carol admits she was more tired this time, then when she was pregnant with her three children. She gained more weight and preeclampsia forced a C-section at 37 1/2 weeks. Baby Brynley was born healthy and Carol quickly went back to her normal small size.
Carol says it was not a sacrifice, but a true joy to carry a baby for her daughter.
"We were close before," says Carol, "but nothing like this."
"She's my best friend and she always has been," says Meghan. "But now I have a better appreciation for her as a mother and also for what she did."