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Mike and Emily Jordan hold their newborn daughter, Elle Cynthia Jordan. After Emily underwent a radical hysterectomy, she and her husband accepted an offer from her mother, Cindy Reutzel, to act as a surrogate for their child.
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BY MARTHA IRVINE
AP NATIONAL WRITER
CHICAGO--Setting foot in a hospital again, Emily and Mike Jordan couldn't help but feel anxious.
More than two years before, at age 29, Emily had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. But just before she was to undergo a radical hysterectomy, she was told that she was pregnant. Faced with saving her own life or their unborn child's, the young couple made the excruciating decision to go forward with her surgery. It meant losing the baby, and forfeiting any chance at having their own children.
Or so they thought.
"I can't describe what that was like after finding out you have cancer, after finding out your chance of ever carrying a baby is gone," Emily says, still stammering at times as she recounts that painful day in 2010.
Simply put, her body no longer had a place where a baby could grow.
But now, more than two years later, she and Mike had come from their suburban Chicago home to the labor and delivery department of a downtown hospital to realize the dream they thought was lost--to become parents, though not the way they, or most people, would have imagined.
Alongside them that day was Emily's mother, Cindy Reutzel--a fit, silver-haired 53-year-old grandmother whose profile revealed a round belly, a pregnant belly.
Reutzel was about to give birth to her own grandchild.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE
Just 34 years ago, Louise Brown, the first "test tube" baby, was born in Great Britain. The result? A veritable in-vitro baby boom.
It started with would-be mothers in their 20s and 30s. "Then people started pushing the envelope," says Dr. Helen Kim, director of the in vitro fertilization program at the University of Chicago. "If you could help a menopausal woman in her 30s, could you help a menopausal woman in her 40s? And then it became, 'Can you help a menopausal woman in her 50s?'
"And the answer is yes."
Some older women were having their own babies. But more often, they were using egg donors to have their own children, or serving as surrogates or "gestational carriers."
There was the 51-year-old grandmother in Brazil who gave birth to her twin grandchildren in 2007. There've been others, grandmothers in their 40s or 50s and even 60s.