Devoted mother Nothing was going to stop Julie Bradford from having a surrogate baby for her cancer-stricken daughter.
Jessica Jenkins, 21, was told she would never be able to have children, so the hairdresser, 45, bravely stood in for her.
Devastated Jessica chose to have her eggs frozen after being diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 18. She was one of the youngest women in the UK to be diagnosed with the disease.
Julie has given birth to her infant grandson Jack three years later.
Julie told the Daily Mirror that any mother would do anything for their child. It was never in doubt from the start. To us, he’s a Christmas miracle.
“You watch your 18-year-old daughter go through cancer and then claim you wouldn’t do it.” But, as a mother, I would have done it anyway.
“There was no way I wasn’t having a kid for Jessica if cancer couldn’t beat us.”
“I cannot believe I’ve gone from facing death with cancer to facing my first Christmas with my kid in just a few years,” Jessica exclaimed.
“It just goes to show that you should never give up no matter what life throws at you because anything is possible.”
Jack, who weighed a healthy 6lb 10oz when he was born last Friday, could not have made it if doctors hadn’t acted quickly.
Jessica, who lives in Rhymney, South Wales, had her eggs retrieved on the same day she began radiotherapy. “The ultimate level of anguish was being told point-blank I’d never have kids, not getting cancer, because you can survive the disease,” she said.
“However, the physicians were excellent; egg harvesting for IVF generally takes at least four weeks, but they managed to accomplish it in two.”
“In the morning, I had my eggs extracted, and in the afternoon, I began radiotherapy.”
“It was the absolute last possible moment for me to begin treatment.” But it was such a relief to know that, whatever occurred, I had done it because I had always wanted to be a mother and couldn’t stomach having that dream snatched away.”
Rees Jenkins, Jessica’s 27-year-old husband, said the news that the pair would never be able to have children was devastating.
“Cancer I could deal with, it was dreadful, but you knew there was hope,” the machine setter said through tears. I’d never sobbed in front of Jess until she informed me she’d never been able to have children. We just sat in the car, sobbing uncontrollably.
“She told me to leave her and go my own way, and I don’t think I’ve ever loved her more than I did at the time.”
Jessica quickly beat cancer and has been in remission since October 2014, much to the relief of the pair.
And as soon as she was given the green light, her loving mother Julie stepped in to give her what she most desired — a child.
Doctors were able to extract 21 eggs, but only 10 had survived when they decided to pursue IVF treatment earlier this year.
Despite her age and the fact that she already has three children of her own, Julie said there was never any doubt in her mind that she would assist.
“We couldn’t control the disease, but we could manage this,” the mother, who went through menopause at the age of 38, continued. “It was my way of regaining control for my daughter.” “I had the ability to do something wonderful for Jessica, and I was going to do it; nothing was going to stop me.”
Julie found out she was pregnant on April 9 of this year, exactly two years after Jessica was informed she would never be able to have children.
Jessica and Jack have been together ever then, and they talk fondly about the first time Jessica felt Jack kick.
“We were embracing on the couch watching TV when Jack kicked me in the head,” Jessica recalled through sobs. It was the most incredible event, and we both sobbed our eyes out.
“My mother is my hero; she has taught me the meaning of true love, and I will never be able to repay her for everything she has done for us and the sacrifices she has made.”
Rees, Jack’s father, did not have the same experience.
“I’ll admit, it freaked me out at first that my son was being carried in my mother-in-arms,” law’s he added. I kept a respectful distance at first, but as soon as she started showing, I realized I couldn’t keep my distance any longer. It is the most incredible thing a person can do for someone else.
“Jess and her mother already had a terrific relationship, but it’s just gotten better now.”
“Seeing Jess and her mother cry while holding Jack will always be the best day of my life.” I have not expressed my gratitude to Julie sufficiently, and I want her to know how grateful I am from the bottom of my heart.
“I was in a frigid medical room being told Jess could die a few years ago, and then I was in a room welcoming our baby into the world.” It’s truly amazing.”
Throughout the three-and-a-half-hour labor, Jessica stayed by her mother’s side. “It was dreadful witnessing my mother in pain; I felt useless, but I held her hand and cleaned her brow; she was absolutely great,” Jessica recalled. The most amazing mother on the planet.
“I’ve had three,” Julie joked, “so I did warn her about what she was in for, but I just got on with it.”
“At the end, I felt a little gas and air, but I didn’t even take a paracetamol.”
“You don’t feel agony at times like that, you just feel happy to be able to bring my daughter’s child into the world.”
Jessica also admitted that she hasn’t ruled out having more children, but she won’t approach Julie about it again. Instead, she is focusing her efforts on developing groundbreaking womb transplant technologies.
“I couldn’t put my mother through it again — I know they’re performing clinical studies on womb transplants in Switzerland, so as soon as it gets over here, I’m putting myself forward,” she said.
Julie has stepped in to help yet again, this time by offering to donate her own womb for transplant.
“I wouldn’t hesitate,” Julie remarked. Isn’t it obvious that it’s in good functioning order?’