A month after giving birth to her own granddaughter, the 51-year-old woman who volunteered to be her daughter’s surrogate mother says the experience was “indescribable”.
After four years, two miscarriages, several surgeries, and plenty of heartbreak, Breanna Lockwood finally got to welcome her baby girl into the world.
And by Lockwood’s side was her mother Julie Loving, who had just given birth to that baby.
Loving, 51, carried Lockwood’s child after watching her daughter go through years of fertility struggles. Their touching story has been followed by more than 150,000 people on Instagram, and made headlines all around the world.
Insider spoke to Lockwood and Loving about meeting baby Briar for the first time, their emotions on delivery day, and what it was like to go through surrogacy together.
Breanna Lockwood and Julie Loving first spoke to Insider back in July about their incredible surrogacy journey.
Loving had just passed the 20-week anatomy scan, and she and Lockwood were eagerly anticipating the third trimester.
“That is just a bit of a sigh of relief,” Lockwood said at the time. “When you get to walk out of there and everything looks textbook.”
“I think I’ll always be a little nervous around every corner, but also appreciate every milestone as much as I can.”
Lockwood said her mother’s last trimester was a time of “pure excitement.”
“Everything was one day closer, one step closer to baby getting here,” she told Insider this week. “Mom was feeling pretty great all through the pregnancy, so we really got to enjoy everything thoroughly. We had a lot of fun with it, trying to document, take pictures, and just journal everything we were going through.”
“It felt like the night before Christmas every day,” she added. “We were waiting for the big moment.”
And Loving found that her third pregnancy wasn’t all that different from when she had carried her own children more than 20 years prior.
“It was really similar, it was a pretty easy pregnancy,” Loving told Insider. “I was just a little fatigued and had some nausea in the first trimester, but I also had that with my kids.”
The main difference was that Loving was “pretty much homebound” for the entire pregnancy due to the pandemic.
“I was able to stay home, so I took advantage of that and didn’t want to risk getting sick,” she added. “It was harder, it felt like the pregnancy was a little longer.”
On November 2, Loving went to the hospital for a scheduled induction. It was time to bring baby Briar into the world.
“It was exciting and it was scary, I had all of the emotions going on that day,” Loving said. “I was praying everything was going to go smooth, and I was also super excited to see Breanna’s face when she saw her daughter for the first time. I couldn’t wait for that moment, so I had all the emotions going on.”
Halfway through the labor, doctors decided to take Loving in for a C-section.
“My mom was progressing really well, she was dilating pretty quickly,” Lockwood told Insider. “And then after they broke her water, she started to progress even quicker. At one point each contraction was putting stress on Briar’s umbilical cord, which was making her heart rate drop suddenly.”
“It was a little scary at first,” she added. “We were all getting nervous when we were watching those numbers go up and down. The doctors were starting to get a little uncomfortable with it and decided to take her in for a C-section.”
Loving had never had a C-section before, but she was ready when her doctors made the call.
“I just wanted Briar to be okay and safe,” she said. “I was like, ‘Go, let’s do this.'”
“She just decided she wanted to come a different way than we planned,” Lockwood added. “And I think she’s going to be keeping us on our toes for the rest of our lives.”
After a six-hour delivery, Briar Lockwood came into the world.
“It felt like a blur,” Lockwood recalled. “Everything was happening so quickly and then, before I knew it, they were calling her date and time of birth.”
“Our OB delivered her and then immediately turned around and held her right in front of me. It was such an exciting moment just to see her for the first time and hear her cry, I was just sobbing. There wasn’t a dry eye in that operating room. It was really special.”
It was the moment that Lockwood has been dreaming of for years.
Lockwood and her husband Aaron began trying for a baby shortly after they tied the knot in 2016. But the high-school sweethearts, who live in Chicago, discovered that getting pregnant was going to be much harder than they had expected.
“You think it’s just going to happen right away,” Lockwood told Insider in July. “When it wasn’t happening after a couple of months, I started to get concerned.”
After a year of trying to conceive on their own, the couple started fertility treatments.
Lockwood began seeing Dr. Brian Kaplan, a fertility specialist at Fertility Centers of Illinois. She would ultimately go through 476 IVF injections, seven surgical procedures, two miscarriages, and one ectopic pregnancy.
After Lockwood had her second miscarriage in December 2018, Loving sent her daughter a text: “I really want to be your surrogate.”
“I thought she was crazy,” Lockwood said. “I didn’t think it was even possible. I just read it and put my phone away. I didn’t want to get my hopes up and get my heart set on something.”
But Loving was persistent.
“I really felt like I had a good shot,” she said. “I’ve never been on any kind of medications and I had really easy pregnancies with my two kids, so I felt like I would be a good candidate. And I also want to be a grandma as bad as Breanna wants to be a mom. So it was really easy for me to want to do this.”
Lockwood brought Loving to one of her appointments with Dr. Kaplan, who decided to consider the possibility of a mother-daughter surrogacy.
Loving was cleared by her primary care physician and OB-GYN, as well as a psychologist and maternal-fetal medicine specialist. She also passed numerous tests and panels of blood work before Kaplan gave the official approval and performed the embryo transfer in February.
“This is obviously a very unique scenario, and was done after very careful personalized medical, psychological, and ethical considerations,” Kaplan told Insider. “Julie had an extensive work up and was considered uniquely healthy, which included completing marathons in her 40s.”
Fast forward nine months and Loving is now enjoying a very different role as grandma.
“Being a grandma is great because you get to go home and sleep!” she said with a laugh. “But I’ve just really enjoyed coming over and feeding her and rocking her. I got to see Breanna give Briar her first bath. She’s really letting me be a part of it and it’s been wonderful.”
“It’s been four weeks and I think every day I still cry a little bit just looking at her, because it does feel like such a miracle,” she added. “It’s been so worth it. Seeing my daughter happy again is really just the best part of it.”
Lockwood said that Briar came out “ready to rock and roll,” and that it has been a joy watching her grow.
“I think my favorite thing is just, every day, I see little changes,” Lockwood said. “And it breaks my heart but it makes me happy at the same time. I don’t want her to grow so fast, but it’s so exciting to see her change and grow in her own little personality.”
“It’s been a great few weeks and she’s such a great baby,” she added. “We’re just so happy.”
Loving said it was an “unbelievable feeling” to be able to help her daughter become a mother.
“It really made me feel good to be able to give my daughter this gift of life for her and her husband to complete their family,” she said. “It’s just indescribable. I do think surrogates are like angels to be able to do that for someone else.”
And Lockwood said the experience showed her how Loving is “the strongest person ever.”
“To give up her whole life and hit pause on all of her favorite things to do this for us, it was such a selfless thing,” Lockwood said. “It really showed me, I want to become the same kind of mom that she is to me.”