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Maree Arnold, 54, could be Australia's oldest surrogate with the mum preparing to give birth to her own grandson.
Her daughter Meagan White, 28, was born without a uterus and diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH) at 17 years old, a disorder that meant she could never carry a child.
“When I was a teenager, I was waiting around to start my menstrual cycle and it never happened. Mum and I went to see a doctor and discovered I had MRKH, which means I was born without a uterus and therefore would never have a period," Meagan, from Lilydale, Tasmania, said.
“It also meant I could never carry a child, however, I did have working ovaries so I could have a biological child with the help of a surrogate. Of course, as I was just a teenager at the time, I didn’t think about it much. But after meeting my now-husband Clayde in 2015, I knew I wanted to start a family and be a mother.
"Thankfully he was always so supportive of me and said we were going to be parents one day no matter what it took for it to happen."
Meagan, who has a background in nursing, feared she would never be able to fulfil her dream of having a child after her baby girl, carried by a Canadian surrogate, sadly passed away at 21 weeks.
But after doing some research, her mum Maree realised she could be her daughter's surrogate and is now 30 weeks pregnant with her grandson.
Maree said she was heartbroken watching her daughter suffer but never imagined she could volunteer to be a surrogate, as she believed she would be deemed ‘too old’ to be allowed to carry a child.
But after extensive research, legal advice, medical screenings and psychological assessments, doctors deemed that it would be possible.
"I always just assumed I’d be too old to do something like this but it just goes to show you always need to ask questions," mum-of-five Maree, who runs her own farm, said.
“I believe 45 is the usual cut off, however as I am her mother, the doctors are more lenient. I was very happy once we got past the first 20 weeks, after that I was really confident. It is such a special experience for me and I’m over the moon to be able to help my daughter."
With Maree already having gone through menopause, she was given medications to reverse the process and thicken her uterus lining to prepare for pregnancy.
She continued, “I think there are many different ways people get pregnant these days, and this is just another option.
“We really want to raise awareness to let people know this is possible. We all can’t wait to meet our grandson.”
After three failed embryo transfers, Meagan and Maree said they both began to feel a bit defeated and thought perhaps the process was not going to work.
But thankfully, the fourth transfer was a success. And despite it being 22 years since she has been pregnant, Maree says she feels great and is embracing the journey.
She said: “I know that I’m obviously older with this pregnancy, and I do get a bit more tired than when I was last pregnant 22 years ago.
“But I’m still up and about, mowing the lawns and doing this around the house. I feel great. Everyone in our family is so excited and I can’t wait to meet our grandson.”
Maree could possibly be Australia's oldest surrogate to date, with Antonietta Di Maggio, from Sydney, making headlines back in 2015 for giving birth to her grandson for daughter Claudia Luca at the age of 53.
Meagan’s little boy is due to enter the world in January 2022 through a C-Section.
“It’s so funny, for the first 20 weeks I’ve been worrying about the baby, but now I’ve been worrying about mum," Meagan added.
“Mum and I are so close, we talk every day. I can’t even put it into words how grateful I am for my mum. It’s so special.
“There is nobody else I’d rather be going through this with.”
With reporting by Caters News.
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