Woman carries baby for sister-in-law born without uterus
A woman from Florida, United States carried the baby of her sister-in-law whose disorder has rendered her with no uterus.
Hollie Hepler was only 16 years old when she found out she would never be able to carry a child, as per Good Morning America on June 7. Hollie, now 31 years old, was diagnosed then with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, a disorder characterized by the underdevelopment or absence of the vagina and uterus. In her case, she had no uterus but had fully-functioning ovaries.
“The diagnosis spiraled me into a decade, probably, of fear and insecurity and just having to let go and have faith,” Hollie said in the report. “I wasn’t even thinking about being a mom at that time, but I always knew I wanted children.”
Little did Hollie know that marrying her husband Joe in 2014 would lead her to the woman who would help her realize her dreams of having children: her sister-in-law PJ Willis. Willis, an emergency room nurse, figured she could carry Hollie’s baby.
“Before I had children, when I found out that Hollie couldn’t have children, in my mind, I thought, ‘Oh I could do that for her,'” said Willis. “When it came to be a real possibility, I was in a season of my life of trying to figure out my future. I had just gotten married and had time to self-reflect, and I thought it was time to start having our children so we could have theirs later.”
Willis went on to have two daughters on her own before serving as Hepler’s gestational carrier. In 2018, Willis and the Heplers took to Dr. William Schoolcraft, a pioneer in fertility medicine in Colorado, to help them with their plan.
“Hollie understood this was just an anomaly she was born with, but together, they could create their own genetic baby, and after it was born it would just be their baby like any other,” said Schoolcraft in the report. “Their family’s life was going to be normal, but there was just this nine-month detour to get there.”
The embryo of the Heplers was successfully transferred to Willis’ uterus last September 2018. As per Hollie, they were in a hotel room in Colorado when they discovered the good news.
This June, Willis gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Jarrel Clayton “JC” Hepler, her nephew. He weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces and measured 20. 5 inches.
“My mom was there in the delivery room, and it was a real redeeming moment for both of us,” Hollie added. “I kept thinking, this was a part of the plan, this was God’s plan the entire time.”
Willis, on the other hand, is recovering well from the delivery home and is happy to see her brother finally become a father.
“He’s super calm and just loves to snuggle him,” said Willis. “The biggest thing that I learned is when you feel that nudge, even if you’re scared and don’t know how it’s going to work out, just go for it.” Cody Cepeda/JB
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