PROVO, Utah — A 58-year-old Utah woman is set to give birth in a few weeks — to her first grandchild.
Julia Navarro is serving as a gestational surrogate for her daughter and son-in-law after the couple struggled with fertility problems.
Navarro's daughter Lorena McKinnon said she began trying to have a baby with her husband, Micah McKinnon, three years ago.
The 32-year-old Provo woman said she's had about a dozen miscarriages, with the longest pregnancy lasting 10 weeks.
After several tries, the couple began looking for a surrogate. McKinnon said a friend and sister both considered carrying her baby, but ultimately decided against it.
That's when her mother offered to step in.
"As a family, we have to help each other," Navarro told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Navarro had to undergo hormone shots for three months before an embryo fertilized by her daughter and son-in-law could be implanted. Because of her age, doctors had warned there was only a 45 percent chance the implantation would be successful.
But the procedure was a success, and Navarro said she's had a smooth pregnancy carrying a developing baby girl.
As with other surrogacy arrangements, the couple and Navarro needed three months of counseling.
"The psychologists wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting into — that we were mentally prepared," McKinnon said. "Mostly, surrogacy contracts are with people you don't know. It was weird to have a contract with my mom."
It's unclear how rare it is for a woman to carry her own grandchild, but recent news reports have detailed similar relationships.
Last year, a 53-year-old Iowa woman gave birth to her twin granddaughters. And in 2012, a 49-year-old woman in Maine gave birth to her grandson.
McKinnon said she was grateful and overwhelmed by her mother's offer, which eases some of the obstacles and financial burdens for parents using a gestational surrogate.
According to Utah law, surrogates must be 21 or older, financially stable and must have already given birth once.
Couples must be married and are allowed to offer a reasonable payment to a surrogate.
On average, a couple can spend about $60,000 on procedures and paying the surrogate, but McKinnon said her mother's offer to help is saving the couple about half of that.
Both she and her daughter said they've bonded over the experience.
The baby girl is due in early February.