Mother and Grandmother
An unusual story from the Miami Herald.
When Caryn and Ayal Chomsky of Weston realized she couldn't bear children after cervical cancer, Ann Stolper stepped in as a surrogate mother.The article goes on to detail the family's experience including that Stolper wanted to breastfeed the babies. Rick at SOTP found this all rather weird.
Embryos created in vitro with Caryn's eggs and Ayal's sperm were implanted in Stolper's uterus, and in December, she gave birth to healthy twins.
There's little unusual about such a thing these days, except for this: Stolper, 59, is Caryn Chomsky's mother.
She gave birth to her own grandchildren.
While it is extremely rare, it's not unheard of. A woman in Oregon and one in Greece were surrogate mothers for their grandchildren earlier this year, though they were both at least six years younger than Stolper.
I say God bless the new family. My wife and I have had fertility problems, in addition to losing two children including Daniel who lived 14.5 hours. Caryn and Ayal Chomsky should count themselves both blessed and lucky that they have a mother willing to do this for them.
The rest of the Herald Story is below.
Linked to- Blue Star, Committees of Correspondence, The World According to Carl,
The story of Itai and Maya Chomsky's unusual birth began in 2000.
Ayal was finishing law school at Nova Southeastern University; Caryn was getting her Ph.D. in physical therapy at Boston University.
The two met at a deli at JFK International Airport while en route to Israel and started a long-distance, four-year courtship. Finally, in 2004, they were married in their native New Jersey.
A year later, Caryn Chomsky was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She was 25.
The life-saving cancer surgery included a complete hysterectomy. She also needed radiation therapy, but first, doctors carefully harvested eggs from her ovaries.
Having put the cancer behind them, except for Caryn's regular checkups, the Chomskys considered their options for starting a family.
That's when her mother stepped forward.
''I made the suggestion,'' said Stolper, then 57. ``How about if I carry a child or children? At first the doctors weren't too sure about it.''
In general, doctors won't implant an embryo in a woman older than 55. But the Chomskys persisted, pointing to test results that showed Stolper's heart health, blood pressure and general fitness level made her a realistic candidate for pregnancy.
They decided to go ahead.
Because Stolper was post-menopausal, she needed daily hormone injections to prepare her uterus. One of Caryn's eggs -- fertilized with Ayal's sperm -- was delicately planted in Stolper's uterus, but after five days, there was disappointment. It stopped dividing.
A few months later, they tried again, and before long Stolper developed a certain thickening at the waist that her neighbors chalked up to too many desserts. Because that's what you think when a 58-year-old woman in an adult community puts on a few pounds.
But as her belly ballooned, she turned heads at Valencia Palms in Delray Beach, where she and her husband Ira Stolper lived after years of working as schoolteachers in the Bronx.
''She was the talk of the town,'' said Ayal Chomsky, now a corporate lawyer.
Ira Stolper enjoyed teasing neighbors who marveled at his pregnant wife. Jaws that had dropped at the news she was pregnant dropped farther when Ira told them that she was expecting twins.
And then he'd drop the real bombshell: 'I'm not the father. My son-in-law knocked her up. Then I would say, `Let me explain.' ''
During the pregnancy, Stolper stayed off her feet and cut coffee and alcohol out of her diet. Ayal Chomsky e-mailed gentle reminders to drink more water. ''Grandma, we're thirsty,'' he wrote.
''It was very scary for an obstetrician. I was very nervous about Mom, about Ann,'' said Rebecca Stern, the Boca Raton doctor who diagnosed Caryn's cancer and delivered the twins. ``I was afraid [Stolper] was going to actually have a heart attack.''
Ann Stolper took hormone injections and pills throughout. She gained 36 pounds.
On the big day, doctors crowded the room, leaving space for one family member. Caryn Chomsky was at her mother's side.
Shortly before 10 a.m. on Dec. 1 the twins arrived -- six weeks early -- by C-section at Boca Raton Community Hospital. Maya weighed three pounds, eight ounces; Itai was three pounds.
Overall, Stolper said, delivering them was easier than delivering her first set of twins -- Caryn and her brother -- decades ago. ''I felt a lot better a lot faster,'' she said.
Stolper felt so good she wanted to breastfeed the babies, but the doctor discouraged her.
''I felt that that would have created too much of an attachment,'' Stern said.
Today, Itai and Maya are healthy. They resemble their parents in temperament and looks, Ayal and Caryn Chomsky say.
The Chomskys know that after Caryn's cervical cancer, they're lucky to be parents. They said the family came forward about the births to promote a new vaccine that prevents the virus that causes the disease.
The Merck drug, Gardasil, is controversial because it's most effective when given to girls before they become sexually active. Some conservative groups have said it will encourage young girls to have sex.
Friday at the Chomsky's Weston home, Maya sported a pink shirt and blue jeans. Itai wore a plaid shirt and khaki pants. Mom, Dad, and Grandma took turns holding the tiny infants, who have bulked up quite a bit since their birth: Maya weighs 13 pounds; Itai 14.
Ira Stolper stood by, beaming at his grandchildren. ''It's been a very interesting year and a half, to say the least,'' he said.