Jeff Hauck was moved when his mother, 56-year-old Nancy Hauck, offered to be a surrogate for him and his wife Cambria. After his wife’s hysterectomy, they didn’t have many options for growing their family.
Wednesday afternoon, his mother gave birth to Hannah, the fifth child of Jeff and Cambria. At first, he didn’t think it was possible for someone to do something so meaningful.
Jeff, who is 33, wants to know how many people get to see their mother give birth. He says the experience was “wonderful.”
The web developer says, “It’s a huge honor that my daughter gets to do it.”
“I don’t really see it that way,” Jeff says.
Nancy was in labor for almost nine hours. She says that the whole family felt that the event was “amazing and spiritual.”
She says, “Everything went well, and we’re so happy to have her join our family.” Now, as she continues to get better, she is “facing the new feelings of having a kid but not being able to bring it home with me.”
She says, “It is a mix of deep gratitude and sadness about being apart.”
The couple from St. George says that naming their daughter Hannah is a good way to honor her grandmother.
“When she got a positive pregnancy test six days after the transfer,” says Jeff, “his mother was woken up in the middle of the night by a small voice saying, ‘My name is Hannah.'”
Nancy, who works at Utah Tech University as an associate provost, says it was a “very beautiful and spiritual event” that gave her faith that her untested baby would be a girl. The couple didn’t have to think about it for long before they agreed.
“The name Nancy comes from the name Hannah,” says Cambria, who is 30 years old and looked up the name. They are both about grace.
“I knew right away that was her name,” says the social media star and co-owner of a charity dancing company who just had her fifth child.
Both of them were raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they met just before Cambria’s senior year of high school. They have always thought it was important to have a big family.
Jeff says, “Even when I was young, I knew I wanted to be a father if I could only do one thing.”
Cambria adds, “We always thought we would have between four and six children. We would say that we would be happy with whatever the Lord gave us.”
After getting married on December 12, 2012—”we just loved that it was a once-in-a-lifetime date,” says Cambria—the couple found that starting a family would not be easy. She says, “We knew right away that I had problems getting pregnant.”
IVF helped the couple have their first two children, twins Vera and Ayva, who are now 4 years old. It took them four years of fertility treatments to get pregnant with them.
With just one round of IVF, the couple was able to fertilize seven embryos. The following year, they had twins, Diesel and Luca, who are now 13 months old.
Even though everything seemed fine at first, Cambria started having “extreme pain and cramps” and “gushes of blood” about two hours after their children were born.
When doctors checked on her, they saw that she was bleeding. Suddenly, Cambria needed to have a hysterectomy, and the couple had to decide what to do.
“That was a hard choice for us to make,” Cambria says, but they decided to get the treatment in the end.
Even though her own life was in danger, the couple knew that if she had the surgery, they might not be able to “use all of our embryos.”
“We wanted to give them all a chance to live,” she says.
As soon as she woke up from surgery, they started talking about what they could do. “And we both agreed to move forward based on our faith,” she says. At some point, we would know what we had to do.
In fact, they didn’t have to wait very long.
About a month and a half later, Nancy first suggested that she could be the couple’s surrogate, which no one, including Nancy, thought was possible because of her age.
Still, Nancy says she made the offer because she “wanted Jeff to know I would have been willing to do it.”
Later that day, Jeff told his wife about it. They both thought it was cute, but they didn’t pay much attention to it.
Jason, Nancy’s husband, felt the same way as she did. He says, “I was very touched by her offer to do that. I thought it was a very selfless thing for her to do.” But I didn’t think that was a chance.
When Nancy brought it up again a few weeks later, the couple agreed to talk to their reproductive expert about it at a later appointment.
Surrogacy wasn’t impossible as long as Nancy was healthy and willing, which surprised them. Once her OB-GYN gave her a clean bill of health, things started to fall into place.
Nancy’s last child with her husband was born more than 20 years ago, and she hadn’t had a period for eight or nine months before it “came back.”
Dr. Russell Foulk, who oversaw and implanted the embryos that led to both of Cambria’s pregnancies and also did the same for her mother-in-law, says that Nancy “was in perimenopause, which means the ovary is still making hormones.”
“Since you keep having periods, they become irregular and hard to predict,” he says.
Foulk, who started and runs the Utah Fertility Center, says that the idea that a woman’s ability to have children decreases as she gets older is “misunderstood.”
“In fact, the only reason that’s true is because it’s good for the egg,” he says. Unless something new has happened in the past 25 years, the uterus is still able to carry a fetus.
“It’s rare for a grandmother to give birth to her grandchild,” the doctor said, “but age is not the problem.” “Healthy and able” is what he said about Nancy.
Jeff got a new job around the same time that Cambria started getting paid social media marketing opportunities.
Cambria says, “It was crazy to look at our bank account and think, “Oh my gosh, we have all the money we need!””
Finally, on February 17, the embryo transfer happened. Six days later, Nancy’s pregnancy test came back positive.
Cambria says, “At this point, we all knew that this was meant to happen.”
Still, Nancy says that she was “very worried” about the pregnancy.
“My biggest fear was that I would lose the baby and blame myself for it because I was so young,” she says.
So, Nancy told Cambria and Jeff to wait until she was six months pregnant before sharing the news on social media.
“I’m also very private, and Cambria has a huge number of Instagram followers,” she says. “I knew our lives would change, and I really wanted six months to think about it, pay attention, and figure out how to handle it gracefully.”
The pregnancy has been a “wonderful” time for the whole family.
Cambria says, “I go with her to all of her appointments, and it’s amazing to see how graceful, beautiful, and sure of herself she is; she shines.”
“Everywhere she goes, she gives off so much light that she doesn’t even have the pregnant glow.”
Cambria and Jeff make them dinner every week and offer to help clean up, even though she says, “There’s no way we can truly repay Nancy and Jason for this miracle.”
Nancy and her husband have also grown closer because of what happened. Jason, who is 59 years old, says, “We’ve made some habits.” Every night, while we watch The Great British Baking Show, mom lets me make her dinner and rub her feet and legs.
Nancy says, “I’ve never been this spoiled in my whole life.”
Nancy plans to take three weeks off after the birth of her daughter and write a book about it.
She says, “I’ll talk about being apart from the baby and the pain.” I know that my son will get the baby, but I still expect to feel a little bit empty.
Jason and Nancy are not the first people in their family to be grandparents, but they know that with Hannah they are in “uncharted territory.”
Jason wants us to treat Hannah the same way we treat everyone else. “But we’ll always have that connection—the fact that Nancy carried her for nine months—and the magic of the whole thing will stay with us.”
Nancy says, “In my heart, I want all of my grandchildren to know that they are equally loved, and I would have done it for any of them.”