50-year-old mum: ‘I fell pregnant at the same time as my surrogate’

After years of fertility struggles, Monike Huggins became a mum to two babies just before her 50th birthday...

Mum pregnant surrogate

by Amber Connolly |

When Monike Huggins cradles her babies in her arms, she can’t believe how lucky she is. After seven years of fertility struggles, costing her and her husband, Kenneth, a staggering £140k, she is finally a mum to not one – but two – children.

But babies Kenny and Haylie aren’t twins, in fact they were born three months apart. While Kenny was carried by a surrogate, Haylie is the result of the couple’s final round of IVF – a last-ditch attempt for Monike to carry one of her own children, which she felt sure would never work.

Monike, who gave birth three months before she turned 50, says, “It feels like a miracle to have our son and daughter finally with us – we feel blessed.”

mum pregnant surrogate
Monike welcomed two babies at the age of 50

After Monike, an accountant, married Kenneth, a retired geologist, in 2015, they knew they wanted to have a family. While Monike had a son, now 23, from a previous relationship, Kenneth, 65, had no children of his own.

Monike says, “Soon after we got married, I found out I was pregnant. We were thrilled. But tragically, I miscarried at the same time Kenneth was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was devastating, especially as treatment would affect Kenneth’s fertility. I was 42, so time was running out.”

After choosing to freeze Monike’s remaining eggs and Kenneth’s sperm, the couple decided to try IVF locally in Houston, Texas – but at great cost. Monike says, “We spent an eye-watering £22k on the treatment and, sadly, our first round wasn’t a success, which made the blow even more devastating.”

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Over the next four years, Monike and Kenneth tried IVF twice more, travelling to Prague for treatment. Monike explains, “We went to Prague as it was much cheaper – excluding travel costs, it was under £4k.

“Unfortunately, the two rounds of IVF didn’t work and we were slowly losing hope – until we decided to consider surrogacy. We signed up to one of the best agencies in the USA, but there was a two-year waiting list.”

After an agonising wait, in 2020, the couple were matched with their surrogate Anjela Borhman, 37. Monike says, “We were over the moon – Anjela was so lovely and kept in constant contact with us. We had a male and female embryo implanted, and before we knew it, we got a call to say Anjela was expecting twins. Kenneth and I hugged and cried as we realised that finally – after so long – our dreams were coming true.

“Anjela was based in Minneapolis – which is a three-hour flight from us – so all our catch-ups had to be via Skype, especially when travel restrictions kicked in due to the pandemic. But we joined Anjela on Zoom for all of her doctor’s appointments, and Kenneth and I started thinking of names for our babies.”

mum pregnant surrogate
Monike and Kenneth's family is now complete

But tragically, when Anjela was three-and-a-half weeks pregnant, doctors discovered the baby girl hadn’t survived. Monike says, “There was no explanation, which was devastating. But while Kenneth and I tried to focus on the fact that our baby boy was still healthy and growing, by then we’d had our heart set on having two children.”

The couple still had some embryos left to use, and since they’d spent so much money on them, they decided to give IVF one last go.

Monike says, “We had nothing to lose, so I spoke to a specialist doctor to see what the chances were of getting pregnant at my age, as by then I was 48. I’m fit and healthy and exercise four times a week, so after an assessment, the doctor declared I was in good health and was determined to make the IVF a success. ‘I will get you pregnant,’ he told me.

“Although I was desperate for it to happen, we’d experienced so much heartbreak along the way already that I didn’t truly believe his words. I didn’t see why this round should be any different to all the failed attempts that had come before.”

mum pregnant surrogate
Monike gave birth just three months after her surrogate

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But that Christmas, Monike received the best gift ever when she found out she was pregnant. She says, “I was completely shocked. Neither Kenneth or I could believe it, and our friends and family were just as stunned. Still, we were very cautious throughout the pregnancy, terrified that something would go wrong.

“For the first few months, I suffered with morning sickness, but apart from that, I didn’t find pregnancy to be that different to when I was last pregnant 20 years ago! Once the sickness subsided, I just had lots of cravings for kale and orange.”

In May 2021, Anjela gave birth to the Huggins’ son Kenny, and three months later, their daughter Haylie was born in August. Monike said, “We were both in the room when Anjela gave birth. Holding Kenny for the first time was the most amazing experience. We could hardly believe he was here. We told Anjela how grateful we were to her, but nothing we said could truly express how thankful we felt – she gave us our son.”

Then, three months later, Monike gave birth to Haylie. Monike says, “Suddenly having two newborns in the house was certainly an adjustment! Being a mum is the most amazing thing, but it is also very tiring. I work full-time from home and I used up most of my maternity after Kenny was born, so by the time Haylie arrived, I was only able to take a couple of weeks off. I felt that it was important to spend this time with Kenny because he was born via surrogate, so I wanted us to bond.”

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Read more in the latest issue of Closer magazine – OUT NOW ©Bauer Media

In November 2021, Monike celebrated her 50th birthday with Kenneth and their newborns, who are now nine months and six months old. And while she admits to worrying about being older parents, she has no regrets. She says, “There are no guarantees in life, but we’ll enjoy as much time with our children as we can, because we’ve waited so long for them to be with us.

“We have a very busy house now, but I love Kenny and Haylie so much. They’re adorable and they’re already so close. The way they look at each other makes my heart melt. Kenneth, who is now fully recovered from cancer, absolutely adores them and he’s so proud to finally be a father. One day, we’ll tell the babies about the unusual way they came into the world.

“We feel so lucky to finally have our dream family. Now, we want to focus on creating happy memories together.”

Read more in the latest issue of Closer magazine – OUT NOW.

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