PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A 49-year-old Madawaska woman did not have to go to a shopping center to find a gift for her daughter, who was anxiously awaiting her first child. That is because Linda Sirois gave her daughter the gift that she wanted the most — the baby.
Sirois’ grandson, Madden Brian Hebert, was born on Aug. 17 at The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle. His birth was extra special, as Sirois carried the baby for her daughter, 25-year-old Angel Hebert and her 29-year-old husband, Brian Hebert.
It was the first child for the Presque Isle couple.
“She is amazing,” Angel Hebert said of her mother. “I couldn’t have asked for a better mother. It’s such a great and selfless gift she has given us. She brought her grandson into the world and we now have our beautiful baby boy. We are all super excited.”
Hospital officials said earlier this week that Angel Hebert could not carry the baby on her own due to a heart condition. The couple feared they would go through life childless, as Hebert was told by her cardiologist that carrying a child to term would pose a considerable risk to both her and the baby. He strongly advised against a pregnancy.
Enter Sirois, who said that she “couldn’t imagine” not offering to carry the child for her daughter and son-in-law.
“I couldn’t see them going through life without a child, while I am capable of helping them,” she said. “It’s only nine months for me to give them a child for life. I knew it could be done. I had heard of a 60-year-old grandmother serving as a surrogate for her grandchild, so I knew it was possible.”
The couple started looking into the process last summer. They made calls to various clinics throughout New England but they turned Sirois down as a surrogate due to her age. Undaunted, Sirois contacted the Reproductive Science Center of New England in Lexington, Mass., who agreed to help.
As part of the screening process, Sirois had to undergo testing to ensure she was in optimal health to carry a child. After being cleared, much of the testing and procedures necessary in the following months were done at local hospitals.
Results were forwarded to the Reproductive Science Center.
“Angel had her calendar of instructions to follow for egg retrieval, and I had mine for preparing my body for embryo transfer,” said Sirois. “It was intense, but we took it step by step, one day at a time.”
The couple returned to the Reproductive Science Center last November, where the in vitro fertilization process began. Doctors used an egg taken from Angel Hebert and sperm from her husband. The embryo was implanted in Sirois on Dec. 1, 2011.
Sirois took a pregnancy test on Dec. 14, and it was positive. She was pregnant for the first time in two decades.
Hospital officials said the last time she gave birth was to twin sons Michael and Matthew, 20 years ago.
Sirois said the pregnancy went smoothly, and she felt good and did not have any complications.
“I also had a great deal of support and well wishes from friends and family, and the community at large,” she said. “God was with us throughout this whole process.”
Another unique aspect to the event was that Sirois was pregnant at the same time as her oldest daughter, 26-year-old Kristal Duval.
For the nine months that followed, Angel Hebert, a dietitian at TAMC, and Brian Hebert attended prenatal appointments and did all the regular things expecting parents do, such as listening to the baby’s heartbeat.
Angel Hebert described the nine month experience as “surreal.”
“I wanted it all to go so smoothly for both my mother and our baby,” she said. “Thankfully, everyone at TAMC was so helpful in making things go smoothly. It was a situation that hadn’t been seen here before. I was really pleased to see the reaction of the staff — everyone was so excited for us and so helpful and accommodating.”
Before baby Madden’s birth, another boy added a branch to the family tree when Kristal Duval gave birth on June 9 to Sirois’ first grandchild, Everett Duval.
Sirois’ second grandson was delivered via cesarean section in a day filled with emotion for both the family and team of TAMC caregivers who were part of the journey and delivery.
“It was a pretty amazing experience,” said Dr. Joyce Hebert, who delivered the baby boy. “This was the first time in my career that I have ever delivered a baby under these circumstances and it could not have gone better. This is one of the most memorable moments in my career and I was pleased to be a part of it.”
Hebert’s sentiments were shared by all of the caregivers in the operating room when the 7 lbs., 14 oz. baby entered the world at exactly 8 a.m.
Sirois, her daughter and son-in-law, and the baby are doing great.
The 49-year-old said she was only “baby-sitting” her grandson for the nine months she carried him.
“It was their child all along,” she said. “I was just fortunate and blessed to be a part of this experience and be able to help bring him into the world.”