53-year-old mom and 31-year-old daughter give birth weeks apart to sisters


Kelsi Pierce and her husband Kyle struggled with infertility for three years. They tried everything from in-vitro fertilization to surgeries but to no avail. The doctors said she had a low ovarian reserve, both of her fallopian tubes were blocked, and the lining of her uterus was too thin to carry a fetus. So the couple went with a surrogate — Kelsi’s mother, Lisa Rutherford. But soon after, Kelsie miraculously became pregnant, and she and her mother gave birth weeks apart. The Pierce family now has two beautiful baby daughters. 

I had always wanted to be a mom

Kelsi, 31, gave birth to Ava on November 23 in Minnesota. Meanwhile, she and Kyle welcomed their second daughter, Everly, on October 1 in Michigan. The grandmother and mother gave birth weeks apart, and both pregnancies were miracles.

It’s just so surreal,” said Pierce. “I keep pinching myself, like I can’t believe this is my life. [1]

After years of trying, Pierce was told that she wasn’t able to have children. The phone call from her doctor was long dreaded. “I was completely devastated,” she said. “I had always wanted to be a mom. We always had hope, even after every failed treatment, so to hear that nothing would work was so hard. It was very depressing.” [2]

At that point, their options were adopting or using a gestational carrier, which often costs more than $100,000 and way too costly for the couple. “We had already poured more than our savings and gone into debt incredibly just for what we had done before, so it wasn’t an option,” said Pierce. “It was a very depressing time.”

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Pierce told her mother about her plight, and Rutherford went to her own doctor to be medically cleared to work as a gestational carrier. Rutherford had this idea back in 2018 when she accompanied her daughter to one of her many appointments and read a magazine article about a 57-year-old mother who was a carrier for her daughter’s child. 

“We didn’t take it very seriously because we thought my body would eventually respond to the treatments,” said Pierce. “But, after realizing that nothing was working, my mom kept bringing it up, telling us she knew how much we wanted a baby and she wanted to help make that happen for us.

Her Mother Becomes Her Surrogate

Although Rutherford was 53, she got approved to be a carrier and underwent the embryo transfer on February 7. Less than a week later, she was confirmed to be pregnant. “I woke up and there was a text on my phone and it was a picture of a positive pregnancy test and I just lost it,” said Pierce. “It was hard for us to let her [be the gestational carrier] because of the risks with her age, but she really convinced us that she wanted to do this for us.”

All the while, Pierce was able to rest from fertility doctors and medications. But one month after her mother’s positive pregnancy test, she got one of her own. “I used to take pregnancy tests every month, and it was just one of those things where, by habit, I took a pregnancy test. I glanced down at the test, and I was going to throw it away like normal, and that was the first time I saw two lines.”

She did another test, got another positive, and went to the doctor to confirm it. For the second time, she and Kyle prepared to become parents. “After hearing bad news for three years straight and never walking out of a doctor’s appointment happy, I couldn’t believe it,” said Pierce. “I think I was crying for a month straight.

Despite the geographical distance, Rutherford and Pierce closely shared their pregnancy experiences. They exchanged tips and video-called each other during medical appointments. Rutherford was already pregnant twice, but this time, she took extra care to stay healthy. 

Photograph. Kelsi Pierce, right, and her mom, Lisa Rutherford, pose together during pregnancy
Kelsi Pierce

They Give Birth Weeks Apart

However, at her 36th week, Rutherford had preeclampsia, and the doctor told her she had to deliver the child within 12 hours through a C-section.

Kelsi and Kyle immediately drove to Michigan, just in time for Everly’s birth. However, the newborn faced complications. “She came out with no color, she didn’t cry, and we couldn’t hold her right away or see her because they had to transfer her to another hospital that had a neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU),” said Pierce. “We had waited so long, and I just wanted to hold my baby.”

Fortunately, Everly was discharged less than a week later. After another week in Michigan, the family drove home to prepare for the birth of newborn Everly’s sister. The birth of the babies was just weeks apart — seven weeks and three days, to be exact. Then Ava joined their family a few days before Thanksgiving. 

Every time something is hard or I’m tired, I remind myself that this is my dream finally coming true,” said Pierce. “I appreciate it so much more because of how long it took and how much struggle it took.” 

And Rutherford is grateful for her part in the weeks-apart birth “I said, ‘Well, maybe this is god’s way of letting them have two children. Because the odds of her having another one are very, very slim. So I was excited! I was just elated that they could end up having two kids.”[3]

Pierce also learned that her own mother would “literally do anything” for her. “She has always been the most supportive, caring, and loving mom. She has helped me achieve my biggest dream, and I’m forever grateful for her selflessness.”

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