Falkirk couple’s joy as family is complete after an emotional 13 year wait
Little Aleena Grace Shaw was born six weeks ago making a dream come true for one Falkirk couple as they completed their family through surrogacy after a 13 year, seven month and one day wait.
Her arrival on May 12, 2020 marked the end of a long and emotional journey for parents Georgina Leslie and Stephen Shaw.
And what was already an unusual situation, with the surrogate mother living in Barnsley, was made more complicated by the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
After Georgina lost her second fallopian tube in 2006, meaning she could not fall pregnant naturally, the couple remained determined to complete their family one day and never gave up.
Attempts at IVF were unsuccessful and they opted to go down the route of finding a surrogate mother to carry their child.
Georgina (44) explained: “On October 11, 2006 I had a severe ectopic pregnancy which resulted in me losing my last tube.
“I had lost the first tube in 1996 after giving birth to my daughter as there were cancer cells there. It was removed for my own safety.
“The second tube was removed again for my own safety and it started our infertility journey.
“We started saving up and we did a few rounds of IVF in Dundee, although unfortunately they resulted in failures. There was no explanation as to why I wasn’t falling pregnant.
“Just before my 40th birthday they allowed me to have one more cycle of egg retrieval.
“Because I had turned 40 I was only allowed one more try at IVF, but that resulted in a miscarriage.”
The couple then discovered independent surrogacy groups.
“We had read up about agencies, but we stumbled upon an independent group which I joined,” she said.
“Then I joined a few others. It was through the independent group that we found our surrogate. She was starting a journey for people we knew so we became friends three plus years ago.
“She gave birth to a beautiful healthy boy, and then a year after he was born, we matched up.”
Ahead of the process, Georgina and Stephen travelled to Prague for her to have embryos collected that could be used for a surrogacy.
The Webhelp employee said: “We had to go to Prague as I wasn’t allowed to do it in the UK because of my age. They collected six good quality embryos.
“I did try IVF again once more myself, but it resulted in a miscarriage at eight weeks.
“Then last summer we asked if we could use Billie as our surrogate and we started the process.
“We went over to Prague for the transfer, and it worked first time.
“Surrogacy is a bit of a taboo subject in the UK still, but Aleena wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our surrogate.”
With the woman who was carrying their child living in Barnsley, Georgina and Stephen (34), were making regular visits south of the border before lockdown.
“For every scan, we had to drive down to Barnsley,” Georgina said.
“But obviously when the lockdown hit it made things more difficult. It was very hard for us as we weren’t allowed to travel down for the scans, or be present at them.
“The head midwife in Barnsley, June Pollard, was amazing.
“We had a section planned, so we know our baby would be born on the 12th. But with lockdown we couldn’t get anywhere to stay as there were no hotels or other accommodation available.
“One of June’s colleagues at the hospital, her partner was letting his flat to NHS staff to stay in. He heard about our situation and he allowed us to stay in the flat for free. Otherwise we would have been sleeping in the car.
“We were allowed to go to Barnsley for the birth. June had given us a letter in case we were stopped by police.
“It was hard, because with the lockdown only one of us was allowed in for the birth.
“We agreed Stephen would be at the birth to see our baby being born.
“We never found out before she was born if we were having a boy or a girl.
“So he went in for the birth and then I went into the ward with her.”
Aleena was born at 2.14pm on May 12 weighing 6lbs 5oz.
“The hospital were amazing, they went above and beyond,” she continued.
“They allowed us to have a room for a few hours to be a family together after the birth and before Stephen had to leave.
“I know others haven’t had that opportunity to be as a family at this time, so we were really lucky.
“We had been trying for 13 years, seven months and a day when she was born.
“The following day she had all her tests done and they allowed us to come home.
“We had to make a lot of stops obviously with a newborn, and it took us six and a half hours to get back up the road.”
So how does it feel to have their precious bundle of joy at home and in their arms?
“It’s sinking in now,” Georgina said.
“At first it was such a surreal feeling. I kept thinking someone would come and say give her back, she’s going home.
“It took a while to sink in, but she’s now home.
“To have her and knowing she is ours is just a really surreal feeling, but the best feeling in the world.
“It’s a hard feeling to describe but it’s pure love. I’m besotted with her.
“It’s crazy how much love you can have for one person after waiting so long and trying for so long.
“It’s been hard for my partner as he’s working away on the rigs.
“Aleena’s thriving. She’s the happiest, most content baby I’ve ever known. For only being six weeks old she’s absolutely amazing for sleeping.”
Georgina has two older children - David (27) and Amanda (24) - from a previous relationship who have been a huge support to her.
She said: “They have been through everything with us and have always been so supportive. With Stephen away they have been really good and will go and get things for me if I need them.”
And now, after Aleena’s arrival, the couple have something else to look forward to - their wedding.
“When I first lost my second tube we made a pact that we wouldn’t get married until we completed our family.
“Now we have, so we have booked our wedding for July next year.
“It was a big thing for us. We have been dying to get married, but we stuck to our pact. And we’ll have our little flower girl!”