With gray hair on top of his head, local man Wayne Lucas, 62, surprised his friends in 2009 when he told them his wife, Sue, was pregnant.
What surprised them more was that his son, Derek, 38, was the father.
Wayne’s positive outlook on the situation confused those he’d tease with this information, until he shared the details, and that Sue, Derek’s step-mother, was a surrogate, and was carrying the baby to term for Derek and his wife Gena.
Derek and Gena, 39, had been together for over eight years, finding themselves unable to have a baby. Although Derek already had a son, Oliver, from a previous relationship, the couple wanted another child.
At a hefty cost, Gena and Derek turned to a friend, who volunteered herself as a surrogate. This first effort soon resulted in a miscarriage.
For their second attempt, Sue offered to help the couple.
In her late 40s, the mother of three grown children said that family has always been important to her. Between herself and Wayne, they already had six children and three grandchildren.
This emphasis on family made the decision to carry Gena and Derek’s child a little easier. There was a lot to consider, though.
“It’s not something you do lightly,” Sue said.
As a pediatric nurse, she had an idea of what she was about to face.
A barrage of medical and psychological tests faced all those involved, in order to make sure the situation was ideal.
“It’s a wide open book,” Sue said. “The celebrities make it seem so easy, but it’s not.”
Both Sue and Gena then undertook months of medication in order to prepare themselves for the process.
Conception took place in July, with all involved decided to wait before letting the rest of the family know. The build up and let down of the first attempt at surrogacy had left its mark, so they wanted to make sure they passed a relatively safe point before letting the rest of the family know.
Oliver, Derek and Gena made the announcement during Thanksgiving dinner. Sue helped explain the situation, through a shirt reading “Grand baby on board,” and featuring an arrow pointing downward.
“All the kids – Sue’s and my kids – were all excited,” Wayne said.
Although the early stages were different, Sue said that much of her pregnancy was similar to her previous three.
“I was a bit older, so there were more aches and pains,” she said.
Because Sue was to deliver Ava by cesarean section, doctors set a time for the baby’s delivery.
To her surprise, they selected March 31, the day she gave birth to her youngest child, 23 years ago. Also surprising was the time of day they selected; 9 a.m., only 20 minutes before her last delivery, which was at 9:20 a.m.
With doctors delaying the delivery time, Sue began to suspect that the delivery would be the exact same as her previous one, but Ava was born a bit late, at 11:02 a.m.
Derek and Gena were in the room next door, and Wayne was in the delivery room getting the whole thing on camera.
A large group of family members was waiting outside, with cameras flashing hundreds of photos of those involved in Ava’s birth.
“The nurses thought it was a celebrity giving birth,” Sue said.
Now, almost a year later, the unique birth has garnered quite a bit of attention. Vancouver Island’s A Channel, Victoria’s Times Colonist, and even United Kingdom newspaper The Daily Mirror have done news reports on the baby born to a grandmother.
“There are a lot of people who waited and found out they could not have children,” Sue said, adding that she fully understands the public’s interest in surrogacy.
Dr. Stephen Hudson’s office at the Victoria Fertility Clinic is always full, she said.
Although she gave birth to Ava, Sue said that she still feels very much like a grandmother, and not her mother.
“I’m just the oven,” she said.
A gathering of family and friends is being planned for Ava’s first birthday, later on this month.
“I think there will be a lot of people there,” Sue said.