posted in Pregnancy
A California mom got a little more than she bargained for when she decided to become a surrogate: Twins! Or so she thought.
In reality, she had become pregnant with her own child after she was implanted with another couple’s embryo. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “Wait, WHAT?! How is that even possible. Thanks to an odd phenomenon called superfetation, it’s absolutely possible.
Six months after the birth of her second child, Jessica Allen made the decision to become a surrogate. The California mom was eventually matched with a Chinese couple through a San Diego-based agency called Omega Family Global, according to the New York Post. By April 2016, one of the intended parents’ male embryos was successfully implanted into Allen’s uterus.
At six weeks along, Allen’s doctor discovered she was actually pregnant with two babies. “The chance of an embryo splitting is very small, but it does happen,” Allen told ABC. “I was very surprised.”
Allen gave birth to the babies in December, 2016 via c-section, and the boys were handed over to their intended parents. By all means, the surrogacy was a success. However, Allen said she was caught off-guard when the boys’ intended mother sent her a photo of them at nearly 1 month old.
“I did notice that one was much lighter than the other,” Allen told People, of the babies — since one is Chinese and the other is biracial, with a black father and white mother. “You know, obviously they were not identical twins.”
DNA tests confirmed that one of the boys was a biological match to the Chinese couple and the other boy was a match to Allen and her partner, Wardell. After a tough legal battle, Jessica and Wardell were granted custody of their son in February.
“Wardell and I, who got married in April, weren’t planning to expand our family so soon, but we treasure Malachi with all our hearts,” Allen told the New York Post. “I don’t regret becoming a surrogate mom because that would mean regretting my son. I just hope other women considering surrogacy can learn from my story. And that a greater good will come out of this nightmare.”
For the parents-to-be reading this story, there’s no need for the possibility of superfetation to keep you up at night. (Getting up to pee a dozen times each night should already have that covered.) That’s because this phenomenon is extremely rare. “Pregnancy hormones usually shut down a woman’s system, making it impossible for her to ovulate during her pregnancy,” explains Dr. Connie Hedmark, an obstetrician at Marquette General Hospital in Michigan. “This is why superfetation is so remarkable.”
Remarkable, indeed. I’m so glad the Allens discovered Malachi’s true parentage, and that he was rightfully reunited with them. One thing’s for sure: This little guy’s birth story is one for the books.
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Featured photo via iStock