Julie Bradford, 45, offered her womb to her daughter Jess after she was left infertile by ovarian cancer at the age of just 18, and she says “any mother would do this for their child”
Devoted mum Julie Bradford has admitted nothing was going to stop her having a surrogate baby for her cancer-stricken daughter.
The hairdresser, 45, bravely stood in for Jessica Jenkins, 21, after she was told she would never be able to have children.
Devastated Jessica opted to have her eggs frozen after becoming one of the youngest women in Britain to be diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was just 18.
Now, three years later, Julie has given birth to her baby grandson Jack.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, proud Julie said: “Any mother would do this for their child. It was never in question from day one. He’s a Christmas miracle to us.
“You watch your daughter go through cancer at 18 and then say you would not do the same. But I would have done it anyway, it’s what mums do.
“If cancer couldn’t beat us there was no way I wasn’t having a baby for Jessica.”
And delighted Jessica said: “I cannot believe I’ve gone from facing death with cancer to facing my first Christmas with my son in just a few years.
“It just shows you how, no matter what life throws at you, you should never give up, because anything is possible.”
Jack — born last Friday at a healthy 6lb 10oz — may not have arrived if it was not for the quick thinking of doctors.
Jessica, of Rhymney, South Wales, had her eggs harvested on the day she started radiotherapy. She said: “The depth of despair was not getting cancer, you can beat cancer, the true depth was being told point blank I’d never have kids.
“But the doctors were brilliant, it usually takes at least four weeks to harvest eggs for IVF but they managed to do it in two.
“I had my eggs harvested in the morning, and started radiotherapy that afternoon.
“It was the last possible moment I could have started treatment. But it was such an immense feeling of relief to know that no matter what happened, I had done that because I had always longed to be a mum and couldn’t bear that being taken away.”
Jessica’s husband Rees Jenkins, 27, said being told the couple could never have children was a massive blow.
The machine setter fought back tears as he revealed: “The cancer I could deal with, it was horrible, but you knew there was hope. I’d never cried in front of Jess until the day she told me she could never have kids. We just sat in the car and bawled our eyes out.
“She said I should leave her, go my own way, I don’t think I’ve ever loved her more then I did in that moment.”
Much to the couple’s relief, Jessica soon battled back from cancer and has been in remission since October 2014.
And as soon as she got the all-clear, her devoted mum Julie stepped in to give her what she wanted most — a child.
Doctors had managed to take 21 eggs but only 10 had survived by the time they chose to go ahead with the IVF treatment earlier this year.
But despite her age and already having three children of her own, Julie said there was never any doubt she would help.
The mum, who went through the menopause at 38, continued: “We couldn’t control the cancer but we could control this so it was my way of taking control back for my daughter. I could do something incredible for Jessica and that’s what I was going to do, nothing was going to stop me.”
Incredibly, Julie learned she was pregnant on April 9 this year — two years to the day that Jessica was told she could never have children.
The pair have been inseparable ever since and talk lovingly of the moment Jessica felt Jack kick for the first time.
Wiping away tears, Jessica said: “We were hugging on the couch watching TV and Jack kicked me in the head. We both just cried our eyes out, it was the most amazing experience.
“My mum is my hero, she has shown me what true love means, I can never repay her for what she has done for us and the sacrifices she has made.”
The experience was not quite the same for Jack’s dad Rees.
He said: “I’ll admit at first it did freak me out that my son was being carried in my mum-in-law. I kept my distance respectfully a tiny little bit but as soon as she started showing, I thought I can’t keep my distance from this. It is the most amazing thing any person can do for another.
“Jess and her mum had a great relationship anyway but it’s only strengthened now.
“Seeing Jess and her mum crying with Jack in their arms will always be the greatest day of my life. I have not said thank you to Julie enough and I want her to know just how thankful I am, from the bottom of my heart.
“A few years ago I was in a cold medical room being informed Jess could die, then I was in a room welcoming our son into the world. It’s truly wonderful.”
Jessica was by her mother’s side throughout the three-and-a-half hour labour. Jessica said: “It was horrible watching my mum in pain, I felt really helpless but I held her hand and mopped her brow, she was truly incredible. The most incredible mum in the world.
Julie laughed: “I have had three so I did warn her what it would be like but I just got on with it.
“I had a bit of gas and air at the end but didn’t even touch a paracetamol.
“I was just so pleased to be able to bring my daughter’s child into the world, you don’t feel pain at times like that.”
Jessica also revealed she has not ruled out further children but will not ask Julie again. Instead she has her hopes set on pioneering womb transplant technology.
She said: “I couldn’t put mum through it again — I know they’re doing clinical trials on womb transplants in Switzerland — so the moment that comes over here I’m putting myself forward.”
And once again Julie has stepped in to help — by offering to donate her own womb for transplant.
Julie said: “I wouldn’t think twice. It’s clearly in working order isn’t.”