A woman who tried for a baby for seven years finally conceived – with eggs donated by her best friend.
Chelsea Judd, 32, and her husband Steve, 34, had been trying to start a family since 2011 before doctors discovered her eggs were low quality during their first IVF attempt.
The couple, of Santa Clara, Utah, USA, were advised to explore egg donation but they weren’t comfortable using an anonymous donor.
Chelsea’s best friend Tia Stokes, 32, said it was difficult to watch her friend’s struggle to become a mother since the pair became friends in dance class in 2012.
Mum-of-four Tia, who owns her own dance business, made the decision to offer her own eggs to help her pal conceive after discussing it with her husband Andy Stokes, 37.
Tia and Andy, a high school football coach, are parents to four boys, Major, nine, Legend, eight, Mave, four, and Tazz, ten months.
Selfless Tia, of Orem, Utah, started the process of preparing her eggs in Utah Fertility Clinic July 2015 before they were retrieved the following month.
Four embryos were created using Tia’s eggs and Steve’s sperm, and two were subsequently implanted in Chelsea’s uterus.
Chelsea, a teacher, was overjoyed to discover she was pregnant for the first time 10 days later in September 2015.
She said: “When we tried IVF for the first time and doctors told me at that point my egg count was low and that the quality of the eggs I had wasn’t very good.
“Our doctors suggested we think about an egg donor or to pursue adoption.
“That was devastating for me.
“I bawled for days.
“I felt bad because I always wanted to have the experience of pregnancy and have a family with my husband.
“Although we explored egg donation, I knew I would want to be honest with my child and be able to tell them where they came from.
“The fact that the egg donor remains anonymous wasn’t something I felt comfortable with.”
Tia added: “I’m a mom and it broke my heart that Chelsea was struggling so much to have a family.
“One day we were just at practice when she was telling us this and my sister said ‘You should just take one of Tia’s and we could have another beautiful brown baby’ because we’re Polynesian.
“I jokingly said ‘Yeah, I’ll give you some of my eggs’.
“But when I went home and thought about it, I really began to see it as more than a joke.
“At the time I had three beautiful boys and being a mother is the biggest blessing.
“I really wanted that for Chelsea.
“I spoke about it with my husband Andy and he is such a great guy. He said it was my decision to make.
“A couple of days later I had a conversation with Chelsea and I told her that I would be willing to donate my eggs, if she wanted to accept them.”
Chelsea, and her teacher husband Steve welcomed 7lb 2oz Giselle in May 2016 and say they’ve never received a gift as precious as Tara’s selfless gesture.
Chelsea said: “When she came out she had so much dark hair just as Tia predicted.
“When I held her for the first time it was so amazing. I don’t think I will ever be able to describe it.
“Tia came to see us the next morning and it was so special. We took photos which will always be so precious to me.”
Tia added: “I went to the hospital the next morning after she had her and she had tons of black hair just like all my boys.”
“It is so funny that the eggs I donated turned out to be a girl because my house is full of boys.”
Tia said that even though Giselle is biologically her daughter, there is no question that her mom is Chelsea.
“I know she is mine, but really she’s not. Her mom is Chelsea.
“I love her, she’s the most beautiful little girl, but I am not her mom.
“It’s been such a fulfilling, amazing experience to have played a part in this. I’m just a small part of all of this.
“I am the instrument that allowed my friend to have a family.”
After Tia’s egg retrieval, doctors in Utah Fertility Clinic created four embryos, two of which will be implanted in Chelsea next month.
Chelsea said: “We’re currently in the process of transferring our last two embryos so hopefully we can give Giselle a sibling.
“Hopefully that will all go as planned next month.”
Chelsea and Steve said they always plan to tell Giselle about Tia, which is the main reason they did not opt for an anonymous donor.
Chelsea said: “I plan to always be honest and open about Tia with Giselle.
“For now, she’s aunty Tia but I’m so happy she will be able to understand and know who she is as she grows up.”
Tia added: “I truly believe that our bodies are just instruments to hold our spirits.
“Our spirits are already up in heaven waiting for us, so I merely just provided Chelsea’s daughter with the instruments she needed to be here.”