Surrogate grandmother: This 61-year-old just gave birth to her son's daughter 😍
All photos courtesy photographer Ariel Panowicz

Many grandmothers are in the room or just down the hall when their grandchild enters the world, waiting anxiously to meet the baby who will make their baby a parent.

But 61-year-old Cecile Eledge wasn't just in the delivery room when her granddaughter Uma was born earlier this week. As first reported by BuzzFeed News, she was the one giving birth to her.

"It started off as really a joke. My mom, she loved being pregnant and she also really wants grandchildren—and has gone to great lengths to make that happen," Cecile's son, Uma's father Matthew Eledge explained in an interview with Motherly.


Cecile was the gestational surrogate for Matthew and his husband, Elliot Dougherty. As a gestational surrogate, Cecile did not provide an egg (that came from Elliot's sister, Lea) but did carry her granddaughter in her womb.

As Matthew tells Motherly, Uma's birth was a community effort and her upbringing will be too.

"My mom, I believe she's the hero of the story because she had to endure so much, but at the same time, my partner's sister, she was generous enough to donate her eggs and she didn't have to do that. That required a huge invasion of her life," he says, noting that while Uma has two men for parents, her little family is surrounded by and supported by women.

Matthew continues: "There's something about women that is irreplaceable and healing and powerful and amazing, so thank God we have these women around us, not just for us, but also for our daughter to grow up and witness and be inspired by."

The journey to Uma

Like many LGBTQ couples, Matthew and Elliot put a lot of thought into how they were going to become parents, like two years worth of thought. They knew that if they used Matthew's sperm and Elliot's sister's egg they would both be genetically related to their child, but they would still need a gestational surrogate, and Cecile surprised her son by volunteering.

Matthew says he kind of scoffed at the idea at first, as his mother was ten years beyond menopause when she made the offer. Still, he mentioned it to the couple's IVF specialist and to his surprise, the doctor didn't think it was so crazy.

Cecile's son describes her as someone who has been "ridiculously healthy all her life" and when Dr. Maud Doherty at Methodist Women's Hospital started testing Cecile's fitness for gestation, it became clear that despite her age, she could be a good candidate for gestational surrogacy.

Bringing Uma into the world was an act of love that brought her two dads (Matthew's on the right), her aunt and her grandmother together, as is clearly seen in the maternity photos taken by photographer Ariel Panowicz, who also captured Uma's birth.

"I have this daughter who was born into a world where her Aunt Lea gave a piece of herself for her to grow, and her grandmother provided a warm, loving environment for [the pregnancy] to come to fruition, and then we have my great childhood friend Laurie, who has been pumping and freezing her breastmilk so she can nourish this girl," Matthew explains.

Each one of these women offered Matthew and Elliot an incredible gift during this process. Matthew says there's something about new parenthood that makes people speak in cliches, but that "it truly does take a village".

We all need a village

Matthew and Elliot, along with Lea, Cecile and Laurie acted as a team to bring Uma into the world, and while it made Matthew feel vulnerable to rely on others, he wishes more parents, gay or straight, could embrace vulnerability and have the kind of support system that he and Elliot have behind them.

"We've gotten into this mindset where, moms especially, have more pressures then I think they've ever had before. They have to do it all but also they don't get to ask for help. And I think that's just such a shame. It's a shame for women, it's a shame for fathers and it's a shame for kids," he explains.

For Matthew, having people behind him as he parents his daughter is as important as having help in conceiving her. Leaning on the strong women around him has given him confidence he wasn't always sure he would find as a father.

"I went into this process of building a family with a lot of fears, like would I be able to tap into what I believe is 'maternal magic'? In this process I've learned that I can, especially with the help of others."

A mother's amazing gift

He's been a father for a few days now, and Matthew still can't really believe the gift his mother gave him.

"This is a big undertaking, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually, and for her to say that it was no problem, I think that speaks volumes to her character, to make such a sacrifice, such a selfless act for the sake of her own child, even when they're grown...I just think it's so powerful," he explains.

It is powerful and rare. Only a handful of women over sixty have carried their grandchildren as gestational surrogates, and even with Cecile being in such great health, having an embryo take on the first try is pretty kind of amazing.

Medical technology and the couple's village made this process as easy as possible, but state laws in Nebraska have not. As Matthew explains, on Uma's birth certificate he and his mom are unfortunately listed as Uma's parents (even though Cecile is not Uma's biological mother) and Elliot is not recognized at all.

In some states, a baby's intended parents are recognized on the birth certificate and the surrogate is not, but that's not how it is in Nebraska, so Elliot will have to adopt Uma in order to be recognized as her legal father.

Despite the legal red tape Elliot is just as much Uma's parent as Matthew is. As Elliot explained in a recent Instagram post, the new dads are living life "in two hour intervals now" (something we can totally relate to).

"I know we've got this," Elliot writes. "Matthew is an incredible dad. I didn't know I could love him any deeper than I already did, but watching him with her is so beautiful."

And so is the story of her birth, and the amazing gift that Matthew's mother and Elliot's sister gave these loving dads.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

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Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

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Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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