Edmonton

Biological mother and her surrogate give birth to twins with a twist

Margo Sheldon had tried to have kids with her husband since 2014. Her sister agreed to be a surrogate. Soon after her sister became pregnant through in vitro fertilization, Sheldon found out she was expecting, too.

Margo Sheldon took up her sister's offer to be a surrogate only to find out she was pregnant at the same time

Margo and Ian Sheldon with their twins with a twist Sofia-Grace and Austin Sheldon. (Ian Sheldon)

Less than two weeks old, Sophia Grace and Austin Sheldon are considered twins by their parents, with a little twist: the two were born four days apart.

Jasper resident Margo Sheldon had tried to have kids with her husband Ian since 2014. Her sister agreed to be a surrogate. Soon after her sister became pregnant through in vitro fertilization, Sheldon found out she was expecting, too.

"I was just beside myself, I was shaking and kind of in denial about it," she recalls. 

The road to having the babies was not an easy one. The couple had decided to start having children in 2014. But there were several miscarriages. 

In 2017, they believed they had beaten the odds but their son, whom they had named Olivier, was stillborn. After that Sheldon got pregnant one more time, but during her seven-week ultrasound, she found out that the baby had no heartbeat.

"I was completely devastated with that news," Sheldon said. "It really took me down a really dark place...It just felt totally unfair and brutal."

Sheldon said at that point they had given up on trying to have kids. 

But then during a family gathering in 2018 her sister Meena Buckham offered to be a surrogate for their child.

"When she offered that, it was a sense of relief and my answer was yes," Sheldon said. 

After a year of in vitro fertilization treatments and emotional ups and downs, they were able to get one embryo that was considered viable by doctors. 

To celebrate, as well as take a break from everything, the couple decided to take a vacation to Mexico in October 2019. 

Sheldon remembers being "laid back and drinking tequila with no fertility drugs, no supplements" and having no expectations of ever being pregnant again. However, she noticed her period was late and because they were on a remote island they had no access to a pregnancy test. 

It wasn't until she got back to the mainland that she decided to buy one. 

"I said well I'm going to go take the pregnancy test, you know, not thinking that it would light up like it did. Like a light bulb," she said.

The result shocked her but Sheldon said she was also forced to take a step back into uncertainty. 

"Sure enough, the first couple of ultrasounds were very stressful," she said. "There were a lot of tears and a lot of emotion and a lot of the whole nine months were kind of a feat on its own."

Buckham gave birth first on June 16 to Sophia Grace followed by Sheldon who gave birth to Austin on June 20 in Victoria, B.C., where Buckham lives.

With "two full hands and full hearts" Sheldon said she and her husband couldn't be happier. 

"At one point I prayed for sleepless nights, and so I try to be gracious when they come," she said. 

She said the whole experience has also changed her for the better. 

When she was pregnant with Olivier, the couple lived in Edmonton and had decided to move to Jasper once the baby was born. "Because it's a beautiful place to raise a family and that's where we grew up," she said. 

The couple had a brand new house where they had set everything up. But after the stillbirth, the move felt like a shattered version of the home they had envisioned.

She recalled going downtown to buy something as simple as bananas and ending up in tears. 

"Because everybody knows you and they cry when they see you," she said. 

Sheldon considers herself a positive person but said this experience has taught her to be more vulnerable "and letting things hurt and not trying to be brave and stick it out."  

"It was a big teacher of this is awful and allowing it to be that way and I cried and cried and cried."

Now Sheldon said she is at peace with her babies.

The couple hopes to head home to Jasper next week to start the life they had dreamed of living.

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