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Mum-of-three gives birth to her own niece to give sister-in-law the family she always wanted

Surrogate mum Rachel Wilcox with her niece Adalyn (Image: PA Real Life)

A selfless mum has given birth to her own niece after acting as a surrogate for her sister-in-law, who was left infertile by cancer.

Rachel Wilcox carried baby Adalyn Rae after Amanda Patterson was told she could not have a family.

Now Amanda, 33, and husband Reid, 28, have the baby they've longed for thanks to Rachel's selflessness.

Mum-of-three Rachel, 32, is married to Amanda's brother Micah, 31, and agreed to help her sister-in-law have a child after she was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer.

Her doctor suggested it during a check-up, and Rachel said: "Her words stuck in my head.

Reid and Amanda in hospital with Rachel (Image: PA Real Life/danksphotography.co)

Amanda, Rachel and Reid at their baby shower in July (Image: PA Real Life)

"After I discussed it with Micah, who I’d married in 2007, I suggested it to Amanda and Reid.

"Luckily, they accepted and now have Adalyn Rae, the baby they longed for.

"Seeing the immediate mother and daughter bond between Amanda and the baby was incredible.

"At the moment, Amanda and Reid are concentrating on being great parents to her, but, if they ever want a second child, I would happily be their surrogate again."

Amanda following her final surgery in January 2016 (Image: PA Real Life)

Rachel gave birth to 8lb 4oz Adalyn Rae Patterson – who Amanda and Reid named after her – in Ohio on September 22 last year.

Rachel, of Walton, Kentucky, USA, said: “I have an incredible bond with Adalyn, but she doesn’t feel like my child.

“She’s a part of my story, but I have a connection with her that’s different to my own children.

“When I saw her for the first time with Amanda, I could see that mother-daughter bond straight away, and that was so beautiful.”

Rachel's husband Micah, Rachel, Amanda and Reid, with an early scan picture of the baby, in March last year (Image: PA Real Life)

Now, Rachel, mum to Adia, seven, Isla, five, and Ike, two, has offered to do it all over again, to complete her sister-in-law’s family.

She said: “I told Amanda that, in the future, if they ever wanted to do it again, to give Adalyn a brother or sister, I would be willing and able.

“For them to have a family of their own is more important than my own needs and comforts.”

Amanda - who describes her sister-in-law as “the most selfless human being I know” - was devastated after surgery to remove her tumour and her thyroid, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, left her infertile.

Amanda celebrating the end of her chemotherapy in September 2015 (Image: PA Real Life)

Having only met Reid weeks before her colon cancer diagnosis in October 2014, she offered to end their relationship, but he stood by her and the couple married in November 2015.

Rachel, who coaches teachers on their professional development, then provided a sympathetic ear when Amanda, of Franklin, Tennessee, began investigating other ways of having a family with Reid, before suggesting she became their surrogate in July 2016.

Rachel continued: “After speaking with my husband, I sent Amanda and Reid two long text messages the next day, telling them my offer was a genuine one.

“At first, they said they could never ask that of me, but I told them I was an ideal person to do it.”

Rachel and Amanda at the fertility clinic in January last year (Image: PA Real Life)

Once the two couples had agreed to proceed, they chose gestational surrogacy - where the baby isn't genetically related to the surrogate. It involved having Amanda’s egg inseminated by Reid’s sperm and implanted into Rachel’s womb.

Luckily, the expensive procedure costing almost £40,000 - which Amanda and Reid funded from savings - proved successful and in February 2017, it was confirmed that Rachel was pregnant.

And Amanda and Reid were at the hospital, 300 miles from their home, for the birth.

Amanda said: “When Adalyn was born it was the most magical feeling, she was totally perfect.

“We had waited to for that moment for so long and thought it would never come. I was the first one to hold her and it was incredible having the skin-to-skin time, it just felt so right.

Amanda and Reid with baby Adalyn, who was born on September 22 last year (Image: PA Real Life)

“Our gratitude to Rachel is never-ending, and something we will feel for the rest of our lives.

“And to offer to do it all over again shows what an amazing person she is.”

Only a few years earlier, Amanda had feared cancer had stolen her chance of becoming a mother.

She continued: “In the first conversation me and Reid had about getting married, we talked about not being able to have a family because of my cancer, so when Adalyn came it was a revelation.

Rachel gave birth to 8lb 4oz Adalyn Rae Patterson in Ohio on September 22 last year (Image: PA Real Life)

“We wouldn’t have missed her birth for the world. It was really important we were there for every moment.

“We wanted it to be as close to a natural birth as possible, for us both to experience it as if I was the one having the baby.”

And now Amanda and Reid may have the chance to give their baby a brother or sister, thanks to Rachel’s humbling selflessness.She said: “I can’t believe she is willing to do this again for us.

“We haven’t thought about it much, as we are currently focusing on Adalyn, but it is an option for the future.

“Because Rachel is family, this whole experience has felt like a truly beautiful gift.

“Throughout Adalyn’s life we will explain to her the amazing thing her aunt Rachel did for her and for us.

“She’s sacrificed so much and we will never be able to repay her.”

 

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