baby

"My mother gave birth to my son."

When Claudia Luca first held her newborn son she burst into tears. She describes the moment as overwhelming.

Beautiful.

Incredibly special.

Just moments beforehand she had watched her mother in the final throws of labour give birth to him, Claudia had wept as she cut the umbilical cord that linked her newborn to his grandmother, Antonietta Di Maggio.

Claudia Luca, 31, told Mamamia about the condition that led her to being unable to carry a baby and how her mother, Antonietta, stepped in to be her surrogate.

For her, a lifetime of struggles now has a happy ending.

Claudia Luca and her husband, Sonny with Luca. Image copyright Claudia Luca.

When Claudia was in year five, at school in Sydney, her parents came to her room and told her that she would never have a period or carry children.

They sat on her bed and opened a book on puberty and told her that she wasn't like the other girls.

She had been born with a rare condition, Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser syndrome - meaning she had no uterus. Growing up, she said, she often found it difficult to come to terms with.

“It was very difficult for me at times knowing that I will always be different to most females in my life,” she said.

Claudia Luca

Claudia and her family. Image copyright Claudia Luca.

She spent much of her teenager years feeling isolated, alone and alienated from the other girls.

“I struggled as a teenager. One time after hearing the girls at school talk about their periods I came home angry, screamed at the family and stormed into my room,” the 31-year-old told Fairfax Media.

As the eldest of three she instinctively had that "nurturing side to her"but she always wondered if she would ever be able to realise her dreams.

“Family was always very important and so knowing that I will never be able to carry a child and also having to accept that there was a high possibility that I could not have a family one day of my own was devastating and emotionally challenging,” she said.

It wasn’t something she was prepared to give up on.  After she married her partner, Sonny, they looked at their many options to have a family, from adoption to surrogacy.

Claudia says that it was overwhelming.

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“Due to the conflicting laws and regulations for each state and information available in Australia surrounding surrogacy we hit a major bump in the road.”

It had been 27 years since Antoinette Di Maggio last gave birth. Image via 60 Minutes.

She says that her and her Sonny felt they had exhausted all possibilities at finding a surrogate and were about to give up when her mum asked if she could come around to talk to them.

It had been 27 years since Antoinette Di Maggio last gave birth. She was 52, she was the mother of grown men and women but she was willing to do it again.

Claudia told Mamamia that her first reaction was “shock”.

“I was shocked at first as due to her age and Sonny and I immediately thought this was a crazy thing to offer we both said, 'Aren't you too old?'”

But she says her mother was “insistent”.

It’s hard to put yourself in Claudia’s shoes and understand the conflicted emotions that would come with the realisation that this might be your only chance but the fears of what consequences it might have.

“I had mixed emotions,” she says.

“Fear of the unknown though was the biggest one, as you only get one mum in life and I didn't want anything to happen to her. “

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Antoinette went through four attempts at IVF. Image copyright Claudia Luca.

After Antoinette went through four attempts at IVF, using Claudia’s eggs and Sonny’s sperm, the news they had been waiting for came.

Her mother was pregnant.

“The pregnancy was an amazing journey and experience for both mum and I from start to finish,” says Claudia.

“It was so surreal seeing her pregnant but knowing that it was my child that was growing inside of her.”

She says that she was there every step of the way – and for both her and her mother that was important.

She was at every appointment and at every scan and says she even went through the same emotions every mother does.

"Will I be a good mum? Will I cope when the baby is unsettled."

“The scans were always an emotional time, it was so beautiful seeing my baby up on the screen and knowing that he/she was thriving and a feeling of relief washed over me every single time that not only was the baby doing well but Mum was too.”

Finally, in May 2015 Antonietta was induced, with Claudia and Sonny by her side their son Luciano was born.

“Sonny and I got to cut the umbilical cord together which was a special moment for us to share. I was then able to do skin-to-skin contact straight away with Luciano. I burst in to tears and couldn't thank my Mum enough for what she had done; this baby I was holding in my arms was actually my son and I was now a mother. “

Claudia and her mother as her mother prepares to give birth. Via 60 Minutes.

Luca is now a busy toddler keeping his parents and grandparents on their toes. He is forever bonded with his very special grandmother, who refers to as "my angel in disguise".

She says Antoinette is an “exceptional” grandma although she likes to spoil him.

Claudia has shared her exceptional story in the hopes it inspires others in similar situations to stay strong and believe in their dreams.

Life she is now what she always dreamed of, she says.

That teenager girl - the one who always felt so different - is now a mother with a bubbly little chatterbox of a boy whose every word just melts her heart.

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