It is perhaps one of the greatest gifts a mother could give.
A woman in her 50s has given birth to her own grandchild after becoming a surrogate mother for her infertile daughter.
Cindy Reutzel, 53, gave birth to a healthy baby girl a week ago who will now be brought up by her 32-year-old daughter Emily Jordan.
The greatest gift: Emily Jordan with her pregnant mother Cindy Reutzel, who was a surrogate for her daughter
Special bond: Cindy holds her granddaughter Elle Cynthia Jordan less than a week after giving birth to her
Unconventional family: Six-day old Elle is cradled by both her mother and her grandmother, blissfully unaware of how she came into the world
Emily was 29 when she discovered two years ago she had cervical cancer.
However, just as she was about to have a radical hysterectomy, Emily and husband Mike discovered she was pregnant.
Faced with saving her own life or their unborn child's, the young couple made the excruciating decision to go forward with her surgery. It meant losing the baby, and forfeiting any chance at having their own children.
Remembering the moment she discovered she no longer had a place where a baby could grow, Emily said: 'I can't describe what that was like after finding out you have cancer, after finding out your chance of ever carrying a baby is gone.'
However, hope arrived in the form of mother Cindy, who offered to act as a surrogate for the couple.
And last week, Emily and Mike waited patiently in the maternity wing of a downtown Chicago hospital to realise their dream of becoming parents.
Just days after Emily's 32nd birthday, baby Elle Cynthia Jordan was born.
New mother: Emily, who was left infertile after having a hysterectomy, feeding her newborn daughter Elle
'Better than I could have imagined': Cindy holds her tiny granddaughter Elle after giving birth to her
An in-vitro baby boom began about 34 years ago when Louise Brown - the world's first 'test tube' baby - was born in Britain.
What started with would-be mothers in their 20s and 30s, began to extend to older women too.
Dr Helen Kim, director of the in vitro fertilisation program at the University of Chicago, said: 'Then people started pushing the envelope.
'If you could help a menopausal woman in her 30s, could you help a menopausal woman in her 40s? And then it became, "Can you help a menopausal woman in her 50s?"
'And the answer is yes.'
Some older women were having their own babies. But more often, they were using egg donors to have their own children, or serving as surrogates or 'gestational carriers.'
Proud father: Mike Jordan watches his wife Emily hold their six-day-old daughter Elle
Emily Jordan, left, examines the pregnant belly of her mother. Mike and Emily get used to being parents, right
A 51-year-old grandmother in Brazil gave birth to her twin grandchildren in 2007, and there were other stories of women giving birth in their 40s or 50s and even 60s.
Cindy had a vague recollection of those stories. So when doctors revealed that they had been able to keep Emily's ovaries intact, she immediately offered to help, asking: 'What if I carried your baby for you?'
Emily and Mike didn't take it too seriously at first. 'We didn't really think that was a realistic option,' says Emily, who works in hospital administration.
However, for a young grandmother in good health, like Cindy, it became a viable option.
After a process that included psychological evaluation and hormonal manipulation to prepare their bodies, Kim eventually implanted Cindy's uterus with an embryo created with an egg from Emily and Mike's sperm.
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It was no easy process, with a regimen of hormonal shots. Work schedules were interrupted and vacations postponed. But CIndy was committed.
Cindy, a executive director at a medical foundation in Chicago, said: 'The thought of Emily and Mike not being able to have children and share that piece of their lives with someone just broke my heart.
'I want Emily to have that connection with another human being like I had with her.'
As her belly grew, people started asking Cindy about 'her baby.' However she was quick to correct them and reveal she was actually carrying her grandchild.
While admitting she was worried about the physical toll a late pregnancy might take, Cindy said her body handled it better than she expected.
She also wondered how well she'd bounce back from a Caesarean section. That's how she had delivered Emily and her older brother, but that had been three decades ago.
Still, she reassured Emily and Mike throughout the pregnancy that the baby was fine, she was fine, everything would be fine.
Humor helped. Mike often teased his mother-in-law each time they'd take her to dinner or do something nice for her.
He asked: 'Are we even yet?', to which CIndy laughed and replied: 'Not yet.'
In truth, Mike and Emily knew there'd really be no way to repay this kind of gesture.
Emily added: 'This is a continuation of everything that she has done her entire life for me, which is to make sure that I have the best life possible.'
Cindy with her daughter Emily. Despite the risks of older women having babies, the 53-year-old said she would consider doing it again
While admitting she was worried about the physical toll a late pregnancy might take, Cindy said her body handled it better than she expected
All they could do, they said, was to promise to raise their baby as best they could. And that was enough for Cindy.
Cindy added: 'I know I gave a gift. But I'm also getting so much in return.'
Last week, a few days after Emily's 32nd birthday, daughter sat next to mother, holding hands in the delivery room.
And Elle Cynthia Jordan was born.
'She looks just like you! She looks just like you!' Emily shouted, running from the delivery room to introduce their newborn to Mike.
Cindy, who is recovering well, even said she would consider doing it again.
She added: 'When I watch both of them hold that baby and look into her face, it's like everything I could have imagined wanting for them - better than I could have imagined.
'This is what it was all about for me.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2199763/Cindy-Reutzel-Grandmother-gives-birth-grandchild-infertile-daughter.html#ixzz25nY6nOFd