When Cambria Hauck of southern Utah had to undergo an emergency hysterectomy for placenta increta after the birth of her second set of twins, she knew she would not be able to walk the traditional path to motherhood ever again.
She never imagined that her mother-in-law would be the person to step in and make her parenting dreams a reality.
Hauck told TODAY Parents that shortly after giving birth the second time, she began to hemorrhage and doctors struggled to find the source of the bleeding.
"We ended up not wanting to play with my life," Hauck, 30, told TODAY of opting for a hysterectomy. "Because they didn't know (where the blood was coming from) and they couldn't stop the bleed."
Hauck said it was a decision she and her husband, Jeff, struggled with, because they had undergone fertility treatments and still had unused embryos.
"We were really sad, but we just trusted in the Lord's plan for us and so we went forward with it," the mom of four explained.
Jeff's mom, Nancy Hauck, was concerned for her daughter-in-law's health as she recovered, yet could not shake the feeling that another baby girl was meant for their family.
"I could just feel this calling to offer to carry for them," Nancy Hauck, 56, told TODAY Parents, adding that she is a science educator and does not normally make decisions in this way. "I knew I was too old. I knew it wasn't going to be possible, even though that's exactly what's happened. I just felt I needed to tell them I would be willing to do it."
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In October 2021, Nancy approached her son and daughter-in-law and offered to be their gestational carrier.
"I'd had five successful pregnancies, but more than 20 years ago," Nancy said, reiterating that she did not expect it would work out.
Cambria told TODAY she was immediately at peace with the offer.
"We knew that the only way that we could use our embryos was through having someone carry for us," she explained. "So when Nancy came to us, I know most people would probably be like, 'Oh my gosh, that's crazy,' but it didn't feel like that. There was just so much peace around the whole conversation and around the whole experience."
But it wasn't as simple as an immediate transfer. Nancy needed to undergo thorough evaluations from health care professionals given her age.
"The medical doctors determined that I would be a good candidate, which was a complete surprise to me for sure," Nancy said.
Nancy told TODAY Parents that the whole process could be described as "doing the next right thing," and when it came time for the embryo transfer, the family shared positive thoughts.
"We all kind of had a feeling that it was going to work," Nancy said of the transfer.
Six days after the transfer, the couple received happy news: Nancy was pregnant.
Because Nancy never experienced infertility herself, she shared that going through the process with her daughter-in-law has given her a sense of empathy.
"I was able to do research on in vitro fertilization in my master's study," she explained. "At that time, it was just such an experimental procedure that very rarely did anyone have access to it, so I just never imagined myself in this situation."
In sharing their story publicly, Cambria told TODAY that there has been critical feedback, but it's not something she focuses on.
"There's definitely been trolls," the soon-to-be mom of five shared. "I'd say the positivity has outweighed the negative, but it really doesn't matter to me what anyone else thinks. I just always want to live my life in a way that I'm happy with who I am and what I'm doing."
Nancy, who will give birth in November, has been "feeling great" and will deliver the family blessing she dreamed about last year — a baby girl named Hannah.
"I call her my mother-in-love, because that's what she is," Cambria said. "I hope that our story can help help someone else that's going through infertility or just feeling hopeless in starting their family that it can hopefully bring hope in and let them know they're not alone."