Ask anybody who knows Keegan Montero and they’ll tell you, she was born to be a mom.
"It's what I've always wanted," said Keegan, a Harwinton resident.
Keegan might have developed that desire for children from her own mom, Jan Prenoveau. She is a mother of seven.
"Those were the best times. I'm jealous when I hear some body's going into the hospital to have a baby," said Jan.
About a year after Keegan married, the family was thrilled, but not exactly surprised when they learned she was expecting.
"We were all happy for her because we knew that's what she really wanted," said her mom.
"We were really excited," said Keegan.
But a couple months into the pregnancy Keegan miscarried. She would eventually learn there was more heartache to come.
"We were just devastated. It kept happening. We kept getting more depressed," said Keegan. “I didn't really feel like a woman. Was it my fault?”
It became clear that Keegan could achieve a pregnancy without much difficulty. However, holding onto it was a whole other story. In all, she had five miscarriages.
She eventually enlisted the help of Reproductive Endocrinologist, Claudio Benadiva, at UCONN’s Center for Advanced Reproductive Services.
Two attempts at pregnancy with the assistance of in vitro fertilization failed.
"Anything that could go wrong with these pregnancies, went wrong," said Jan.
Jan saw her daughter's desperation and offered a solution.
"I just kept thinking about it," Jan said. “Once you start thinking about something and you get it in your head. You keep thinking about it and thinking about it.”
"My mother kept saying use me, use me. I have 7 children!" Keegan said.
"She just kept pushing it. I want to help, I want to help, I want to help. She wanted to do anything she could to help.”
Anything, including carrying a baby for Keegan.
Keegan says initially she and her husband were “weirded out” by the idea. But eventually they came around.
“We said OK, mom. We'll take your word for it. Let's go.”
Next, they had to convince Dr. Benadiva to go along with the idea of the grandmother carrying the baby.
"At first, I was surprised, shocked and a little bit skeptical," said Dr. Benadiva.
But after consulting his colleagues he realized it wasn’t a bad idea.
“We all agreed it did make sense medically,” he said.
Jan was fifty at the time but an avid runner and in excellent health.
Using in vitro fertilization doctors transferred two of Keegan's embryos inside her mother’s uterus.
On the same day, they also transferred two embryos inside Keegan.
Keegan will never forget the call from the doctor's office with the pregnancy test results.
"They were really blunt and she said, you're not pregnant but your mother is," Keegan said.
“It gave me more hope because she is a strong woman and has had seven so I thought this could be the one.”
From that point forward, this mother and daughter lived the journey of pregnancy through a grandmother.
“We were there at every ultra sound and it felt like natural, normal,” said Keegan.
“I knew it was their baby I never felt it was mine. There was a special connection with us. I believe we'll always have because of that,” said Jan.
Doctor Benadiva says three grandmothers have carried babies for their daughters at UCONN. All have been successful.
"From all of the things that we do here I think it's been one of the most rewarding treatments we've done because it's very unique. You can really help the whole family," Dr. Benadiva said.
On August 20, 2007, baby Ireland Montero arrived.
“She came out screaming and she was just beautiful,” Keegan said.
"I couldn't believe I had her after all those years of trying and feeling I knew she was coming and I finally had her.”
Now, a year and a half later, Keegan has settled into the role she's always wanted.
“The best reward is to be the mother. I feel like that's what I was here to do, to be a mom and I'm very grateful to have her and to be the mom I always wanted to be.”
It’s a gift Keegan wouldn’t have without her own mother.
"I was really humbled and grateful she would do that for me," she said. “This is how it was supposed to happen.”
The family is now looking forward to doing this all over again next year.
"I don't know what's going to happen. I have four other daughters younger than her [Keegan]. I hope they don't have this problem. I'll be in my 60's doing this," said Jan.
"I think she can do anything. She's invincible to me," said Keegan.