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Mayo Clinic helps woman, 52, act as surrogate mother for daughter

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Susie Kozisek, 52, right, is carrying twins, due in July, for her daughter, Ashley Larkin, and son-in-law, Jay Larkin, all of Ventura, Iowa. Kozisek also delivered their daughter, Harper Larkin, who is almost 2 years old. Ashley is medically unable to survive a pregnancy.
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VENTURA, Iowa — Susie and Butch Kozisek, their daughter, Ashley, and son-in-law, Jay Larkin of Ventura; along with the Larkins' first child, Harper, will lead a relaxed Mother's Day this year, enjoying time together.

But the family represents a modern-day miracle of motherhood.

Susie, 52, gave birth to 1-year-old Harper, her grandson, acting as a surrogate mother for her daughter Ashley. And now she's doing it again, carrying twins who will be her grandchildren.

Biologically, the babies come from Jay and Ashley's genetic material. Mayo Clinic specialists in Rochester used it to create embryos to implant in Susie.

Ashley, an accountant, learned six years ago that pulmonary hypertension means she cannot safely carry a pregnancy.

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"Jay and I were starting to look into adoption when my mom generously offered to carry a child for us," Ashley said.

Susie got the idea from a TV report she saw a few years ago. It led to Harper's birth.

"She is so smart, so cute, so busy, a little bit bossy and absolutely irresistible. We marvel at everything she says and does. Is it obvious she's our first grandchild?" Susie said.

Harper's grandfather seeks a "Harper fix" whenever he has a rough day. The toddler loves playing outdoors around animals; cats, dogs, chickens, etc.

"She is our little miracle, and we are very blessed to have her in our lives," Ashley said.

The twins Susie is carrying for Ashley and Jay likely are to be born in July.

"Words cannot describe how blessed and appreciative we are to have been able to have this experience and have our own miracle child thanks to my mom," Ashley said. "It's something we never dreamed would happen."

Harper and her Grandma share an "unimaginable bond," she said.

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Jay, a carpenter, said a surrogate birth "is such a blessing." But to have your mother-in-law carry the child "makes the whole thing that much more special."

Ashley's health remains problematic, but medication helps. She wants her kids to know how special they are "and how grateful we are to be called their parents."

Her husband said he hopes they grow to live happy, healthy lives — with children of their own.

Carrying a child at an older age increases the risk of miscarriage, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and pre-term labor, said Susie, but "I accept those risks, and trust our creator."

They praised the doctors at Mayo Clinic who helped them through the process.

"They are like family, so kind, caring, compassionate and encouraging," said her mother. "They cry and rejoice with us. And none of this would have happened without their expertise. We are forever indebted."

If you want children, Jay said, keep searching for options.

"The things they can do today medically are amazing," he said. "They helped make our dreams of having a family a reality."

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This pregnancy is much like Susie's previous ones, she said; a little queasiness, no morning sickness or cravings.

She is "beyond grateful" Ashley can be a mom.

"I am so proud of her and she is a great mommy." Susie said. "I pray that every mom has a great Mother's Day, and that she appreciates and cherishes her title — and that her children let her know she is appreciated and loved too."

Rochester woman was meant to be a mom

Related Topics: MAYO CLINIC
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