A woman has recently told her story of becoming pregnant whilst already pregnant, resulting in her giving birth to two children who were not conceived at the same time and had different sets of parents.
Jessica Allen, a 31-year-old from California, underwent in vitro fertilization in April 2016 after she agreed to become a surrogate mother for a Chinese couple for the sum of $30,000, The New York Post reports. California is one of the few US states with legal commercial surrogacy programmes where you can be paid to be a surrogate mother.
Allen soon became pregnant with the other couple’s baby, but at six weeks of pregnancy, she was told she was carrying twins. Allen “was very surprised” to learn she was carrying two babies, she told ABC News. She believed the Chinese couple’s embryo had split in two, making the twins identical, she said.
A month after she had given birth to the two babies, she learned that the “twins” were not identical. They looked different, and a DNA test confirmed that one baby was Allen’s biological child and the other baby was the Chinese couple’s child.
Superfetation means that a woman becomes pregnant while she is already pregnant. It’s extremely rare — fewer than a dozen cases of superfetation have been reported in the medical literature, said Dr. Saima Aftab, medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, who was not involved in Allen’s case.
Usually, when a woman becomes pregnant, several biological processes kick in that prevent her from getting pregnant a second time during the pregnancy: Her body releases hormones that halt ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries); a “mucus plug” develops in the cervix, which prevents sperm from traveling to the uterus; and the lining of the uterus changes, making it hard for another embryo to implant, Aftab said.
Fortunately, both children are now fit and healthy. After a complicated and pricey legal process, Jessica and her partner Jasper received custody of their son in February and named him Malachi.
In an article for the New York Post called “I rented out my womb – and they almost took my own son”, Jessica finished by saying: “I don’t regret becoming a surrogate mom because that would mean regretting my son. I just hope other women considering surrogacy can learn from my story. And that a greater good will come out of this nightmare.”