FEED FEARLESSLY: Joh, Georgia & Jimmie

‘The miracle of life’
is a sentiment that holds true for all babies, but it’s the parents on the IVF rollercoaster that understand this with every fibre of their being. Every round of hormone testing and medication, every clinic visit, every needle, every egg, every sperm - bringing life into this world through a combination of the sheer power of love and science is a testament to the resolve of parents undergoing the emotionally gruelling process. 

Add surrogacy to the mix and you have a miracle baby literally grown from love and born out of friendship. 

Jimmie is one such magic baby. 

Now 20 months old he is “absolutely meant for this earth and our family,” says his mum, Johanna Scully. “I count my lucky stars every day, even in the tough times - truthfully,” she says. 

Before becoming a mum, Joh spent decades at the top of her game as an e-commerce fashion business expert and like many women, suffered a long list of reproductive issues since adolescence. After meeting her partner Nathan later in life, by the time it came to do IVF she was what is coined a ‘poor responder’ -  a term used to describe low egg quality and issues with the cycles themselves. 

Out of 5 rounds, they harvested 37 of Joh’s eggs - of which only 1 was a viable embryo after genetic testing. She knew instinctively that she was not the person to carry this baby. With her one chance, Joh was adamant she needed to find an alternative, better way. 

That ‘way’ ended up being her friend Georgia - the wife of Nathan’s childhood best mate, Damian.

After volunteering to carry Jimmie, the four of them embarked on a journey together that stretched out over 2 years and included counselling, medical clearances, ‘a million’ blood tests, COVID shutdowns and all sorts of obstacles to get to a successful birth in 2022.

The trials and tribulations did not stop there, with pre-term labour threatened at 32 weeks resulting in Georgia staying in hospital for 2 weeks under observation. 

Georgia was already mum to 2 children - Mia & Ivy, both born early and weighing under 3kg; so Jimmie was born by caesarean - weighing over 3kg at 35 weeks in a dramatic code-green affair that Joh nearly missed.

“From getting the emergency call to me landing in the birthing suite, was approximately 16 minutes. I literally flew there! He came out screaming, and was fed his first bottle of mumamoo at 3 hours old. We NEVER looked back,” she exclaims.

The early days of motherhood proved to be as complicated as it was to get Jimmie earthside, his whirlwind arrival initially putting Joh in a tailspin.

“The love was instant, but me truly feeling like a mum took some time. [It’s] very common for mothers who get their babies via a surrogate. I was also trying to juggle work and reconcile my new life with my old life. But I got there in the end and completely changed my working life to accommodate and enjoy motherhood and my beautiful boy,” she says. 

Professionally, Joh is driven by data, research and also instinct - so the 2 year journey to motherhood was defined by time to get to grips with what the next chapter of her life would look like, even exploring her emotional approach to the complexities around formula feeding. 

“I was never going to be able to breastfeed, and therefore bottle feeding was the only option. I was surprised at the legalities around bottle feeding and the bias toward this as a choice. It felt unfair and incredibly illogical to be honest,” she says. 

A fierce advocate for surrogacy in Australia, Joh is vocal about bringing the conversation into the wider public domain. 

No matter how your baby arrives - whether it’s natural or IVF, c-section or vaginal, or whether your baby is breastfed or formula fed, as Joh knows all too well - your baby is a miracle. “Buckle up and appreciate them. It’s truly the greatest adventure EVER!” 

The bond now between Georgia and Joh is unbreakable, and the love the family have for Jimmie defines this very modern family unit. Jimmie is like the brother Mia & Ivy have ‘without the responsibility’ Georgia explains of the surrogacy advocacy journey on Dr Golly & the Experts podcast - so much so, he’s even her screensaver. Joh refers to Georgia as Jimmie’s birth mum, and both herself and Nathan are incredibly close to Georgia and Damian’s daughters, Mia and Ivy. The girls are understandably incredibly proud of their mum who has shown such kindness and generosity, strength and resilience - the very definition of altruistic surrogacy and friendship.
If you're interested in exploring more on surrogacy, Joh recommends Australia's pre-eminent surrogacy & legal expert, Sarah Jefford. Download her handbook here: https://sarahjefford.com/surrogacy-handbook/