Melissa Kayser wanted to be a mom more than anything.
But after nine miscarriages, failed fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization, the 33-year-old Omaha, Nebraska, resident didn’t think motherhood was in the cards.
“I was devastated because you think as women we are literally born to do one thing and that’s to reproduce and when you can’t do that one thing you feel like a failure,” Kayser told InsideEdition.com.
Doctors suggested a surrogate might be the best option, but Kayser said she didn’t know if she “could emotionally handle another woman being able to carry my child.”
But her feelings changed when that other woman turned out to be her older sister, Lisa Auten, 35.
Auten offered to be the surrogate in a semi-serious way.
“It actually started as a joke. And it just kind of snowballed from there,” Auten told Omaha station KETV.
Kayser elaborated with a laugh: “She tries to make a joke out of everything and she said, ‘I’ll let you borrow my uterus,’ I can’t remember how she phrased it.”
Kayser took up Auten’s offer and had two of her embryos implanted in her sister. Auten carried the kids to term and gave birth to twin nieces Ashlynn and Tierney six weeks ago.
Before becoming her sister’s surrogate, Auten had never been married or pregnant. Although she enjoyed being pregnant, she said, she has no desire to be a parent herself.
“I have a connection to them, as they’re my nieces. I think that’s a fear of surrogacy, that you become overly attached,” Auten told KETV.
Although Kayser is the biological mom, Auten is listed as the mom on the birth certificate, in accordance with Nebraska law.
When the girls reach six months of age, Auten will officially relinquish parenting rights so that Kayser can “adopt” her own kids.
Despite the bureaucracy, Kayser remains grateful to her big sister.
“Every day I am in awe. You hear women say you don’t really know love until you have children. They really do complete me,” Kayser told “Inside Edition.” “There’s never any words that I can say to thank her for what she did. She gave up a year of her life so that we could have a family. I could never repay.”