UNO alum and husband welcome baby daughter to a world of support


Abby Hoffman

Courtesy of Ariel Panowicz Photography

Uma Louise Dougherty-Eledge was born at 6:06 a.m. on March 25, 2019.

The five pound, 13 ounce girl was welcomed by the people who put forth so much love into her life. Uma’s fathers, Matthew Eledge and Elliot Dougherty, were in the delivery room as well as her grandparents, Cele and Eledge.

Three days after Uma was born, the story of her short life had already become worldwide news. Matthew and Elliot had posted their maternity photos about a week before Uma was born. The photos featured both fathers, Elliot’s sister, Lea Yribe, and Grandma Cele. It might seem like an unusual quartet to have in maternity photos, but all four people had a part in creating Uma’s life.

Lea offered to give her eggs for in vitro fertilization right away, Elliot said, and they were successfully fertilized with Matthew’s sperm. After considering options for a surrogate, Cele offered to carry the baby at 60 years old. And she did.

The maternity photos gained a lot of interest in the media, and after a few news outlets expressed interest in their story, they decided to do their exclusive with BuzzFeed, Matthew said. “When that was released, it went pretty wild,” he said.

After Buzzfeed released their story on March 28, news outlets began contacting Matthew and Elliot almost instantly.

“Being a new parent is an adrenaline rush in itself and a baby is an entirely new level,” Matthew said, “so it has been super dramatic and fun with the news coverage.”

Photo courtesy of Ariel Panowicz Photography

In the first week of her birth, Uma’s life story was covered by 25 national news outlets, not including the many local stories written. Within the same week, the story was published in 23 countries worldwide. Matthew said in the middle of all of this news coverage, Uma has been “the best baby”.

“So much love was put into making her and so much love has come from around the world that I think she feels a sense of security and a calm surrounding,” Matthew said. “Uma is making my dreams come true.”

Although some reception in the news has been negative, Matthew and Elliot agreed that focusing on the overwhelming positive reception and love is most important.

“So many people, news sources and outlets are interested because of this anomaly that happened in conservative Nebraska, but there is something beautiful about the community in Omaha. Locally, they are the most supportive of all,” Matthew said.

Matthew also said that he appreciates the love and support he has gotten from many former UNO professors and classmates.

Matthew graduated from UNO with a degree in secondary education. He also enjoyed participating in creative endeavors, even making a movie — which, he said, is how he met Elliot.

“Elliot and I met and fell in love through artistic endeavors and people are reaching out to (us to) do creative projects. It’s coming together full circle because of our creation,” Matthew said.

He added that the creative projects included offers for a book, a film, docuseries, television show and documentary.

Whichever creative project comes out of the story, it will include all of the members of the family that played a part. Uma, Matthew, Elliot, Lea, Cele and Kirk.

“Mom (Cele) is doing well, she bounced back like crazy,” Matthew said. “But Dad (Kirk) gets the sidelines because he didn’t get a literal, physical part.”

“He is a traditional man and for him to just be a cheerleader and supporter has been refreshing for everyone,” Matthew said and added that his father gave a speech at a big family dinner, telling them how proud he is of the family for coming together.

Photo courtesy of Ariel Panowicz Photography

“He got to be there the entire time and it has given him a new appreciation and love for how brave and strong my mom is,” Matthew said.

Uma’s little life has brought the entire family closer together, Matthew and Elliot agreed, although they were nervous at first that they would lack a maternal instinct, Matthew said. “The second she was here, and I held her it all melted away.”

Matthew said: “We are just going to take care of her and love her, step by step, day by day. I’ve never felt a love like this, to be so committed to something. Elliot and I fell in love with each other all over again and Uma makes us want to live our best lives.”

Photo courtesy of Ariel Panowicz Photography