October 26, 1992 12:00 PM

ARLETTE SCHWEITZER’S FACE LIGHTS up as she watches her daughter, Christa Uchytil, 23, romp with her blond twins, Chad and Chelsea, in the living room of their split-level home in Rapid City, S.Dak. “Christa always wanted to be a mommy,” she says with satisfaction. “And when your child needs something, you do everything you can to help.”

What Arlette Schweitzer did for her daughter is now medical history—and the subject of a network television movie that will air around Mother’s Day. One year ago on Oct. 12, 1991, the then 42-year-old school librarian from Aberdeen, S.Dak., gave birth to her own grandchildren, becoming the first American woman to do so. (A South African woman gave birth to triplets for her daughter in 1987.) “They’re active and affectionate,” says Christa of Chad and Chelsea, “exactly what I hoped for.”

Such hope might have seemed farfetched in 1983, when Arlette and her husband, Dan, a sales rep for the Keebler Co., learned that Christa, then 14, had been born without a uterus. But doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Minn., told mother and daughter that Arlette’s relative youth would enable her eventually to carry Christa’s babies. In 1989, Chrisla married Kevin Uchytil, a grocery store manager, and on Feb. 21, 1991, Arlette was implanted with four of Christa’s fertilized eggs. “I sat on the nest,” says Arlette, “but they were Christa’s eggs.”

With Christa standing next to her mother, Chelsea Arlette and Chad Daniel were delivered by cesarean section on Oct. 12, 1991, at 1:21 and 1:22 A.M. Arlette and Dan, both Roman Catholics, saw the births as divinely inspired. “We believe this was part of God’s plan for our lives,” says Arlette, whose other child, Curt, is 26. “I believe things happen for a purpose.” Each month Arlette and Dan drive the 270 miles from their home in Aberdeen to spend at least one weekend with Christa’s new brood. “Family is everything to us,” says Dan.

And though Arlette says she stands ready to deliver again as long as she’s able, Christa and Kevin are more than happy with their new family. “I have my babies, my husband, my home,” says Christa. “It’s perfect, all I’ll ever want or need.”

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