These are my little sisters and me: Becky, Katie and Jessie. We grew up playing House, Dress-Up, Barbies, riding our bikes, and having dance contests (I was always the judge, and coincidentally, I always won). For as long as I can remember we wanted to grow up and have babies. Well, we grew up and Becky and I had babies. When Katie started trying to have her own babies, it wasn’t that simple. This is her story – in her own words – of her struggle with infertility and how she ended up with twin boys, born almost three years apart.
These two cuties are my sons. The big one is Michael. He will be 3 in October. The small one is Dexter. He is (as I write this) 9 days old. They are my heart and soul, the loves of my life, my everything. They are unique and crazy and smart and silly and gassy.
And they are twins.
So this is my story about how I ended up with twin boys who are almost 3 years apart: It began 6 years ago when I met and fell in love with my husband. We were total opposites but had an instant connection and were quickly inseparable. We both grew up knowing we wanted children of our own someday. But that’s where the similarity stopped. I always saw that as a reality. My husband saw it as a lost dream.
Rewind to our childhoods.
I spent my childhood running around and playing with my siblings and friends. My husband spent his childhood in the hospital. At 6 years old he was diagnosed with leukemia. He would spend the next 6 years in and out of the hospital (mainly in) undergoing countless medical procedures, radiation, experimental chemo treatments and fighting for his life. His mother was told on several occasions that he would not make it. Through the grace of whatever/whoever you believe in, he made it and has been cancer free for 16 years.
But that survival came with a price; as we discovered after 1 1/2 years of trying naturally to conceive a child. Neither of us were willing to give up on our dream of having a family, so we scheduled an appointment with a fertility specialist. (I’m not going to get into the controversy of fertility treatments here, but it’s fairly obviously I’m a strong proponent of them). For those of you who have gone the assisted reproductive technology (ART) route, you know there are a LOT of tests to be done. 99% of those are on the female. Even though we knew our issue was male-factor, we (I) began a slew of tests in August of 2011. We were eventually told what we really already knew: my husband’s reproductive system was all but destroyed by the procedures used to save his life. Our only chance of having a child was by IVF with ICSI. At least we would get to bypass all the other, less drastic attempts at conception.
I don’t know about you, but I had NO idea what was involved in the process of IVF or the toll it would take on my body. (Shortest way to describe it: needles & hormones galore). Still, we went into it assuming it was a miracle procedure, would work the first time around, give us twins and we would be all set with our family in one shot. Suffice it to say, it did not go that way. Our first fresh cycle went perfect – on paper. We were so confident, in fact, that we did not freeze any of our remaining embryos. After an incredibly uncomfortable stimulation and painful retrieval we had 2 embryos implanted and awaited our good news.
The news we actually received was that this cycle had resulted in a chemical pregnancy…. All of that pain, all of that hope, all of our dreams. We were devastated. We were also determined to start the process again as soon as possible. And so began another fresh cycle. My body and mind were miserable with the effects of all the hormones, but I pushed on with the idea that surely it HAD to work this time.
However this time we froze our remaining 4 embryos. As soon as my body “recovered”, cue frozen cycle #1. In a frozen cycle there are still a lot of needles and hormones going on, but the impact on your body is far easier than a fresh cycle. I didn’t feel like my body was trying to destroy itself from the inside out. I didn’t feel like I was in a constant PMS rage (though my husband might argue otherwise).
In February 2012 we implanted 2 thawed out embryos. By the end of the month we got the news: one of our babies had stuck!! At 37 weeks and 1 day, our son Michael was born. It was truly love at first sight.
Knowing we wanted to try for a second child, and knowing it might not work quite as smoothly as our original view of IVF would have us believe, we started the process of preparing for a second frozen transfer when Michael was about 9 months old. It takes approximately 6-8 weeks to prepare your body for a frozen transfer. With a week left in the process, they found a cyst on my ovary. They weren’t particularly concerned and just said they were going to keep checking up on it…. The day that was originally supposed to be my transfer was the day they cancelled my cycle due to the growth of the cyst – about 8 cm by this point.
To make a long story short (too late), this began a year plus of countless blood tests and ultrasounds, a cancer scare, several visits to an oncologist and a second, but smaller, cyst. After that crazy year I was able to start (and complete) my 5th and final IVF cycle – a frozen cycle, with the two final frozen embryos we had. The twins to my older son. We were lucky enough for one of them to stick.
After 38 weeks of a very uncomfortable pregnancy, Dexter was born, and I became a two-time believer in love at first sight. I also became the mom of twins born 2 years, 9 months and 5 days apart.