Looking back on all the decisions I’ve made in my life, there isn’t anything that even comes close to the decision I made to have children with the help of fertility treatments. It was the single best decision of my life – hands down.
My fraternal twins are now nine. They are healthy, spunky, curious and smart. Two girls, same parents, developed in the same womb at the same time came out as different as night and day. One is an empathetic, compassionate artist and the other a builder and driven athlete. They astound me with their beauty and intelligence every day.
Nine years ago, using IVF to have children was more taboo then it is now. The success rates were lower; the cost was higher. My husband and I had gotten pregnant 3 times but I miscarried in week six with no explanation. No one could say if IVF would make a difference. And the kicker was we didn’t get married until 36 so each miscarriage ticked me closer to 40, a year I believed was a natural cutoff to carry a baby without risk.
After multiple unsuccessful tries to get pregnant with IUI, I jumped into IVF borrowing against my inheritance for what I believed was a last ditch effort to build a family. I remember feeling I was ‘going against nature’ to have children when it seemed that god himself was telling us no. I’d spent a lifetime making sure I didn’t get pregnant by accident and no one warned me my time to have children was running out.
I was lucky. Two of my friends had already used IVF successfully. While my family was apprehensive at best – my friends urged me on. And I needed all the courage I could muster. To inject yourself with expensive fertility drugs with just the hope of achieving your dream of a baby is terrifying. With my biological clock running out, I was fighting my own private war. And after multiple miscarriages every twitch was cause for fear and alarm.
My first IVF was successful –a miracle. I had one perfect beating heart and what they called a ‘vanishing twin’ that would most likely disappear as the pregnancy continued. I braced myself and prayed for both babies to be healthy, to continue to grow. And they did. I am the luckiest person in the world.
As soon they were viable, at 23 weeks, I was placed on hospital bed rest. Carrying twins is risky to both the mother and the babies. Twin B was a week behind in gestational growth from the beginning – something that perplexed and worried my doctor. I worked from the hospital and was eventually allowed to continue bed rest at home. I carried until 35 and a half weeks and was blessed with healthy baby girls, one 5 lbs and able to go home and the other 3.7 lbs and a preemie but otherwise healthy. Twenty-four hours after I was sent home, I showed signs of a serious case of postpartum preeclampsia. Again I was lucky and my husband made me go back to the hospital where they treated me with a magnesium drip. I am grateful every day we all survived.
The field of IVF is changing rapidly and although my girls and I got through a sometimes-scary journey successfully, the treatment I had just 10 years ago is now considered “old school” IVF. Testing of embryos before transfer to determine health with PGT-A and putting one embryo back in at a time give us much higher success rates, safer pregnancies, and healthier babies.
My children are my greatest achievement and what I hold most dear. Had I not taken a chance with IVF, my life would be completely different. Perhaps I’d have more wealth, more free time and travel under my belt. But nothing compares to watching your children grow.
So as this New Year, new decade, kicks off I want to toast to our patients going through infertility and fighting for their dreams. Whether you are successful or not – and I truly believe you will be – fighting for something you want is powerful. Standing up to what feels like nature or fate and achieving a family is a miracle – one that pays off every day.
-Cheers to fighting for your dreams.
Overlake Reproductive Health