When I was younger, I wasn’t sure if I wanted any children. I didn’t know if I’d be a good mom, I saw myself as a corporate girl, and I hadn’t met the right one yet. I figured I would be single, move around and live alone, working and getting promoted all my life. Then I met Eric, we got married, and I decided I wanted to be a mom. Eric wanted a family too. I dreamed of having lots of kids….first I thought three sounded like a great number. The more I imagined our family, the more children I pictured. At least four, I thought. Lots of children, joyful laughter, big hugs, messy fingerprints on the fridge. It all sounded perfect to me.
Once Eric and I started trying, we got pregnant right away. I was nervous, but so excited. We were going to be parents! I went to the bookstore to pick up books about pregnancy and childbirth. I started eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water. I couldn’t believe there was a little living bean growing inside me. Then, sadly, I miscarried during my first trimester. I was heartbroken. I remember telling friends I was fine, it was OK. I had read statistics and knew that during the first trimester, about 20 percent of pregnancies ended in miscarriage. These things happen, we would just try again. But at night, I’d cry and talk to God. I was sad. I was angry. Why our baby? What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Our first baby was now in Heaven, and I’d have to wait to meet him or her. Eric and I waited a couple of months, and then we decided if we were going to grow a family, we needed to start trying again. We were more cautious this time around, keeping our pregnancy attempts to ourselves, and deciding not to let anyone know we were pregnant until we got through the first three months.
Even though the first pregnancy happened right away as we tried to conceive, that wasn’t the case the second time around. I expected I’d get pregnant quickly, like last time; and although we didn’t have to wait too long (it took seven months to get pregnant again), it felt like an eternity.
I discovered I was pregnant with Avery on what would’ve been our first baby’s due date—December 7th. Avery arrived in August, and we instantly fell in love with our sweet-tempered, happy little baby girl. Eric and I were both almost 34 at this point, so when Avery was six months old, we decided it was time to work on having another child.
Unfortunately, one month turned into a year. My obstetrician ran some tests and said everything looked good, and since I had gotten pregnant twice before there was most likely nothing wrong with me or Eric. We just needed to keep trying. She prescribed Clomid, a fertility medicine, to see if that would help us. We tried another year, and still nothing. I was depressed. It seemed like all my friends were getting pregnant during that time or had a few babies and had completed their families. I had friends tell me, “My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant.” I was happy for my fertile friends, but it was so heartbreaking to want more children and not succeeding. We would both be 37 soon. We were running out of time, and my dream of having a large family was diminishing. Family members and friends would say to me, “You have one child, isn’t that enough?” or “Maybe it’s just not meant to be.” I think it’s hard for someone who hasn’t dealt with long-term infertility issues to understand how it feels to want one child or more children and not succeeding month after month, year after year. Yes, we both loved Avery very much, and she meant the world to us. But we wanted her to have siblings to grow up with. We understood that maybe she would be our only child, and we were so blessed to have her. But we wanted to see if there was any chance we could be parents again. I asked my obstetrician what our next step was.
We were referred to an infertility clinic, and after many tests, we were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”. Basically, there was no medical reason found for our infertility issues. The doctor we met with said we could keep trying, and eventually we should be able to get pregnant again. His other suggestion was in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Eric and I went home and talked about what we should do. IVF was expensive, not covered by insurance—and not always successful. Two-plus years of trying and not having any success had worn on us already. Physically, IVF would mean a lot of tests, a lot of shots, and a lot of procedures and rules to follow to try to become pregnant. It would mean a lot psychologically too—I’d have to be mentally prepared to go through the entire process and put my body through a lot, knowing that there wasn’t a 100 percent guarantee that IVF would be successful.
After our discussions, we decided we would only try two rounds of IVF. If we were unsuccessful both times, we would call it quits. (Looking back on how stressful our first round of IVF was, I am glad we decided to limit our IVF tries to a couple of rounds—as much as I wanted to grow our family, I don’t know if I would’ve been strong enough to do more than that). If we weren’t successful, we knew that was God’s plan for us.
Everything started moving quickly once we decided to go ahead with the IVF process. I met with a nurse at the fertility clinic who showed me how to give myself shots. Then, a few days later, I received a box in the mail, full of needles, medications, and everything I would need for all the injections that I would need to take. It was overwhelming—so many shots! Once my body was ready to begin, we got moving.
Eric gave me all of my shots—I was grateful for his help. There would be two or more each day. Every few days, I’d have to drive downtown to the clinic for ultrasounds or blood work. Many shots were timed, so Eric and I needed to make sure we were home at specific hours during the day. Hyperstimulation was the biggest side effect concern, so I had to make sure I was well-hydrated each day.
Egg retrieval day arrived, and the doctors were able to retrieve 12 eggs. Each day, a nurse from the clinic would call me and let me know how my eggs were doing. “Hi Julie, just calling to tell you that 11 eggs look great and are still viable”. “Just calling to let you know that you still have 10 eggs growing, and they all look wonderful.” Up until egg implantation day, I got a daily call to give me an update on how the eggs were doing.
On implantation day, our doctor met with us to discuss how many eggs to implant. Given my age, the doctor advised we would have about a 50% chance that conception would be successful with one egg. With two eggs, there would be a 25% chance that both would be successful. He recommended implanting two eggs, but he said he was willing to implant three if we could give him some valid reasons to do so. Eric and I talked, and we decided that for our first round, we would go with implanting two eggs. If we were unsuccessful, we would consider implanting three for our second round. The doctor completed the procedure, I went home and stayed in bed for 24 hours, and we waited to see if we were successful.
After a few weeks, I went in for blood work to determine if I was pregnant. I won’t forget the phone call from a nurse the next day. She advised me that my blood work came back and she read off a number to me. “What does that mean?” I asked. I had no idea what the number stood for. “Don’t get nervous just yet, but you either have one very healthy baby or you are pregnant with multiples given the result.” I hung up, excited and nervous. I called Eric right away—multiples! But there was only a 25% chance of that. Could it really be twins (or by some chance, more?). An ultrasound was scheduled, and I drove to the clinic a few weeks later to find out how many babies we would be expecting.
God works in amazing ways, and we were so happy to find out that we were having two babies. How blessed! I remember sitting in the chairs outside the ultrasound room, still a bit shocked that there was a Baby A and a Baby B growing in my belly. We had tried for so long, and now we were given the amazing gift of not one child, but two. I cried because I was happy, I cried because we had been unsuccessful for so long, I cried because little Avery would have two siblings, I cried because I knew there were other women in the waiting room who wanted this news too, and I cried because I had another baby in Heaven who was missing from our family here on Earth.
Claire and Madison were born seven years ago, and we cannot imagine our family without them. I thank God for them, and for Avery, each day. If we hadn’t gone through all that we had gone through, Avery might not be here, and our twins would not be here with us. They help complete our family. I do think about our first baby, and I have days where I feel like someone is missing here with us, and sometimes tears fall because I wonder what that child would’ve been like. I know he or she is in Heaven, and we will all get to meet that little someone when we join him/her. For now, we are blessed here with the sweet family we have, and despite the long journey to grow our family, we are so grateful for it.