The Twin Journey
Our journey to a 2nd child started in January 2017 after a year of trying on our own. We met with the first fertility specialist and they diagnosed us with unexplained infertility. They couldn’t really find a reason we were not getting pregnant. They suggested a medicated cycle and then an IUI (“Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that gives sperm a better chance at fertilizing an egg. This treatment can improve pregnancy chances for some couples and individuals. During intercourse, only a few hundred sperm reach the egg under ideal conditions”). The first cycle did not work so we went on to try two additional cycles with that doctor. After a year of working with her and no luck, we decided to take a break.
I started sharing our journey more and with that more and more people started opening up to me. They shared who they have went to and what procedures they tried. This community is not one you want to be a part of but man do they come together when you need them. After about 3 months we decided to see a new specialist. This one was a little more experimental in his practices. He again suggested that we didn’t need IVF and that if we upped our supplement game, followed a better diet and with some new medication we would get pregnant via IUI. So for months, we used the supplements until they were happy with our numbers and then we tried the IUI. Again…. it did not work. We tried 3 more times with this doctor. Now here we are 2 years into this journey, thousands of dollars, thousands of injections and pills, and no baby. To say we felt defeated would be an understatement. In March of 2018, we decided to take a break from it all, I was having some back issues and emotionally it was taking a toll on all of us.
In May 2018, I went to the ER for extreme back pain and left the ER finding out I was pregnant. We were SHOCKED and HAPPY at the same time. Was this finally happening? Although the timing wasn’t ideal because of my back it was really happening. We saw the positive pregnancy test and thought that was all we needed.
Well, a few days later that happiness turned to sadness and a scary situation. The numbers weren’t doubling and I went in for a scan and they confirmed it was an ectopic pregnancy. We didn’t even know what the doctor was talking about. He said we need to treat this right away and that the pregnancy would be terminated. We were devastated and not really ready to make the decision but he simply said… If you want your wife to live, you have to do this. She will die if it goes untreated. That is all we need to hear to start treatment. I was prescribed methotrexate and would take this until my numbers went down to zero. I thought it would happen fast, but little did we know it would take almost a month. During that month my back got worse and worse and I ended up needing back surgery. I had to explain to every doctor that even though the pregnancy tests showed I was pregnant I really wasn’t and each time hurt my heart a little more.
After the scare of the ectopic pregnancy and the back surgery fiasco, we again decided to take a break until early 2019. We were not impressed with how the previous fertility doctor handled the bedside manner of the ectopic pregnancy so we decided to again switch doctors.
In February 2019, we started with the 3rd doctor and he suggested we go right to IVF (“In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of several techniques available to help people with fertility problems have a baby. During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the woman’s womb to grow and develop”). We were on board because we had already tried previous options and they were not successful. We started the testing in March and they took about 2 months. After everything looked good with the testing we started preparing for our first egg retrieval which is the beginning process of IVF. But nothing really goes smoothly with our journey.
Enter May 2019 and I felt a lump on my left breast. I immediately called my doctor so that I could be seen (I have a family history of breast cancer so I was not going to mess around). She immediately sent in a request for my first mammogram (since I was under 35 I had never had one). Thankfully she also requested an ultrasound and biopsy if needed so I wouldn’t have to wait for insurance to approve everything after each step. On June 14th (two days before my 7th wedding anniversary) I had my first mammogram. That same day I also had an ultrasound because they saw some suspicious stuff on the mammogram. During the ultrasound the radiologist said we are going to have to schedule a biopsy, it didn’t look good.
June 19th I had my first of many biopsies and a few days later I was officially diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. By the grace of god, I was able to get into the best doctors in a timely manner. I had several appointments, more biopsies, genetic testing, and an MRI. We decided it was best for me to get a double mastectomy with the possibility of radiation afterward. I was okay with this. I didn’t want to deal with this any longer and worry about a relapse. There was always a possibility of needing chemo afterward depending on the findings so I decided to proceed with my egg retrieval because I would need to preserve my fertility if I were to need chemo. The stress was through the roof at this point. How did my first egg retrieval turn into this?!?! How did we get here!!? On August 9th I had my first egg retrieval and it did not go as planned. The doctor only retrieved 4 eggs and two of them were mature eggs. A Few weeks later we learned that only 1 embryo made it to testing and that after testing it had some genetic abnormalities that made it not viable for life. I was devastated but life had to go on.
On August 20th, 2019 I went in for my double mastectomy. They completed the surgery and removed 4 lymph nodes for testing but were unable to complete the reconstruction in that surgery so I came out of surgery with expanders. This meant more surgeries to come. I needed to have the 2nd surgery as soon as possible so I could start radiation so on October 4, 2019, I had an implant swap on my left breast to prepare it for radiation. On October 19th I received my radiation tattoos and scans and prepared to get started. On October 28th I had my first radiation treatment and ended radiation on December 12th. All the while I had not given up on our fertility journey. After talking with my oncologist she said it was okay to proceed with another retrieval. So on February 20, 2020, we completed our 2nd retrieval. I believe on that go around we received 6 and 4 of them were mature. At the end of that retrieval round, we had one genetically normal and tested embryo to transfer at some point in the future. I still needed my final reconstructive surgery for breast cancer.
So on August 5th, 2020, I went in by myself (due to covid) for my last surgery and it was a success. I was not finished with that chapter. We decided to take a few months off for me to heal before moving forward with a transfer. On December 16, 2o2o, we transferred our one viable embryo. We prayed and prayed that this would be our miracle. On December 26th we found out the transfer was unsuccessful. We were devastated. So much time and effort to get here. Three years in the making and still nothing. Where do we go from here?!?! How much more heartache would we have to go through to get our baby? On top of all that we were dealing with Covid and everything was shut down. Life was CRAZY.
As you can imagine we couldn’t move forward with any more treatment after all of this. We really felt like we had done everything right. I mean the whole process in general is stressful. No one really understands what you are going through and everyone is so excited because when you think about IVF you think… this is work and you will be successful at bringing home a baby. So naturally everyone wants to know what is going on. But unfortunately, IVF is not a sure thing and comes with a lot of heartache, hormones, and stress for everyone involved. We talked with other couples that have been through the same thing and through talking we started to dig ourselves out of this whole of sadness.
I didn’t want to give up! During covid, I spoke with doctors in Colorado, California, and another doctor in Arizona. We didn’t really know what to do at this point. Hundreds of thousands of dollars later we were still in the same place as January 2017. Wishing for another child. In the midst of 2021, my back started giving me problems again so that was our priority.
I saw my original surgeon and he doesn’t go any further than the previous surgery I had. So we called around for 2nd and 3rd opinions and I was referred to a pain doctor. I had about 5 different injections in my back with 3 different doctors trying to find the cause of the pain. After seeing one of the top doctors in AZ they determined that I would eventually need to have a fusion in my back. They also said if I wanted any more children I should do that prior to proceeding with any surgery. Easier said than done.. We can’t just get pregnant, hell it has now been 5 years and the only thing close was the ectopic pregnancy that scared the shit out of us. We also didn’t have any more embryos so it was going to take a lot if we really did want to try for a baby.
After months of back treatment, we made the decision to consult with Dr. Craig at Fertility Treatment Center about a possible retrieval and transfer. He went over our previous protocols and provided us with suggestions on what he would do to help us. It sounded great but how many times have we been through this? Would this really work, would this be our time?!? We weren’t ready to begin so we politely said thank you and left it at that.
On September 9th, 2021 another blow happened. My father died on my birthday. I mean I can’t make this shit up. How much more should one person have to go through? I flew home to bury him and was just lost on how things in my life were going. Let me say this. I was so thankful for our son. But we wanted him to have a sibling, and it felt like I was asking for the world. I saw so many people get pregnant so easily, hell everyone in my family makes it look easy. It was HARD!!!! After all of this, I just decided to let it go. If it happens it happens.
After a lot of back and forth and discussion with my husband, we decided in March of 2022 to give it one last try. One of the agreements of this was that we were not going to tell any of our family our decision. We wanted less stress and to just focus on the process. On March 9, 2022, I had my first appointment with Fertility Treatment Center and we went over blood work, testing that needed to be done, and the medications that we would use. I had to run all of it by my oncologist and she provided the green light to try. We knew this was our last chance. We had spent so much money, time, and sacrifice on this journey that it was either time for it to work or time to move on and live life.
Our final retrieval was March 27th, 2022 and something about the day just felt right. My nurse’s name was Jan. She was a twin and she told me about her sister that went through IVF and finally had success after several years of trying. We knew from the ultrasound before the procedure that this would be promising. Jan took my pulse and it was 87, she said I think that is what you will end up with 8 or 7 in the end. I woke up from the retrieval and we had retrieved 15 eggs. ( I wanted to cry with joy). The next day they called and stated 11 were mature and that they would call back in a week to see how many fertilized and were ready to freeze. I got the call that 8 were ready to freeze and 7 of them were good quality. MIND YOU we had only ever frozen 1 viable egg. I will say this time we took our doctor’s advice and didn’t genetic test them. The studies show that the testing isn’t 100% and some eggs get discarded that would otherwise be viable.
So here we are with 8 frozen embryos. Jan was right. How did she know this?!?!? With this great news, we had to decide how to proceed. We decided that we would wait to transfer until summer when our son would be at summer camp. The less stress during that time the better. We also were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. I really put the sickness and health to the test with my husband and he stood by me through it all!
On June 7th, 2022 we made the choice to transfer two embyro’s. We knew that twins could happen but at this point, we just wanted better odds. The embryos thawed perfectly and the embryologist was very happy with the quality. The doctor asked one more time, “Are you sure you want to transfer both?”, and we happily said yes! This whole process with this doctor’s office just felt right, it felt like it was our time and all we had to do was wait 14 days. LOL
On June 12th Sam was preparing to go off to camp and I was 5 days post-transfer. They tell you not to test this early as you could get a false negative. I had been good so far but something was telling me to test. I talked to Brian and he said go get a test. On June 12th we got the positive. It was so early and we had already gone through heartache after the ectopic so we didn’t want to get too excited but damn it we did. I was crying he was crying and I couldn’t stop taking tests! We had planned a trip to Santa Barbara for our 10th Wedding anniversary so we jumped on the plane and enjoyed our 3-day trip. I played along and had some mocktails so no one would get suspicious and we kept testing. We had to be home on our actual anniversary to get our first blood test. On June 17th they confirmed I was pregnant. Now we just had to make it through a few more blood draws and the first ultrasound at 6 weeks. The tests continued to double and on June 5th, 2022 we found out we were having TWINS! We had another ultrasound on the 19th and heard the heartbeats and on July 21st we were released from our fertility doctor to a high-risk doctor due to my age and history of breast cancer.
That is the day we shared the news with our parents. They were in shock! How were we able to hide this from them and not say a word? We explained that this is what we needed and that we are so happy that our dreams are coming true. We get to provide Sam with not one sibling but two! We decided to hold off on telling anyone else because we still needed to complete the genetic testing. That was another stressful situation. I was on blood thinners so when we did the genetic testing the first time it came back with not enough fetal DNA, so I had to do the text over. I was so worried that something was wrong but finally, 3 weeks later it came back normal and that we were having a boy and girl. We were ecstatic.
We were finally ready to tell the world! So many people were rooting for us and praying for us that it just felt right. Everything felt right. The next 7 months were stressful but each ultrasound and test made it a little easier. Finally, at 37 weeks our two little miracles were delivered. Sophie Beatrice and Oliver Kenneth. Sophie’s middle name is my maternal grandmother’s name and Oliver’s middle name is my father’s name. These two were sent from heaven and we couldn’t be happier.
We didn’t give up! We made ALOT of sacrifices but in the end, we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Our family is complete with our double rainbow babies!
I pray that anyone reading this that is in the thick of it gets the miracle they so deserve. This journey was not easy and had way more lows than highs. Not everyone’s journey ends with a baby and I pray that those that don’t find peace and know that we are lifting them up in strength and prayer. We want to thank everyone who was along for this wild ride and that prayed for our family. We cannot thank you all enough!