Every mom has a unique and memorable birth story for each of their children. But before every birth story is a conception story. Some women and couples are able to conceive a child with ease. Others need time and patience. Some face the heartbreak of a miscarriage. We needed fertility help. Having kids is hard, but trying to have kids can be even harder. In a two-part series, I will share the conception stories for my children. We are all bonded as mothers, but the journey to parenthood is not always straight.
Two Pregnancies, Four Babies
After people find out I have twin boys, they often ask what my partner, Amy, and I thought when we learned we were having two babies at once. I tell them we were shocked and excited. But the honest, more accurate answer is that we were sad and cautiously optimistic. We never learned we were having twins. When Amy and I went for her eight week ultrasound, I saw three embryos, and heard the doctor say, “Hang on. Let me make sure there isn’t a fourth.”
After a low dose of the fertility drug Clomid and one intrauterine insemination (IUI), Amy was pregnant with triplets. Suddenly, our joy of another pregnancy turned into fear and uncertainty. Our joy never left, but it quickly became shadowed by the most difficult decision of our lives.
When Amy and I were ready to start our family several years ago, we purchased 12 vials of donor sperm. In the world of baby-making, 12 attempts is not a lot. Between the risk of not achieving pregnancy and the possibility of a miscarriage, a calendar year’s supply of sperm is not much when you are trying to make a family that will last a lifetime. But like all families who need fertility assistance, we were hopeful and appreciative of our ability to try.
I had no desire to become pregnant, and after watching my partner go through two labor and deliveries, I will never have the desire to become pregnant. Thankfully, Amy had a strong and noisy biological clock. It was baby or bust.
After five unsuccessful IUI attempts and five grueling post-attempt two week waits, we took a break. We were advised and agreed to administer a low dose of the fertility drug Clomid to Amy. Once we knew her body responded well to the drug, we tried again. The sixth one was the charm. And nine months later we welcomed our first child, Eva.
Little Eva. Wouldn’t you want another, too?
When our daughter turned 18 months, we were ready to try again—as ready as we were going to be. We were naïve the first time around and blissfully ignorant to what life would be like with two kids. You have to be. In the thickest throes of parenthood, I have to remind myself I wanted this life. Who would sign up for parenting if the complete job description was known? Only parents smitten with their kids and easily distracted by gummy smiles are willing to forget all of the frustrations to experience the joys of parenthood all over again.
When we bought our initial supply we had hoped for two babies. And since Eva was a keeper, we wanted her to have a sibling. The thought of going through another pregnancy and welcoming a second child was just as exciting as it was the first time. We had a little experience on our side, but we also had an added sense of urgency to have one more child before our donor sperm ran out.
Amy and I agreed that if a pregnancy did not happen after we used our remaining six vials, we would be done trying. We couldn’t afford any more fertility help. Mostly, we were blessed with the daughter we had and would continue to feel fortunate to have the family we created. We braced ourselves for the possibility of not having any more children. Yet, to maximize our chances, we decided on the plan that worked to get Eva. Before Amy’s first IUI attempt, she completed a round of Clomid.
The two-week wait went by much faster with a toddler and we couldn’t believe the pregnancy test when it revealed Amy was pregnant on the first try. The weeks between learning Amy was pregnant and her scheduled ultrasound at the fertility clinic were different than the first time around. She was sick. She was exhausted. She spotted. All for good reason.
Sure, we wanted to see Nugget #2 for the first time, but we wanted to make sure everything was okay. We were excited and eager for confirmation of a healthy pregnancy. But as we stared at the three dark sacks on the grainy, black and white ultrasound screen at Fletcher Allen’s Infertility Clinic, our desire for a sibling had led us to the possibility of three. While the Clomid dose was low, we knew there was also a low percentage chance for multiples. But as a good friend told us, the percentages are low until they are 100%.
Amy was 100% pregnant with triplets and our second pregnancy became compromised by three.