Let’s start from the beginning. Not the very beginning, but the beginning of my life as a mom. Which in a way is when I feel like my real life began!
You should know from the start that I’m an open book and I’m as real as they get. So what follows is my unedited, real, and raw account of my journey.
Since you’re likely visiting this space because of your interest in IVF, you may be surprised to learn that I have two beautiful twin daughters. No, I didn't have them naturally, but I did have them when I was only 27 after marrying my guy at 25 1/2 (I always count halves, I think they matter).
We had a tough first year because we bought two businesses (one for him and one for me), moved, and dealt with some stomach issues I was having (a couple of years ago I finally found out I have something called SIBO, which I could write an entire blog about in itself!). Despite the challenges, I was determined to have kids, and when I want something, determinedis putting it lightly. Luckily, my husband Nick was on board.
Like most couples, we visited my OB and were so excited to start trying! However, my period was not coming; in fact, it hadn't come on its own for years. I'm not even really sure when all the hormonal imbalances starting happening since I had been on birth control since I was 16 (ironically, as I was worried about getting pregnant!).
When we heard the news from my doctor that there was a very slim chance that I would get pregnant without fertility treatments, you can imagine how quickly my world collapsed. Like a lot of women, I didn't even know what infertility really meant. Eager to explore our options, we went to the fertility center #1 (I'm leaving out fertility center names because I have my opinions on them. If you want more info, just ask!). I remember feeling so embarrassed to be there – how could I already have issues getting pregnant?! I was 26 1/2 years old. I was a healthy person!
We sat in the waiting room for what seemed like forever and I was by far –what looked like, anyway - the youngest one in the room. Finally we chatted with the doctor, after looking at my ovaries and uterus, and we left with a plan to try IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination). I started hormone shots in my stomach, and while it took a while for my body to respond it finally did, and boy did it! We went in to see how my ovaries were looking, (since the hormone shots were to help stimulate my follicles) and the nurse said “wow you have about 16 follicles on one side and 14 on the other!”. Apparently that was a lot. Not all would reach the size of maturity but we had a very good chance that at least one or two would “drop” once ovulation was triggered (also controlled with an injection).
A few weeks later I was ready to go! To be honest I don’t know how many mature eggs I had on each ovaries but clearly I had enough to move forward with the procedure (and hopefully not too many to avoid octomom). We went in to get "shot up" with Nick’s sperm. Nick was 31, and his sperm was in good condition.
I made Nick take the call after I did my blood work two weeks after insemination because I was too nervous to answer the call from the nurse. I also have a bad relationship with in-home pregnancy tests because they were ALWAYS negative so I didn't cheat and waited for the blood test (to this day I never cheat, I always wait for the call).
"Baby, we did it!" Nick came home to tell me.
My HCG levels (pregnancy hormone) were SO high; we were elated. That was so easy!I thought.
Then a lot of blood came and I got really nervous. We went to the fertility center the very next day.
"Congratulations, you have triplets!" the nurse told us.
I almost passed out, but more so because I was so glad nothing was wrong! I learned then that you can bleed a lot with multiples. But then came the hardest decision I had ever made in my life. The doctor said that if we continued with a triplet pregnancy I was at risk and so were the babies. I’m a pretty small person at barely 5'3’’; I weigh 110-115 lbs. and have no hips. We cried, we fought and then, a few days later, we drove from San Diego to a fertility center in Los Angeles. There was the only fertility center that could perform the procedure we needed.
We stayed in a little hotel. I couldn't sleep and Nick couldn't (and still can't) talk about it. We went in first thing in the morning. Nick held my hand and I closed my eyes. There was no rhyme or reason as to which embryo the doctor chose (we were 9 weeks pregnant by then); I think it was just which one was the easiest to treat. And that was that… we were now preparing for twins instead of triplets.
Our hearts were heavy but we were also relieved knowing that we would all have a much better chance of getting through this pregnancy together. And I also knew that one day we would have our third. We drove home swimming in these mixed emotions.
On June 2, 2011, my whole world turned upside down. That was the moment I knew this was what I was put on this earth to do. My pregnancy had been amazing… I carried to 37 & 1/2 weeks (I told you halves matter!) and both girls were tiny but healthy! I gave birth naturally (vaginally but with drugs), and they were born a half hour apart! My body was in shock, shaking for several hours after giving birth but it was the best feeling I had ever experienced. We took Natalia home. Eliana, born first, was so tiny she had to stay in the Nicu for 10 days.
Here we are, 8 years later! Time really does fly… it’s so intense. My girls just started second grade. I’m their Uber driver most of the time JOne does gymnastics and one is a tennis player. Both dance because I need them to be in at least one after school activity together for my sanity! (luckily, they love it). They both play piano and one sings! They are polar opposites but have the most incredible bond I've ever seen. They're best friends and I’m SO thankful for them!
So that brings me back to our third child. Two years ago, when the girls were six years old, I knew I was ready to bring another little human into our family. I felt like I had shared my time with my girls for six years and until then I couldn't imagine taking time away from them. But then they started kindergarten and basically were on their way to college, so it was time.
We went in to fertility center #1 and had our first consult. We thought we would do IVF this time so that we could avoid twins (since I have a lot of follicles). We thought we would go in, choose a boy embryo, and be pregnant by December 2017… easy peasy!
Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way.
This is how my beautiful blunder started, with the most optimistic or perhaps naive mind frame one could ever imagine.