Last month when we focused on heart, I shared with you my struggle with infertility and the journey my husband and I experienced to conceive our twin daughters, Eve and Vera. If you missed it, you can read the entire story here. My heart was so full and grateful at the birth of my girls, that I could have stayed in that place forever. But we had four frozen eggs waiting for us at the fertility clinic and we wanted to use them all. So we tried again.
The second time around, our treatments weren’t nearly as long, and we learned that I do not have a blocked Fallopian tube after all. The doctors already figured out what my body responded best to, so we used the same meds and dosage as on our first IVF attempt. The eggs were frozen in pairs, so the idea was that we’d thaw two, fertilize both, and transfer the embryos into my uterus. In the beginning of 2016, this is exactly what we did.
The first two eggs were thawed and fertilized in the beginning of April (2016). Sadly, that did not lead to a pregnancy. The embryos never implanted in my uterus, they went straight to heaven. The second two eggs were thawed and fertilized on Mother’s Day weekend (2016). Two weeks later I had a positive pregnancy test.
By now, you’ve probably figured out that this is the pregnancy that brought about our little Lia. But there is a lot left to this story that most people don’t know. I went for my first ultrasound when I was five weeks pregnant, and we saw not one but two embryos. Once again, I was pregnant with twins.
I was shocked, a little scared, and completely overwhelmed. Considering how things ended last time, how would my body handle another twin pregnancy? Because of my history with HELLP syndrome I was already considered to be at high risk. How in the world was I going to take care of two babies and two two-year-olds? I didn’t know. But I knew that I wanted all of my babies and that we’d figure it out, just like we did the last time.
The next week I went back for another checkup and ultrasound. This time, we saw that one embryo never grew from the previous week. We were told not to expect this baby’s survival so we prayed. And prayed. As scary as another twin pregnancy was to me, I really wanted both babies to survive. The following week, the second baby had no heartbeat. My twin pregnancy was now a singleton.
When I got pregnant with Eve and Vera and the one embryo was so small, we were told about “vanishing twins.” It is when the stronger baby essentially takes nutrients from the weaker baby and the weaker baby stops growing. This is what happened with Lia’s twin, and as my body absorbed this precious one, it provided more nourishment to Lia. By the end of my first trimester, there was no evidence of the second baby left in my uterus. The only place the fragments of his short life were found was in the depths of my heart.
We did all the usual tests and screenings during both pregnancies. During my pregnancy with Lia, the tests revealed that she was at high risk for down syndrome. Because of this, we were sent to a genetic counselor and received further blood tests. This test would give us a better idea of our risk, which could help us prepare for life with a disabled child if it came to that, and would also let us find out the gender early.
Lo and behold, a few days later we were told that we were having a little boy! The chances he would be born with down syndrome were actually very low. It was great news! At that point, we announced my pregnancy and the gender and started collecting baby boy clothes.
Fast forward a couple months, and my husband and I found ourselves sitting in my OB’s office for the 20 week anatomical ultrasound. The technician asked us if we wanted to know the gender and we told her that we already knew we were having a boy. A few minutes went by and she quietly excused herself and came back with the doctor. The doctor took a look, the two ladies conferred and told us that according to the ultrasound, we were not having a boy. We were having a girl.
Shocked doesn’t describe how I felt. My brain couldn’t even process the information. My husband and I sat in stunned silence, thinking, “OK… what does this mean?” It’s not like the baby changed from one to the other.
To make a long story short, I’ll tell you now that the twin we lost was a little boy. His DNA was still in my blood when we did the early blood test so it picked up his Y chromosome. Obviously, the Y chromosome would be evidence that we were having a boy. We were sent back to the genetic counselor to sort through it all, and she was confounded. In all her years doing this work, we are the only case like this she’s had.
We could have been disappointed and upset about this change in news since we both were excited about having a boy, but truthfully, we were not. Not even a little. As far as we were concerned, we had everything to be thankful for. We had a healthy baby growing inside me. We knew that a son was waiting for us in heaven. Our blessings were many.
As I look back on the past three years and everything we journeyed through, it seems like a different life. Lia is now 16 months old. I feel as if I’ve been a mom of three kids ages three and under for at least five years. My life can be crazy and chaotic, but it is beautiful. These kids of mine are my very own gift sent straight from the heart of God.
Their names, chosen with care, tell the story perfectly. Eve means breath or life (Hebrew). Vera means faith (Russian) or truth (Latin). Lia means bearer of good news (Greek). This is my story. This is God’s story.
When I look at my daughters, even on the hardest days, this is what I want to see. I never want to forget the overwhelming love that carried me through this journey, and I never want to think of them as anything less than the miracles they are.