Today I met with an old friend who was blessed 10 weeks ago with her fourth baby. Fourth, you say? Seems, well, abundant. But hers is an interesting story.
I met K as my patient when I worked in Labor and Delivery. She bounced in with her husband and said she was 20 weeks along with their first child and felt she might have broken the bag of waters. They were young newlyweds and quite handsome together. I showed them to their room and felt sure she must have sneezed and leaked a little. Happens all the time. But no. She truly had broken her bag. And labor soon followed. In the next few days, after giving her everything in our arsenal to stop it, she delivered a son. He died soon after birth of prematurity. I generally took care of the dead or dying babies because I could still function without too much emotion (have no kid of my own back then) and felt it was really important to create mementos and positive moments with their "forever" baby while they could. I made foot prints, collected hair when I could, and put together a little book of memories that they could look at later, when they were ready or needed to. K and I just clicked. And we kept in touch after she went home. She became pregnant again a few month later. And again...delivered the baby at 17 weeks. Another boy. The next time she got pregnant, she was on bed rest immediately, tocolytics (medications that stop labor), a cerclage placed (like a purse string in the cervix) and it helped get her the farthest she ever got. But then it happened. At the worst time. A point where the baby COULD survive but probably not very well. He came out at 22 weeks gestation and lived in the NICU for 26 days. He suffered multiple brain bleeds and lungs that could not breathe. It was tortuous for them, and all those that loved them. That was her 6th loss overall, and 3rd one on the 2nd trimester. No one could come up with any reason or diagnosis as to why she kept kicking those babes out so early. She touched the nurses so deeply that one nurse who had successfully delivered her own child offered to be a surrogate for them. All went well and the baby (another boy) was delivered full term into their aching arms. A few years more go by and once again, they agree with their surrogate to try again. And holy cow! Two for the price of one! Well, not really. Surrogacy and it's expenses are crazy. But money is secondary to dreams. They worked hard and did well enough to take on the costs. And again, a successful pregnancy and delivery of twins--a boy and a girl. After all that stimulation to K's ovaries they had quite a few embryos left over and didn't really know what to do with them. The paid for their continued freezing put their energies and love into raising three beautiful children. But after 10 or so years, having been successful in their business ventures and loving being parents, they decided to try one more time with the left over embryos. There were 12 in all. They contracted with another surrogate. This one had had 5 of her own girls and did pregnancy and delivery quite well. These embryos had been frozen for 10 and 12 years, and in that time things have changed. Mediums, storage tubes, etc. Who knew what to expect after having been frozen for so long? After the thaw, only one embryo survived. They placed it in the surrogate's uterus and didn't even make a follow up appointment or testing, feeling sure it would fail. But, when the surrogate starting vomiting, they tested and WOW. A baby was on its way. A term, healthy baby girl was born and my friends are over the moon! She is perfect in every way--chubby cheeks, spit up, pooping, smiling, cooing and that intoxicatingly sweet baby smell! She is the genetic twin of their first born child, having been conceived on the same day, about 12 years ago. Weird, huh? Science is a beautiful thing. I could NOT be happier for them. Through heartache and lots of perseverance and prayer, their dreams came true. If you've gotten this far in my post, please read the next sentence ALOUD. I hope anyone with arms that ache for a child of their very own, get that wish granted. If we all say it a few more times, maybe more people experiencing the pain of infertility will realize their dream too.