Thursday, December 15, 2011

Did you say four babies?!

Yes, you heard it right -- we have four babies on the way!! A lot of you may be wondering just how this happened. Well, here's our story.

We've been married 14 and a half years now, and we've been working on a starting a family for the last 10. This fall we traveled back to Indiana to try in vitro fertilization (IVF) for the fourth time. Having already been through this very emotionally taxing experience three times before without success, we decided (on the advice of our doctor) to up the odds by making use of a gestational surrogate. What is a gestational surrogate you ask?

A gestational surrogate is a woman that provides a safe and healthy womb for someone else's baby. The surrogate has no genetic relationship with the baby -- the baby is 100% from the mother's egg and the father's sperm. Tiny embroys are transferred to the surrogate's uterus within a few days of conception. The surrogate then provides the right environment in which the baby can grow for the duration of the pregnancy.

Our third attempt at IVF happened back in 2005, and we had known since then that using a surrogate would be the next step. As you can imagine, choosing someone to provide a home for your unborn baby can be a very daunting task. It's not like you can just go up to someone and say, "Hey, do you have any plans for the next 9 months?" On top of that, IVF itself is a pretty expensive process, even more so when a surrogate is involved. So for us, we needed time to prepare mentally, emotionally, and financially before we were ready to try it again.

Amazingly, it didn't take too long to figure out who would be our surrogate. While many people work with agencies to connect "intended parents" with willing surrogates, we didn't have to worry about handing this task over to a complete stranger. My very bestest friend Amber offered to become our surrogate. She had already experienced the joy of having two of her own children and did not want us to go through the rest of our marriage with empty arms. What an incredible and selfless gift!!

And so, we began the process again this past September. For those of you that don't know, IVF is a multiple stage process. One of the first stages was to get my body to produce a lot of eggs and then attempt to fertilize them by individually injecting them with Brian's sperm. After this step, we had six beautiful embryos that were available for transfer to a waiting uterus. Although our past experience and our doctor's best guess told us it would be a long shot, we still had hope that I could experience pregnancy myself. With the doctor's approval Brian and I decided to have four embryos transferred to me. The other two were transferred to Amber. The transfers were done back-to-back on October 13. This was followed by the next stage: waiting.

Due to the medicines used early in the IVF process, the doctors wait a full two weeks after the embryo transfer to perform a blood test and check for a positive pregnancy. These two weeks went by excruciatingly slow! Although Amber started feeling naseous the very next day, I couldn't feel anything happening. By the day of our tests, I had already resolved myself to knowing that I wasn't pregnant. Brian and I were still ok with this -- going into the process we knew that having just one baby would still be a success.

On the day of the tests we were still pretty anxious -- having been through the process before we were trying not to get our hopes up too much until we got an official pregnancy result. We went to the doctor's office at 7:30 and then went out to breakfast with Amber, my mom, and my mother-in-law. When we got back to where we were staying my father-in-law joined us as well. It didn't take too long before the phone rang around 11:30.

Brian answered the phone with anticipation. The nurse on the other end said, "Brian, I hope you're ready to be a daddy -- times two! Both Amber and Misty are pregnant!" Brian was speechless. We were both overjoyed. I could not believe it and just laughed with excitement. A true miracle had occurred!

Two weeks later Amber and I had our first ultrasounds and found out we were both carrying twins! While this is technically considered to be "two sets of twins," we are preparing ourselves to be parents of quadruplets. As you can imagine, we have many new and interesting challenges ahead of us, both before and after the babies arrive in June!

Through it all, Brian and I are so thankful to God for watching over us and breathing life into our little ones. And after having experinced the first couple of months of pregnancy myself, I can now start to see firsthand what an amazing sacrifice Amber (along with her husband and children) is making for our family. Everyone should have at least one friendship like this in their life -- thank you Amber! We love you!

So that's how it all began. I'm sure there will be much more to tell both during the pregnancy and after the babies are born, so Brian and I will be making an effort to keep you all updated through this blog. Have a Merry Christmas!!