Infertility to Twins – Levi & Roen’s Birth Story
I will never forget the sound of the very first tiny cry that welcomed me to motherhood at 3:37 PM on September 16th, 2015. An unforgettable moment of disbelief, as one long and trying journey came to an end and another one began, from infertility to twins.
I carried my IVF miracles to 37.5 weeks, which I was often reminded during my final painful weeks of pregnancy, is an uncommon feat for the average twin mama. Somehow little 5’, 125 lb me, grew a healthy 12+ lbs of baby, and I was still able to waddle myself to labor and delivery on the day they were born.
Those 37.5 weeks started off painstakingly slow. When we discovered that our fourth IVF cycle resulted in a twin pregnancy, I was overwhelmed with equal parts happiness and anxiety. Given our track record, and the fact that it took four rounds of IVF to achieve a viable pregnancy, I immediately began doubting my body and its ability to carry two babies to term, despite not having any valid medical reasoning for my pessimism. My typical sense of hopefulness was unfortunately heavily weighed down by the failures and heartache of previous cycles. It’s hard to stay rational when you see two little sacs on the ultrasound screen after so much loss. So, I proceeded with cautious confidence, and allowed myself to fall more and more in love with each milestone we hit, accepting them as some form of reassurance that these babies were indeed going to have a birthday.
Once we reached viability, the glory of the second trimester became a distant memory, and I entered into the final stretch of my pregnancy around 28 weeks. It was at this point that my body began to disregard my tolerance for pain, my need for sleep, and my desire to move around as I pleased. Seriously, I was a hobbling-172 pound-zombie.
I was scheduled for an elective c-section on September 21st at 38 weeks +1. Given the unpredictable nature of pregnancy and labor (especially with twins) my doctor and I agreed that a c-section would be the safest route for us. A choice that on the day of delivery, unbeknownst to us, likely saved my baby boy’s life.
When we scheduled the C for 38 weeks, I remember laughing out loud, thinking it was comical (and insane) to consider making it further than 34 weeks given my normally petite size, but my doctor insisted it could be done (and legally couldn’t schedule me sooner without valid medical reasoning).
Sure enough, we made it all the way to 37 weeks with only one major scare, and a few painful minor complications. Things started to become really difficult around 30 weeks. I was HUGE and had all the usual ailments (swelling, fatigue, back pain, pelvic pain), plus a lovely case of PUPPS (have fun googling that one!) which graced me with its presence around 36 weeks. This was the same week that we thought we would be delivering early via emergency c-section due to a heart deceleration that was observed during a routine twice-weekly non-stress test appointment.
After being monitored for 24 hours, baby girl proved to be doing great, so the heart decel was chalked up to a momentary pinch in her cord. No babies just yet! As excited as I was to meet them, and as nervous as the end was making me, I knew they were in the best care in my belly, and every additional day I managed to keep them there was a blessing.
One and a half weeks later, their time had come. My blood pressure had spiked, and my pelvis felt like it was ready to shatter into a million pieces. I had done the best I could, for as long as I could distract myself, but I was officially over being pregnant. So their long awaited birthday was booked! They were transferred in on January 16th, 2015 and were to explore life outside the petri dish and my uterus on September 16th, 2015.
I called my husband on the way home from the doctor to alert him that our wedding anniversary this year was going to be spent in the hospital, and we both kind of sat quiet on the phone, in a weird state of speechlessness, probably sharing the same thoughts, but unable to get them out. This was happening. These babies that we fought so hard for were about to make their debut.
I kept my cool once I got home, even though my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. I didn’t have much to do, as my hospital bag had been packed for weeks, the nursery was finished, the dogs care plan was arranged in advance, and food was prepared for the next three months. So I slept. One final nap just the three of us, as one. In hindsight, had I known just how much sleep I was going to lose once they arrived, I truly would have slept my entire pregnancy.
Mr. UKU and I had one final date night that evening, celebrating 4 years of marriage and 4 rounds of IVF, at the red-freaking-lobster (which neither of us had been to since we were kids), because he was craving breaded shrimp (pregnancy cravings by proxy, MEN!), …and we both left there thinking, why the fuck did we choose this place of ALL places? I don’t know, but I will always remember that was our last (meh) meal as a party of two LOL.
One evening of nervous diarrhea later, I woke up feeling ready (and dehydrated ha). All the nerves were replaced by an overwhelming feeling of joy that in just a few hours, I would be reaching the end of the crooked path to motherhood…and it was worth every. single. detour.
I wore my “life is better with a bump” shirt one final time as I waddled myself to 4th floor L&D and checked-in for surgery. The next few hours were pretty uneventful. I was stripped down, shaved down (yes, the struggle is real), given a moomoo, hooked up to the monitor and pumped with fluids. I was practically a waterbed by the time I was ready to go under the knife (no pictures please, thanks!). At 3:30 PM, I was wheeled into a large operating room with a team of 10 people (2 OBs, 2 pediatric nurses, 2 anesthesiologists, 2 physician assistants, and 2 nurses). The anesthesiologist performed a spinal block on me (“just a pinch” yeaaaaaa righttttt!), and my legs immediately went numb and felt like they weighed 100 pounds each. The nurses lifted those dead weight suckers up and helped me lay back.
Hubby was brought in to the operating room right as the first cut was being made. The rest is, well, history. 7 minutes in, at 3:37 PM, baby Levi Elisabeth entered the world. I could hear her tiny little cry and immediately started crying myself, somehow managing to stutter the all-important question of the day… “Does she have hair?! What color is it?!” She did have hair…lots of it, and it was brown. Be still my heart. It was at that point that I became so overwhelmed I almost vomited. I had to ask for 4 rounds of anti-nausea meds intravenously to prevent myself from a horrendous episode of choking on vomit during the most magical moment of my life. Two minutes later at 3:39 PM, baby Roen Jacob entered the world with a knot in his cord the size of my fist. They held him up and said, “good thing we got you out this way, little man”, as that very knot could have taken his life in a vaginal delivery. The reality of that possibility hadn’t hit me until well after their birth was over, as in that moment, I was too distracted by the symphony of cries coming from the other side of the sheet.
“Mom, are you ready to meet your babies?”…
Mom?… I’m a mom.
“Baby Levi, meet your mama”
Wow she is beautiful. And tiny.
“Baby Roen, meet your mama”
Hello handsome. You’re a big boy. And tan! I’d kill for the complexion.
Here we are. Our very first picture together. I still get choked up every time I see it. So much emotion captured in one still moment in time. A moment that I honestly many times over, believed would never happen. But it did. And it took a lot longer than I would have ever wanted it to…but this was the moment I was meant to have. This was the moment I deserved. In hindsight, it’s clear that my battle with infertility, despite being the very thing preventing me from becoming a mom, was in reality my first lesson in motherhood. That is, an exercise in patience, accepting loss of control and coping with sleepless nights.
To my friends who are still anxiously awaiting their moment, please don’t give up. It may be hard for you to realize it now, but the heartache of infertility that seems to be carving an empty hole in your heart is actually just making more room for the overwhelming joy that awaits you. Biological, donated, adopted, carried by you, or carried by a surrogate…whatever the case may be, I promise you, that first moment, when you lock eyes with your baby, everything you will have gone through for that moment will fade away. Your battle with infertility will become a badge of honor, everlasting proof of how terribly strong you are. Let the fire inside you, your desire to be a mother, burn stronger than the fire around you. Wish without limits. Your moment is coming.
Levi Elisabeth | 5lb 12 oz | 18 1/4″
Roen Jacob | 6lb 7 oz| 19 3/4″