My husband and I have two-year-old boy/girl twins who were conceived via IVF. While I always say that going through infertility to conceive my children made me a more resilient mom, I have to admit, the “terrible twos” are no joke, especially with twins.
Still, when I think of having another baby, I’m not terrified because I already have two energetic and defiant two-year-olds at home. I’m terrified because, over the past two years, I have learned time and time again that infertility doesn’t just “go away” when you have children.
I have always wanted three kids. But like so many others who have gone through IVF, my husband and I don’t really have the luxury of planning when we want to conceive baby number three. Sure, we can decide when to make an appointment at the fertility clinic, but the truth is, there is no guarantee that IVF is going to work for us again.
For one, the frozen embryos we currently have in storage are not genetically tested. So, when and if we do decide to try to conceive another child, we have a chance of transferring an embryo with a chromosomal abnormality, putting us at a greater risk of miscarriage. As someone who knows the statistics all too well — 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, but the actual number is likely much greater — it makes me more attuned to the odds of something going wrong even if I do get pregnant again.
We also got really lucky the first time around. Like, really lucky. Not only did we get a two for one deal from our first round of IVF, but we also got one of each biological sex to boot. I can’t help but think, there’s no way we’ll get that lucky again, right? Infertility has a way of conditioning you to feel like the other shoe is going to drop at any time, so when my babies came home from the hospital full-term and healthy, it was — and sometimes still is — hard for me to believe that maybe our luck had finally changed.
But here’s the real reason I’m terrified to have another child: I’m afraid that everything that went wrong during my first pregnancy will happen again. Preterm labor at 27 weeks, an incompetent cervix, hospital bed rest, a vaginal-birth-turned-emergency-c-section, and postpartum hemorrhage is enough to scare anyone into being “one-and-done.”
When you’re sitting in a hospital room all alone at ten days postpartum, bleeding profusely, and passing golf-ball-sized clots while your newborn twins are at home with family, it puts a lot of things into perspective. I worked so hard to have my babies. Is it worth risking my life to give them another sibling?
The answer is, I’m really not sure. Because sometimes I look at it like that, and other times I think about how a lot of the complications I experienced were due to the fact that I was carrying twins, which makes everything more high-risk. If we do go through IVF again, we already decided we would only transfer one embryo, giving us a much lower chance of having multiples again.
When I look at the glass half full, I see that even though I went into preterm labor with my twins, I made it to 37 weeks and my babies avoided the NICU entirely. I see that even though I was in the hospital for 25 nights during my pregnancy, forcing my long-awaited baby shower to be canceled, I made a lifelong friend in my roommate and bonded with the nurses.
Although my postpartum hemorrhage was the scariest time of my life, it also made me realize that no matter how difficult having newborn twins might be, it could always be worse. That doesn’t mean motherhood isn’t hard, but as long as my family is happy and healthy, that’s all that really matters. Though nothing was easy on my path to motherhood, it all proved to me how strong I am, because being strong was the only choice I had.
The verdict is still out on whether or not we will head back to the fertility clinic to try for baby number three. Right now, we are enjoying our time with the two IVF miracle babies we already have. But do I still get a little envious of “surprise” pregnancy announcements? Yes. Do I wish it wasn’t so complicated for us? Of course.
That’s the thing about infertility; even when you’re finally a mom, it never really leaves you.