‘Are you experiencing any stress?’ I hadn’t had a menstrual cycle since I was 15. My husband had testicular cancer when he was 21.’: Mom battles preeclampsia while birthing first set of twins, ‘We need to deliver immediately’

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“Ever since I was a little girl, my dream was to be a mommy. I wanted a lot of kids and really hoped for multiples. I grew up, got married and naively thought I’d just get pregnant whenever we were ready. BUT I hadn’t had a menstrual cycle since I was 15 years old and my husband had testicular cancer when he was 21.

Courtesy of Kelly Meinke

After seeing countless doctors and trying several rounds of IUI’s, we were told our only hope was IVF and that there was little to no hope it would even work. At the time, my husband was teaching and I just started a new commission-only job, so we had little money and no insurance coverage for fertility expenses. Around that same time, my husband went to the doctor as he was struggling with sleep apnea. The first question the doctor asked my husband was, ‘Are you experiencing any stress?’

My husband proceeded to tell him about our struggles to get pregnant and how much emotional turmoil it had caused. The doctor then asked him if he’d ever heard of a fertility clinic called CCRM in Colorado. This sleep doctor had no affiliation with the reproductive clinic but said he’d heard a lot of success stories from other couples and thought we should look into it.

When my husband got home and mentioned it to me, I said, ‘You’re crazy! We can’t even afford IVF let alone IVF in another state!’ (for those who don’t know, we live in Florida and CCRM is in Colorado). But despite my immediate reaction, I looked up the clinic online and began to research. I prayed that if this was where we were supposed to be, God would make it very clear. In the meantime, we decided to do a phone consultation with the doctor at CCRM to inquire about his suggestions relating to our health history. After a very candid and informative talk with the doctor, he gave us reason to be optimistic and thought it would be best to do a one-day work-up. A one-day work-up consists of a bunch of tests, ultrasounds, and meetings with the doctor to discuss the next steps. But again…this was in Colorado and we had pennies to our name. In fact, we were still in debt from paying for all of the previous infertility treatments, so we kept praying for a miracle. And God provided.

Shannon Renee Photography

Around that time, I won an all-expense-paid trip to Colorado through a promotion at work, which was unheard of for a new employee (hello God!). So a few weeks later, we flew to Colorado and did our one-day work-up. My husband and I prayed that God would make it very clear if we were supposed to continue treatment with CCRM, and after meeting with the doctors that day, we both had a peace about proceeding. One doctor’s confidence in particular gave us a sense of peace as he was the first doctor in years to provide a specific plan to help us. After years of feeling like a science experiment, it was a blessing to know we had a strategy that might actually work! We left so encouraged and hopeful for a future with a family of our own.

In the summer of 2010, we traveled back to Colorado for our egg retrieval and then a fresh embryo transfer. We were supposed to be there for only a week but our stay in Colorado was extended to over a month. My eggs were maturing very slowly and by the time they were ready for retrieval, I was overstimulated, thus preventing a fresh embryo transfer. In 2010, the statistics showed a frozen transfer wasn’t as successful as a fresh transfer, so when they told us we would need to return home and come back to do a frozen transfer at a later time, I was devastated. The roller coaster of doubt started again as I questioned everything—was this God’s plan for us after all? We just spent a month in Colorado and now we were being sent home? I was heart-broken and exhausted from the whole process. The good news, however, was that the retrieval provided 12 viable frozen embryos.  We decided to pass on genetic testing, but the clinic gave us statistics stating that without genetic testing the chance of pregnancy was lower and a miscarriage would be more prevalent. We had a peace God did not want us to trust in man’s statistics but to trust in Him.

And as is always true, God’s timing was perfect even when I couldn’t see it. I was surprised a few weeks later when I got a call from CCRM saying I was ready to come back for the frozen transfer. Since I was over-stimulated, they wanted to give my body time to recover before it was ready to accept a fetus. We flew back out to Colorado and did a frozen transfer with 2 of our embryos. The days following the procedure, I remember noticing every cramp and twinge, wondering if that was a good sign or not. They put me on bedrest for the first 48 hours and then we were able to travel home and wait for the results. We had received so many negative results previously, so this wait felt like an eternity. I was scared to death to find out because I didn’t want to be disappointed again. 10 days later, we got a call that my blood work came back and the results were positive! I was pregnant! I was in complete shock and thought maybe they had mixed up my labs with someone else’s. All I remember was CCRM saying my HCG levels seemed high but I didn’t really think much of it. After six weeks, I had my first ultrasound and things finally started to feel real.  And it was during this ultrasound we found out there was not 1 but 2 strong heartbeats! We were expecting fraternal twins!

Jenn Hopkins Photography

For the first 10 weeks everything seemed to be normal. I had morning sickness, but I was so over the moon to be pregnant that I didn’t care. We wanted to wait until at least 12 weeks to announce the news to friends and family as statistics show miscarriage risk decreases drastically after this mark. Then early one morning while I was at the gym, I felt a sudden gush. At first, I thought it was water, but I looked down and saw blood. I panicked, fearing the worst. I thought I was experiencing a miscarriage so I immediately called my husband to tell him what had happened. We went in for an ultrasound feeling stressed and scared but thankfully the babies were fine. The doctor informed us that I suffered a subchorionic bleed that fortunately didn’t affect the twins, but he still thought it was best that I do temporary bedrest. Everything seemed better but around week 20, I woke up in the middle of the night not feeling well and went into the bathroom. There was blood everywhere – it looked like a murder scene. I was having severe cramping and the bleeding wouldn’t stop. This time I was sure I must be miscarrying. My husband heard me scream in the bathroom and rushed me to the ER. We had to wait for hours to be seen, but after they performed an ultrasound the doctor informed us that miraculously the babies were just fine. This was a major subchorionic bleed and I ended up back on bed rest. This time the doctor informed us I may just be someone that bleeds throughout pregnancy. Talk about stressful!

Jenn Hopkins Photography

Around 34 weeks, I noticed my legs were severely swollen and I had a bad headache. I have a high tolerance for pain so I thought it was normal as I was nearing the end of my pregnancy. My husband, on the other hand, took one look at my ‘cankles’ and said we need to call the doctor now. I didn’t want to bother the doctor as it was after-hours, but based on my symptoms, the doctor advised us to go to the hospital for testing. My blood pressure was extremely high due to preeclampsia and they checked me into the hospital for a longer stay to be monitored closely.

Courtesy of Kelly Meinke

After a few days, I convinced my doctor to send me home on strict bed rest because it was Easter and I really just wanted to be home with my family. He gave me permission but wanted to recheck my blood pressure after the holiday to see if my numbers had improved. The doctors were hoping to get me to at least 36 weeks as delivery would be safer for the twins. The following Monday after the holiday, my blood pressure was even higher.

‘We need to deliver immediately,’ the doctor told us.

My preeclampsia was dangerous to me and the babies. This was stressful as we were not prepared; I didn’t have bags with me and I was worried for the babies since they would be premature.

At 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon, we delivered our baby girl first and her brother exactly one minute later. Our son was immediately admitted to the NICU because he was having trouble breathing. Our baby girl was able to go to the nursery where they kept her in an isolette to keep her warm since she only weighed 4 lbs. I was really out of it after my c-section, but I remember being wheeled back to my room to recover wondering, ‘Where are my babies?’

Courtesy of Kelly Meinke

My husband came in about an hour later after admitting our son into the NICU. When he reached down to kiss me, he noticed I felt extremely cold. Prior to my c-section they administered magnesium to keep me from having a stroke or heart attack due to the preeclampsia. When they give it to you, they let you know you will immediately feel like you are on fire and have a horrible case of the flu. So even though I felt like I was on fire, apparently, I was cold as ice. My husband didn’t want to scare me, so he went out of the room and asked a nurse to check on me. She came in and checked my body temp and the next thing I know; a whole medical team was in my room.

They wrapped me in thermal blankets and placed fans with heated air to warm my body, so all you could see were my eyes. Apparently, I am one of these very rare patients who suffer from hyperthermia due to the magnesium they had prescribed. Praise the Lord there was a nurse on my floor who experienced another patient with similar symptoms so they could treat me appropriately. Once the magnesium wore off, my body temperature returned to normal and I was finally able to visit and hold my little miracles.

Courtesy of Kelly Meinke
Courtesy of Kelly Meinke

We were able to take our daughter, Anaya, home right away and then our son, Malachi, came home a week later on Mother’s Day.

Jenn Hopkins Photography
Jenn Hopkins Photography
Jenn Hopkins Photography
Jenn Hopkins Photography
Jenn Hopkins Photography

Our journey to pregnancy was a series of ups and downs, but God was faithful. He sustained us and gave us peace. Since our first set of twins, we have been blessed to have a single, a set of triplets (yes, we had an embryo split), and another set of twins. My husband and I get asked all the time if we both wanted a big family and the answer is absolutely yes! We just didn’t think it would happen quite as fast as it did. God definitely has a sense of humor!”

Infinity Photography by Rita
Shannon Renee Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelly Meinke of Saint Petersburg, Florida. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more incredible stories from moms of multiples:

‘Certainly these aren’t all your children.’ At 29, we welcomed our 10th baby. I looked like I had stepped out of a junior high locker room. ‘I can’t believe your mother left you with all these siblings!’

‘Terminate one baby.’ My weak heart couldn’t handle triplets. But as a triplet myself, I wanted all three.’: Triplet births triplets against all odds, delivers 3 ‘healthy, amazing little miracles’

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