“Skip and I went to high school together, he sat behind me and thought I was pretty, but I never noticed him outside of him being my little sister’s friend. We started dating when he was 18 and I was 19 after I went through a bad break up. We kept it a secret because we shared all the same friends and didn’t know where it was going. I didn’t think it would go anywhere because he wasn’t my type and he was way too nice, but I was wrong. When Skip and I started dating he told me he always dreamed of having a family. At the time I had no desire for kids, and especially not my own – the thought of birth, doctors and especially needles terrified me. I always thought I would adopt a ton of kids – ‘one day’ – when I was much much older. I never felt like I had that motherly touch. So we decided to table the discussion. When we finished college, we got married after 6 years together.
Fast forward to 2015 when I was 28 years old. I loved fitness and motivating people – first crossfitting, then bodybuilding. I was working towards competing in a bikini competition when we decided to buy a house of our own. Standing in that open house full of boxes I had a vision of little feet running down the hallway and that’s when I knew, despite all my fears, that I wanted to have a house full of little Skips.
I stopped training to compete and went off my birth control thinking it would be no time before we would have a blessing on the way. I thought of all the ways I would surprise Skip on the next holiday with an announcement, but each month I was met with ‘no’. Months went by and as each holiday snuck past us I kept wondering what we were doing wrong. I tried all the supplements and tracking techniques but each month, no. The ache I felt in my heart kept increasing for a little one as well as guilt that I must be doing something wrong and fear that something was wrong.
Finally in January of 2017 we decided to look for answers and went in for testing. I remember feeling like someone took a wrecking ball to my chest when we sat in front of a fertility doctor who told us we had a 1% chance of having a baby on our own. I had one blocked tube but our biggest issue was male factor infertility. Society always thinks there is something wrong with the woman if a couple can’t have babies, but that’s not true. Up to 40% of couples struggling with infertility have some kind of male factor. How could this be? We were young. We were fit, healthy and did everything right! Could we afford fertility treatments? Did we have the strength to keep going down this road? Could I make it past my fear of doctors, surgeries and needles? Would the meds they wanted to give Skip work? I always told Skip I felt like we were standing at the base of a mountain that couldn’t be moved.
Our doctor decided that since we were young that we may have some luck with intrauterine insemination, even though he thought our best bet was IVF. But that was a hard no for me; no way was I going through all those shots. They started Skip on a fertility drug called Clomid to help our chances, but he had a rare reaction to the meds. He called me from the road one day saying that he was having vision issues and didn’t feel safe to drive. After talking with our doctor he had to stop the meds immediately due to fears that the side effects would be permanent. So we tried more natural supplements instead. Our first round we didn’t even make it to triggering – they canceled the cycle. I was devastated. Skip was devastated. Our second round we had several possible eggs, my hopes were so high! This was the month, I just knew it. I swore I had all the typical pregnancy symptoms. But I was wrong. We tried again. No. We threw in the towel. I remember late nights in the car or at home on the couch when I would just cry, asking Skip why was this our struggle. He always had the right words to say, or surprises, to make me feel better for a while. We prayed and decided to look into adoption, because I still felt that calling. But the cost was too high, especially with Skip still in school to get another degree. Maybe we just weren’t meant to have children, or at least not right now. Later in 2017 we decided to do one more IUI, which again failed. I had a suspicion that we had other medical issues we needed to look into, but our doctor disagreed and pushed us to IVF.
After a long debate, prayers, and tears we decided to try IVF once. ONCE. If it didn’t work, we would move on. My only stipulation was that we find another doctor, preferably one with fewer injections in their protocol. Our new doctor was amazing and agreed we still needed further testing. December 1st, 2017 Skip gave me my first injections after hours of hyping myself up and crying. Yes, I’m a scaredy cat, I know. We did two to three injections for ten days and went in for our retrieval on the 12th. We got nineteen eggs, seventeen mature and twelve fertilized. I was floored, I just kept thinking God is so good. Those days waiting to see if we would have any to transfer were torture. Skip and I stayed busy shopping for the holidays and soaking up Christmas, Skip’s favorite season. On the 17th we made the last minute decision to transfer two of our most perfect embryos. And then we waited again.
On the 21st I had a sneaking suspicion I was pregnant even though I had no symptoms at all but I knew it was too soon. But curiosity got the best of me and I tested anyways. I was faced with the faintest of pink lines. I was floored. I sat on the side of the tub and cried then I danced alone in the bathroom. I tested the next day, and it was even darker. This couldn’t be real. I couldn’t wrap my head around seeing a positive test after so many no’s but I started to create a plan to surprise Skip on Christmas. Christmas morning Skip unwrapped his present of a positive digital test, a celebratory bottle of wine and a tiny onsie. At first he was speechless, and then asked me if it was real. Next thing I know he is in tears, then I’m in tears. Our dreams had FINALLY come true.
Later that week, my blood tests to confirm pregnancy were all over the place. At first they thought both stuck, then they thought it was a chemical pregnancy, and then they weren’t sure if it was viable. I was crushed. We had made it so far, only to possibly have it all slip through our fingers now. Skip said to pray, and so we did. Then at almost six weeks I went in for an ultrasound and there were two sacks and two very tiny heartbeats. Twins. What an immense blessing, I felt like I could burst from happiness after months and months of ache. I felt like a fog had lifted and I could finally breathe.
A week and a half later I was in pain and I didn’t know why. I called my doctor and they brought me in to check it out. They told me I was dehydrated and sent me home to rest. Exactly one week later it happened again, again drink more water and rest. One day the next week I got to work and I was once again in intense pain, I went to the bathroom and found blood. I was 100% sure I was losing the twins. I stood their shaking and crying. It was so unfair to have made it this far and something happen. Why had God brought us to this mountain if it couldn’t be moved? At the doctor’s I expected the worst, I didn’t even look at the screen because I was so sure of what I would see, but I was told I had a sub chorionic hematoma – a large pocket of blood in my uterus that could dislodge the babies. Why was this happening to us? Hadn’t we been through enough already? After some tests it was determined that I had two clotting disorders, one that frequently causes these hematomas, and I would need blood thinner injections every day for the rest of my pregnancy and bed rest until the hematoma resolved. By the way, those are literally the worst shots on the planet.
For weeks I rested and waited to see if my babies would be okay, and by fifteen weeks we were finally in the clear. The hematoma was gone and my babies were safe! It was the best news, and we celebrated by finally shopping for our new additions. We had a gender reveal and celebrated being blessed with a baby girl and a baby boy.
We had the usual twin worries from that point on like if they would be born early or not. I worried a lot about my impending C-section especially since I had two clotting disorders and I was on blood thinners because you always hear horror stories about bad things happening since it’s a major surgery. August 15th, 2018 at thirty-seven weeks we showed up to the hospital to deliver our babies. I was crying because I was so scared, but it was all for nothing. It was such a breeze that I didn’t even know they had started! Next thing I know, I hear two little cries – Saylor Elise and Noelise Berryman entered the world at 8:04 a.m., twenty seconds apart.
We didn’t get to hold our babies right away because they were whisked away to the NICU for breathing and sugar level issues. Saylor came home with us after four days but Noelise had to stay for two weeks for bradycardia, a condition where a baby’s heart rate is below 100bpm and they lose oxygenation.
Those days were HARD, harder than any of our struggles so far, and even harder on Skip. He wasn’t sleeping, or eating, he was having panic attacks. I worried for Noey and I worried for my husband, but I knew God would bring us through. He had brought us through so much already. We spoke to the doctors in the NICU about how watching Noey struggle strongly affected Skip and they informed him that he had developed NICU PTSD. It is still hard for Skip to talk about those days.
After tests, cardiologist visits, and multiple failed car seat tests, Noey was finally allowed to come home with us. As we loaded them both into my car, we were suddenly hit with the reality that we were heading home with not one, but two healthy babies.
Looking back on our journey it doesn’t seem real some days, some days the pain is all too real. Some say the pain goes away once you have a baby in your arms, but it doesn’t, it just makes it worth it. The old cliché – arms full, hearts fuller – is too fitting for our days now. I never imagined having a family of my own would be this wonderful, or that maybe I did have some mad mom skills after all. Watching Skip with the twins brings me so much joy, he was born to be a Dad. Our days of going anywhere anytime are over for a while, but days filled with snuggles and smiles make it worthwhile.
As for growing our family after all this, our hearts have turned back towards adoption. I still believe God wants that for our family too. But not right now… We have our hands full.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jaren Smith. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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