‘She was experiencing miscarriage symptoms. ‘You’re still pregnant.’ The doctor continued, ‘Well, how about triplets?’: LGBT couple welcome rainbow triplets after loss, 8 IUIs

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“At the start of 2014, if anyone would have told me I would meet my soon to be wife and later have triplets with her, there is no way I would have believed them. Originally from Ohio, I always knew I wanted more out of life than what I saw in my small town. This is why I decided to leave my career as a Radiology Technologist at a children’s hospital to become a travel technologist. The reason behind this decision was to find a new city to call home; little did I know how much more I would find while traveling.

Fast forward to almost 2 years after I started traveling, in mid-January 2014, I stepped off a plane in Palm Springs, CA – the weather was perfect, the sun was shining, I knew there was something special about the place. I met Sabrina’s high school best friend Jay a few weeks after being in Palm Springs. We started hanging out and became great friends. Nearly 6 months later, with under 2 weeks left on my contract, Jay told me she wanted me to meet her best friend because she thought we would be great friends. Jay told Sabrina the same thing, but little did either of us know she was secretly setting us up. Funny thing – we didn’t find out about her plan until November 2017 on our wedding day.

The night Sabrina and I met, there were definitely sparks, but it wasn’t until the next time seeing her the feelings I had were confirmed. We all planned a night of dancing, good food and great company. I was anxious to see her again; there was a moment we didn’t think she was going to show up, but she did. We were all dancing and having a good time, then Jay said she was heading home early. I rode with Jay, so I told her I would Uber home, then Sabrina said, ‘Oh I want to stay for a while, I can give you a ride home.’ We danced a while longer, there was definitely some flirting, then as I was dancing to Beyoncé, she grabbed my face and kissed me – my last first kiss.

Young lesbian couple, both with brown hair and brown eyes, smile for a selfie while out on a date
Courtesy of Courtney and Sabrina

With only 11 days left in California, we spent every moment together we could getting to know each other. We talked about our future, getting married – and yes, even kids. At this point we still weren’t dating, just learning about one another. Neither of us truly knew what would happen next, I was heading back home to Ohio for a couple of weeks before heading to Atlanta, Georgia for 4 months.

I remember the hospital I was working at offered me a full-time position. Before meeting Sabrina, I respectfully declined their offer. However, once I got back to Ohio, I was talking to my mom about Sabrina, how there was something different about her. My mom said, ‘Well, didn’t they offer you a full-time job?’ I told her yes but I declined it; she told me I didn’t want to miss out on love and always ask myself what if? She also told me if things didn’t work out, I could always come back home to Ohio, she never wanted me to regret not giving it a try. So, I called the hospital and asked them if the job was still available, and they told me yes! I told them I still had to go to Atlanta for a few months. They said the job would be waiting once I got there.

Sabrina came out to Atlanta to visit me while I was there. We went to Savannah and fell in love with each other and the city. This is when we officially started dated. I also came to California to visit for a long weekend. Those 2 trips made me realize I didn’t want to live life without her. I made arrangements with the hospital I was working at and actually ended 6 weeks earlier than anticipated. Jay flew out to Atlanta during my last week there to help me pack up my things and we drove 36 hours straight from Georgia to California. Fast forward to July 2016, we got engaged in Savannah, GA. My little sister got married in Orlando, so we planned to drive to Savannah to spend some time there; little did Sabrina know what was on the agenda.

Lesbian couple announce their engagement with a sign that reads "We're engaged" with the date
Courtesy of Courtney and Sabrina

The day we got back to California, I saw a home that looked perfect for us online, so we scheduled to view it that day. We had been looking for a home for almost a year with no luck. I am now sitting in the very home we saw together as an engaged couple. In November 2017, we got married in Savannah, GA. It definitely has a special place in our hearts and we wanted to share it with our family and friends. We are looking forward to the day we can share Savannah with our toddler triplets, so they can see the place their Mama Sabrina and Mommy Court fell in love.

Newlyweds share an intimate moment during their wedding photos, smiling at each other while going in for a kiss
Courtney Lindberg Photography
Young married couple smile at each other while walking out onto the dance floor at their wedding reception
Courtney Lindberg Photography

Eager to expand our family with children, in January 2018 we began our journey to parenthood. We had no idea our journey would be as difficult as it was. Sabrina always had the desire to one day become pregnant and birth a child; I on the other hand always wanted to be a parent, but never wanted to be pregnant. So, our discussion on who would carry our children was very simple. Sabrina began all the necessary testing and after much research decided she wanted to attempt intrauterine insemination (IUI), using her natural cycle without medications. The next big decision we had to make was selecting a donor. We went back and forth on the type of donor we wanted to use – known, unknown or anonymous. We ultimately decided on an unknown donor. When looking for a donor, we wanted someone who resembled me, who had a similar background and heritage as me; we wanted our family to look as blended as possible. Now looking at our toddler triplets, the donor we selected was perfect; many people say Noah and Julian resemble me, where Penelope is a mini-Sabrina.

Newlyweds take photos together out on the beach, both wearing white
Joseph Esser Photography

With testing completed and our donor selected, we were ready to undergo our first IUI. I am extremely grateful for our fertility doctor and team. As a same sex couple, the journey to parenthood isn’t always a good one. People have been turned away for treatment, their partners aren’t able to be part of the journey, they have been discriminated against and it’s truly unfortunate. For us though, our medical team has been very accepting, respectful and inspired by our love. I would say the most amazing thing during our IUIs was the doctors actually let me inject the specimen for each treatment; it felt so great to be part of the process. Unfortunately, our first IUI was unsuccessful. Not anticipating a negative pregnancy test, we took the next month off to clear our minds.

Mother’s Day 2018, we went in early morning to have our second IUI attempt, then of course we had the 2-week waiting period before we could take a pregnancy test. It seemed like the longest 2 weeks of our life. During the 2 weeks we tried not to think about it, tried to remain stress free and positive. The morning had finally come when we could take the pregnancy test – yay, we were pregnant! We were at such a high, it felt like nothing could bring us down. This feeling changed several weeks later. At week 7 of the pregnancy, Sabrina started experiencing bleeding, abdomen pain and cramping. We both traveled with our careers at the time. When she called to let me know what was going on, we decided it was best to go to the hospital. Knowing the uncertainty and possibility of this ending in a miscarriage, I flew to where she was to be with her. I made it to the hospital right when they were starting the ultrasound to confirm pregnancy. At this moment we were informed the pregnancy had terminated. What we didn’t know was if it was a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, so we were urged to stay in the area for the next few days until we could see another doctor.

A few days later it was confirmed to be a miscarriage. It was such a difficult time – we had many questions as to why, what could have been done differently – but we never gave up our faith to becoming parents. After experiencing our loss, we decided to place a hold on the process and allow time for us to grieve and also give Sabrina’s mind, body and spirit time to heal after going through the loss. A few months passed and we decided we were once again ready to begin the process. After speaking with our physician, we decided to change our IUI method and decided to move to the next stage which is the oral medication cycle.

4th attempt – unsuccessful

5th attempt – unsuccessful

6th attempt- unsuccessful

After that unsuccessful attempt, we had a serious conversation with our physician to decide what our next step was going to be. Ideally, after 6 failed IUI attempts, the recommendation is made to transition to IVF. With this being said, we elected to take time off to evaluate what was best for us expanding our family. This takes us to January 2019. We were feeling pretty positive this was the year we would become pregnant! Although the recommendation was to move to IVF, we decided to stick with IUI but move to the next method, being the injectable medication cycle.

7th attempt- unsuccessful

With this unsuccessful attempt, we did begin to get a little discouraged. We yearned to become parents and felt we were doing everything in our power to become one, but things still weren’t aligning in our favor. We decided to give it one more attempt and if it was unsuccessful we would reevaluate our options, but something told us not to give up just yet. Anyone who has undergone fertility treatment, I’m sure can relate, the 14-day waiting periods to take a pregnancy test is the toughest! Our test day was Sunday, May 12, 2019, which happened to be Mother’s Day. What more could we ask for? It seemed the stars were finally aligning in our favor.

We woke up extremely early on that day to take the test…YAY!!!! We were pregnant! Little did we know how much our lives were going to change. We held the pregnancy news in, except for telling our parents and siblings, since we already experienced the loss of our first pregnancy. The morning of our 7th week, Sabrina started experiencing the same symptoms of our previous miscarriage: bleeding and excruciating pain. We contacted our physician and was told to immediately go the lab for blood work and then head to the office for results and additional testing. Unfortunately, our physician, whom we love, was not available, so we were meeting a new physician at a time we anticipated bad news. The vibes and energy of a person can make a bad situation good and vice versa.

So, in walks this doctor with amazing energy and a huge smile on his face. Before we even started the ultrasound, he was pretty positive and convinced we were still pregnant, but he wasn’t sure what was going on. His reassurance before the ultrasound put us both at ease, but little did we know how much our lives were going to change in under a year. With the ultrasound underway, we both waited patiently to see what was going on. As the physician started scanning Sabrina, I noticed the first black sac, in my head ‘yay,’ the doctor said, ‘You are still pregnant and everything looks good with this one.’ He proceeded to move his ultrasound and I noticed another black sac. The physician said, ‘All good with the second baby, too.’ I looked at Sabrina and said, ‘I told you I had a feeling we were having twins.’ Well, the doctor shut me up pretty quickly when he continued scanning Sabrina and said, ‘Well what about triplets? There are three healthy growing sacs.’ I looked at him and said, ‘3 is the limit, so don’t find anymore babies!’

Two moms expecting triplets show an ultrasound with three sacs labeled as Baby A, Baby B, and Baby C
Courtesy of Courtney and Sabrina
LGBT couple announce they're expecting triplets after IUI with ultrasound photos
Courtney Lindberg Photography

We instantly started crying. Although we didn’t process we were having triplets at the time, we were extremely happy we were still pregnant. The physician proceeded to say sometimes women experience these symptoms but are fine, which was our case. However, he did say we were not in the clear and this pregnancy was extremely high risk because of the previous miscarriage and the carrying of multiples. Throughout our pregnancy, we saw two physicians since we were high risk, our ON-GYN and a maternal fetal specialist; we spent a ton of time at the doctor’s office.

One thing during the early stages of the pregnancy that surprised us was every physician we met asked us if we wanted to take our triplet pregnancy down to a singleton, as the risk was extremely high. They also inquired about our means to care for triplets. I think this is a question that may be mandated by state regulations, at least this was how it was presented. Every time our answer was the same, ‘NO!’

Woman kisses her pregnant wife's baby bump during a maternity photoshoot to announce they're expecting triplets
Courtney Lindberg Photography

Fast forward towards the end of the pregnancy, we had a scheduled C-section date that would put us at 35 weeks 3 days, which was the meeting ground between our physicians. One wanted Sabrina to go to 36 weeks and the other said he’d be surprised if she made it to 35 weeks. At 34 weeks and 3 days, we got a call from the doctor to head into the hospital because it was time for our babies to enter this world. Luckily, I had completed their nursery, washed all their items and packed the hospital bag the weekend prior – something told me I needed to finish it all.

We arrived to the hospital around 10 p.m. and got settled in. We knew there was a chance the babies could come that evening, but we prayed they would wait until the next morning so our physicians could deliver the babies. When planning the birth of multiples, there is a lot of planning between medical teams to ensure everything flows smoothly. We made it through the night. Around 6 a.m., our family started arriving because they wanted to see us before Sabrina delivered. Since it was a C-section, there could only be 1 person in the room, which of course was me.

In addition to the medical team delivering the babies, each baby had their own medical team – NICU physician, NICU nurse, and respiratory therapist. We were in the surgical suite and the triplets’ birth was underway. The incision was made and out comes who we have known as Baby Boy A. As they are taking him out, Baby Girl C kicks her leg out of the womb, as she is ready to enter the world as the second born. Then comes our last of the tribe, Baby Boy B. They all weighed in the 4 pound range at birth. The NICU team immediately got to work to make sure our babies were healthy. As they began to stitch Sabrina back up, I went to the waiting room to let family know all was good, then to the NICU with the babies.

Two moms hold their newborn triplets after one gave birth to them via C-section
Courtesy of Courtney and Sabrina

Our first born Baby Boy A is Noah, he was in the NICU for 6 days; once 4 pounds 13 ounces, he is now over 25 pounds. Our second born Baby Girl C is Penelope, she was in the NICU for 9 days; once 4 pounds 7 ounces, she is now over 25 pounds. Our last born Baby Boy B is Julian, he was in the NICU for 13 days; once 4 pounds 5 ounces, he is now over 25 pounds. Our triplets will be 2 years old at the end of 2021. They are hitting all of their milestones and growing beautifully.

Two moms take a family photo together with their newborn triplets and their family dog
Courtesy of Courtney and Sabrina
Two moms take a photo of their newborn triplets all swaddled together in different-colored blankets while their family dog sits next to them
Courtney Lindberg Photography

We are lucky they were born before covid-19, as it didn’t impact the delivery. However, it has had a major impact on family and friends visiting. We limited visitors when they first got home because we didn’t want to compromise their health. The goal was to allow visitors towards the end of March 2020, but of course this has not happened due to Covid. We know this will all pass and we will be able to surround ourselves with the love of family and friends, but until then we are enjoying a lot of FaceTime.

After their birth, one of the most challenging things for me as a non-bio mother, is I had to legally adopt our triplets through family court to ensure I have equal parental protection. In the state of California, I was able to sign each of the birth certificates and I am considered an equal parent, but each state and country has their own laws regarding parental rights, and a birth certificate unfortunately isn’t enough. We contemplated having an attorney file the documents for us, but realized not everyone is fortunate enough to pay thousands of dollars to adopt their own children. So, I took on the challenge of filing for second parent adoption or stepparent adoption (varies county to county) myself so I can be a resource for anyone who may be considering the process in the future. Unfortunately, covid-19 delayed court hearings, but after a year of filing for adoption, it has been finalized!

Mom to triplets celebrates the official adoption of her children since she is the second parent in an LGBT family
Courtesy of Courtney and Sabrina

Lastly, we want you all to know if you are going through fertility treatment and/or considering expanding your family and have any questions or concerns, we are here for you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We reached out to a few same sex parents when we were going through the process, but unfortunately didn’t get a response. The process can truly play a toll on you and your relationship. We don’t want anyone to give up hope because of lack of information and or support.”

Two moms lay in bed and smile at each other while holding their triplet babies
Courtney Lindberg Photography
Two mom take a family photo with their toddler triplets, all wearing matching "Pride" shirts during Pride month
Courtesy of Courtney and Sabrina

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Courtney and Sabrina of Southern California. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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