Disclaimer: This story contains details of pregnancy loss that may be triggering to some.
“Growing up, you’re always told you can achieve anything you set your mind to and dream big because dreams do come true. What they don’t tell you is, no matter how hard you work at your dream, it may never become a reality.
We are Cara and Natasha, a same-sex couple, married in 2018 and proud parents of three incredible children. There are plenty of same-sex couples with children, so what makes our little family unique, you ask? Well, our youngest two children are 2 weeks and 6 days apart! Cara gave birth to our daughter Aria at the end of March and I gave birth to our son, Easton, in early April.
Our fertility journey was long and full of disappointment, pain, and heartache before we ever felt joy and love. The emotional roller coaster you go on is not something you could ever prepare for, and you never know how it’s going to end. We decided very early on in our relationship that we wanted to start a family; children were undoubtedly part of our plan. We also knew it was something we wanted to get started on right away since our method of conceiving wouldn’t exactly be the traditional way and it could take longer to achieve. After appointments with our fertility doctor and psychologist and many tests, we were ready to start.
First were IUI’s, but unfortunately we both failed multiple attempts over the span of a year, so it was time to move on to IVF. Due to age, (I am older) we decided I would try first, but that only left us with 2 low-grade 3-day embryos to transfer and again — fail. Trying to stay positive at this point was tough; how many times could we put ourselves through this? How many times would we have to? How many times could we afford to? We were naive to think IVF was a sure thing but we knew we had to keep trying. Round 2 gave us more embryos and I had success with my second to last one. Tears of happiness were streaming down our faces when we held our daughter Alyssa for the first time, our first miracle.
We knew right away we wanted to have more than one child. Cara wanted to experience pregnancy as well and as per the advice from her doctor, she too did IVF. After two failed embryo transfers, we finally received the amazing news that her third embryo worked. We went to our first ultrasound, where the technician requested we stay to meet the doctor to discuss our options. The awful feeling that something was wrong set in right away. We didn’t recall having to wait to meet with the doctor at our last successful pregnancy. And what options did we need to discuss?
After what felt like hours, we spoke with our doctor who informed us that they couldn’t locate the embryo in the ultrasound. This meant one of two things — our pregnancy was either too early to see anything on the ultrasound or it was ectopic. We tried to remain hopeful in the four days we waited until our next ultrasound. We went back to the fertility clinic only to find out that the pregnancy was indeed ectopic. So many questions were racing through our minds. We couldn’t wrap our heads around having to terminate a pregnancy that we wanted so badly, but nothing could be done to save it and surgery was required to remove her fallopian tube. The emotional toll the ectopic pregnancy had on both of us felt unbearable at the time. We so badly wanted a sibling for Alyssa and we so badly wanted Cara to be able to also experience pregnancy.
Cara was cleared to try again after a few months of recovery and the transfer failed. We weren’t sure how much more bad news we could take. What if her last two failed? We were emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially drained. I watched Cara’s whole being change. She wasn’t the happy, upbeat, positive person before all this happened, and I knew exactly how she was feeling.
Do you know what it feels like to stare at a pregnancy test? It’s the longest 60 seconds you’ll ever experience. Anticipation is at an all-time high, so much hope. Holding it up only to see the window blank, only one line, a minus sign. All that hope, all those dreams, crushed in an instant. The cute plans you had to announce to your family and friends, the names you picked out, the decor for the nursery, you don’t need anymore. This isn’t the Mother’s Day you get to celebrate with breakfast in bed, it isn’t the Halloween you get to buy a tiny costume, and there won’t be extra presents under the Christmas tree. You stand there empty, staring at a piece of plastic, shattered. Then comes the greatest challenge of all — pretending you’re okay.
Then we received the call. This is the call where the fertility clinic tells you it’s your turn to try again, if you wish to. The call wasn’t for Cara this time though, it was for me. Was I ready to try with my last embryo? It was a difficult decision to make. On one hand, we really wanted another child, but on the other hand, we wanted Cara to be the one to carry. If I became pregnant first, would she resent me? What if she never became pregnant, how would it affect our marriage long-term? After many lengthy discussions, we agreed that we would go ahead with another embryo transfer for Cara and postpone mine for the following cycle. Both trying essentially at the same time, had we lost our minds?! But what were the odds of both embryos sticking? With so many previous failures, this was surely just going to better our chances ever so slightly.
I remember Cara’s home pregnancy test seven days post-transfer: no question it was positive! The standard blood test a week later confirmed it; Cara’s embryo was successful! We were cautiously optimistic as we had been down this road before. She had an ultrasound confirming there was a baby and it was in the right place this time! A few weeks later, we returned to the clinic for my transfer and seven days later I took a home test, but I was disappointed that I didn’t see a line. Cara came and looked at the test and said, ‘Tash, I see a faint line, I think you’re pregnant too!’ Could this actually be happening?! Could we both actually be pregnant?! I went for blood-work and a nurse called and said, ‘Natasha, technically you’re pregnant, but your numbers are low, so it’s likely to be a chemical pregnancy or ectopic. We will need to confirm with an ultrasound.’ What an emotional roller coaster it was, good news followed by bad news once again. We went for the ultrasound and much to our surprise, I too was carrying a healthy little baby! We asked our doctor how often she’s seen our unique situation and she responded, ‘Well, I’ve read about it, but I’ve never seen it before!’
Being pregnant at the same time was incredible. We did worry what we would do if something went wrong with one of our pregnancies, but we were remaining positive that everything would work out. When we shared the news with our friends and family, most people’s first reactions were, ‘What?! Seriously?! You’re BOTH pregnant? How?! Are you crazy?’ Our family and friends were extremely supportive and were so excited for us to be able to share such a unique experience together. Everyone always asked us how we were managing with twice the amount of pregnancy hormones running through our house. In all honesty, our relationship only got stronger. Being able to truly empathize for one another and understand what the other was feeling was truly an amazing feeling. We attended all of our doctor’s appointments together, we shared maternity clothes, we had similar cravings, and we loved getting to feel each other’s babies kick from the outside!
Cara gave birth first to our sweet Aria. We had an incredible experience with a fantastic team of doctors and nurses who took great care of us. One of the nurses during our hospital stay said to us, ‘I heard about you ladies and I was hoping to be working when you went into labor!’ It was nice to see everyone else was just as enthusiastic as we were about our double pregnancy! The nurses at the hospital were extremely supportive of the fact that I was 38 weeks pregnant; they made sure I was comfortable for the duration of Cara’s delivery.
The next couple weeks were physically and emotionally overwhelming as we were trying to look after our 2-year-old daughter and our newborn while Cara was recovering from Aria’s birth and I was approaching my due date. Two weeks and six days later, I went into labor. 8 hours later, our beautiful son Easton was born. At the time that Easton was born, we were weeks into the Coronavirus global pandemic. Our original plan was that Cara would be able to leave the hospital as needed to breastfeed Aria. Having to leave your newborn for a couple days, especially during a pandemic, took an emotional toll on us both. Our plan of Cara being able to leave as needed to feed Aria was no longer an option. We luckily were able to go home 24 hours after Easton was born.
Navigating postpartum together was more challenging than we anticipated since we were and are currently in a pandemic. We had so many friends and family members who were offering to help us in the early days so we could recover from giving birth. The help we actually received was very different, but still so wonderful. We had window visits and meals dropped off for us. Friends picked up groceries, diapers, and medication and checked in on us all the time. But there was no one to spend time with us, to help hold, change, bathe, and feed the babies or to play with Alyssa. We had to juggle life with three under three all on our own and try to squeeze in a shower or two when we could. It’s lonely, being locked up and isolated from the world, even though it’s to protect our family. It’s tough on the heart when there are family members who still haven’t met the babies and we don’t know when they will be able to. We’re still adjusting everyday to our new normal, but we’re glad we get to do it together.
No matter how much money it cost, how many needles it took, and how many tears were shed, we wouldn’t change a thing. We know how fortunate we are to have our three miracles and we will never take that for granted. It has taken us 7 years to get here but we’re excited to see where else this journey will take us, and who knows, maybe there’s another miracle in our future.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step – Lao Tzu”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Natasha and Cara Lee. You can follow their journey on Instagram. 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 inspiring stories like this:
SHARE this story on Facebook or Twitter to support inclusion and acceptance.