“The nurse practitioner said, ‘It’s been two years already since you and your husband decided to try to conceive. I recommend going to a fertility clinic.’ But I wasn’t ready, and neither was Mark. We wanted to keep trying. Let’s back up to the very beginning of how this all started. How Mark and I met.
There was a chill in the air; it was fall and I was at work. I was a store manager for the Gap and Gap Kids, and we were looking for some help for the fall. My visual coordinator, Jessika, who is a good friend of mine now, came into my office and said she had the perfect candidate and he had just filled out an application. She set up an interview with me. A couple of days later, he came in. It was the first time I saw him. Little did I know this man standing in front of me would soon be my husband.
While I interviewed him, I noticed he had these bright crystal blue eyes that seemed to look into my soul. He was young and handsome. He had just graduated Bible college and he was looking for a part-time job. I remember not being able to look straight in his eyes. I never had trouble with this. When I interview someone, I always look at them straight in the eyes. He was perfect for the position and we hired him.
He was seven years younger than me, and I was a single mom to a 5-year-old at the time. As time went on, we became friends. He was promoted out of our store and our friendship continued to grow. I had just gotten out of a relationship and I needed to heal. We remained friends for over a year until November of 2003, when he asked me to be his girlfriend. In February of 2004, on the beach, he asked me to marry him. Little did we know at 6:30 in the morning, there would be a photographer on the beach who saw what was happening and captured every minute of it.
As we walked back to the car, he stopped us and said, ‘I hope you don’t mind, but I saw your proposal on the beach, and I began to take pictures. I would love to put these on the disk and give them to you. Here’s my phone number, call me and we’ll set up a time for you to pick it up.’ Mark did not know this, but I had a deep desire that when somebody proposed to me, they would have it photographed. I had never shared this with him, but God knew. We got married in September of 2004 and decided we were going to try to have children right away. From our honeymoon night to seven years later, nothing.
We went through seven long years of trying to conceive and we were not giving up. Month after month, we thought, ‘This is the month it’s going to happen!’ I would feel the symptoms, and I would even be late sometimes. But month after month, the test was negative or I got my period. I cried every month for seven years. I would have to pick myself up off the bathroom floor, wipe my tears, wash my face, and go tell my husband the news. He would say, ‘It’s okay honey, we’ll keep trying. It’ll happen.’ He was trying to be strong for me, but I knew he was devastated inside.
He just recently told me how it affected him as a man. He felt so unworthy. His self-esteem was low, and he felt responsible even though he wasn’t. It was me; I was the one who had all these things leading to my secondary infertility. It wasn’t him. Finally, after seven years of trying, he looked at my eyes and said, ‘It’s okay if we don’t have any more babies. We have Alexa (my oldest daughter). I consider her my own daughter and I love her as my own. Let’s give it to God and let it go.’ After this, there was a peace that came over us. It’s like we needed to get to that place first. Then, at the same time, we both felt like we should try one more thing. We needed to see a fertility doctor. It was the first time it felt right to both of us.
With the recommendation of a doctor, we decided to do IVF. With a 23% chance of having twins, we had two embryos transferred. Mark put his hands on my belly right after and asked God for twins. I remember this so clearly. Then, we waited. Finally, it was time for my blood test. This blood test would determine if I was pregnant or not. During those two weeks of waiting before the blood test, I remember feeling so many different emotions. I felt pregnant, and like it could be multiples. But then, those familiar emotions would creep into my mind to tell me it’s all in my head. I fought those thoughts and feelings. I had to choose to have faith this would work.
I went home after the test and waited for the phone call. It was just a few hours, but it felt like an eternity. Mark, Alexa, and I sat by my phone. I was shaking when it rang. I answered the phone and held my breath. The nurse said, ‘Congratulations, you are pregnant!!!’ I was flooded with all these emotions that were bottled up as if I had stored them away for this very moment. Mark and Alexa were speechless with excitement. It was a good day!
At our first ultrasound, the doctor started searching and then said, ‘Here is the first baby, and here is baby number two! You are having twins!’ Talk about being speechless again. Wow, what a gift from heaven! Twins!! My twin boys were born at 36 weeks and 4 days! Rey and Rylan were perfect! They were in the NICU for 48 hours and were able to come home with me. It was a dream come true.
About a year later we had something we never expected happen. I got pregnant naturally. We thought, ‘Wow, it’s a miracle!’ A few weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I started having severe pains! It was so bad my work at the time had to call an ambulance. I was misdiagnosed at the hospital and sent home. But then, four days later, I was home with the twins and Alexa, and I collapsed with severe pain. Thank God my friend Natalia had come to check on me right before this happened. I was rushed to the hospital again. This time, the doctor knew exactly what was happening. It was an ectopic pregnancy. In the ultrasound, they could see my fallopian tube was about to burst, and I had been already internally bleeding.
My husband and I had three minutes to hug and soak in what was happening, then they came to get me. The man apologized and said this was an emergency and I needed to get in the OR right away. When I woke up, the doctor was there. She said, ‘You are very lucky. A couple more minutes and I don’t know if you would be waking up from this.’ I had been internally bleeding for a while and it was a miracle everything went the way it did. The moment she went in, my fallopian tube burst. The difference between life and death was just minutes. I am so thankful I survived. It took some years to have the courage to try again for another baby. We mourned, we healed, and we were finally ready again.
We wanted to have one more baby. In March of 2015, we transferred two embryos again. My husband made a joke as we walked out. He said, ‘Imagine if we had triplets this time?’ Fast forward to our first ultrasound. The nurse practitioner saw one baby, then she saw two babies, and then my husband asked, ‘What is that speck over there?’ She looked and she saw a third baby. I wish someone could have recorded our faces of shock. He squeezed my hand and I squeezed his. No words came out of our mouths. The nurse practitioner was not optimistic. She said, ‘It might be a mucus sac or blood sac. It might not be there next time.’
In our next ultrasound, all three babies had heartbeats. This nurse practitioner still was not hopeful about the smaller baby. She said, ‘Baby A was not growing fast enough and probably would not survive.’ We said, ‘No way! All three babies will live.’ We prayed and knew deep inside they would all be fine. Baby A, sure enough, caught up! 23 weeks later, at 1:40 a.m., I began to bleed. Not just a little, it was a lot of blood! I thought I was losing the babies.
My husband and I rushed to the hospital after talking to my doctor. We prayed the entire way there. I was shaking, but I had to remember the deep feeling we got in the beginning that they would all be okay. I had to stay strong in my faith. When we got to the hospital, the bleeding stopped. It turned out one of the placentas started to lift and caused the bleeding. That morning was the last time I would be home until the babies were born.
I was on hospital bed rest for three and a half months. There were many difficulties. But my doctor was determined to keep these babies in until they were ready! Our goal was 35 weeks, but on the morning of the 33rd week and second day, they said I could not eat or drink anymore. I knew something was going on. Finally, my doctor came to see me. Baby A’s heartbeat had dropped the night before and he wasn’t taking any chances. He said, ‘Call your husband and tell him you’re having babies today.’ That afternoon, the girls were born. Baby A’s name is Arianna, Baby B’s name is Angelee, and Baby C’s name is Ava. They were in the NICU for about two weeks and came home right before the New Year!
What a joy! It was all worth everything we had been through! Our family was complete. Alexa, Rey, Rylan, Arianna, Angelee, and Ava were all gifts. We always wanted a big family and we got it. Six children and only three pregnancies. But then it even got better, I am now a proud grandma of a beautiful little boy named Jake! God is good!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Michelle and Mark Cassara. 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, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories like this:
Do you know someone struggling with infertility? Please SHARE this story on Facebook to help give them hope that miracles can and do happen.