‘No matter what he says, we’ll be OK.’ He told us we had a .001% chance of conceiving on our own. ‘You’re pregnant, with twins!’: Foster mom becomes pregnant, ‘God doesn’t give you more than you can handle’

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“In the wee hours of the night, I rolled over and said the words I’ve struggled with and held back for 11 years. ‘I want to go see a fertility specialist, I want to have a biological baby.’ Those words were scary for me. For many years, I was adamant against treatment. I fell for the lie that I just needed to pray more, have more faith and be patient.

My husband quickly whispered back, ‘me too.’ A wave of relief washed over me, we both never brought it up, assuming the other one wasn’t ready. After all, we had 4 amazing children thanks to the gift of adoption and we never wanted them to feel less than or not as good as a biological child.

The next morning I started googling the closest infertility doctor, quickly called, and to my surprise, they were able to squeeze us in the next day.

‘Normally couples don’t bring a baby with them on their first visit,’ the doctor chuckled at his own joke. We quickly explained that the sweet baby sitting in the stroller next to us was our foster baby who would be moving soon. We spent a good hour in the office that day and left with a large to-do list before coming back in a month.

Aerial view of baby in stroller
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles

I had about 20 tests to do, all of which were quite invasive, and my husband had one simple test. I found myself a little envious many times that month. I also found myself more and more worried and perplexed every time I had a test performed. All labs were normal, ovaries normal, tubes normal…

Although it was a relief to know I was healthy and good, I couldn’t shake my worry. I spent countless hours during that month calling everyone I knew who had fertility testing, and/or had gone through fertility treatments.

Our month of testing was finally over and it was time to meet with our doctor again. My heart was racing. I kept saying to myself, ‘no matter what he says, we have 4 beautiful children, we’ll be ok.’ We walk back into his tiny office and he opens the file. In his gentle yet humorous tone (one that to this day brings me great comfort) he begins to explain that due to extremely low sperm count, very little motility and low morphology, it will be next to impossible for pregnancy to be achieved without IVF. He actually said we had about .001% chance of conceiving on our own.

We walked out with a whole pile of papers and costs. I like to jump full force into any situation and my husband likes to think things through. By the end of the night I had already applied for an IVF loan, set up surgery plans and was ready to move forward. My husband on the other hand was struggling, he was just told he cannot have children naturally, and his wife was expecting him to just jump in with her. Over the next few days, we had many ‘what if’ conversations and lots of ‘come to Jesus’ arguments. By Sunday night (which also happened to be Mother’s Day) we had mutually decided to pursue IVF.

We officially started the IVF process on May 19, 2017, which was also the day we would kiss our very loved foster son goodbye.

We had chosen to do a minimal stimulation IVF, which meant I took only over the counter medicine and 1 trigger shot instead of daily injections.

Woman stands in home injecting stomach with IVF medicine
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles
Woman's hand full of IVF pills
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles

I took 5 pills of femura a day for about 10 days and on May 29th, we had our retrieval. (A procedure to extract eggs that would then be fertilized directly).

Woman laying in hospital bed for egg retrieval
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles

We successfully retrieved 5 eggs, and 3 survived fertilization. We decided to do a fresh transfer of 2 embryos.

One June 3, we were set for our transfer of 2 embryos. Unfortunately the 3rd embryo did not make it. Our transfer was quick and painless.

Woman lays in doctor's office fro embryo transfer
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles
Woman holds ultrasound of transplanted embryos against her jeans
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles

We would then need to wait 2 weeks to get a blood pregnancy test but only 4 days after the transfer I already felt incredibly sick, so I decided to take a test. To my complete surprise, it was positive!

A week later we took our blood test and were told we had very high numbers and we were indeed pregnant!

July 6 was our long-awaited ultrasound. We would finally find out if we were pregnant with one baby or 2 babies. I was way too sick to be nervous, morning sickness was in full swing. My doctor chuckled after asking how I was feeling, ‘the sicker you are, the healthier the baby.’ As he started up the ultrasound machine, my heart started to race. This moment, the moment we were waiting for, was here.

Within seconds, we saw a tiny sac with a flickering heart. There was no denying we were pregnant. I jokingly asked the doctor, ‘now is there one baby or two babies?’ He moved the probe and we saw it, another sac with a tiny flickering. He said, ‘you’re pregnant… with twins.’

After measuring both babies, it was obvious that the second baby was much smaller. He didn’t seem worried and simply said, ‘come back in a week and we’ll check the babies again.’ During that week, I called every twin mama I knew. Asking to see their ultrasounds, asking what the heart rates at 8 weeks were, asking what the measurements of each sac was. It was the only way I felt like I had a little control of the situation.

July 11 at 1:45 my phone began to ring. The number was a CPS number. My eyes rolled. My heart was still very bitter and hardened from losing our boy. ‘Hi Mrs. Amanda,’ the voice on the other end was one of comfort. I knew that voice, it was our other kids’ adoption worker. ‘Do you remember (sweet boys name)?’ My heart started racing. Why on earth was she calling? Was she going to throw salt into my very deep and open wound? ‘Unfortunately, your (insert sweet boys name) placement is going to be disrupted and we were wondering if you would be open to placement of him again? We don’t know the final outcome at this point, but there is a very high chance that he will be adopted.’

Wait what?? Is this for real?? A million things were racing through my mind. I looked down at my belly – I had two babies in my tummy who needed me, and now this? Really?

‘Yes of course, bring our boy home,’ I blurted out quickly. I realized I just accepted placement of a 2-year-old, I started to panic.

I called my mentor, sobbing at this point. How on earth can I care for a toddler with a lot of needs, and twins? After she let me cry for a few minutes, she simply replied, ‘God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. You have an amazing village who will help you. Do not worry and let’s get excited because your boy is coming home!’

After I hung up, we raced to our ultrasound. My mind was so focused on bringing my 2-year-old home that my nerves of our ultrasound had disappeared. We walked into the same room as we had a week prior. We instantly saw the sweet flickering of baby A, a strong heartbeat and a growing baby. The doctor then moved over to baby B, and we instantly knew. There was no longer a heartbeat, the sac now only had a tiny spec.

Ultrasound of woman's baby conceived through IVF
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles

Our sweet boy moved home a week later and his case moved to adoption shortly after. As I grieved the loss of baby B, God gave me an intense sense of peace. There was no doubt in my mind that God had always intended for us to have two sons in 2018, it was just looked a little different than we expected.

At 34 weeks pregnant, I started to get an excruciating pain in my lower back. We rush to the hospital because nothing was easing the pain. The doctor ran labs, did an ultrasound and a kidney ultrasound. Everything but my urine came back normal. They assumed I had a UTI, sent me home with antibiotics and asked me to come back in 4 days. This would start the scariest 2 weeks of my life.

Pregnant woman stands with exposed stomach in mirror selfie
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles

When I returned 4 days later the protein in my urine had sky rocketed and it was determined that I actually had preeclampsia, not a UTI. I was put on bedrest and ordered to have non-stress tests every few days. The baby failed every NST and we spent many hours at L&D until we would eventually pass, and we would get sent home. This pattern went on 7 times during this time.

One day, I woke up and felt off. I checked my blood pressure and it was the highest it had been. I called the doctor’s office and they had me come in immediately. While there, the protein in my urine had risen even higher and the baby once again failed an NST. We were sent straight to L&D.  After many hours of tests, the doctor came in to tell me the protein in my urine was so high, it was unreadable on the machine and I was going to be induced. I was terrified. They immediately hooked me up to magnesium and cervidil. The magnesium made me so sick and drowsy that I remember very little. I do remember that the cervidil did not work so they switched me to Pitocin, which also did not work, then they tried an oral induction medicine that also did not work.

Pregnant woman who was induced takes selfie in hospital bed
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles
Birthing band on pregnant woman's stomach
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles

After days of no progress, they decided to try a foley bulb. (A method that forces your cervix to dilate by inserting a balloon type bag and eventually the weight of the balloon forces the cervix to open). 12 hours after the folly bulb was inserted, it fell out, causing me to finally dilate. I was finally in active labor. Once I got to 3cm, my labor went quickly. I went from a 3 to 7 in a few hours and then jumped from 7 to 10. I pushed for 45 minutes, which was such a nice break considering I had just laid and labored in a hospital bed for 4 days straight.

Soren Malachi was born on January 21, 2018, after 94 hours of labor. Yes you read that right, 94 hours!”

Close up of newborn's face who was delivered after 94 hours of labor
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles
Newborn laying on back in hospital
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles
Woman smiles in hospital bed with her newborn beside her five foster children
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles
Shirtless father lays in hospital bed with newborn laying on his chest
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles
Husband and wife stand outside in snowy weather with their newborn beside their five foster children
Courtesy of Amanda Bowles

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Bowles of Ventura, California. You can follow their journey on InstagramSubmit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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