I got married for the first time in 2008 at age 45 to a wonderful man named Andre'. Neither of us had any biological children, and my OB/GYN had already verified that I was going into menopause, so we knew we would likely have to use in vitro fertilization (IVF) and donor egg treatment to build our family.
Deciding to Seek Treatment
I was 45 when my OB/GYN did a blood test determining that I was going into menopause. I was surprised because I always figured I had time. My mom and dad had 12 children, two of whom were born when she was in her 40s, and she didn’t go into menopause until her early 50s. I also had older sisters who were not in menopause, so I felt this would likely be my course as well.
Needless to say, I was definitely surprised, but still felt hopeful at the thought of building a family using IVF. A year and a half after getting married, Andre’ and I visited a fertility clinic in Nashville. We tried Clomid with no success. At the same clinic, we went through one round of IVF using eggs from someone we knew. We were devastated that the known donor egg transfer was unsuccessful! The thought of it NOT being successful never crossed our minds. Because our known donor was older, the reproductive endocrinologist suggested that we try eggs from an unknown donor if we attempted IVF again. We were okay with this…at this point we just wanted our babies. But how could we afford to try again? We had saved up quickly to attempt a transfer with known donor eggs, never imagining it wouldn’t be successful. Would we be able to afford another attempt? What if it was also unsuccessful?
Andre’ and I continued to talk about our faith that God was going to give us twins. We even had names picked out: William and Mary, a boy and a girl. In 2011, I saw an online advertisement about the Shared Risk Program at Shady Grove Fertility. The answer to our prayers! It was nearly the same cost as what we had paid previously for one attempt. It was a big financial sacrifice, but we felt the Shared Risk Program was a "win-win" for us. We would get 6 attempts, and if we were successful, we'd have a beautiful baby and if not, we would get our money back.
Coming to Shady Grove Fertility
We made 11 trips from our home in middle Tennessee to SGF. The first trip was in 2011, shortly after seeing the online advertisement. We had two miscarriages and two other unsuccessful attempts. After our fourth attempt at SGF, we decided to take some time away from the IVF process and just enjoy our marriage and our life together during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays. The two miscarriages and two unsuccessful attempts were emotionally draining, but did not drain our conviction. With attempt number 5, Andre' and I remained thoroughly convinced that God was leading us to continue—His answer thus far had not been "no" but "not yet." We told Dr. Jeanne O'Brien about our resolve to continue and she was committed to helping us.
For our fifth attempt at SGF, she suggested that I have an endometrial biopsy to help with thickening my uterine lining, which had been an issue several of the previous times. To her surprise, and to my joy, that procedure resulted in my lining being twice as thick as it ever had been with medications alone! One hurdle down. She also asked if we would choose three egg donors that we liked, and she would read through their medical histories and decide which would most likely result in a quality egg retrieval and excellent embryos.
The egg retrieval from the chosen donor resulted in 44 eggs that we shared with two other couples! Two hurdles down! Now we had great embryos and a great lining. We decided to have two embryos implanted. After the embryos were implanted, Dr. O'Brien said "I'll be praying for you all...you would make such wonderful parents." Then our two week wait started.
Andre' and I both had a feeling that this time, the answer from the Lord would be "yes..now." After waiting two weeks, our nurse Joan called with extreme excitement in her voice only to leave me a voice message. I got the message and called her back a few minutes later to hear the news. I wept incredibly after hearing the great news that we were pregnant and our hCG levels looked like they were likely twins! It was a tough journey but we never lost hope and were so thankful that we never gave up.
Our Life Now
Four years after our first consideration of using IVF, and nearly 3 years after starting IVF at SGF, Mary and Andrea Reynolds were born on January 16, 2014…several weeks before my 51st birthday! I was able to carry them for almost 35 weeks after about six weeks on bed rest. Mary was 4 pounds 10 ounces and Andrea was 3 pounds 2 ounces. Mary was in NICU for one week and Andrea was there for two weeks. When we got them both home, we kept them on the feeding/diaper change schedule that they were used to at the hospital. Having them on a schedule has made our lives easier; two babies are a lot of work but it helps that we do all of the work for two at the same time. Andre’ and I love being parents. Although he had hoped for a son, he loves having his “dream girls.” They are healthy, thriving, and showered with love. We still pinch ourselves at the thought of having twins; it was such a long wait that we can hardly believe we are sitting in the middle of our miracle.
Sherry’s Advice for Future Patients:
My encouragement to other couples is to pray without ceasing and to not give up. God IS able to do what looks impossible! Find one or two other faith-filled believers to pray with you, and even research Bible scriptures about others who were unable to become pregnant and then conceived, in order to help renew your hope. Many will doubt but don’t let that sway your faith. He did it for Sarah and Abraham in their old age. He did it for us in our 50s…is anything too hard for God?