Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Parise Family
Without much optimism '- nothing else had worked, why should this? '- Amy and Joe underwent a round of IVF. They retrieved 10 mature eggs, and all 10 fertilized. But this required a critical decision about how many eggs to transfer. Their worry: If they put back multiple embryos and more than one implanted and split into twins, there could be too many fetuses for Amy to carry safely. "We're deeply religious, and I knew I couldn't undergo a selective reduction. I simply couldn't. I was very clear with the doctor that I didn't want too many put in. He wanted to transfer three, and I told him, no, it could only be two." The doctor counseled them to wait five days for the transfer, instead of the more typical three, as this allows more time to assess the quality of the embryos. "I was in mass hysteria, that we'd lose all 10 of them. I didn't realize it at the time, but this was a much better procedure."
With the two embryos transferred, Amy still didn't feel particularly upbeat. As she waited for the results of her blood work (used to gauge the hormone levels that indicate a pregnancy), she could feel "periodlike" symptoms coming on. (She didn't realize that the medication she was taking to help her get pregnant could produce such symptoms.) "By then, I'd shared with just a few people what I was going through. I went into work the day of the blood test, and looked at one of them and said I knew it wouldn't work. Then the nurse from the fertility clinic called, and the first thing she said was, 'Congratulations!' I just began sobbing. I was in complete disbelief. There was no way this was happening."
But it was happening '- and, in fact, Amy's hormone levels indicated that she was likely carrying multiple fetuses. But Amy still couldn't embrace the idea that she was really pregnant. "I went into the sonogram '- and this just shows how negative I'd gotten '- expecting them to say they'd made a mistake, and that there'd be no real pregnancy." Instead, the doctor turned the sonogram screen around for her to view, and there were two heartbeats, two sacs. Everything was fine.
"I had a great pregnancy," Amy swears '- this despite the fact that she had contractions from 20 weeks on, went into preterm labor at 28 weeks and was on medicated bed rest from then until 36 weeks. So why was it so great? "There was no more mental anguish," Amy says. She delivered her twins, Nicole and Joseph, on September 9, 2004. "I was lucky '- they never had to go into newborn intensive care (NICU), even though they were each under five pounds. I got to bring them home with me from the start!"
Now Amy feels like she has a new lease on life: "I'm not frantic anymore. I'm much calmer and more understanding." Musing on her newfound reputation as a "nice girl" around the office, she says, "I think back to how short I was with people, how nasty I could be. Now, when people are the same way with me, I just think, I don't know what's going on in their life. They may be dealing with something they just can't talk about." That's the big difference for her now: "I'm not afraid to talk about what I went through. Look, here I am doing it! I hope by being open I'll help someone like me, who feels she can't tell anyone what she's going through."
Meet another mom who inspires us: Eileen Livers '- and find out how she had a baby by giving up her dream of being pregnant.