“They could see she was a real Princess and no question about it, now that she had felt one pea all the way through twenty mattresses and twenty more feather beds. Nobody but a Princess could be so delicate.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Princess and the Pea: The Graphic Novel
You'd think that finding out your having triplets would be the most intense part of my fairytale. The high point right before the roller coaster does its biggest drop. Well, think again.
From the ultra sound finding out we had triplets to our next one it was about 1 week or so that had went by. Every morning before my husband went to work he would kiss my stomach and say good morning to his 3 little lambs. And together we would pray over them and especially for "Baby C" who we were told had a chance of not surviving.
"Hang in there little lamb. You are beautiful, strong, and so incredibly loved. Fight with everything you have." My husband would whisper with his lips pressed gently against my growing belly.
As scared as I was, there was this incredible sense of wholeness I felt. I felt like I was never alone. Don't get me wrong, it felt a little crowded.. lol. But I always felt complete if that makes any sense.
Even when I was throwing up for the umpteenth time, it didn't matter, I would do it forever as long as my little ones were ok.
So here we go to our next ultra sound. Just my prince, the princess (me), and our three little peas.
Now if you are fortunate enough to have had children, you'll understand this next part. There is something about seeing this little being grow inside of you. It starts out as you turning your head side to side to try and figure out exactly what your looking at on an ultrasound. Then slowly but surely it just blossoms into this tiny little human. You see its teeny tiny heart flicker, you see its little feet kick, and its miniature arms wave. My last ultrasound, to be honest, didn't look like much. They looked like oddly shaped peas with little flutters. What would they look like this time?? It had only been a week or so since I got to see them last so I wasn't expecting to see such a difference.
So we probe up, turn off the lights and there they are. No longer my three little peas, but rather 3 little babies. Just moving around like crazy, developing just as they should with the most beautiful little heart beats. Ok thats it, everything is perfect. See you next week!
That would be to easy.
Before the visit ends my dr. gets very quiet. Moving the probe around and around...and around he begins to change some of the general information on the ultrasound screen. I remember looking at my husband, then looking at the dr, then darting my eyes back to the ultrasound screen.
Can someone please tell me what in the actual hell is going on here?! No one has spoken in what seems like minutes but everyone has this shocked look on their face. Maybe it was the hormones but I was not seeing what everyone else was.
When the Dr. finally speaks, he says..
" So we have a little surprise this morning...and thats that this sac, now has two babies in it."
"So does that mean there is FOUR?!" I mumbled.
"Yep. Thats correct." The Dr. answered.
"And does that mean those two are identical twins????" again I mumbled in disbelief.
"Yep. That correct." The Dr. answered.
quadruplets??? QUADRUPLETS?! As in 1,2,3, FOUR?!?!?!?!
The word shocked doesn't even begin to describe how I was feeling. But then again in the back of my head I'm thinking-" Well, the party never stops so it makes sense."
I felt like the luckiest girl in the entire world. And as soon as he told me I had identical twins, I knew that those were my little girls. Call it mothers intuition or whatever. But I just knew that those were them.
Before we could completely float away on our dream cloud we were on, we were yanked back down to reality when our Dr. started telling us that we should consider having what they call a "selective reduction."
Selective reduction (or multifetal pregnancy reduction or MFPR) is the practice of reducing the number of fetuses in a multifetal pregnancy, say quadruplets, to a twin or singleton pregnancy.
All the fancy Dr. lingo to try and put it delicately but in real life it means to kill some of your babies so that the pregnancy isn't so high risk. I know that sounds blunt and extremely un fairytale like, but it is what it is. There really isn't any way to be whimsical about it.
So we finally have created these four perfect little lives, that were just flipping and wiggling and waving to me on the ultrasound screen. And now you are telling me that it would be safer to "reduce" not just one of them. But two of them! My twins!? I have to admit, at that moment, it almost felt like all the wind had been sucked out of our sails. We went from sleighing this infertility bitch of a dragon and are about to ride off into the sunset with our 3-I mean 4 babies when we are told that its strongly recommended we "reduce" half of them.
Leaving the Dr.s office in tears I remember being in the elevator with my husband and telling him
"I know those are my girls. I just know it. I can't reduce them babe, I just can't do it."
After crying and praying in the parking structure for about an hour we decided that we would meet with the specialist our Dr. had recommended. But that we would not be reducing any of our children.
That just would not be a chapter in our fairytale. After all, God created all four of them for a purpose and even tho they are not here yet, Its my job to protect them. So no matter how gigantic this new dragon standing in front of us was, I knew my God was bigger.
There are only a few moments in my life that I can actually recall being life changing. A few moments when I actually felt my heart transform into something Ive never imagined. One of those moments is the day I'm about to share with you.
The day of our first ultra sound was one of the most precious days of my life. I was the most nervous I had ever been up till this point in my life. I knew I had a little person growing inside of me. Not only that, but this little tiny human being that had been prayed for and wanted for so long. I was so anxious to see him/her on that ultra sound screen that I literally almost jumped out of my skin. We had finally done it! We created a little piece of both us that would give us our happily ever after.
Having this be one of the biggest moments in my life, I naturally dragged my dad with me. That may seem weird to most of you, but my dad was my go to person for all my female appointments my entire life. Even if he was just sitting in the car waiting for the appointment to be over, he was always there. Don't get me wrong, my dad was excited but his excitement for an ultra sound wasn't reading off the charts like perhaps a mothers would. My mother in law Angie, whom I also invited to this first ultrasound, I knew this experience would be something she would love to be apart of, and if it wasn't for her we wouldn't even have our little happily ever after. She was the one who told me about this fertility Dr. in the first place.
I don't think I have ever wanted an ultrasound probe inside of me so badly. lol. Sorry, but I'm just being honest. I remember laying there, my husband standing beside me holding my hand. The screen pops up and there it is. I was so afraid to look. After catching my breath I turned my head and saw... well... I didn't really see anything. I saw three bubbles that didn't have anything inside them. My Dr. starts shouting out medical terms and explaining different circumstances all the while in the back of my head I'm almost waiting for the let down. Ive heard of stories where women get positive pregnancy tests and blood work and have a pregnancy sac but no baby inside. Immediately I thought that is what happen to us. The party never stops after all.
"So the uterus has three pregnancy sacs." He says
Thats it! I knew it! its just a sac, there is no baby! Is what I instantly thought. Not even realizing that this guy just said the number THREE!?
"Ok, so we have three pregnancy sacs.. and that little movement we see right there.. thats a heart beat."
It was like the entire time up to him saying that, I had this fog of disbelief over my mind. And the second he showed me that little tiny flicker, all of that fog just melted away and instantly I was in love.
Being that I am very fairytale minded, the song "So this is love" from the Disney movie Cinderella started playing in my mind.
So this is love, hmm
So this is love
So this is what makes life divine
I'm all aglow, hmm
And now I know
The key to all heaven is mine
My heart has wings, hmm
And I can fly
I'll touch every star in the sky
So this is the miracle
That I've been dreaming of
So this is love
I was instantly jerked back into the present moment when he continued saying that sometimes there is a sac with no baby inside.Then all of a sudden my Dr. stops in the middle of his sentence as he rotates the probe a different way.
" Oh wait, never mind. There he is right there. Lets get the heart beat on that little guy."
TWO?!?!?! TWO BABIES?!?!?!
I automatically burst into laughter. A nervous as hell laughter.
We had two heartbeats! HOLY BALLS we are having two babies!! Is what I wanted to shout out to my husband.
Baby A and Baby B is what he marked them as on the ultrasound. But in my head I already had dozens of names I was sorting out. Penelope? Maximus? Khloe? James? Maybe Honey after my grandma? I could not believe that I was now the mother of two beautiful babies. They could not get here fast enough!
We made our way over to the last pregnancy sac and our Dr. shows us that this one was shaped a little bit differently than the other two.
"See how this one is shaped this way? Thats a bad sign. Thats a sign that it probably won't survive. BUT.. there is a heartbeat. And we could be wrong about these things and they correct themselves."
There it was. I knew there had to be something difficult coming. That other glass slipper was bound to drop at some point. Its weird... instead of getting upset or doubtful about the news of "Baby C," I immediately was overcome with an enormous amount of faith. I just had this feeling that MY baby would be ok. That the odds were stacked against him/her but they had part of me pumping through them, so I knew they would put up one hell of a fight.
So there it was... we were having TRIPLETS. Baby A, Baby B, and Baby C would arrive at the end of November/December and our fairytale would be very much complete.
Walking into the waiting room I looked at my dad and mother in law..
"Oh.. we're just having triplets." I said calmly.
To this day I have never seen eyes dilate so big and fast. lol.
The entire drive home we were in complete and total shock. I remember sitting in the back seat with tears just streaming down my face. How could I be so in love with three people I had never even met? I didn't know what they looked like, didn't know their names, and had only seen them for about 10 minutes. But I was head over heels in love. That can't eat, can't sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, world series kind of thing.
Growing up I never thought I could love someone more than my dad..it just wasn't possible. And then I met my husband Alex. Getting married and giving my entire life to him I thought I could never love anyone else more than him. But then seeing those three beautiful babies and hearing those little tiny heartbeats...I realized my perception of love was so incredibly small before then. THIS is what the fairytales were talking about. THIS is the type of feeling that breaks the spells of evil queens, saves kingdoms, and makes dreams come true. So THIS is love.
We commonly exclaim it was "just like a fairytale," overlooking that most events in fairytales are remarkable for their unpleasantness.
Every night around 6:00pm I would prepare for my lovely injection into the stomach. It wasn't like the first time around where I would simply close my eyes and think of my future child, and that this would all be worth it. Instead I would drudgingly walk over to my husband prepping the injection, lift up my shirt, clinch my fat, and roll my eyes. "See babe, that wasn't that bad right?" My husband would tell me literally after every shot. And I would reply with some sassy comeback like "Yeah, psshh. You don't have to do it." or "Yeah, but its not gonna damn work." This time around was nothing like the first. No excitement, no hopefulness, no musical numbers or singing going on inside my head.
The unpleasant, I mean magical day of insemination had finally arrived. Bloated, sore, grouchy, and ready to be probed we headed in (once again) to the Dr.s office. Just like before, my husband took my hand and prayed over the situation and before I had a chance to roll my eyes for the millionth time, my feet were already in stirrups. The 6 minutes flew by and I was sitting there with my legs up. Figuring it couldn't hurt to give my husbands sperm a little encouragement, I put on a song from Disney's Mulan and laid my iPhone on my belly.
"You must be swift as the coursing river-be a man."
"With all the force of a great typhoon-be a man."
"With all the strength of a raging fire-be a man."
-Mulan; I'll make a man out of you.
but what I was singing in my head was
"Fal-de-ral and fiddle-dee-dee, fiddle-faddle-fawdle. All the wishes in the world, are poppycock and twaddle." -Cinderella; Impossible.
Now this waiting game felt almost exactly like the previous one. Except on one occasion, probably 4 days before I was to go in and get my blood work done. I was getting out of my car after a long day, anxious to get home and relax. When all of a sudden I had this overwhelming feeling that literally stopped me in my tracks walking up the drive way. I felt like there was a little girl around me. I had this feeling of girlie-ness that overcame my stomach area. Crazy, I know! Shaking it off I continued about my day. This cycle my Dr. told me to take an at home pregnancy test before coming in to do blood work, so I did. The night before at about 3 am I couldn't sleep and decided what the hell, might as well face this never ever after now right?
I take the test, face it downward on the sink and sit there trying to get the sleep out of my eyes. Trying to pep talk my self into seeing the negative results. "You know its gonna be negative, you KNOW its going to be negative." I kept repeating to myself. I take a deep breath, flip it over, and there it is.. clear as day...
two little pink lines, a positive test!!!!
Before I could even comprehend what was happening, my head was in the toilet and I was throwing up. Nerves? Hormones? Flu? Who knew! But it would continue on for about 6 months.
Driving to the Dr.s the next morning- or a couple hours from when I took the test actually. I kept trying to picture worst case scenarios. Like a defense mechanism so my heart wouldn't be totally shocked and crushed when things didn't go how I had hoped.
-Sorry Mrs. Robles but it was a false positive.
-Sorry Mrs. Robles but your hormone levels are not doubling as they should and you
will probably miscarry again.
These are some of the things I imagined the nurse telling me. I was NOT prepared for the telephone call where she tells everything is doubling as it should and you are 100% pregnant. Could this really be happening? Could our happily ever after FINALLY be going as hoped?? Having never experienced such great news in the baby chapter of our fairytale, I decided to run out and get some pink and blue balloons and have cute set up for when my husband came home. Through out the day he kept calling me to see if I had heard from the Dr. about my test results, and it killed me to not share it with him, But I wanted it to be something special. A moment he would never forget.
I had a giant chalkboard that we used to write love affirmations on each day that now read "In 37 weeks, someone is going to be a daddy." With pink and blue balloons dripping from the ceiling so as soon as he opened the front door he would walk right into them.
He walks in the door and immediately is confused lol poor man. I tell him to read the chalkboard and he has this enormous smile on his face that ill never forget. I told him they called and everything is looking perfect!
Being only about 3 weeks pregnant at this point, It would be about 5 more weeks until we would get to see our beautiful baby in an ultrasound. Remember when I said the party never stops? Well I hope you all have your party hats on,.. cuz its about to go down.
In case you are not familiar with the term IUI, (as I had never heard that term in any fairytale) let me help you out a little bit. In a normal menstrual cycle every woman grows something called follicles, you can grow 3-20 depending on your ovaries. These follicles grow grow grow and ONE continues to grow through out the weeks before your period until it gets about 20cm then that follicle releases an egg. Ovulation occurs when that egg is released, fertilization occurs when that egg is successfully met with a single sperm. As that egg is going to be released the Dr. inseminates you with your husbands sperm and hopefully you make a baby.. My fertility Dr. would inseminate me once right before I ovulated, then once right as I was ovulating.
So leading up to being inseminated my husband would begin giving me nightly injectables in my stomach, (with the medication that would help me produce more than one egg) and I would go into the drs. office every couple of days checking on how my follicles were growing. Now maybe that doesn't seem like much of anything to you reading this, but having to have your husband give you shots in your stomach to try and make a baby, isn't the most romantic act in the world. Especially when you have been arguing and swear he is giving you that injection a little more harder than usual.
Every couple days id go into the Dr.s office, meet mr. ultra sound probe, and check on my follicles. The goal with the injections/medication is to not just have one egg drop like a normal cycle, but to have 2-4 optimally. That way you have better odds of ONE becoming fertilized and ONE becoming ONE healthy baby. Follicles on an ultrasound screen look like tiny bubbles, that eventually keep getting bigger and bigger. I remember sitting there, rather laying there and asking how many follicles the nurse could see. "You have around 17 follicles total, with about 4 leading, so you are looking really great!" ME?! MY UTERUS?! MY OVARIES?! WE LOOK GOOD?!? I had never heard those words before about me or my uterus. I can't tell you how amazing it felt to feel like things were finally going the way they should. That we finally had some type of hope.
The day of insemination had come and man oh man was my body in pain. I felt incredibly bloated and sore that even going over speed bumps in the car on the way to Dr. felt like an elephant was stepping on my uterus! Needless to say, the drive to newport was not a pleasant one. We arrived an hour early so my husband could, ummm,...contribute? to the procedure. They called us back, I undressed, my husband took my hand and prayed over the situation, and before I had the chance to get nervous my legs were in the stirrups. My husbands sperm count and overall health had done a complete turn around from before, I mean lets just say before hand, all those princes were not only climbing up the completely wrong tower...but doing it backwards, with one arm, and with no rope if you catch my drift. Everything seemed to good to be true. His sperm were awesome, I had 4 eggs healthy in size and ready to drop, it was as if the bases were loaded and Dan Moreno was up to bat. Kobe Bryant was up to bat, Mike trout was up to bat? Lets just stick to fairytales. lol.
"Ok, we are all finished. Just lay back with your knees up for 10 minutes then you can head home."
The hardest things about all of this, believe it or not is the waiting. Hoping, praying and pretty much begging God that this is the time it works. That this is the happily ever after.
The second you leave the Dr.s office you want to take a pregnancy test. You want to shop for baby clothes, plan your baby shower, pick out names, I mean you have come so far and been thru so much pricking, probing, and hoping that you just want THIS to be it.
In 7 years, two weeks went by..if that makes sense, and it was time to go in and get blood work done to see if we were pregnant. I would go in as early as possible so I could get my results by that afternoon. So from 7am-1pm, you guessed it, more waiting. The phone rings and the results are in... this is it.. this has to be it.. my husband has sleighed this infertility fire breathing dragon and is climbing up the tallest tower to rescue me. Look out happily ever after! I'm on my way!
"Im sorry, but your results are negative. So your period will come and then we can try again." ......
This is what the nurse said, but in my head the sleighed dragon arose from the ashes, breathed his fire all over my gallant prince, and everything came tumbling down the tower I was trapped in.
I had totally had it! I was done! This princess was about to jump her happy ass out of the damn tower to her untimely death! How could this not work? We did everything right? What if it NEVER happens? How many more times was I supposed to endure all this?? Mentally, emotionally, physically, I felt like I just couldn't do it anymore. I remember begging my husband to just jump straight to IVF. $15,000 but still wouldn't guarantee a baby. But being a typical man he would remind and ask me " Insurance pays for 90% of our IUIs for up to SIX tries..cant we just try one more time??"
Reluctantly, and I mean RELUCTANTLY I agreed.
"Ok babe, its not gonna work! But ill try ONE more time."
"The dr. said this is normal."
"There is nothing I could have done."
"God is in control."
"You won't have to go thru this again."
These are some things I remember repeating to myself on the daily. I remember sitting in our guest bedroom on the floor almost in complete shock... how did I not know this was even a possibility? How have I never heard of this happening to anyone else? This is NOT how the fairytale goes. Tell me ONE disney princess who this happened to??? Don't worry ill wait............... I remember thinking all of this to myself.
Fast forward to December, and TWO more miscarriages. 8 weeks, and 12 weeks. Our Dr. set us up with a fertility specialist at Loma Linda. Appointments after appointments, tests after tests, and never any answers. If I had $1.00 for how many times I've had to lay on an exam table in a paper gown, id be a millionaire. I have never been poked and probed so much in my entire life. But there comes a point where you almost become numb to what your doing, and you just focus on the end result. Doing all this, we will eventually get our baby.
After all that testing, probing, pricking and biopsy-ing we still came up with no answers as to why. Why did we lose three of our precious babies in 4 months? What is wrong with me?... What am I doing wrong??
So I'm sitting on our couch one day, a month after my last pointless testing. And I get a text message from my mother in law. " Im watching this fertility Dr. on the Ricki Lake show, he is the leading fertility Dr. in all of Orange County. You should watch this episode."
My first reaction, to be honest, was.. Gee thanks!! lol! Like.. there is this dentist on this show who helps people with really jacked up teeth.. you should watch it! lol. But that was just my defensive uterus talking. I actually watched the show and was intrigued, so.. I called and made my first dr.s appointment with this Dr.
Our first meeting was so much more than I expected. For so long I had walked into Dr.s offices and left feeling hopeless. Feeling like it would never happen. That I was destined to be this broken princess who couldn't give her prince a baby. The first thing our Dr. did (Dr. Daniel Potter at HRC fertility) was share his own struggle with fertility. Oh wow! So we arnt the only ones!
"Well first we are gonna test your husband since thats the easiest thing to do."
what??? You mean HE could have a problem? I thought I was the problem? Ive been the one going thru every procedure in the book, and have been told I have the fertility issue. After everything I had been thru- every PAINFUL test.. and the problem could have the potential to not even be with me.
I was sure that wasn't the case- since the party never stops. Im sure it had to be something way more complicated. So my husband leaves a sample of his "soldiers" to be tested and we wait for the results.
A couple days later we get the call.. turns out it was as simple as that. My husband has the fertility issue. NOT ME. After OVER a year of testing, money for the testing, pain of going thru the testing, we finally had some sort of answer! It felt like a HUGE relief! But at the same time, my husbands heart broke, He felt so guilty that I had gone thru so much physically when he was the one with the issue. We were in the car when we got the results and I remember pulling over and just crying our eyes out to eachother.
So now we had a game plan, medication for my husband, and appointments to have something called an IUI-Intra Uterine insemination done. My husband changed his eating habits, was taking vitamins, and the medication the Dr. had told him to start taking. So in a couple months we would have the procedure done, and hopefully be on our way to our happily ever after.