Miscarriages, failed IVF treatments and emotional turmoils. Kristin sacrificed everything to have a family and through it all, she had one constant source of strength.
My journey started at the tender age of 21. I had been married a year and was ready to fulfil my lifelong dream of being a mum. But I discovered I had polycystic ovaries and what was meant to be an easy fix was much more intense. It took time, many drugs, tests and failed cycles. I felt hard done by and more desperate than ever to be pregnant. It felt like friends and family were getting pregnant every week. Most even seemed to "accidentally" get pregnant.
Then it finally happened—we were pregnant! There was fear of triplets or more but I wasn’t worried, I was just so happy to be pregnant. At six weeks, we found out we were having twins and at nine weeks, they both gave us a little wave as they kicked around.
I had some brown spotting two days later but no-one was worried. It wasn’t until an ultrasound at 14 weeks that we saw that one of the babies had died. It was devastating and there were a lot of tears as I dealt with it.
At 33 weeks, I had a bleed for which no reason could be found, so we carried on hoping that after all we had been through, that at least the birth would go well. It wasn’t to be. At 38 weeks, I bled more and went into an intense labour. The bleeding was severe and as they broke my waters, I haemorrhaged. I lost about three litres of blood and was rushed to theatre to be put to sleep for the birth. I had had a placental abruption which can often end in death for the baby and sometimes also the mother.
Thankfully, my precious Lily was born healthy. I had some post traumatic stress, but was well supported through that.
A year later, we went straight back onto the same treatment to get pregnant. Of course, we didn’t expect it to happen straight away but months passed and nothing. I spent half my life at the clinic and I am so thankful for the nurses who became like friends to me. It was expensive, it was tiring, it was an emotional rollercoaster and it was devastating month after month after month.
Those around me continued to get pregnant. On purpose for some, accidentally for many; some who didn’t want more kids got twins. I hated that my genuine excitement for them was so overshadowed by my own pain. Each announcement felt like a kick in the guts and I would need some time to deal with my own emotions before I could be excited again. We are thankful that we made the most of having just one child and really did cherish the years we had with just her, even though they were tainted with the pain of infertility.
After four years of trying, we were exhausted. Our doctor was frustrated with us. To him, we should just move on to IVF, but we didn't want to freeze embryos and so our doctor didn’t think it was worth it. I hated the thought of embryos being frozen, waiting for life. And what if I never got a chance to give them life? I know most don’t feel like this and I’m fine with that. It just wasn’t right for us.
We took a break and I spent many hours crying out to God to please tell us what to do. I was willing to give up all together if that’s what I thought God wanted. It was the decision-making in this whole process that did my head in. It’s not about right and wrong—it’s so personal and so hard!
Eventually, we sought a fresh perspective. The new doctor suggested that IVF was worth a shot even without freezing embryos. We felt like we had our answer. It was expensive but we had spent so much money already anyway. We committed to three tries. No embryos would be frozen. The drugs were mostly what I had been taking already, just in higher doses.
After an agonising two-week wait, we learned I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. One embryo took and three days before Lily’s sixth birthday, we gave birth to our little girl, Winter. It was a scheduled C-section and it was wonderful. The bonding was instant and that day healed so many wounds from my first birthing experience. All those needles, tests, disappointments, expenses had been worth it for this day.
As Winter’s first birthday approached, we were ready to go again. We had two eggs thawed and to our amazement, they both turned into embryos. But neither survived once transferred. We did this three times but never fell pregnant. However, on a fresh cycle, our two chosen eggs turned into two beautiful embryos and one healthy baby. It was a precious boy, Beau. What a joy to welcome him to our family just two years after our last baby.
A year later, we went back for what we thought may be our last child. We started on a fresh cycle. and a week after the transfer, I felt pregnant. The blood test confirmed it. I felt so much worse than my other pregnancies and at nearly eight weeks, we went in for our first ultrasound. It was a terrifying time and I went through all the possibilities in my head, and tried to prepare myself for all outcomes.
The first thing the doctor said was "Uh oh."
My heart sank but at the same time, he seemed to smile. It turned out there were three babies growing! One of the embryos had split and we now had three babies. All looked very healthy. I was shocked, excited and terrified. I had a bit of a panic but I thought, Wow, God has really blessed us here. After all that we've been through, this is the end of our story: Six kids after those long years between our first two.
I had just started to get my head around it when we had another ultrasound a few weeks later and the identical babies had died. I couldn’t believe it. This pain was familiar—I had gone through it before.
It was a hard time for me. I had felt like my pregnancy was meant to be. I already adored those babies and would have done anything it took to grow them and bring them into this world. I had to fight to remember that God loved me still. I knew He did but my emotions told me otherwise. The more I read on the internet, the more I saw I was not alone. The majority of people who conceive triplets feel like they were chosen by God or that it was meant to be for some reason, as it is just so amazing it happened.
However, triplet pregnancies are risky. The rate of miscarriage is higher and premature labour often sees all three babies die. Eventually I came to focus back on the one precious baby still growing. I was thankful I wasn’t back at square one again. I am very thankful to my family, especially my dad, who kept reminding me to take everything to God: My pain, my hurt, my feelings . . . no matter what they were. God can handle it all. I don’t have to have it together before I go to Him.
Our beautiful girl Violet was born 21 months after Beau and was the most content, beautiful little girl.
I didn’t feel done yet so I convinced my husband that we should have one more. After all, we still had one more seat in the car. Again we went straight to a fresh cycle and got two healthy embryos. A week after they were transferred, I got terribly sick. My tummy was swollen, I was vomiting and in agony. I ended up in hospital for a week but was thankful to find out I was pregnant again.
At the ultrasound, I saw two healthy babies but I was too afraid to accept it. At 14 weeks, when they were still healthy, I started to wonder if this could really happen. But every day, I was anxious, so worried about one or both dying. After the 20-week ultrasound, I finally started to plan for twins, even getting a bigger car (well, a bus, to be honest). But every plan I made, I worried it would be thrown back in my face when I lost one or both. But in July 2016, 20 months after Violet, I welcomed two beautiful little boys, Banjo and Felix. I could not believe it was even real.
The twins are now three and raising twins has been amazing. I have loved every second of it. I still have to pinch myself every day. I still have hard and trying times as all parents do, but every day, I am thankful for my tribe of six kids.
Although I still feel sad for the lives I lost along the way, I feel closer to God than ever. His love for me and sovereignty in my life is more real to me than ever. I no longer see God through the lens of how I feel but rather through the truth of who He is: love, compassion, strength. I am thankful for the way He has grown and matured me through this time. It has enriched our lives in ways that smooth times do not. I don’t know how I would have gotten through without the knowledge of God loving me and being in control of my life, no matter what it looked like. And above all, knowing God means I know that loving Him is far more important than any baby I may be blessed with.
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