In honor of Mother’s day this month, we are featuring articles from some of our volunteers about various aspects of motherhood.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” the nurse on the phone asked me. “Yes,” I said tearfully. I was filling out the paperwork to donate our eleven remaining embryos and had called with questions. My husband and I had already had our HIV tests and we were confident, albeit emotional, in our decision. Five years had passed since we’d had triplets via in-vitro and now we had to give up our storage space in the freezer. We had three choices for our frozen embryos: destroy them; donate them to science; donate them to an infertile couple.
We had chosen to donate them to a couple. I was surprised my husband agreed to this option. I thought he’d be too uncomfortable with the idea that another one, or more, of his children could be running around out there somewhere and he’d never know. I figured we’d go with donating to science. I knew we weren’t going to destroy them.
We decided that our embryos had (barely) started life. At only eight cells big, there was no guarantee that they would blossom into full life, but they deserved the chance. And the unnamed couple or couples that would get our embryos deserved a chance to be parents, just like us. We were lucky enough to have thirteen viable embryos. We were even luckier that the first two we used on our first in-vitro attempt turned into babies.
We had eleven embryos left. Eleven more chances. But we had all we could handle with the first two because one of them split and we had triplets. We knew we could not handle any more children emotionally, financially, etc. We knew we were not going to implant eleven more embryos. Our family was complete and we were happy. So we decided to give our embryos the chance to make some other couple happy. The doctors told us to think of it like giving a child up for adoption. Except that it’s not as certain as that. We thought of it as giving chances, at life, at happiness.
To clarify, we used two embryos for our first in-vitro attempt. One split, and we had triplets, two identical and a fraternal. Like many infertility clinics, our clinic discouraged carrying more than two babies. If you elected to implant more than two and they all “took,” you were strongly encouraged to reduce the pregnancy. In fact, we had to sign a form agreeing to do just that. Because of my age at the time, the doctors were planning to implant three embryos. After we signed the form, we decided we were not comfortable with the idea of reducing the pregnancy, should we be lucky enough to have more than one embryo successfully implant. So we asked the doctors if we could just implant two instead. The doctors agreed and that’s what was done. And then one split.
Because our triplets were “spontaneous,” the doctors told us it was up to us whether to reduce; they would not force the issue. We spent the next month visiting various specialists trying to determine if any of the babies were sharing sacs or placentas. I was terrified of Twin Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). I know several women who lost one or both babies to TTTS and I did not want to risk it, especially with an “innocent bystander” in there too. I was afraid I could lose one or all of them to complications.
Luckily for me, after a month of tears and stress, we discovered that each baby was in its own sac and had its own placenta. I learned that that only happens when the “split” occurs within the first two days after conception. And since we had the best case scenario according to the doctors, we decided to go for it. We were going to have triplets. It was fate.
Now I’ll get back to the donation story. My husband did not want to know anything once we donated our embryos. If he had other children out there, he did not want to know. That’s the normal procedure. But I had to know. I did not want to stalk anyone. I knew I couldn’t raise eleven more hypothetical children. But I needed the closure. I needed to know how the story ended. And maybe get a chance to meet him/her/them when they were old enough to understand. And I wanted to know so that I could tell my boys when they were old enough to understand that they had a sibling(s). I explained all of this to the nurse who was helping me with the forms. We actually had a couple of conversations. Fortunately, she understood. She told me to call her back in a year and she would be able to tell me how it went.
When I called back a year later, amazingly, she told me how our story ended. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find out because the usual policy is for the doctors not to tell you. I think my conversations with the nurse enabled her to explain to the doctors that I needed closure, nothing more. What makes it even more unusual is that the intake procedure at the fertility clinic we went to includes a psychological evaluation. I think they want to make sure you’re expectations are realistic. Anyway, my husband and I never had the evaluation. We weren’t sure why we were exempt. Maybe it was because of my less than enthusiastic reaction to the success rate they were so proud of? We’ll never know. Maybe it was because we had “passed” the impromptu psychological evaluation that the doctors allowed the nurse to tell me? Again, we’ll never know. I was just happy I was going to get my closure.
So here’s how our story ended. All eleven survived the defrosting process. Hooray! Our profile was chosen by one couple, who received all eleven embryos, which they used in three cycles. Unfortunately, none of them became babies.
I was so sad for the couple and for our little eight-cell wonders. But I was at peace. I had a moment’s thought that the nurse could have lied to me. But I decided it was too detailed an account for that. If she’d wanted to lie, she could have just told me they didn’t survive the defrosting, or that only a few did. So I believe her and continue on my amazing journey as the mother of two identical and one fraternal energetic triplet boys.
In honor of Mother’s day this month, we are featuring articles from some of our volunteers about various aspects of motherhood.
Homeschooling for us was not something that I felt called to do from the beginning. I thought we would just send our little one off to school, maybe a Christian school, and that would be that. Then we had triplets. When our triplets were 18-months-old we found out we were expecting twins. We had a house full very quickly! Suddenly, a Christian school was way out of our budget. And the thought of five different schedules, five different teachers, five sets of homework and five lunches to pack – everyday – was just too much.
Then, as our children reached the age of about four, it became very clear that they would benefit from homeschooling. I had one triplet reading from the encyclopedia, one triplet rarely talking and the other triplet in between, and two little ones right behind. I started talking to my friends who were homeschooling, asking lots of questions, and we attended a state homeschool conference. There is a vast amount of information available, a variety of curriculums to choose from and tremendous support.
Our children are thriving in this atmosphere. They are each performing at grade level or above and they love the flexible schedule. They are able to take sewing, piano, swimming and gymnastics and still be done with all schoolwork before 3 p.m. I highly recommend homeschooling. And if you think you surely can’t be qualified to teach, just remember that no one knows your children like you do, no one loves them more than you do, and no one wants them to succeed more than you do. That is all the qualification you need.
MOST thanks Sarah for being one of our trusted volunteers. Sarah became a MOST Mentor volunteer in 2012. Please meet Sarah through her introduction below.
Hi, I am an Area Coordinator for MOST from Massachusetts. My husband and I became parents for the first time when our BBG triplets were born. What a wonderful journey it has been! Continue reading Meet Sarah Rogowski a MOST volunteer
A compilation of tips from 20 years of advice from MOST families
Edited by Lauretta Shokler of TX, Mother to 2 singletons and triplets. Here are some tips, signs of readiness, and words of support from other HOM families.
Introduction: How do I potty train multiples? This common question for parents of triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, and more is often asked with trepidation, desperation, or sometimes, just plain fear. While the process varies for each family, the first and most important facts to remember are 1) you are not alone and 2) it can be done without losing your mind. Continue reading Tricks of the Trade: Potty Training Multiples
With Daylight Savings Time beginning again, we thought we’d ask MOST advisor Kelly Ross, MD, for some tips to get your children on the right track.*
Studies show that getting enough sleep reduces childhood injuries and obesity and improves school performance and social success. How much sleep do kids need? Use the chart below as a guide and follow the tips below.
||Hours of Sleep Needed
|1-4 Weeks Old
||15 – 16
|1-12 Months Old
||14 – 15
|1-3 Years Old
||12 – 14
|3-6 Years Old
||10 – 12
|7-12 Years Old
||10 – 11
|12-18 Years Old
||8 – 9
1. Make a Bedtime Routine: Try the 4B’s: bath, book, breast/bottle, bed. Repeat nightly (or as much as possible) so your children’s minds and bodies can slow down and transition to sleep. Older kids can read in bed by themselves, or you can read aloud to them.
2. White Noise: Having a white noise machine or fan to create a sound barrier helps children fall asleep and stay asleep. Avoid a TV or radio because they keep the brain alert and lead to poor sleep.
3. Nighttime Tool Kit: Keeping kids in bed is important for sleeping! Children over age 3 can have a box of tissues, a flashlight that turns off when the handle is no longer squeezed, and a cup of water. This allows them to take care of their needs before falling asleep, or if they wake during the night, without getting out of bed to find you.
4. Limit Late Night Activities: Extracurricular activities that end around bedtime can derail good sleep habits. Advocate for activity times that end early enough to allow children sufficient time to transition to sleep.
*Adapted from Dr. Ross’s November 2012 article on ChildrensMD.org.
As you might expect, most home businesses start out of convenience. When you have a large family to manage, saving time and money on commuting and childcare can really make a difference. But starting a business, whether large or small, is not easy. We asked families with multiples who run home-based businesses to share their stories and tips for success. Continue reading Families make the MOST of home-based businesses
This was originally published by MOST member Riley D. Smith in Supertwins magazine’s Father’s Forum.
For several years now I have wanted to put into writing what my personal journey as the father of a wonderful set of quadruplets has entailed. It seems that I just never really had the time, or, more likely, had not known just what I really wanted to convey. I actually did, over the course of the last eight years, sit down several times and start to write it all down, but my attempts (for whatever reason) quickly became either blocked or rapidly got bogged down in the details of this pretty hectic life we lead! Finally I decided that what I really wanted to talk about was what I personally went through, how I coped (or didn’t cope so well) with the numerous issues we were confronted with, and how I might help some of the other fathers (and fathers-to-be) meet and perhaps understand these challenges. Along the way, I was hoping that I might even learn a bit more about myself and the “how and whys” that life as the father of higher order multiples has changed me and the way I view myself as well as life in general. Continue reading It’s OK to Cry (My Journey with Higher Order Multiples)
My name is Michelle and I am a stay at home mom to almost 6-year-old triplets, Sam, Charlotte and Jacob. The last six years have been a whirlwind of new experiences, as both a first time mom, and a mom of multiples.
In the beginning I was exhausted from worry (29 weekers with an 8 week NICU stay), lack of sleep (4 am feedings for THREE!) and sheer joy! I couldn’t wait for them to get a little older! The toddler years were my favorite, watching them discover the world as only toddlers can, seeing them learning to interact with each other, and reaching many milestones.
Now they are older and I miss those retrospectively carefree days. I am still exhausted, mainly because my husband travels frequently since our relocation to the Philadelphia suburbs. But having triplets at this age is another magical experience. They are independent, strong-willed and playful. They love school, but homework is quite a task – and they are only in Kindergarten! I still worry – are they learning valuable life lessons? Am I too focused on order rather than fun? Am I too busy doing chores to just be with them? Lack of sleep is not as much an issue; however, with three, the illnesses and injuries keep us on our toes.
Sheer joy is another constant with having multiples. I love listening to them play with each other, interact with friends, talk to me, and our newest milestone, learning to read! There were many days during my pregnancy that I felt defeated before I had even begun, telling myself it couldn’t be done. But with the loving support of my husband, family and other multiples moms, I can’t imagine it any other way!
MOST was so important to me when I had the triplets because for the first time since I found out I was pregnant with the triplets, I didn’t feel alone! Also as a first time Mom, I was pretty clueless about what to do with one, and I had three! The MOST family was there to guide me through the early days of parenting triplets so we all could survive, and they were ready and waiting for the ensuing stages to lend a helping hand. Becoming a MOST Area Coordinator has been so uplifting, a huge confidence builder. Not only am I being given an opportunity to “give back,” but also, MOST has faith in my ability to help new and expectant moms of multiples.
What is it like to have multiple teen-agers in the house? Whether you have been there, are there, or will be the following is a humorous look at life with 5 teens! Thanks Maureen Boyle for sharing your outlook. Continue reading Five Teens in the House