The beginning of Tiffiny’s fertility story
Tiffiny and her husband tried to conceive the “natural” way for about two years. After taking a simple blood test, she learned that she had elevated FSH levels. This information inspired her to visit Dr. Natalie Burger at TFC.
After many tests and trying multiple treatments, the couple decided to move forward with in vitro fertilization (IVF). They had great success and ended up with a good number of healthy embryos on day 5. The couple decided to transfer two embryos, hoping that one would take. According to Tiffiny, “I was nearing 35 and I couldn’t take any more negative pregnancy tests.”
The couple ended up pregnant after one try and they were ecstatic. An early ultrasound showed they were pregnant with twins. It was unexpected, but the couple was excited. “At 16 weeks, we found out we were having a boy and a girl, everything I always wanted! At 20 weeks, their anatomy scans were great,” Tiffiny recalls.
Trouble during the first pregnancy
Tiffiny started bleeding at 20 weeks. “I just felt off and told my husband to take me to the hospital at about 4am. He balked and said he was sure it was nothing. After all, we just had a great anatomy scan the day before, but he took me.”
The hospital checked her and said it was just some spotting, so the staff recommended that she have a checkup with her OB/GYN. On the way there, Tiffiny started cramping regularly and her doctor told her to go to the nearby emergency room. “Within 15 minutes, I dilated from 0 to 8 and felt major pressure. The doctor quickly rushed me to delivery, where at 20 weeks and 1 day, I gave birth to my beautiful babies, way too early,” Tiffiny recalls.
The couple was heartbroken. The babies still had a heartbeat, so they took turns holding their tiny but perfect babies. According to Tiffiny, “They were about 10 ounces each and reddish brown, but otherwise perfect! They were completely formed and even had eyebrows and eyelashes. My husband and I took turns holding them, until three and four hours later, their little bodies could take no more and they passed away.”
Getting treatment, help and support
Tiffiny soon found out she had an incompetent cervix. She learned that 1 in 100 pregnancies have this issue. “Why did it happen to me and why had my body failed my babies? Even though I rationally knew I did nothing wrong, I hated my lower half and felt I was to blame.”
After finding a support group, she learned that she could have a surgery called trans-abdominal cerclage (TAC). It was invasive and would mean a huge scar across Tiffiny’s lower belly, but it would give her a 95% chance of carrying a baby to full term without bed rest. According to Tiffiny, “I signed up immediately. Nothing was more invasive than losing my perfect babies.”
Within about 4 months, Tiffiny had healed enough to try again. The couple used two frozen embryos and ended up with twins again.
According to Tiffiny, “I am the mother of two amazing 6-year-old girls. They light up my life and have answered every wish I could have for children. Though I went through a lot and was heartbroken for quite a while, I know how blessed I am to have my beautiful girls now. My daughters know about their older siblings and visit their gravesite regularly. We talk about my sweet Braden and Karissa often. I have two living children, but I am a mother of four.”
Thoughts on the experience and infertility advocacy
Throughout the entire experience, Tiffiny remembers Dr. Burger being helpful, knowledgeable, patient and caring. “She answered so many questions for me and always took time to make me comfortable with every procedure. She truly cares for her patients! I am grateful to her and TFC for my beautiful babies and know I have two amazing angels in Heaven I’ll see again one day.”
Tiffiny believes that infertility advocacy is important because all hopeful parents should know that hope and help is available. According to Tiffiny, “In all of this, through so many tears and so many negative pregnancies, I’ve learned God has a plan. It’s not one I can question, and I won’t know why I lost my babies, but I have learned to live with not knowing why. I do know there is a happy ending for so many of us who have gone through this process.”
She also has advice for hopeful parents who are facing infertility. “To those who are still trying, don’t let your dream of becoming a parent die. Keep trying, know it will happen, one way or another. I wish you all nothing but love and luck. I know many of the heartaches you go through, and I’ve shed many of the tears you have shed. I made it to the other side of this process with all the scars to prove it. And you can too…”