'It was all worth it': My difficult five-year journey to give birth
'No one tells you what the risks are when you set out to have a baby,' says Myriam Steinberg
Note: this story contains details about pregnancy loss.
Contributed by Myriam Steinberg
After nearly five years of desperately trying to have even one baby, I am the proud mother of twins. I have landed. I am both where I want to be and where I need to be.
Since knowing I wanted kids, I'd always imagined having two. What I'd never imagined was that I was going to be 44 years old when I finally gave birth, that I'd do it as a single mom by choice, and that I'd have twins.
I could very easily not have ended up with my twins Abegail and Isaac. At 18 weeks, Isaac's water broke. A fetus is not considered viable in the outside world until 24 weeks. Every perinatologist, and every obstetrician but one, repeatedly recommended I terminate the fetus, claiming it would give baby Abegail a better chance.
I adamantly refused to go that route. My gut was telling me that he would be OK. I didn't know why I knew that but I did. Despite having extremely low levels of amniotic fluid, he was still growing well and his heartbeat was strong. I had to give him a chance.
I'd been through this process before
Before having the twins, I was already familiar with having to make tough decisions. The second of five pregnancies in this journey was diagnosed with chromosomal abnormalities. There was no way of knowing the baby's chance of survival nor his quality of life if he did survive. I spent many agonizing weeks wrestling with whether or nor to keep the baby.
I was not prepared to go through that again. I couldn't see how the grief of having a dead baby in me for three or four months while the other one continued growing would be any less than the grief of a stillborn or a baby who lived only a short while.
After 15 weeks of bed rest, my twins were delivered via cesarean section. They had made it to 32 weeks and 4 days — pretty much a miracle! Abegail spent a month in the newborn intensive care unit feeding and growing. Isaac's lung development was severely impaired from the water breaking. He spent 67 days in the care unit battling for his life and building up his lung strength. Both twins are home now and doing marvelously well.
No one tells you what the risks are when you set out to have a baby
Specialists told me that assisted reproduction, for me, had a 25 per cent chance of success. What they don't tell me is that the 75 per cent failure rate doesn't just mean no pregnancy was achieved. I found out the hard way that it could also mean miscarriage, chromosomal problems with the baby, physiological issues with the uterus, ovaries, eggs, or other reproductive necessities, or any number of unforeseen events during the pregnancy.
When I got pregnant from my first IUI (intra-uterine insemination), I was over the moon. When I miscarried two days before my 8-week ultrasound, a new reality started settling in. In the end, it took 7 rounds of IUI, 3 rounds of in-vitro fertilization, 2 rounds of donor eggs and donor sperm, and 5 pregnancies before Isaac and Abegail were born.
The silence around pregnancy loss and infertility has prompted me to write about my experience in a graphic novel called Catalogue Baby, which is due out next year.
Although nothing about the journey was easy, it has been powerful, mettle-testing, and simultaneously soul-crushing and soul-building.Myriam Steinberg
As one twin is asleep in his crib, and the other is babbling gleefully in her bouncy chair, and while the breast pump is furiously extracting the liquid gold from my too-full boobs, I can unequivocally say that it was all worth it.
Being a mom to twins is the best! Seeing how they interact with the world as individuals, and watching them interact with each other and with me fills me with a joy that I have never felt before. It feels like a full unit. The love is strong and the silliness is unbridled.