True Fertility Stories: Once, Twice, Three Times the Babies
For most women going through infertility, it can be hard to picture the finish line—that point where you (finally) have a baby. For 41-year-old Katherine Kozo, it would have been virtually impossible to imagine what life held in store.
She and her husband Chris started trying to conceive less than a year after their wedding in July 2006. When it became apparent that "nothing was working," they tried two intra-uterine insemination (IUI) procedures with an ob-gyn, but that didn't yield results either. The couple decided to move on to La Jolla IVF, where they joined forces with fertility doctor David Smotrich.
"[Smotrich] tested both of us, but he couldn't find anything wrong," remembers Kozo, who was in her mid-30s at the time. "It was unexplained as to why I couldn't get pregnant."
Working closely with Smotrich, Kozo underwent three IVF attempts—none of which were successful. She was also juggling a busy schedule as a nursing school student at the time, which skyrocketed her stress levels. "It was failed attempt after failed attempt," she shares. Kozo and her husband were preparing to do IVF yet again when Smotrich proposed another alternative. "He told us that if we wanted our own biological child, that we should consider seeking a surrogate or gestational carrier," says Kozo, adding that Smotrich gave them just a one percent chance of conceiving on their own.
With the help of an Orange County-based agency, Kozo connected with an experienced gestational carrier. Their contract stipulated that the gestational carrier would be willing to undergo three transfers using the frozen embryos from Kozo's previous IVF procedures. "The first time, she got pregnant with twins, but she lost them," shares Kozo sadly. "The second time, we implanted three embryos, but it didn't work."
Faced with the sadness of ongoing disappointments, Kozo and her husband started turning their attention toward adoption while planning their third and final transfer with the gestational carrier. In early 2011, the pair decided to go to Mexico for a much-needed relaxation getaway while Kozo was on a break from nursing school. Kozo returned with an unexpected souvenir: a positive home pregnancy test.
The Kozos were ecstatic, but they were faced with a conundrum. Their third embryo transfer with the gestational carrier was just two weeks away, and they ultimately decided to go forward with it—even though Kozo was in the early stages of pregnancy herself. "People ask us why we went through with the transfer," says Kozo, "but until you've walked in these shoes and gone through years of failures and 'nos,' you can't understand. We needed to exhaust all of our options."
The third time was the charm, and both embryos transferred took. Their gestational carrier was pregnant with twins! The next nine months were a blur for Kozo between her own pre-natal checkups, graduating from nursing school, and accompanying the gestational carrier to all of her doctor visits. Kozo also worked hard to outfit their two-bedroom condo in San Diego for triplets. "We couldn't afford to get a house, especially after paying all those infertility bills," she laughs.
On October 8, 2011, Kozo delivered her baby girl, Auline, and on October 26, the gestational carrier delivered fraternal twin boys Lucas and Jackson. "Jackson was in the NICU for a few weeks, so each of our babies' coming home was spread out by two weeks," shares Kozo. Once all of the triplets were safely home, Kozo relied on the help of family and a night nanny to get through those challenging early days learning how to juggle three babies. She and Chris also joined a local support group, The More, The Merrier.
The triplets are now three years old, and Kozo wouldn't change a thing. "It's a lot to digest, but it's worth it in the end," she says. "I wouldn't trade the family we have now for anything.
Video: Strangest birth in the world 17 babies at once unbelievable !!!
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