Marie Mellor was desperate to be a Mum but when she couldn’t conceive, she turned to IVF treatment. After being diagnosed with endometriosis and blocked fallopian tubes, the 29 year old thought it was the only answer to her problems. Marie was thrilled when she fell pregnant and discovered she was expecting triplets. But IVF experts were baffled – each baby was growing in its own sac, and each had its own placenta.
The fertilised embryo they’d implanted hadn’t split into three. It meant that Marie, from Barnsley, South Yorks, had conceived two of the babies naturally, at the same time as having the IVF treatment. Now, she and fiance Marc Hutchinson, 30, tell New! about their joy at becoming parents to Olly, Freya and Ava, as they celebrate their first Christmas together.
I’ve always wanted to be a Mum. Even as a little girl, I dreamed of the day I’d have my own, perfect family. When I met Marc through friends in 2005, I was busy working long hours as a manager of a care home. Still, having children was high up on our list of priorities. It was just a matter of choosing the right time. I could never have imagined how difficult having children would be…
Then, in 2007, I woke up one morning with stomach pains. “I need to see a doctor,” I told Marc, doubled up with the pain.
I’d always had painful periods, but as the doctor checked me over at Lincoln Hospital, he was concerned. “We need to investigate,” he explained. “To see what’s happening.” I was sent for a scan, and when the results came back, I was stunned. Five cysts were found growing on my ovaries, and would have to be drained. Then I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis (where cells from the lining of the uterus flourish outside the uterine cavity) and my hopes of having children naturally, faded away.
“We could always adopt” I told Marc, trying to stay positive. Inside, I was devastated, but the doctors told us not to give up hope. A year on, we started trying for a baby. I’d been given a drug to keep the endometriosis at bay and it played havoc with my menstrual cycle. When my period came, I felt like a failure – and my desire to become a mum grew stronger. Each time I passed a woman pushing a pram in the street, I felt a burning envy.
“When will it be our turn?” I cried to Marc six months on. I felt frustrated nothing was happening and when my sister Alison, 22, fell pregnant in 2009, my heart ached. I was sent for more tests.
A laparoscopy showed both my fallopian tubes were blocked, and one of the tubes was attached to my bowel. To add to my misery, my ovaries were stuck together. It was suddenly obvious why I wasn’t pregnant. By 2011, I was at my wits end and that August, I was finally referred for IVF.
It gave me fresh hope. I dared to dream that someday I might become a Mum. Over the next few weeks I felt like a pin cushion as the treatment began. My days were soon a whirlwind of hospital appointments and test results, but Marc and I were too excited to care. “I wonder who our baby will look like?” he smiled, as we waited for the hospital to call one day.
Only, Our excitement was short lived.The treatment wasn’t going to plan and had to be stopped.
I was at risk of developing OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) a side effect of the IVF medication. It was extremely dangerous. “Maybe we’re just not meant to be parents?” I sobbed as Marc tried to console me. I’d have to wait two more months before it was safe to try again, but the weeks felt like years. In March 2013, the process started all over again, only this time, I tried not
to get my hopes up. Twelve days on, IVF experts at the Jessop Hospital in Sheffield, South Yorks, collected 11 eggs from my ovaries.
“We had to leave three behind.” the consultant explained afterwards. “We couldn’t reach them.” Eleven was defintely better than none, I told myself. A week later, I was a nervous wreck as one embryo – fertilised with Marc’s sperm – was implanted in my uterus. We were on tenterhooks as we waited to see if I was pregnant. “I can’t wait another day,” I told Marc, toying with the idea of buying a pregnancy test.
“What if it’s too early?” I pondered.The day before I was due to see the consulatant, temptation got the better of me. “Marc!” I shrieked from the bathroom. “I’m pregnant!” I was ecstatic when a blood test at the hospital confirmed it, and we counted down the days until the first scan. As the sonographer rubbed cold gel across my stomach seven weeks on, I squeezed Marc’s hand.
Then, the room fell silent. “I just need to ask someone to take a look…” the sonographer paused. My heart pounded in my chest, convinced something was wrong.
“We can see more than one baby,” he added, baffled. “There’s three altogether.” I stared at Marc in disbelief. After everything we’d been through, we never imagined we’d have one baby, let
alone three. It felt surreal. At first, doctors presumed the embryo had split, but there were three, separate sacs. And each baby had its own placenta. It seemed two of the three eggs they’d left behind had been fertilised too. It was the only explanation.
I didn’t care about the details, I was just over the moon to be pregnant. By the time my 18-week scan came around, I was already enormous. And when I found out I was expecting a boy, and two girls, I was thrilled. At 32 weeks, I woke feeling sick and dizzy, then the contractions started. I was whisked into theatre for an emergency c-section. “You and the babies will be fine,” Marc reassured me. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”
I felt terrified as I was put to sleep but I needn’t have worried. Seeing mine and Marc’s babies in their incubators for the first time later that day, my heart melted. Olly, who weighed 3lb 13oz, had arrived first, followed by 3lb Freya and Ava, 3lb, 6oz. Despite being two-month’s premature, they were perfect. I felt like the luckiest woman alive. While Olly had blonde hair, Ava’s was tinged with red and Freya’s was brown. The triplets looked nothing like each other. It fuelled the confusion as to how I’d fallen pregnant in the first place.
“We think you conceived two of the babies naturally,” the doctor told me. “Only one is an IVF baby.” The babies really were a miracle, and nobody could explain how, or why, it had happened.
It seemed unreal. After four weeks in hospital, we were allowed to bring the babies home. Having them home in time for Christmas feels like a dream come true. I couldn’t be happier, although life is hectic with our three bundles of joy. They go through 12 packs of nappies a week and 18 bottles of milk each day.
Our washing machine is always on, and we’re in the thick of sleepless nights. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Marc’s gone back to work, but he’s an amazing hands-on dad. The babies are thriving and they’re developing their own little personalities. Olly is fidgety and always hungry, while Freya and Ava are more placid. We still don’t know for sure how the babies were conceived, or which one resulted from the IVF.
We’ll probably never know. In the meantime, this Christmas will be the most special yet. Olly, Freya and Ava sleep in moses baskets in mine and Marc’s bedroom and waking up with them on Christmas morning will be amazing. They’re the best Christmas present I could’ve wished for and I’m loving every minute.
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