This story was published in the Washington post (washingtonpost.com) on their page “On Faith” on May 20, 2010.
One reader asked if I would post it on my blog.
God’s GIFT of 3 sets of twins
By Fran Circe Pitre
My husband Bruce and I were raised in Catholic homes, taught traditional Christian values, and grew up learning from our parents’ examples of honesty and integrity. When we were married, we decided to center our relationship on our Christian belief system and to make our life choices by following the WWJD (what would Jesus do?) motto. Generally, this system wasn’t too hard to apply to the day-to-day circumstances that arose. However, after enduring nearly five years of infertility, we’d been pushed to our limits and came to a difficult cross road. We’d prayed for so long, had gone through every conceivable diagnostic test (some more than once), and undergone dozens of attempts at becoming pregnant through different medication options and via simple office procedures without success.
Eventually, our doctor told us that we had a slim chance at conceiving. We were highly encouraged and persuaded by more than one specialist to undergo the ART (assisted reproductive technology) procedure called In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I turned to my uncle, a retired OB-GYN, for advice, and he agreed that IVF offered us the greatest chances at becoming pregnant. Well, telling a couple who’d been attempting to conceive for half a decade that a procedure would likely result in pregnancy was a dream come true. Part of me felt that “this was it … the answer to our prayers.”
Another part of me, however, needed to learn all there was to learn about the IVF process before I would agree to pursue it. While doing some research, I regrettably learned that our Catholic Church disapproved of IVF for various reasons, mainly due to the lives that would be created outside of the body. These are human beings that, once alive, do not all survive the transfer (to the womb) process, nor do they all survive the cryopreservation (freezing and thawing) process. I was caught in a painful moral dilemma. I knew many couples that had successfully undergone IVF, and while that procedure was the right decision for them, it was becoming apparent that it wasn’t the right choice for me. I fought and fought with this dilemma, wishing I’d never looked into it at all, but had just gone along with the doctors’ advice (including my own uncle’s). But undeniably, Bruce and I knew the facts, and we weren’t at all naïve. We understood that the laws established by our Christian faith were not to keep us from living freely and enjoying life, but to protect us from making unhealthy choices for ourselves that may adversely affect ourselves or others.
Ultimately, Bruce and I investigated and discovered a procedure that, while not unconditionally approved by the Church, could be pursued if certain conditions were met and followed precisely. This procedure was called GIFT (gamete intra-fallopian transfer). This procedure did not involve creating life outside the womb, but would still significantly increase our chances at conceiving. When we requested this option to our doctor, we were turned down because it was considered “out-dated technology”, a procedure that was “too involved and simply not done much anymore”. We sought out other doctors until we found one who, although still believed that IVF was our best choice, agreed to perform GIFT. Two weeks following the procedure, I learned that I was pregnant … with twins.
After some time, we planned to have one more child. Although we didn’t wish to undergo GIFT again, many more years had passed without my becoming pregnant. Eventually, we underwent GIFT a second time, and I became pregnant with our second set of twins. Seven years later, we learned that I was pregnant again, but without undergoing GIFT this time around. Learning that we were having a third set of twins was the greatest surprise of all. We now have a 15-year-old set of twin girls, a 10-year-old boy/girl set of twins, and a 2-year-old set of twin boys. God is so good.
My advice to couples enduring heartbreaking infertility: don’t give up! The answer is out there for you, but you must make the choices that fit within your belief system. Educate yourself and locate a doctor that not only you can work with, but one that will work with you while respecting and honoring your faith and beliefs.
All that any of us can do is to look back at the end of the day and know that with God’s guidance and direction, we made the best possible, informed decisions for both ourselves and for those lives that our decisions affect.
Fran Pitre is author of “TWINS x 3: a mom of three sets of twins gives her personal testimony that all things are possible with God.”