2.5 % to be as lucky as we are

Today our son Simon is 11 years old and we are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary. The journey of us becoming parents of two amazing kids is not easy.


The first pregnancy happened a few months after marriage. It was not planned or desired, we even considered abortion. I miscarried at 7-8 weeks. It was not a big deal at that time, shit happens. Being 19/21 years old we naively thought we had a universe of time ahead of us.

Memories of the 2nd and 3rd pregnancy are very blurry. One was completed by miscarrying at 9-10 weeks. For the 3rd one, stopped heartbeat on ultrasound at 12-13 weeks after 2-3 weeks of bed rest in the hospital.

So after third unsuccessful pregnancy and some very minor testing, doctors in Kiev discovered that I was Rh negative and told me not to get pregnant for 3 years. Nobody new about Rhogam shot in our medicine at that time, I guess.

Fourth pregnancy happened after we moved to US. Everything was seemingly under control. Rhogam was shot. Still I miscarried again at 8-9 weeks.

For the fifth pregnancy we went to infertility clinic in Akron, OH and have done lots and lots of testing. Eureka! It turned out that I am a carrier of balanced chromosomal translocation. Genetic testing showed 22% chance of conceiving fetus without it or being a carrier as I am. One more (fifth) naturally conceived pregnancy ended in miscarriage again and fetus was tested positive for unbalanced translocation.

For sixth pregnancy in 2001, we decided to take real measures and planned in-vitro fertilization with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). At that time, there were 3 places in the country doing PGD. Yuri Verlinsky at Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago was a pioneer of this procedure. Through stimulation, I was quite fruitful in producing 19 eggs. They were fertilized and given to us in a thermobox, which we put it in the back of our car and went to Chicago for PGD test. After anxious waiting for 3 days, the results came in – 3 out of 19 embryos were tested to be viable for implantation. Two were like me – carriers of balanced translocation and one was completely clear. Based on “experiment”, a chance of me conceiving a normal pregnancy was 15%. We took those viable embryos back in the box to Ohio for implantation. One out them did not make it until 5th day of implantation. While the two were transferred and one got implanted and resulted in successful pregnancy.

We could not believe our happiness. 14 years ago, when I was into 5th months of pregnancy in January of 2002 we moved to Albuquerque. At UNM hospital our new doctor could not believe our story. During detailed ultrasound, one of the measurements was within a norm, but on the higher end of the allowable range and therefore could be considered as weak indicator for small chance of Down syndrome. Amniocentesis was scheduled. In 2 days after amnio we received good news – no Down syndrome. In one week after amnio I came for a regular scheduled appointment and left with a heartbreaking news – fetus did not have heartbeat. Considered risk of amnio is 1:400 to 1:200. And I was the “lucky”, carrying 15%-probable (or even 5% if we count 1 successfully implanted out of 19 embryos) baby, one out of 200-400.

Two years later we decided to try one more time natural pregnancy. If not, we were thinking to adopt. This pregnancy was not welcomed at all. I was scared by the prospect of doctor visits, anticipation of bad news, D&C, etc. And 9 months later our first miracle child, Simon, was born through C-section. It was the present to our 13th wedding anniversary on March 28, 2005. It seemed that our family had to move into teen ages of the marriage to deserve a child. You can’t blame me for loving number 7 ever since. Seventh pregnancy gave us what we stopped dreaming for.

Here it was supposed to be an end of the story how we became luckiest people ever. But it is not the end.

Few years had passed and we became serious again about adopting 2nd child. But then I decided to try one more time a natural pregnancy. It was beyond naive. Chance of successfully drawing 3 out of 19 twice in a row is 2.5%. And 4 years later, in 2009, our 2nd miracle child daughter Paulina was born through naturally conceived and carried o term eights pregnancy. You can’t blame me for loving number 8 ever since.

As my mom said “maybe you don’t have translocation anymore!”
I just think that the chance of being as lucky as we are is 2.5%! And we’re living it!


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