CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - One in eight. That’s how many couples struggle with infertility. Chances are, you know someone affected by this - even if they haven’t shared their story with you.
But, now more couples are talking in an effort to help break the stigma that often surrounds infertility. It’s why Loren and Mike Bassett, of Charlotte, are sharing their story.
The college sweethearts aren’t the typical face of infertility. They’re young – both just 32 years old. When they started trying to get pregnant, they had no idea how long, and how hard, the journey to parenthood would be.
“Millennials you know they want - when they want something, they want it now,” said Loren. “And for us - it was you know we wanted to be pregnant and then we thought it was gonna happen now.”
It didn’t. And soon, they found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of infertility. Loren underwent six rounds of IUI, intrauterine insemination. On the sixth time, they conceived twins. But, their joy would be short-lived as the couple lost them at 16 weeks in March of 2018.
“It was tough, and like it was - it still is,” she said, her voice breaking. “I might like need a minute maybe.”
Like their unexplained infertility, the reason for their loss is still largely unclear. But, they do know their twin pregnancy was even more high-risk than a normal multiples pregnancy because the babies shared the same pregnancy sac.
The Bassett’s reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Michelle Matthews with Atrium Health’s CMC Women’s Institute, says people need to realize just how dangerous carrying multiples is for women.
“People see twins all the time in the world and think they do well,” she said. “But what they don’t see are the twins that don’t do well. And, Loren and Mike’s story - I hope will emphasize that. Twins is much higher risk there’s a six-fold increase risk of pre-term labor and pre-term delivery. Higher risk of autism, cerebral palsy and birth defects associated with prematurity. It’s a much higher risk pregnancy.”
Despite the trauma of losing the twins, the couple still wanted to have a family. "I don't know if a miscarriage is something women ever get over,” said Loren tearfully. “Or if it's just me and I'll never get over it".
But then came the day Loren got an unexpected sign that would propel them forward on their journey. "One morning I was having you know just a hard day after the miscarriage and I see these beautiful purple azaleas - very vibrant in color - in bloom in our front yard, and it was just a sign that the twins were OK,” she recalled. “And I took that as OK, we can move forward with IVF."
Ellie Brynn Basset, their long-awaited bundle of joy, was born in late March after a long and winding journey to parenthood. They say having her, holding her - still hasn’t quite sunk in.
“I haven’t stopped smiling since she was born,” said Mike as he laughed. “It’s just the best thing. Seeing her in a petri dish, essentially, to this. It’s like what?!”
Little Ellie was born exactly a year - to the day - after the couple lost their twins. “Ellie was actually born on the day that we found out the twins didn’t have a heartbeat a year ago,” said Loren. “So we think - we took that as like a piece of the twins are definitely a part of her. Just because, I mean what are the odds of that happening, you know? It’s a miracle. It was definitely a sign that they’re a little piece of her. We will always hold them when we hold her.”
As if that wasn’t significant enough, the twins would give their parents and new baby sister, one more bittersweet, yet beautiful reminder. “When we brought Ellie home those same vibrant purple azaleas were blooming, and it just made my heart smile that [the twins] were looking down on us.”
While their hearts are now filled with the joy of finally being parents, navigating pregnancy after the loss of their twins was not easy for Loren, or any woman with infertility who’s had a miscarriage.
“You never stop worrying,” she said. “I mean, you know people say after the 12-week mark you’re safe. That’s not safe. We went into our 16-week appointment and found out we had lost the twins. So to me I don’t - I hate to say it - but I don’t feel like I’m out of the woods ever like safe. I just was always comforted in going in and hearing the heartbeat or seeing the ultrasound or once I could feel her kick it was really amazing because I wasn’t worried enough.”
That’s also why Dr. Matthews wants people to be sensitive to anyone navigating the world of infertility. She says it’s a medical condition just like having diabetes or high blood pressure.
“Even when you know someone is struggling with infertility, it’s hard to know the right thing to say,” she said. “Couples are often told to relax more or take a vacation or change their diet or things that really put extra pressure on the couple, on the woman - that means that maybe they’re doing something wrong which is really unfair. So, I think it’s just important for people to understand that it’s very common and to be supportive of friends and family that you know are going through this condition.”