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In Vitro Fertilization: Risks & Blessings

Posted Feb 16 2011 7:00am

premature twins sleeping

I’ve always loved a bargain. In vitro fertilization   (IVF) is anything but cheap, but I definitely felt I got my money’s worth when I became pregnant with twins on my first attempt.

I hadn’t given much thought to the possibility of multiples because I knew going into it that, at age 41, my chances of conceiving at all with IVF were not great. When the doctor confirmed, after four weeks of ultrasounds, that there were definitely two babies, I was thrilled.

What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was that complications are common not only with triplets or more, but with twins too. Throw in an over-40 mom, and chances are good there will be problems.

I lived up to those odds. Despite a relatively uneventful pregnancy the first six months, at 29 weeks, I was admitted into the hospital with preeclampsia , a condition that can be fatal to the mother and/or babies. The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery.

And that’s what the doctors said I had to do. Right away. So, on a day in early February, on my 42nd birthday, I had my twins. No one in my family forgets our birthday.

Life with tiny, premature babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit isn’t fun. In fact, for the smaller of my two, who was born at 1 lb. 11 oz., it was a wild ride. They both came through it okay though, and after 11 weeks, they were both home. Today, they are healthy 12-year-old boys.

When I began the IVF process 13 years ago, I’d only recently started using the Internet at work, and never thought to research IVF on the Web. Now, there is a lot of good information available for those considering the pros and cons of IVF:

•  Preparing for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) : This Centers for Disease Control (CDC) site provides videos for patients considering IVF and other ART procedures. One video helps people use the CDC’s annual report  on ART Clinic Success Rates. Another video, on Considering Elective Single Embryo Transfers , discusses a relatively new option for ART patients that helps them avoid complications to their own health and to their offspring by preventing the likelihood of multiples.
• offers a helpful set of frequently asked questions  about infertility and ART, and has its own infertility overview .
• Or start at the beginning with home page on reproductive health  and its ART home page .

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