Amanda Gifford and her husband, Kenneth, are the parents of 9-month-old twins Ethan and Abigail, who were conceived the second time the couple tried IVF and were born eight weeks premature. Their first IVF attempt led to a pregnancy that miscarried. They live in Delta, Colo.
Amanda spoke to WebMD about her experiences:
I really wanted to transfer three [embryos] the next time, because of that experience. But my lovely doctor talked me out of it, and we transferred two and had twins. So I'm very glad that they talked me out of transferring three!
My doctors were very up front [about the chance of having] multiples. I'm 26; my husband is 30. For our age range, the chance of twins with transferring two embryos is, like, 60% -- pretty high.
I would have to they say didn't really give very many risks for twins. They pretty much made it sound like it would be reasonable pregnancy.
But when I started talking to my new doctor about transferring three, she was very clear that it was a high risk [of prematurity and long-term complications]. She did give me a lot of information about that, and that ultimately is what swayed my decision to not transfer three.
There's times when people say, 'Put 'em all in I'm tired, this is my last shot.' And they're there to keep you from doing things like that. That's their job.
I was willing to risk twins. I wasn't so much willing to risk triplets.
Amanda was surprised by how hard her pregnancy was.
I'm young and I'm very fit, and so I expected my pregnancy to be relatively easy.
I was a delivery driver with FedEx and I worked through the first trimester, and then I went into labor, for unknown reasons, at 20 weeks. It's just really a miracle that they were able to stop it and that I was able to stay pregnant that long.
I ended up in the hospital [on bed rest] for 11 weeks, and they were born eight weeks early.
It is really hard to deliver your babies prematurely and not being able to bring them home from the hospital. There's just a lot of hardness to go through with having premature babies that people just don't realize.
Go find out what it's like to have a preterm baby and decide if that's something you can risk, because it's a lot of heartache.
Mentally and emotionally, it was very difficult. I had either posttraumatic stress or postpartum depression after they were born. ... Even if you're perfectly healthy, perfectly fine, it really takes its toll on you to go through that. Physically, being on bed rest weakens you, but I got my strength back pretty quick.
Apart from being behind on their gross motor skills because of their premature birth, Ethan and Abigail are doing "pretty well," Amanda says.
But as a parent, you just constantly worry -- what if they have long-term complications?
Of course, you can't avoid everything that's bad, so I don't know that I would necessarily tell somebody to do anything different than what I did. Just know what could be coming, because I was so blindsided by it.
It's interesting, talking to moms who have one [baby]. Their definition of being up all night is so different than mine [she laughs]. ... They've been up a couple times, and for me, it's literally I got one hour of sleep last night.
It's definitely a challenge feeding two -- I breastfed mine, so if you want to do that, that's a huge challenge, trying to do two at one time.
The infant stage is probably the hardest because they're so needy and trying to divide yourself.
But honestly, as they're getting older, it's kind of easier, because they play with each other. So I think there's good and bad to having twins, and not everybody is meant to be a twin parent.
To somebody thinking about going through [IVF], I still recommend it. We wouldn't have our kids without it. Despite what we've been through, I still wouldn't do anything differently if I could do it again.