Fertility Treatments For Two
In July 2000, Debbie and Stacey both began complicated fertility treatments to prepare for the surrogacy. First, they synchronized their menstrual cycles with hormone injections. Next, they each had to get daily shots to shut down their normal hormone production and to prepare Debbie's uterus for the embryos. Then Stacey needed more hormones to stimulate her egg production. Finally, Stacey's eggs were retrieved, fertilized with Dave's sperm, and incubated for 36 hours before being implanted in Debbie's uterus. "When I was going through the treatment, I kept thinking, 'Boy, I'll be glad when this part is over' because I hate shots!" jokes Debbie. Little did she know at the time the problems that lay ahead.
For one thing, getting pregnant wasn't as easy as the women expected it would be. It took two costly attempts at in vitro before an embryo was implanted. "I'll never forget when Debbie called the doctor for the results of her blood test," Stacey says. "I was nervously waiting until I heard her scream, 'We are?' I knew right away that she was pregnant."
And Then There Were Four
After a rough six weeks of morning sickness and complete exhaustion, Debbie went in for her first sonogram. As with every visit, Stacey and Dave were there with her. The three huddled in the examining room, eyes fixed on the ultrasound screen. They waited silently as the doctor rolled the transducer over Debbie's belly and watched for a heartbeat.
"I hear one," he said softly. "Wait, now I hear two. No. Make that three. Four. There are four babies!"
The Beehlers were speechless. "We had talked about the possibility of having multiples," Stacey said. "But the thought of quads never occurred to us." Only a few months earlier it looked as if they might never have a baby, and now they had four. Debbie, meanwhile, panicked. "I burst into tears," she recalls. "I was excited for Stacey and Dave, but terrified about how I would manage to carry four babies."
After the initial shock, Debbie relaxed and concentrated on taking good care of herself and the babies. Except for some nausea and heartburn, carrying quads was the same as carrying one child, she thought. However, at 20 weeks, she realized there was a big difference. During a routine exam, the doctor discovered she was starting to dilate and have contractions. If the babies were born this early, they might not survive. She had to be hospitalized immediately.
As it turned out, Debbie was severely anemic and the contractions stopped as soon as her iron levels were stabilized. Nonetheless, the doctors insisted she remain in the hospital for the next 12 days for observation. "It was trying," Phil admits. "But we kept reminding ourselves that this was something we wanted to do for our friends."
Stacey was sensitive to their concerns. "Knowing that I caused Debbie to be away from her children was the hardest part of the pregnancy for me," she says.
When Debbie was finally allowed to leave the the hospital, she was confined to bed for the rest of the pregnancy. Finally, Stacey got the chance to repay a little of her friend's generosity. Every morning when Phil left for work, Stacey arrived for her job. She spent the day at the Vibbers' home: cooking, cleaning, and playing with the children.
Debbie had one main task: to take good care of herself until the babies could be delivered by cesarean section at 34 weeks.