Ashley and Alex’s journey to have children has cost them pain, six rounds of IVF, years of hopes raised and then crushed, and £60,000.
But the arrival of their ‘miracle’ twin boys makes it all worth it.
Ashley Howards-Heimbuch, 34, and her husband, Alex Heimbuch, spent a year trying to get pregnant on their own before seeking help in January 2018, when they discovered that both of Ashley’s fallopian tubes were blocked.
Ashley, of Detroit, Michigan, was told she had a 0% chance of naturally conceiving.
IVF became the best option – but the couple knew they couldn’t afford this alone.
They took out multiple personal loans and held dozens of fundraising events over the last three years to fund the £60,000 they ended up spending on six rounds of IVF.
Ashley said: ‘Over the past nearly three years we have accumulated medical bills of around £75k by trying to become parents, as we had next to no insurance coverage.
‘We had taken out around £16k [$20k] in loans to help us with the costs of our medical bills and achieve our dream of starting a family, the rest was paid with cash, that we raised by holding fundraisers, and credit cards.’
After four failed rounds of IVF, a benign tumour was found on Ashley’s uterus during their fifth round, which had to be abandoned halfway through.
‘I then had to have surgery which removed 50% of the tumour and I was on medication for almost two months to minimise the tumour further,’ said Ashley.
‘I was in complete shock when they found it, I felt so defeated. I thought to myself, what else can go wrong? I could not believe that it had been overlooked so many times before, because the doctor at the time told us it had been there and growing for a while.
‘I had a pity party for a few days, I was constantly thinking that if this was found before we could have been successful earlier and saved so much money.
‘But I had to change my mindset, I had to think that this could be the answer to the problems. I was a lot more hopeful and positive after that.’
The couple persisted, and began their sixth round of IVF in October last year.
To their shock, the couple discovered that not only had the IVF been successful, but that Ashley was expecting twins.
Pregnancy was tough, with Ashley undergoing surgery at 14 weeks along after being diagnosed with a rare condition called incarcerated uterus.
Ashley remembers: ‘I was in hospital for almost a month after the surgery because I developed complications like Group B Strep and E-coli.
‘After I returned home I was on bedrest and developed severe anxiety and PTSD for the rest of my pregnancy.
‘Because of the condition we were told to brace ourselves as we would probably lose the twins. Luckily that did not happen.’
In June 2020, the couple welcomed their sons: River Heimbuch, weighing 5lbs 11oz, and Brooks Heimbuch, weighing 5lbs 2oz.
Ashley is now struggling with postnatal depression, but she’s so thankful to have her sons after all she and Alex went through.
‘After going through the first few rounds of IVF, I became a pro when it came to all the physical effects,’ she said. ‘I got used to the tiredness, nausea and pain from the shots.
‘The mental effects were more difficult than the physical side. I become really disconnected and I was just going through the motions of the process that I had been through over and over again
‘We were so thrilled after everything we had been through; I was so relieved that we had finally done it.
‘We were not just going to have one baby, we were having two. I could not believe it.
‘On June 19 2020 I had a C-section, and my twin boys were born, Brooks and River.
‘We love them so much and we feel so grateful to have them here with us.
‘Now that River and Brooks are here, I am struggling with postnatal depression. There are good days and bad days but I am doing the best I can and loving my boys fiercely.’
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