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A high-risk pregnancy journey: From IVF to twins

By The Health News Team | December 21, 2022
Gunnar and Grace, children of Jaclyn Silva of San Diego.

Gunnar and Grace spent 24 hours in Sharp Mary Birch's Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), receiving the care they needed to grow.

Although it depends on many factors, the average amount of time it takes most couples to conceive is six months. However, 1 in 7 couples will have difficulty conceiving.

“My husband and I started trying to get pregnant right after we were married — I was 32 at the time,” says Jaclyn Silva. “For over a year nothing was happening, and all my fertility tests came out OK. We tried everything.”

She later came across information on male factor infertility and decided to have her husband receive fertility testing as well. Male factor infertility is infertility caused by blocked, low or abnormal sperm production.

Male factor infertility diagnosis
After Jaclyn’s husband was tested, the results revealed her husband had low sperm count and low motility. Motility is the ability of sperm to move efficiently.

“When you think of infertility, people typically only think of the woman,” Jaclyn says. “That is why I am so open about my story — I want to spread awareness and be a support system for other families going through this.”

The couple proceeded with six rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI), a type of artificial insemination that involves increasing the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tube. Every round was unsuccessful.

They then moved on to the more invasive in vitro fertilization (IVF), a process that combines a woman's egg and a man's sperm outside of the woman’s body in a laboratory. The fertilized egg is then implanted in the woman’s uterus. In 2016 they transferred two embryos into Jaclyn’s uterus, and they were both successfully implanted on the first try.

“For many years, I was seeing an OBGYN from another hospital, but because I was a high-risk patient carrying twins, I knew I needed to switch over to Sharp,” Jaclyn says. “With Sharp Mary Birch’sLevel III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I felt that for the safety of myself and my babies, I wanted to be somewhere with the most specialized staff and medical care if necessary.”

An early delivery
As it turns out, that specialized care was needed.

Two months prior to the twins’ due date, Jaclyn felt pain in her lower belly area when she stood up, and her water broke soon after. Jaclyn was admitted to the Perinatal Special Care Unit (PSCU) at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns where her doctors gave her steroid injections, which can help reduce the risk of lung problems in anticipation of the babies being delivered prematurely. Sharp’s PSCU, which helps those with high-risk pregnancies, is the largest in San Diego County.

Gunnar and Grace Silva were delivered at 32 weeks via C-section by Dr. Wade Schwendemann, a Sharp-affiliated perinatologist.

“Complications from multiple gestations are not uncommon, and they can include preterm labor, preterm birth, fetal growth issues, diabetes and hypertension,” Dr. Schwendemann says. “We were glad to deliver Gunnar and Grace safely and not separate them from Jaclyn.”

During their 24-day stay in the NICU to help the twins grow and receive care, Jaclyn recalls her experience with everyone in the hospital as friendly and caring. “Every single person was amazing and there for my family when my twins were in their most fragile state,” she says. “There are nurses I met who I still talk to on Facebook and keep in touch with to this day.”

One of the things Jaclyn most appreciated was being placed on a separate floor in the Women’s Acute Care Unit (WACU) when she needed care while her babies were in the NICU.

“I love that when designing the layout of the hospital, Mary Birch took into consideration the mothers who do not have babies in their room,” Jaclyn says. “Mentally, it would have been very difficult to be on the main floor if I was able to hear their cries since I was unable to be right next to my children.”

Now, years later, Jaclyn reflects on her journey and is excited for her twins to turn 6 in early 2023. Gunnar was only 3 pounds when he was born, so every milestone the twins have passed has been very emotional for her, she says.

“While going through infertility, I never thought I would even have kids,” Jaclyn says. “I am so grateful for the team at Mary Birch who helped us get where we are today.”

Gunnar and Grace, children of Jaclyn Silva, of San Diego

Grace and Gunnar smile with their mom, Jaclyn Silva.

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