How One Plus One Becomes Seven

My journey to motherhood began the moment I understood that little girls could be Mommies, too…even if it was to a bald, raggedy Cabbage Patch doll. My instinctual drive to mother was sharpened throughout childhood, and I “blessed” my younger brother with the opportunity to have two moms.

Life moved along and I married the man of my dreams, but we had a lot to learn about being husband and wife before we could be daddy and mommy. Finally, four years into marriage we had the “talk,” basically the adult edition of the “birds and the bees.” We decided to start trying to have a family. I knew this path was going to be a long one and most likely a bit rocky because I had battled amenorrhea since my mid-teens.  I began test after test to see what was going on, and my dream of being a mother appeared to be getting further and further away. Much to my relief the tests declared that I had all working parts, but they weren’t talking to each other. I tried acupuncture and herbs for 2 years to see if I could get the boys and girls at my grade school dance of a body to start chatting. I only had a few months of success, but nothing consistent enough to conceive. I also was diagnosed with hypothyroidism along the way, which didn’t help my chances.

I was finally diagnosed with a luteal phase deficiency; I was happy to have an answer because that meant we had a treatment. They got Aunt Flow back on a visitation cycle, and I began tracking anything and everything from my sleeping patterns to my morning temperatures. Unfortunately, still no “O.” We had to bring in the big dogs, or bigger. We decided to try Letrozole, which is a “kinder” version of Clomid. We took that for one cycle with still no ovulation. The doc encouraged me to take it up a notch and try injections. At this point, we were 18 months into this process and I was ready. They created a regimen using Letrozole, Follistim and Ovidrel and that did the trick! I finally ovulated! Since so much time, effort and honestly money went into this cycle we wanted to see that Big Fat Positive, so we also decided to pursue IUI (Intrauterine Insemination). My husband’s gold medal swimmers came to the party washed and ready to mingle. From previous ultrasounds preceding the IUI, it was suspected that I would definitely have two follies (follicles).

Then, began the two-week wait. Patience truly is a virtue and you get the opportunity to exercise it for all 14 days. I hopped out of bed and tore open the wrapper of that pregnancy test on day 14, did my business and guess what? I had to wait 3 more minutes! But, sure enough after those 180 seconds, I saw the smiley face that I had been waiting for. We were pregnant!

The next check-point was at our first ultrasound to see what was causing all of this raucous. We were greeted by not one, not two, not even three, but five beating hearts at our 7-week check-up. My body donated a few more follies than suspected. Those that have been in this position know the next words out of your doctor’s mouth are not, “Congratulations!” But, instead, “we need to have a conversation about selective reduction.” I, honestly, in my wildest dreams never thought that following the moment that I witnessed the gift of life, someone would be asking to take it away. The doc then began handing over research article after article on the dangers of not reducing and my husband and I were quickly referred to the high risk clinic.

We did not find the care or answers we were looking for at home, so this journey took us all the way to Mesa, AZ where I received perinatal care from one of the best high order multiple perinatologists in the country.

On August 3, 2013, we gave birth to the precious V-5:

Theodore Joseph

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Isabella Marie

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Lillian Grace

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Kali Mae

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Elliott Rose

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In the last 18 months, our children have blessed us in so many ways. They faced many medical complications that come with being born at 29 weeks, but continue to amaze us with their strength and resilience. Today, we can proudly say that one would not be able to tell that these kiddos were born premature. We are excited to share our story with you and welcome you to check out our blog at!

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Written by Cassie Vanderwall (Madison, Wisconsin)

5 Responses to How One Plus One Becomes Seven

  1. mariel May 30, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    this is nothing short of amazing!

  2. Danielle May 31, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    God has blessed you for protecting those little lives! Hugest congrats to you two, what a beautiful family!!

  3. Karen May 14, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

    Each one a blessing !

  4. BC October 22, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    I had a luteal phase defect as well. Dr. Kloess at our Lady of hope clinic in Madison corrected it for me to concieve with progesterone. My body is more balanced now, pregnant again with no help. Glad your babies are Healthy now and doing well. What an amazing story!

  5. Emily Briggs March 31, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your story, Cassie! Your parenting journey started with truly difficult decisions and worries from before conception. Mothers of multiples have to be some of the strongest women In the world.

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