Five friends who struggled for years to conceive all fall pregnant in the same summer
Five friends who struggled for years to conceive have revealed their delight at all falling pregnant in the same summer – with their babies being born within three months of each other.
Micki Berg, 34, Amie Thomas, 36, Kristin Matty, 31, Kristen Heller, 45, and Celeste Zazzali, 37, couldn’t conceive naturally and turned to IVF to help them become mothers.
The friends, who first met during a support group at their local fertility clinic in New Jersey, met up weekly during their pregnancies and even shared updates during their labors.
They are now raising their children, all born within the summer of 2017, as future best friends and say the experience of finally becoming mothers together has bonded them for life.
Five friends who struggled for years to conceive have revealed their delight at all falling pregnant in the same summer – with their babies being born within three months of each other. Pictured left to right: Kristen with Adam, Kristin holding Layla, Micki and Colton, Amie holding Penelope and Celeste with Annarose
Celeste, Kristen, Kristin, Amie and Micki pictured together during their pregnancies. The group couldn’t conceive naturally and turned to IVF to help them become mothers
Amie, a school counselor and mother of Penelope, two, said: ‘We wanted to be at each other’s baby showers, we wanted our bump pictures, we wanted to be there for each other.
‘We would chat about our symptoms and ask for advice. There were times where I felt: “will I ever be a mom?” To be able to share those feelings with four women who completely understood was amazing.’
Amie met Micki, Kristin, Kristen and Celeste at a support group run by the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ).
Doctors at RMANJ had told Amie that her best chance for a baby would be with IVF after a sample showed her husband Philip, 36, a teacher, had abnormally shaped sperm.
Amie said: ‘It was really hard, I was really stressed. People don’t know the terms – like follicles and lining. It was hard even to talk to friends who weren’t going through fertility problems.
The babies pictured together. Annarose in red, Adam in yellow, Layla in green, Penelope in light blue, Colton in dark blue
The friends, who first met during a support group at their local fertility clinic in New Jersey, met up weekly during their pregnancies and even shared updates during their labors
‘It is exhausting to explain it all. But as soon as I walked into the room, I thought: “wow, these other women have gone through hard times”. I was overwhelmed with emotion but also relief.’
Celeste, a music teacher, of Martinsville, New Jersey, mother of Annarose, two, agreed.
She had been trying to have children with her husband John, 39, also a music teacher, for three years when she walked into the group in October 2015.
Earlier that year she had suffered the agony of losing twins – Robin at seven weeks and Rosa at 30 weeks.
She said: ‘Just being at the group helped. The other people were understanding and knew what I was going through without me going into the whole backstory.
‘As much as my friends wanted to support me, they often didn’t know what to say. It was nice to go somewhere where they understood why Mother’s Day made me sad.
Amie Thomas and baby Penelope shortly after giving birth. The mother was all smiles as she held her little one for the first time
Kristin Matty and her husband Greg as well as their daughter Layla pose together, left, while Kristen Heller holds her son Mason, pictured right
‘The difficulty of IVF is not just the needles, the needles are not even the hard part, it’s the emotional side of things that is really difficult.
‘The other four ladies and I started a Facebook messenger chat and soon we were seeing each other all the time.’
Micki, 34, mother of Colton, two, and Emma, three weeks, struggled to conceive after she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition which can make periods irregular, and was also diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve.
The part-time behavioral analyst for children with autism, of Somerset, New Jersey, said that the women’s positivity helped her remain hopeful when she doubted if she and husband, Lance, 31, a technology salesman, would ever become parents.
‘I kept coming back month after month,’ she recalled. ‘Celeste, Kristen, Kristin and Amie were the most positive and supportive women in the group.
‘We tried to help each other find the silver lining and buoyed each other’s spirits when things didn’t go according to plan.
Doctors at RMANJ had told Amie that her best chance for a baby would be with IVF after a sample showed her husband Philip (pictured together), 36, a teacher, had abnormally shaped sperm
Micki Berg pictured cuddling baby son Colton shortly after his birth in the summer of 2017
‘We spoke about the medical stuff and the emotional stuff, how difficult it was to see other women pregnant and the anxiety of celebrating holidays when your family isn’t what you want it to be.’
Kristin, a project manager at an accounting firm, of Denville, New Jersey, found herself at the group because her husband Greg Matty, 37, a sales rep for a meat company, had a low sperm count after undergoing radiation treatment for testicular cancer.
The mother of Layla, two, said: ‘Greg was a chef at the time and working late hours and I felt so helpless. I felt odd about going to the group at first because I knew most of the women were there because of reproductive issues.
‘But even though I have working eggs, I couldn’t have kids with my husband without the help of a doctor. I felt instantly connected. The group would end after one hour and we would stay and talk. We had so much to talk about.
‘Quickly we all started meeting up outside of the group. We wanted to get together more often and we began grabbing dinner before the group.’
Micki, of Somerset, New Jersey, said that the women’s positivity helped her remain hopeful when she doubted if she and husband, Lance (pictured with their little one), 31, a technology salesman, would ever become parents
She added: ‘When you are going through infertility, it consumes your whole life. It is all you think about. You keep thinking about how you are going to have a kid, when you are going to have a kid, if you’ll ever have a kid.
‘We were all going through the same thing – that’s how our bond formed.’
Kristen, 45, mother of Adam, two, and Mason, two weeks, was going through IVF without a partner and appreciated the support of Kristin, Amie, Micki and Celeste.
The teacher, of Bedminster, New Jersey, said: ‘When I was turning 40 and I was single, I decided to pursue becoming a mother on my own and that was what brought me to RMANJ.
‘Everyone was really accepting and I didn’t feel out of place at all. It was a different circumstance that brought me there.
‘I didn’t think the odds were in our favor that all five of us would have babies. My fear was that one of us wouldn’t become a mother. We just hoped and prayed that it would work for all of us and by some miracle it did.’
On June 2, 2016, Celeste announced surprise news: she was pregnant.
They are now raising their children, all born within the summer of 2017, as future best friends and say the experience of finally becoming mothers together has bonded them for life
She said: ‘I told them the second I found out. They were with me every step of the way. To be honest, sometimes those women knew updates from my doctor’s appointments before my husband.’
Three months later, Kristen discovered she was also pregnant and a fortnight later Amie, Kristin and Micki also found out they were expecting.
Celeste admitted that she was nervous when she realized that she and the other four women were pregnant.
She said: ‘I’ve heard that one in four pregnancies result in a loss and from a mathematic perspective, I was nervous.
‘There were five of us in the group and I didn’t want anyone to be left out or deal with the devastation of a miscarriage. Each step of the way we celebrated with each other.
Adam, Layla, Penelope and Colton play games with each other as their parents get together
‘We were crossing fingers and saying prayers, keeping each other occupied, we were really rooting for each other.’
The mothers-to-be graduated from the group and soon started taking prenatal yoga classes together as well as sharing every detail of their pregnancy in their group chat.
Kristin said: ‘We graduated from the group and all we talked about was our pregnancy, we went to yoga together, we attended each other’s baby showers, we spoke about our aches and pains.’
Kristin, Kristen, Celeste and Amie even threw Micki a surprise baby shower in April 2017.
‘I wasn’t going to have a baby shower but the girls surprised me with one,’ Micki remembered. It was at Celeste’s house. I thought we were just going to hang out and do some crafts but they threw a little shower for me.’
On February 1, 2017, Celeste gave birth to little Annarose. Kristen was next when her baby boy Adam arrived on April 20.
The group still see each other regularly and have no doubt that little Annarose, Adam, Layla, Penelope and Colton will grow up to be firm friends
The last three babies arrived within a week of each other when Kristin gave birth to Layla on May 18, Amie had Penelope on May 21 and Micki’s son Colton was born on May 25.
Micki recalled: ‘We were all updating each other as we were in labour. We were sharing pictures as soon as the baby was born and we were all on baby watch when we were due. We got all the newborns together for a mommy and me class.’
The group still see each other regularly and have no doubt that little Annarose, Adam, Layla, Penelope and Colton will grow up to be firm friends.
Celeste said: ‘I can’t imagine that we will drift apart because all five of us have this connection. Our children are going to be celebrating milestones together. I foresee a lot of playdates and birthday parties and I see this group sticking together for life.’
Both Kristen and Micki are now mothers-of-two and Amie, Kristin and Celeste hope to have another baby.
Dr Maria Costantini, reproductive endocrinologist and attending physician at RMANJ, added that she was not surprised the five women were still in constant contact.
She said: ‘I think it is very understandable that they remained friends. Any individuals who survive traumatic experiences together are bonded.
‘A diagnosis of infertility is traumatic in the sense that it throws your whole world upside down. No woman expects to be there.
‘You’ll never forget the pain you’ve gone through – and you’ll never forget how important those other women are. I think it makes complete sense that these women stayed friends.’