I gave birth to 5 sets of twins. My doctor said I have a 'uterus of steel.'
- Jennifer Waters gave birth to five sets of twins within eight years.
- She became a surrogate mom to three of the five pairs of children.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jennifer Waters. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I loved being pregnant. And pregnancy loved me back. It was one of the reasons I gave birth to five sets of twins within the space of eight years.
The main reason was that I wanted to help other people. I was a surrogate mother to the last three sets of twins. I loved being able to give the gift of children to two couples with fertility issues.
It all started with the birth of my identical sons, Jackson and Joel, in 2008. They were born 2 ½ after my husband, Jon, and I got married.
I got back to my original weight quickly after each of the 5 pregnancies
At first, it was a bit of a shock that we were expecting twins. I threw up about once a week throughout the pregnancy, but I didn't mind. My doctor said that it was a textbook pregnancy otherwise. He called it "uneventful."
I loved eating whatever I wanted during those nine months. I gained 30 pounds — the same amount I gained during my subsequent pregnancies. Each time, I got back to my original weight soon after I gave birth.
The boys were born vaginally at 38 weeks and five days. I labored as normal. In my home state of Iowa, if you're having multiples, you have to give birth in the operating room in case something goes wrong. But everything went fine, and the boys were born three minutes apart.
We found out we were pregnant again in 2010. I was dying to know whether it was just one or two because I had almost 2-year-olds at the time. I needed to know what we were going into. When I had my first ultrasound, before the tech had time to say anything, I saw two heads. "Oh, my gosh, it's twins again," I said.
"You better play the lottery now you've got two sets of twins," my doctor said jokingly.
"We can't afford to play the lottery," I replied.
They were fraternal girl twins. It's very, very rare to have two sets of twins, especially when they're conceived spontaneously, rather than via in vitro fertilization.
My pregnancy was great. I kept very active because I had toddlers. I worked as a paralegal, and the boys were in day care. I was induced at 36 weeks in May 2011 because I had some hypertension. But Julianne and Jocelyn were born vaginally and healthy.
I was approached by a couple who wanted to hire me as a surrogate mom
It was hard having four kids under 3, though we had a lot of help from grandparents who lived nearby.
Partly because I enjoyed being pregnant so much, I thought about being a surrogate mother. My mom had once intended to be a surrogate for a friend. But she wound up needing an emergency hysterectomy, so she couldn't. I'd always thought it was wonderful that she'd wanted to help other people.
I started blogging about my experiences as a mom of two sets of twins. Then, through a friend, I was approached by a couple, Megan and Mike Andre. They asked whether I'd be interested in being their surrogate.
We had a lot of chemistry. I knew I wanted to help them start a family.
"We were blessed twice with two sets of twins," Jon told me. "If you can help somebody else, let's do it."
We didn't go through an agency. Our attorneys drew up a contract and the payment plan, which I've always kept private. I got pregnant after the first transfer of the embryos that the Andres had created through IVF.
They were delighted when they found out they were expecting boy-girl twins. I sent them belly pictures every week, and we talked on the phone every other day. They were very involved.
Dax and Ivy were born in December 2013. I had a C-section for them. I'll never forget the look on Mike and Megan's faces when they held their babies for the first time. I felt privileged to bring them such joy.
My doctor joked that I had a 'uterus of steel' because of my successful twin pregnancies
My doctor helped arrange my second surrogacy. He introduced me to his patients Heidi and Spencer Goettsch, who'd been unable to have more kids after their son, Grady, was born. We hit it off, and they hired me. Both embryos took.
After that, my friends said that I'd be walking around and my uterus would fall out. "No," I laughed. "The doctor says that I have a uterus of steel. It's not going anywhere."
I gave birth to girl-boy twins, Reece and Quinton, in February 2015. I had my second C-section. When I handed them to Heidi and Spencer, I joked, "Please go and enjoy these beautiful children — and good luck!"
The next year, Mike and Megan asked whether I'd be their surrogate one more time. They wanted to expand their family. It was a no-brainer.
"Get them into the miracle uterus," the IVF doctor said during the embryo transfer. Gage and Violet, boy-girl twins, were born in October 2016. I had a vaginal birth after cesarean. I'm 40 now and done having kids — whether it's for Jon and me or any other would-be parents.
The twins made little cards for me to say thank-you
The Andre and the Goettsch families have kept in close contact with us. I'm an amateur photographer, and we reunited for a photo shoot in January. Everybody got on fine. It was really cute because Dax and Ivy, Reece and Quinton, and Gage and Violet made little cards for me. They thanked me for helping give them life.
My heart was full of pride.
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