A couple in North Carolina had all along wanted to have three or four children but got more than they bargained for when they tried in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Miranda and Josh Crawford of Charlotte went through artificial insemination and then IVF to have their first child, Joslyn, born in 2009, after trying to get pregnant for more than a year. But the couple, working as registered nurses, wanted more children and tried IVF again in 2010.
Just like the first IVF, doctors transferred two embryos into Miranda’s uterus. Six weeks later during the routine ultrasound, the doctors told them that they were having twins.
However, the ultrasound was unclear and the couple decided to visit the doctor again for a second ultrasound. That was when they saw four hearts beating on the screen. The two embryos had split inside her uterus to create two sets of identical twins.
“I was shocked, the doctor was shocked,” Miranda told ABC News. “Never had that happened in his entire career.”
“For a woman who is less than 35 years old, it is recommended that one or two embryos be transferred into the uterus during a fresh IVF cycle,” Dr. Jani Jensen, a physician in the department of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Mayo Clinic, said of the IVF. “In this case, it appears that the guidelines were correctly followed, but that lightning struck twice.”
“This is certainly an unusual outcome,” Jensen added. “I’ve never seen it happen quite like this.”
“Embryo splitting occurs approximately in one out of 100 embryo transfers,” Dr. James Grifo, director of the NYU Fertility Center, said of the rare phenomenon. “The chance of this outcome is approximately one in 10,000. This could also occur in a natural conception, but the chance of that is much [rarer].”
“This case shows that nature is always ready to show doctors that we can’t control everything,” Dr. Richard Paulson, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, said.
“As much as we try to avoid high-order multiple gestations by replacing fewer and fewer embryos, every once in a while, nature reminds us that we are not in charge.”
When Miranda heard of the pregnancy, she became worried.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to have a miscarriage, and I was always thinking that I could go into preterm labor at any moment,” she said.
“We took it day by day,” Josh added.
Despite the high-risk pregnancy, she and Josh were against aborting any of the fetuses though their doctors had given them this option.
On Feb. 4, 2011, 34 weeks into Miranda’s pregnancy, she gave birth to Mia, Madison, Jackson, and James.
“They were all healthy, between four and a half and five and one-half pounds,” Josh said.
Several years have since passed, and now they are a happy family of seven!