Amber Spears wanted nothing more than to be a mum. She and her fiancé Chris started to try for a baby but, after several months of negative pregnancy tests, it still hadn’t happened.
It was around this time that Amber also started to experience hot flashes, around 20 per day.
I decided to go to the doctor and he joked saying maybe I was going through early menopause. I just laughed it off,” she recalls.
“It was decided I just had a virus and was to rest.”
However, when the hot flashes didn’t go away, she went for a second opinion. That’s when she discovered her follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level was at 75. This is the menopause range.
Anything higher than 10-15 may indicate diminished fertility.
‘I was in so much shock’
Amber was only 23. How could she possibly already be menopausal?
Menopause generally happens around the age of 40 but countless women experience premature or early menopause, often in the late 30s.
However, according to the Better Health Channel, about one in 1000 women reach menopause before the age of 30.
Amber was heartbroken to discover she was one of them.
I’ve always wanted to be a mum, so I was in so much shock.
I remember crying and asking the doctors whether I could still have children. My doctor didn’t seem too concerned at this point saying I was still so young and not to worry.”
Blow after blow
However, Amber then met with a gynaecologist who delivered even more bad news. Not only was she in early menopause but she also had a 7cm cyst on her ovary which would need to be removed.
I was under the impression that once the cyst had been removed hopefully my hormone levels would return to normal.
Unfortunately this was not the case.”
Amber and Chris continued their journey to have children despite Amber going through early menopause. Amber started to take the ovary-boosting drug Clomid for six months but she never ovulated.
The couple then turned to IVF. However, after several failed cycles, they were told that both of Amber’s ovaries were not working.
She was now just 26.
Amber’s younger sister, Taylor Spears, watched on the sidelines as her sister received the heartbreaking news. Every trip to the doctors was like another blow and the sisters, who are incredibly close, went through the devastation together.
Taylor tells Mum Central,
Amber and Chris had been going through IVF for such a long time. It really was one thing after another, and every time a new strategy was put into place, we thought, ‘Okay this is going to work’.
And then when it didnt, we just went to the next thing.
When the time came that the next thing was egg donation, there wasn’t any doubt about me donating. Amber doesn’t remember asking me and I don’t remember offering. This was just naturally going to be the next step.
I was determined to see my sister and Chris with a baby – they would be amazing parents and we needed this to happen.”
Taylor was just 24 when she started taking hormone injections in the morning and at night to stimulate her follicles.
As Taylor tells us,
At the time I didn’t have children so there was a risk that this operation could result in my own issues falling pregnant later in life.”
Amber went on the pill to make their cycles coincide, then started taking medication to make her lining thicker to house the embryo.
The first IVF attempt resulted in nine eggs, five embryos, two of which made it to the next round before one died. The one which was inserted didn’t work.
After we cried and dusted ourselves off from the failed attempt, we knew we needed to try again.”
Taylor amped up the intake of hormones and managed to get 13 eggs. However, during the process, she also became an emotional mess and developed ovarian hyperstimulation – syndrome which is an exaggerated response to excess hormones. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) causes the ovaries to swell and become painful.
Taylor had an overnight stay in hospital but was otherwise fine.
It was Easter time so to announce how many eggs got collected we invited Chris and Amber around to do a real-life Easter egg hunt. There were lots of happy tears.”
In April 2017, Taylor and Amber discovered that Amber was pregnant.
Amber was finally going to be a mum, thanks to her sister (and best Auntie-to-be ever!).
I showed her the tests and she burst out crying, it was the best feeling in the world.”
A week later, Amber started bleeding and feared she would lose her baby. However, at the hospital she discovered that not only was bub fine but that there was more than one on the way.
Amber gave birth to her miracle twins, Archie and Annalise in November 2017. Taylor was beside her sister for every single stage of pregnancy, labour and beyond.
My whole journey was worth every minute now I finally have my baby girl and baby boy in my arms,” she says. “It’s been a long road but it’s worth it.”
More baby joy
Four years later and Amber’s twins are now two very active cheeky monkeys. Amber is also an aunt now – to Taylor’s two-year-old son, Bobby. Luckily Taylor and her fiance Wiliam had no troubles conceiving their son.
Bobby, Archie and Annalise are as close as cousins can possibly be. The twins also understand how lucky and special they are to have such a wonderful auntie who helped bring them here.
The adorable Annalise tells us,
I was in Aunty Taylor’s belly and daddy mixed it with the magic and we went into mummy’s belly.”
Amber says they will continue to be open and honest about the process of egg donation as they get older. You can follow their story on Instagram.
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