A couple have welcomed a third child in a set of IVF triplets – and remarkably each child has been born two years apart.
Karen Marks, 35, and husband James, 37, from Taunton, had their first child, Cameron, four years ago, followed by their second child, Isabella, two years ago. and welcomed their most recent child, Gabriella, last month.
But amazingly, the three youngsters are considered triplets, because they were conceived on the same day – and at the same time – through IVF, from the same batch of embryos.
Karen Marks, 35, and husband James, 37, with their first child, Cameron (centre), born four years ago, followed by Isabella (left), two years ago. And now Gabriella (right), last month
Karen said: ‘Some people go through IVF and sadly don’t ever have a baby, but we’ve managed to have three, so we just feel so lucky.
‘Gabi was our last embryo, so she’s our last baby now. I knew I wasn’t done before Gabi, so I told my husband if it didn’t work, then we better get saving so we could have another one.
‘I feel complete now, I’m so happy. My heart is very full.’
When Karen gave birth to Cameron on September 1, 2018, the couple kept their viable embryos frozen so they could add to their family later on. Isabella was then born on September 15, 2020, and Gabriella was born on July 3, 2022.
The couple married in 2014, and soon began to fear they might never have a child of their own after Karen failed to get pregnant and was diagnosed with fertility issues. Here with their children Cameron (centre), Isabella (left) and Gabriella (right)
With three children under five they now have their hands full but feel like the luckiest couple in the world after their long journey to becoming parents.
The couple married in 2014, and soon began to fear they might never have a child of their own after Karen failed to get pregnant and was diagnosed with fertility issues.
Karen explained: ‘We tried for a year to conceive naturally and nothing happened, so we went to the GP and they ran some tests.
‘There’s no specific reason. I don’t ovulate regularly so that’s the main thing, but other than that, there’s no reason – we don’t have any conditions.
‘We had five embryos made up. We’ve lost two – I miscarried one in 2019, and then one in September last year, a month before we fell pregnant with Gabi.’
Karen was given funding for one round of IVF on the NHS in 2017 at the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine which proved successful and she finally gave birth to Cameron.
Little Cameron, when he was two, and his new-born sister Isabella, back in 2020. Now they have little Gabriella as their third sibling and triplet
The new parents now say they feel complete with their three children and will not try for a fourth child. Here Karen and James with their children Cameron (centre), Isabella (left) and Gabriella (right)
Throughout her IVF journey, Karen sadly miscarried twice – once in 2019 and a second time in 2021 – and feared losing baby Gabi after experiencing bleeding early on and then falling ill with Covid late last year.
Despite Karen losing half a stone during a difficult week of battling Covid, baby Gabi stayed strong and finally joined her family last month, weighing 7lbs 5.5oz.
HOW CAN YOU HAVE CHILDREN FROM THE SAME IVF CYCLE?
Siblings can be born from the same IVF cycle years apart using embryo freezing.
Following IVF, many woman have good-quality embryos left over after one has been implanted into their womb.
Rather than discarding these embryos, they can be frozen for future use.
This can help to preserve a woman’s fertility and is more effective than freezing your eggs.
The standard storage window for frozen embryos is ten years, however, women in ‘exceptional circumstances’ can store them for up to 55 years.
The average cost for storing them for a year is between £170 and £400.
When a woman wants to use her frozen embryos, they can be thawed and transferred into her womb.
This will only occur without fertility drugs if she is ovulating regularly.
If her periods are irregular, she may require medication to trigger a ‘false’ menstruation that prepares her uterus lining for an embryo.
Success rates for IVF using frozen embryos are on the rise and are now comparable to fresh embryo rates.
However, not all frozen embryos survive the process.
If the frozen embryos are never needed, they can be discarded, or donated to another woman, research or training.
After a long journey to motherhood, Karen said she never hesitates to tell people her children are IVF babies and hopes her experience will encourage others to try IVF if struggling to fall pregnant.
She added: ‘Infertility never leaves you. Pregnancy announcements can still be painful, especially when someone has seemingly conceived easily.
‘It’s a battle and a journey, and while part of me believes there’s a reason we had to go through it, we’ve met so many wonderful people along the way.
‘If you’ve exhausted all other options, then crack on and go for it. IVF is fine. Don’t put it off or avoid it. It’s the most likely fertility treatment to work, and it did for us.’
Karen had once dreamt of four children, but feels incredibly lucky to have had three children and believes her family is ‘complete’ following Gabi’s arrival.
Karen, who is a full-time mum while James works as a company director, said: ‘Gabi was our last embryo, so she’s our last baby now.
‘I would have loved to have four, but I’m older now as well and my last pregnancy was a difficult one, so I’m pretty set now.
‘Cameron and Isabella love her. They’re really cute, even fighting over who gets to hold her, it’s really sweet.
‘Cameron is the oldest so he’s doing great, but Isabella is missing her time with Mummy as I was at her beck and call before. There is a bit of mum guilt there, juggling equal time with each of my kids.
‘James always said we’d have three children – you get around a 60% success rate with IVF, so out of five embryos, he always thought we’d have three babies.
‘We’re so happy she’s here. It’s surreal, having three children after not thinking you’d have any, but we just feel so incredibly lucky.
‘I feel complete now, I’m so happy. It’s chaos, but we’re just so lucky. My heart is full.’