Here, Amber, 27, tells the story in her own words.
W￼ith his paws squeezed into baby bootees and strapped into a doll’s pram, our cat Gizmo was in hell. But my little sister, Taylor, and I were having the time of our lives!
Just two years apart, Taylor and I were either the best of friends or at each other’s throats. Regardless, as kids we loved to dress up the poor puss and push him around like a baby. One thing was clear, even then, all I wanted to be was a mum. My fiancé Chris, 28, and I had been trying to start a family for a few months when a furnace-like heat began in my toes and crept up to the top of my head. Am I pregnant? I hoped, hyper-aware of any change in my body. But when I took a test, it came back negative. ‘Maybe you’re going through menopause,’ my doctor said, as we both burst out laughing. At 23, there was no way! ‘It’s probably just a virus,’ he smiled. Still, the hot flushes kept coming. I was racked with at least 20 a day.
Seeking a second opinion, it turned out my GP’s joke had been right.I was menopausal. ‘Can I still have babies?’ I asked as Chris gripped my hand. ‘It might be a bit difficult, but don’t worry, you’re young,’ the doctor reassured. Each day, I popped a pill to stimulate ovulation, but the medicine left me depressed. ‘If we can’t have kids, what’s the point?’ I cried, trying to push Chris away. He’d dreamt of being a young dad. Who was I to take that away from him? ‘I love you more than I want a baby,’ he told me. He wasn’t letting me go anywhere.
Coming off the meds after six months, I felt like myself again. For a year, I tried natural therapies like acupuncture and Chinese medicine to no avail, so we began IVF. After two failed rounds using my own eggs, a seven centimetre cyst was found on my left fallopian tube, which had to be removed. Now, neither of my ovaries worked and egg donation was my only chance. ‘I wouldn’t want anyone but your sister,’ Chris said.
No, no, no – that’s just weird, I thought, horrified at the idea. I don’t want my sister and my fiancé making a baby together! Besides, what would Taylor, 25, make of it all? Turns out, I didn’t even have to ask the question. ‘I’ll give you my eggs,’ my beloved sister exclaimed when I broached the subject. Do I even want that? I fretted. But thinking long and hard, it made perfect sense. If Taylor gave us this precious gift, the baby would still grow in my belly. Maybe we’d even look the same.
To go ahead, Taylor and her partner, Will, 27, had to have a counselling session, as did Chris and I. Heartbreakingly, the first round of IVF failed. ‘I’m never going to be a mum,’ I sobbed. After taking a three-month break to recoup I found new strength. I can do this! I decided. Just before Easter last year, Taylor’s eggs were collected. I had to work, but as soon as my shift was finished, Chris and I raced over to see her and Will. ‘How many do you reckon they got?’ Chris mused in the car. But they wouldn’t tell us! Instead, my cheeky sister and Will had hidden Easter eggs for us to find.Each one represented an ovum that the specialists had managed to harvest. For a frantic two minutes, I couldn’t find a single chocolate. But then I just kept unearthing them! ‘Are there more?’ I exclaimed when we got up to nine. ‘Yes!’ Taylor grinned. In total, there were 13 glittering Easter eggs. Four of Taylor’s ovum survived being created into embryos using Chris’ sperm. Two were implanted in me, while two were frozen.
Amazingly, nine days later I discovered I was pregnant. As a way of breaking the news to my sister, I wrapped up a positive pregnancy test. ‘It’s just a little thank you...’ I began casually. ‘You need to stop saying thank you,’ she replied. Then she spied the contents. ‘Really?’ she yelped, both of us crying happy tears. I already felt like the luckiest woman alive, then at my six-week scan I learned we were having twins! After all the heartache, Chris and I had been doubly rewarded.
Last November, our bubs, Archie James and Annalise Taylor, were delivered via emergency C-section. Four months on, Archie is a mama’s boy who adores cuddles, while his sister is a gorgeous giggler. Aunty Taylor loves hanging out with the twins and I’m in complete awe of my fabulous little sister. When Archie and Annalise are old enough, I’ll tell them just how wanted they were. ‘Mummy was broken and your aunty fixed her,’ I’ll explain. Forget chocolate – my bubs were the best Easter eggs I’ve ever received!