Thursday, November 22, 2007

Couple thankful for their family

Kelly Blackburn had given up on ever having a child.

I said, "I'm never going to do this again. It's too painful."

The former Kelly Hodges met Rob Blackburn at Tabb High School. He graduated in 1992, but they didn't start dating until Kelly graduated in 1994. They were married six years later.

Both always knew they wanted a family.

"People always have discussions about whether to have kids or not," said Kelly, 31. "But with us it was never a discussion. We always knew we wanted kids."

So in 2002 they started trying to get pregnant.

A year passed. Then another.

When Blackburn went to her 10-year high school reunion in September 2004, many of her classmates were asking if they had children yet.

"We didn't," she said. "But I was excited. We were getting ready to start fertility treatments at the Jones Institute," a fertility clinic in Norfolk.

The following month she started a course of Clomid, a drug used to induce and regulate ovulation, the process in which an egg is released and ready to be fertilized.

"We got pregnant right away," Blackburn said. "We were elated."

It didn't last long: The following month she had a miscarriage.

They tried again, and in January Blackburn was pregnant again. This time with twins.

"I was shocked," she said. "And scared to death."

The first three months were difficult. Blackburn was exhausted and nauseous.

"I thought I was going to die," she said.

But the babies were healthy.

"Their heartbeats were normal," she said. "They were growing fine."

The couple began preparing for the additions to the family. Friends gave them a baby shower. The Blackburns set up a nursery with two cribs, and began attending classes for parents of multiples.

Then one evening, seven months into her pregnancy, Kelly Blackburn told her husband she didn't feel right and thought they should go to the hospital.

A nurse conducted a routine exam and wasn't able to find the babies' heartbeats with a heart monitor, so they brought in a midwife to do an ultrasound.

"We had seen so many ultrasounds," said Rob Blackburn, 33. "We knew what we were looking for. And we knew there was no heartbeat."

Ty D. and Austin C. Blackburn were stillborn on July 14, 2005.

"I was angry at God," Kelly Blackburn said. "I was angry at Rob, I was angry at all the people all around me. And then I said to myself, 'I may be angry, but I've got to get pregnant again.'"

They did, but that pregnancy also ended in a miscarriage.

In March 2006, the couple were planning on going to the Jones Institute again when Kelly Blackburn realized her period was late.

So her husband convinced her to take an at-home pregnancy test. It was positive.

After years of trying, they had conceived a child the natural way.

"We were happy, but we knew what we had been through — we weren't expecting a full-term birth," Kelly Blackburn said.

Dylan Chase Blackburn — named in honor of his deceased twin brothers — was born by C-section on Nov. 3, 2006.

His mother is due to give birth to his baby sister on March 16, also a natural pregnancy.

"She's coming into our lives for a reason," Kelly Blackburn said. "There are no words to describe how grateful I am for Rob, for my son, for this new baby. We've been through so much, and I am just so grateful."


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