by Liz Meyer -
SGN Contributing Writer
At this point, Rep. Jamie Pedersen no longer courts voters; he (pro)creates them.
Just next month, the 43rd Legislative District Representative's family will literally double in size. Jamie and Eric Pedersen, along with their son, Trygve, will soon be joined by triplets. And if that weren't amazing enough, here's the clincher: all three of the babies are boys. Years down the road, the Pedersens, if they're so inclined, could actually field their own starting lineup against the Globetrotters.
However, for all of the story's sensationalism, the Pedersens insist that they just want to raise a normal family. That is, as tempting as it may be, do not call Jamie and Eric "Quadradads."
"Particularly in the wake of the whole 'Octomom' thing," says Jamie, "even though Eric and I both feel like this should be our business, and that it's not really everybody else's business, everyone will probably try to make it their business."
"The first reaction of a lot of people has been, 'Why did you put three eggs in the surrogate?'" he continues.
"No one in their right mind would plan on having triplets," says Eric.
Indeed, it's not exactly as though the Pedersens tried for triplets. However, after the experience that got them there, they're thrilled to have them on their way.
As they did with Trygve, the Pedersens began the process of having what they thought would be their second child via in vitro fertilization.
Says Eric of the first pregnancy, "We were so lucky."
Trygve was somewhat of a statistical improbability; after genetic testing, his egg donor produced just one healthy embryo out of the 22 original harvested eggs. Doctors told the Pedersens the embryo had less than a 10% chance of taking in the surrogate. Miraculously, it did. A couple of months after Trygve's relatively easy birth, they began planning for his sibling.
"After he was born, our ideal plan was to use the same egg donor, because Trygve is biologically mine, and to have Jamie fertilize the eggs the second time," says Eric. "So we went through the whole process with the same egg donor again, and ended up with three good embryos. When you implant two embryos, there's a 70% chance of success. So we put two embryos in, and neither one of them took. We went through the whole process again, the gestational surrogate had to go through a full menstrual cycle again, and then restart the medication, and then we thawed out the third embryo, and that didn't transfer, either. "
Jamie adds, "That was May of '08 when we'd placed the third embryo in. At that point, it'd been expensive and very emotionally draining, so we went back to the doctor and re-briefed."
A NEW APPROACH
At this point, the doctor recommended that the Pedersens try a different egg donor, a woman with whom he'd worked before. By the end of last summer, they went through the entire harvesting and genetic testing process, and were back to just one good embryo.
"The doctor placed it, and 10 days later we got the pregnancy results back, and it said we were pregnant," says Eric. "But what we didn't really understand at the time was that she was just barely over the hormone level that indicates pregnancy. They do a second test two days later, and the numbers should've doubled, but instead, it went down."
"So for two days, we were calling up family, saying, 'Mom, we're pregnant!' and then calling them back later to inform them, in fact, we weren't."
One more time, they went about the long process of getting a new egg donor and a contract. Jamie flew to San Diego to contribute his "genetic material" and meet the egg donor. They chose a very fertile donor: she had donated twice before, with both times resulting in twins.
She produced 18 eggs that were biopsied for genetic testing. After the numerous failed attempts to have another baby, Eric and Jamie hoped to see even one or two healthy embryos. Instead, 11 of them tested healthy. Of those 11 embryos, five survived the next developmental phase.
"We were on the speakerphone with the doctor," Jamie says, "and he told us he'd always recommended only placing one or two embryos. However, he knew how difficult the process had been for us, and recommended placing all three."
The odds that all three embryos would develop were less than 1%. However, transferring three embryos would increase the odds of having one baby by up to 80%.
The three embryos were transferred on December 20. Finally, after a torturous wait for doctors' offices closures for New Year's, the Pedersens found out the surrogate was pregnant on January 5. Early in the pregnancy, the couple thought they would be having twins. Then, during a second ultrasound, the doctor found a third heartbeat.
"When we made the decision to put three embryos in, Jamie and I had a very frank conversation about whether we could handle this financially, and if we had enough support from friends and family," says Eric. "We felt very strongly against selective reduction. Throughout this entire pregnancy, every baby has been about at the same developmental stage. It's not like we've had one of them in there that's struggling. They're all thriving, they all have healthy heartbeats. So even if we did want to make that decision [for selective reduction], we couldn't have."
"So we had that discussion about whether we'd be able to handle it all, and we can," he says. He pauses, then jokes, "Talk to us in 20 years, and maybe it'll be another story."
DUE DATE IN JULY
Thirty-two weeks is the average gestational period for triplets, which puts the Pedersen triplets' due date somewhere in mid to late July.
Now, with their births quickly approaching, Jamie reflects, "I won't speak for Eric, but I've just felt a lot of peace about it. I just sort of feel like there must be some reason why these three little souls are headed for our lives, against all of the odds, against all the transfers that should've taken that didn't. It just feels like there must be some reason. It's just going to be a joy to figure out who these little people are and what they're going to contribute to the world. We feel very fortunate."
The Pedersens briefly touch about the political significance of being Gay dads, of what it means to be in a state where hopeful parents (of any orientation) must find a surrogate who is simply willing to volunteer her time and body (paying a surrogate mother is illegal in Washington state). However, as we sit in their living room, playing with the dog, Luca, and watching Trygve wheel out his impressive collection of toy trucks, I see the Pedersens for what they really are: not public activists, not fame-hungry Quadradads, but as an ecstatic (if soon to be much larger) family.
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