Infertility Struggles Brings Sisters Together - WCMH: News, Weather, and Sports for Columbus, Ohio

Infertility Struggles Brings Sisters Together

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LEWIS CENTER, Ohio -

Millions of women across the country face the same heartbreak of infertility. They yearn for a baby and struggle to get pregnant.

It's a pain 33-year old Annie Johnston knows well.

"I think every girl that wants to have a family just assumes that she's going to get pregnant…it was just heartbreaking for us and we just always had bad news to share," said Johnston who struggled with infertility for five years and had turned to reproductive specialists for help.

Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the United States, which is about 12 percent of women of childbearing age, or one in eight couples, according to the National Infertility Association.

Johnston and her husband Joby tried fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization twice. Still, after years of trying, the loving, young couple was childless. Annie hadn't even had one positive pregnancy test in all the years she had been trying to conceive.

"We always prayed that some day we would find out what God's plan was for us," said Johnston.

Annie didn't have the baby she had hoped for, but she did have an older sister to turn to who had watched Annie struggle through infertility.

"I was heartbreaking.  When they started having problems getting pregnant it was devastating to watch," said Chrissy Knott, Annie's older sister.

The two sisters are so close, that they live on the same street just a few houses away from each other in Lewis Center.

Chrissy, already having two children of her own, made a loving, self-less offer to her sister.

"I just want you to know that I'd be more than happy to carry if that would help you to have a family," said Chrissy.  She was offering to be a gestational carrier and running out of options, Annie took her up on that offer.

"On Valentine's Day, they retrieved eggs from me and fertilized them with my husband's sperm in a petri dish in a lab…very romantic," said Annie Johnston.

Doctors implanted embryos in Chrissy, and since Annie was on the same cycle, they decided to implant embryos in her too, just to give it one more try. 

The two sisters who had seen each other through so much in life, were both trying to get pregnant for Annie.

"We decided to put two embryos into Chrissy and two embryos into me," Annie said.

Four embryos, two sisters -- hoping for just one baby. Then, they got the call from the doctor.

"She started off by saying she had double great news and we just gasped," Annie said.

Both the women were pregnant.

At the first ultrasound for both women, Annie and Chrissy heard heartbeats of hope. First, there was one heartbeat. Then another. And another. And another.

Four heartbeats -- four babies -- in all.

"They found one in me and then they moved over and saw another little sac with another flickering heartbeat, and we knew that we still had Chrissy left to go," Annie said.

"Just like with Annie, in 30 seconds, we knew. First one heartbeat [and then a] second heartbeat," Chrissy said.

Dr. Jaina Lindauer said she's never had a case like Annie and Chrissy.

"It's such a special case," she said. "We're keeping a close eye on them, watching for pre-term labor, potentially a risk for bedrest, having to stop pre-term labor."

Now at 25 weeks and counting, Annie and Joby are waiting for their greatest gifts to arrive.

"My mom said, ‘Everyone was praying for you to have babies, so God said here's your babies!'" Annie said.

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