Like every other couple that turns to in-vitro fertilization, Andrea and Mark Rivas struggled with infertility physically and emotionally. They had tried to get pregnant for two years to no avail, even suffering a heartbreaking miscarriage.
They eventually decided to give IVF a try—which led to their twins Conor and Avery.
It also led to a deep friendship with the Palmisanos, another couple undergoing IVF at the same clinic, who they connected with on Facebook in 2010.
The Rivas’s first IVF attempt had failed, leading to intense grief and heartbreak. They even went to see a counselor to help them cope, and the counselor suggested they connect with other couples going through the same thing.
It led to an inseparable bond between the Rivas and Palmisanos.
When they finally met in person, Sandi remembers thinking, “Oh there’s the other half of us. They understand us.”
Sandi Palmisano and Andrea remembered how they would have been happy with one baby each between the two of them—but that wasn’t what happened.
The Rivas had twins in 2012, and the Palmisanos were still trying.
Sandi and Philip Palmisano ended up going through four cycles of fertility treatments, and it failed each time. After the third failure, doctors had actually told her she should find a surrogate.
“I couldn’t process the finality of that,” Sandi told Daily Mail. “I thought there was no way another woman can carry my child.”
Then Andrea made a crazy suggestion.
What if she were to carry the Palmisano’s baby for them?
Andrea’s fertility treatments had taken—she was already carrying twins—and she wanted to extend this incredibly selfless offer.
“We’re two hormonal women in a car crying,” Sandi remembered. “During our friend’s baby shower, I’m thinking ‘Could this really happen?'”
The two families agreed, and Andrea successfully got pregnant again. It hadn’t been an easy decision to make, and even after they underwent the process, it was hard to believe it was happening.
But it didn’t go smoothly. A little under 3 months into the pregnancy, Andrea had a bloody miscarriage and was rushed to the hospital.
The scare caused both families to reconsider, and they decided they wouldn’t try again.
But not one day after the miscarriage, the Rivas changed their minds. They remembered how hard they persevered for the miracle twins, and it put the thought in their hearts that if they were relying on a surrogate to have a child for them, they wouldn’t want them to give up.
The Palmisanos couldn’t believe they were willing to try again. But this time, it was a success.
In July 2013, Andrea was expecting again.
But when it came time for the ultrasound, Sandi remembers it was not what any of them were expecting.
“I could see the two sacs—and then there were two heartbeats,” Sandi told Today through her tears.
Andrea was carrying twins for her.
“Every morning I get up and go to the nursery and they have smiles on their faces and it’s just like Christmas morning every morning,” Sandi said.
The two families were so close the two sets of twins were like cousins.
“Now we have four miracles between all of us,” Andrea said.
After that, the Rivas completely ceased fertility treatments. Andrea had had four babies, and they didn’t want to put her body through something like that again.
Their family was complete, and they couldn’t be happier. The Rivas had the thought that it might be nice to have just one baby the next time—if it happened at all—but it wasn’t a goal.
But then six months later, the craziest thing seemed to happen.
Andrea felt nauseated and ill, and she thought she had the flu at the time.
“Do you think you’re pregnant?” her husband Mark ventured.
“I’m like, “No, really? Do you remember everything we went through?”‘ Andrea told Daily Mail.
They took a pregnancy test just to make sure anyway, and the results were clear: Andrea was pregnant again.
It was only days later that they were hit with a second whammy; as unbelievable as it sounds, they found out that they were expecting not one, but two babies.
Andrea was carrying twins for the third time.
“Mark and I looked at each other, like, ‘What?'” Andrea said. “And we started laughing, thinking that she was joking.”
Though the Rivas were completely baffled, their doctor told them this was not a complete rarity, as sometimes after a pregnancy, the body finds a way to heal whatever was causing the infertility in the first place.
And this time, the delivery went much more smoothly than any of Andrea’s previous pregnancies.
“It’s nice to look back at everything we went through and see our family,” Andrea said.