Virginia Johnson, a 35 year old woman from Arizona, discovered she had a tumor when she had a scan to examine an ectopic pregnancy in October 2013. Virginia had had her right Fallopian tube removed as a teenager due to complications with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). , so she was absolutely devastated when doctors told her that they would have to remove her left tube as well to stop the spread of the disease, fearing it would mean she would never be able to have children. But IVF treatments proved successful and she gave birth to her now 3 year old daughter Zoe in October 2014. Hoping to give their daughter a sibling, Virginia and her husband Victor had one final round of IVF last year and fell pregnant with quadruplets.
The now mother of five keeps thousands of Instagram followers entertained with updates about her life with Zoe and her eight month old quadruplets, Ava, Madelyn, Olivia and Victor. She said, “I feel so lucky when I look at my children because I never thought this would happen to me. It hasn’t been your typical journey into parenthood, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Virginia and Victor tried for years to conceive before falling pregnant. But their joy was short lived as they discovered the pregnancy was ectopic and would have to be terminated. It was only when doctors conducted a scan to monitor the pregnancy that the malignant tumor in Virginia’s bladder was detected. If the pregnancy had not been ectopic, doctors believe the cancer would have most likely gone undetected and might have spread throughout her body.
Virginia said, “When doctors discovered the cancer I was so broken. After trying to have a baby for long, we were just so incredibly happy to have conceived naturally. And then boom: two weeks later it was all taken away from us. I was incredibly angry and severely depressed. It took me a long time to realize that the ectopic pregnancy happened for a reason. It was like my body saying: “Don’t worry, you are going to be a mum but not yet, your body isn’t ready, let’s beat this cancer first”.’
Virginia had the tumor removed and her remaining Fallopian tube in November 2013 to stop the cancer spreading, eliminating the couple’s remaining hope of conceiving naturally. But just a month later they started IVF, determined to start a family. Virginia revealed the swift dive into IVF was ‘a coping mechanism’ and a way to ‘numb the pain’ of the couple’s loss a month earlier. Shortly after they discovered it had been successful and a year later they welcomed daughter Zoey.
After an ‘incredible’ year and a half of being parents, Virginia said she felt like she wanted to have another child. Following an unsuccessful round of IVF, the parents discovered they were having twins. A week later they discovered one of the embryos had split in two and that they would have triplets. Two weeks after that, they were given the news that two babies were sharing one sac and she was actually carrying quadruplets – three identical girls and a boy.
Virginia said, “It was such an emotional rollercoaster. I went from being excited for twins, to being overwhelmed at the idea of triplets and then being completely gob smacked that I was pregnant with quadruplets. Straight away, my doctors warned me about the dangers of carrying quads and asked me to consider “selective reduction”, meaning to abort one or more of the babies. But that was never an option for me or my husband.”
Virginia carried her quadruplets to 32 weeks before a scheduled caesarean section, where all babies were delivered safely. Six weeks later, the family came home. She said, “It was incredibly chaotic bringing them home. You can’t imagine the crying and the running around for each baby and, of course, still taking care of Zoey. We hardly got any sleep and were awake every three hours for bottle feeds. It’s hard enough with one newborn but with quads it’s four times as demanding. But I also feel four times as blessed. We’re so lucky that we have such a good support system here and we do get a lot of help.”