By Lucy Notarantonio
A woman who started menopause in her 30s has become a mum of identical triplets.
After eight months of inconsistent periods and trying to conceive naturally, Hollie Gambrel, then 32, was told she is premenopausal.
Hollie and her salesman husband David, 34, were determined to become parents – even if it meant using an anonymous egg donor.
The couple from Texas, US, praise their friends and family for coming together to help them fund the £21,500 [$30k] treatment.
In September 2019, the couple found out the fertilised egg had split into three – the odds of this happening was one in every 200 million.
Rory, Ryder, Rhett are now one year old and Hollie, who was a teacher, couldn’t be happier.
The stay-at-home mum said: “I’m speechless sometimes because I can’t believe I have three babies.
“I want others to know there is a way – it may not be the way you planned but it will always work out.
“I was heartbroken about not having my own but happy that my husband was able to have his own biological baby.”
The couple began saving every penny they earned to fund the costly IVF treatment.
Their generous friends and family donated over £10,000 [$15,000]
In May 2019, Hollie selected a donor who had similar characteristics to herself such as blonde hair and a keen runner.
She said: “ I felt so grateful picking a donor.
“It was amazing to know there was someone who would give their eggs so I can try and have my own family.
“We were able to see the profiles and photos of different women who were approved by the doctor’s office.
“I chose a woman who looked like me with blonde hair but she had blue eyes and I have brown.
“She was a similar height, athletic and a runner – like me.”
There were 29 eggs available but just one embryo was transferred on August 7 2019.
She adds: “On August 16, a blood test revealed I was pregnant.
“We were ecstatic as we had been waiting for this result for four years.
“But nothing could have prepared us for the news we received at the four-week scan.
“We turned bright red when they said ‘three babies’.
“I was in disbelief and I couldn’t stop laughing. I thought it was a joke.
“David was speechless.
“It took us a while to get our heads around but I was over the moon.”
Hollie was fortunate enough to work until 33 weeks before having a planned C-section one week later.
She adds: “Pregnancy was the best thing ever.
“I had no issues apart from a huge stomach.
“I gained 3st 5lbs [50lbs] but it was fine.
“The babies were taken into NICU but they were thriving.”
Hollie describes life with triplets as ‘crazy’.
The couple upsized their two-door jeep to a minivan ahead of their arrival.
She said: “There’s a lot of running up and down the stairs, bottles, nappies, kisses and cuddles.
“Rory and Rhett play with each other the most whereas Ryder is focussed on playing with a toy alone.
“We are so thankful for everyone who helped us on this journey.
it’s worth it. it just took three of us rather than one
“I am thankful for the donor and not fazed that the babies weren’t created with my eggs.
“All I have to do is look into their eyes and then I can see how much they love me – so it doesn’t bother me.
“As soon as they’re old enough to understand, they will know a stranger helped get them here.”