It's been a busy year for Gwen. A little more than a year ago, she was recovering from surgery, and hoping someday to start a family. Now, she is the proud mother of twin baby boys.
Two years ago, Gwen realized that while her job as director of constituent communications at a local college was rewarding, she wanted more in her life: she wanted a family. She'd been dating, but hadn't found her soul mate.
"When I got to 39, I thought: 'I want to have kids, so I'm going to do it on my own.' I thought I should see about my fertility, so I went to the fertility clinic," said Gwen.
The verdict? Things looked good, except for the fibroids. Uterine fibroids - benign (noncancerous) growths - are very common, occurring in roughly 40 percent of women. They grow either underneath the uterine lining, inside the uterine wall or outside the uterus. Most fibroids are small and insignificant. They can cause problems if they are large enough to interfere with or prevent pregnancy, as was the case with Gwen. Fibroids are often asymptomatic, although for Gwen, the diagnosis helped explain the long, heavy periods she'd been having.
According to PAMF OB Howard Salvay, M.D., Gwen's fibroids all together weighed half a pound, and were the size of a baby's head. In this case, the fibroids were large enough to interfere with pregnancy, so to get pregnant, Gwen would need surgery.
Previously, the only surgical option for removing fibroids was through "open" abdominal surgery called a myomectomy, a major operation requiring up to six weeks for recovery. A myomectomy can cause extensive scarring, as it involves cutting through the abdominal muscles and into the uterus. If the scar tissue lay inside the uterus, it too could interfere with pregnancy.
Because her surgery was done robotically using a da Vinci Si robot surgery system, which allows for precise, high-definition 3D magnification, the scarring was minimal both inside and outside. While the recovery time for open abdominal surgery is six weeks, Gwen's recovery time was two to three weeks.
In the middle of all this, Gwen met her soul mate, Brian. With everything Gwen was going through, it would be understandable if he wanted to bow out, but that wasn't the case.
"I wasn't expecting anything, since we'd just met. But he said he really wanted to be a dad again (he has a daughter from another marriage). He said let's give it a try," said Gwen.
As luck would have it, they were successful and four months after her surgery, she was pregnant, and seemed to be getting very big very fast. Then she found out she had twins.
"At the first ultrasound, Dr. Salvay said, 'it's a miracle, you just had a myomectomy four months ago, you're 40 and you're pregnant.' Then he said I had twins. I nearly fainted," said Gwen.
Twin boys Mason and Gavin were born 37 1/2 weeks after that, each weighing six and a half pounds. With two baby boys and a wedding to plan, Gwen's life is full.
"It's all happened very fast. It's been amazing," she said.