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Couple blessed with three little bundles of joy


03/25/2000



By ERIC D. SNIDER

The Daily Herald

PROVO -- Dane and Lorena Seeley were told they probably wouldn't be able to have children.

Now, all at once, they have three, one of which will carry on the family name.

Thanks to an anonymous donor of money, in vitro fertilization and some luck and prayers, Andrew, Elena and Cassandra Seeley were born within minutes of each other at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center on Feb. 15.

They were three months premature, though, each weighing in at around 2 pounds, and have been on respirators and in incubators ever since. Lorena said doctors are optimistic about all three babies coming home by May 10 -- their original due date.

It's the latest in a series of miracles in the lives of Dane and Lorena, who were married in June 1997 and soon after moved to Provo so Dane could attend BYU, where he's studying humanities and history teaching.

After trying for a year, the Seeleys were disappointed no pregnancy had resulted. They went to their family doctor, Dr. Steven Berry, who tested Dane first.

"People usually assume it's the woman," Dane said. "But the doctor said about 40 percent of the time, it's the man."

The doctor's instincts were right: "I have an abysmally low sperm count," Dane said with good humor. "The way the doctor explained it was, 'You don't have very many soldiers, and the ones you do have aren't marching.' "

Dane said he felt bad about it at first, but Lorena was supportive.

"She always felt like it was OUR problem, not mine," he said. "One of the big things for me was to realize that I didn't make this happen, so I shouldn't feel guilty about it."

The couple was prepared to adopt a child, but checked into the possibility of in vitro fertilization. This costs $10,000 per try though -- "much more than we'll ever have," Lorena said -- and the Seeleys were ready to give up on the idea until they learned of an anonymous couple who wished to donate money to be used for that purpose.

Thirteen mature eggs were acquired from Lorena, of which 12 were fertilized -- a much better percentage than usual, Lorena said. Seven of them were frozen for possible later use, while three were put back into Lorena for further development.

"They gave us a 50 percent chance that we'd really get pregnant," Lorena said, "and a 5 percent chance that all three would go."

Well, all three "went." Within a few weeks, Lorena was showing the signs of pregnancy, and tests showed all three fertilized eggs were indeed turning into real, live babies.

The pregnancy was rough, with several false starts. "At 20 weeks, I had a stitch put in my cervix to keep it shut," Lorena said. On Feb. 14, they went to the hospital again, where Lorena assumed she'd be put on medication and bed rest. "But I broke the medication and went into active labor," she said.

"They pulled Andrew out first," she said. "When he started crying, Dane and I both started crying."

Now, all three babies are doing well. Dane goes to school "sometimes" ("I have a lot of understanding and forgiving professors," he said), and Lorena spends a lot of time at the hospital with her babies.

Andrew ("the mellow one," Lorena said) is off his respirator. Elena ("very feisty; she likes to have things her way") has weak cartilage around her trachea but is improving, and Cassandra ("very sweet, but she can also be feisty") has some bacteria in her tubes, resulting in a kind of pneumonia.

But all three are gaining weight and slowly making progress, and the Seeleys are optimistic, buying car seats and strollers and letting the grandparents spoil the little miracle babies.

"Going from thinking we'd never have children to having three was huge," Dane said.

Lorena said, "It's definitely been worth it. It's not easy, having them in the hospital. I still have my days where I go home crying. But then I'll go home, cry, and say, 'I want to go see the babies now.' "

Anyone interested in monitoring the progress of the Seeley babies can visit www.angelfire.com/ut/seeley, where Dane posts daily status reports.

Eric D. Snider can be reached at 344-2543, or at eric@ericdsnider.com.



This Story appeared in The Daily Herald on Saturday, March 25, 2000 12:00:00 AM
and was printed on page C1
Last Updated Saturday, March 25, 2000 2:01:29 AM