A mother has revealed how she gave birth to quadruplets after believing that a battle with bladder cancer had put an end to her dreams of having children.
Virginia Johnson, from Arizona, discovered she had tumour when she had a scan to examine an ectopic pregnancy in October 2013.
The 35-year-old, who had her right Fallopian tube removed as a teenager, was devastated when doctors revealed they would have to remove her left tube to stop the spread of the disease, fearing it would mean she would never become a mother.
But IVF proved successful and she gave birth to daughter Zoe, now three, in October 2014. Hoping to give their daughter a sibling, Virgina and her husband Victor, 45, had one final round of IVF last year – and fell pregnant with quadruplets.
Family: Parents Virginia and Victor Johnson with three-year-old daughter Zoey and quadruplets, Ava, Madelyn, Olivia and Victor, who were all born through IVF
Surprise: Identical girls Ava, Madelyn and Olivia, left, and baby Victor, were born this year
Big sister: Virginia and Victor wanted to give three-year-old Zoey a sibling – now she has four
The mother-of-five now keeps thousands of Instagram followers entertained with updates about her life with Zoe and eight-month-old 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 has suffered fertility issues since puberty and had her right ovary and Fallopian tube removed aged 13 due to complications with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
She and Victor, a car dealer, tried for years to conceive before falling pregnant. But they suffered further heartbreak when they discovered the pregnancy was ectopic and would have to be terminated.
Four times the fun: Baby Victor, right, with identical sisters Ava, Madelyn and Olivia
Expecting: Virginia and husband Victor while she was pregnant with the quadruplets
New additions: Victor takes three-year-old daughter Zoey to meet her siblings in hospital
It was only when doctors conducted a scan to monitor the pregnancy that the malignant tumour in Virgina’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 realise 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”.’
Hand full: Virginia and the quadruplets, pictured with Victor, stayed in hospital for six weeks
Tiny: One of the quadruplets reaches out to grab their mother’s hand in hospital
Doctors removed the tumour 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, now three.
After an ‘incredible’ year and a half of being parents, Virginia said she felt like she wanted to have another child.
Four of a kind: Little Victor with his three identical sisters look adorable in a newborn shoot
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.
‘It was such an emotional rollercoaster,’ Virginia said. ‘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 caesarian 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.’