Five friends who struggled for years to conceive all fell pregnant in the same summer, with their babies being born within three months of each other.
Micki Berg, 34, Amie Thomas, 36, Kristin Matty, 31, Kristen Heller, 41 and Celeste Zazzali, 37 couldn’t conceive naturally and all turned to IVF to try to achieve their dreams of becoming mothers.
Having bonded during the fertility process, the friends were amazed to discover they had all fallen pregnant over the same summer.
The girlfriends met up every week during their pregnancies, attended each other’s baby showers and even shared updates during their labours.
And now that they are all parents, they plan on raising their little ones together, claiming the experience of finally becoming mums together has bonded them for life.
Amie, a school counsellor, from Middlesex, New Jersey, USA, is mum to Penelope, two.
“There were times where I felt: ‘will I ever be a mum?’” she explains.
Amie met Micki, Kristin, Kristen and Celeste at a support group run by the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ), the fertility clinic they all attended.
Doctors at RMANJ had told Amie that her best chance for a baby would be with IVF after a sample showed her husband Philip, 36, a teacher, had abnormally shaped sperm.
“It was really hard, I was really stressed,” she says recalling her journey to parenthood.
“It was hard even to talk to friends who weren’t going through fertility problems.
“As soon as I walked into the room, I thought: wow, these other women have gone through hard times.
“I was overwhelmed with emotion but also relief.”
Celeste, a music teacher, fro Martinsville, New Jersey, who is now mum of Annarose, two, agrees the support group offered a lifeline.
Her and her husband John, 39, also a music teacher, had been trying to conceive for three years when she first attended the group in October 2015.
Earlier that year she had suffered the agony of losing twins - Robin at seven weeks and Rosa at 30 weeks.
“Just being at the group helped,” she explains.
“As much as my friends wanted to support me, they often didn’t know what to say.
“It was nice to go somewhere where they understood why Mother’s Day made me sad.
“The difficulty of IVF is not just the needles, it’s the emotional side of things that is really difficult.
Celeste says the group started a Facebook messenger chat and soon were seeing each other all the time.
Micki, 34, mum of Colton, two, and Emma, three weeks, struggled to conceive after suffering from Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease which can make periods irregular. She was also diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve.
The part-time behavioural analyst for children with autism, from Somerset, New Jersey, said that the women’s positivity helped her remain hopeful when she doubted if she and husband, Lance, 31, a technology salesman, would ever become parents.
“I kept coming back month after month,” she recalled.
“Celeste, Kristen, Kristin and Amie were the most positive and supportive women in the group.
“We tried to help each other find the silver lining and buoyed each other’s spirits when things didn’t go according to plan.”
Kristin, a project manager at an accounting firm, from Denville, New Jersey, found herself at the group because her husband Greg Matty, 37, a sales rep for a meat company, had a low sperm count following radiation treatment for testicular cancer.
“Greg was a chef at the time and working late hours and I felt so helpless,” Kristin who is now mum to Leyla, two.
Despite feeling uneasy about attending the group at first, she said she felt instantly connected to the others.
“The group would end after one hour and we would stay and talk,” she says.
“We had so much to talk about.
“When you are going through infertility, it consumes your whole life.
“It is all you think about.
“We were all going through the same thing - that’s how our bond formed.”
Kristen, 45, mum to Adam, two, and Mason, two weeks, was going through IVF without a partner and appreciated the support of the other women.
“When I was turning 40 and I was single, I decided to pursue becoming a mother on my own and that was what brought me to RMANJ,” the teacher, from Bedminster, New Jersey, explains.
“Everyone was really accepting and I didn’t feel out of place at all.”
Though Kristen thought the odds of them all becoming mothers were not in their favour she was thrilled it worked out for the friends.
“My fear was that one of us wouldn’t become a mother,” she says.
“We just hoped and prayed that it would work for all of us and by some miracle it did.”
Celeste was the first to announce the happy news that she was pregnant in early June 2016.
“I told them the second I found out,” she says.
Three months later, Kristen discovered she was also pregnant and a fortnight later Amie, Kristin and Micki also found out they were expecting.
Despite the amazing news, Celeste admitted to feeling nervous when she realised that she and the other four women were pregnant together.
“I’ve heard that one in four pregnancies result in a loss and from a mathematic perspective, I was nervous,” she says.
“There were five of us in the group and I didn’t want anyone to be left out or deal with the devastation of a miscarriage.
“Each step of the way we celebrated with each other.
“We were crossing fingers and saying prayers, keeping each other occupied, we were really rooting for each other.”
After graduating from the fertility support group, the friends soon started taking prenatal yoga classes together, as well as sharing every detail of their pregnancy in their group chat.
And on February 1 2017, Celeste gave birth to little Annarose.
Kristen was next when her baby boy, Adam arrived on April 20.
The last three babies arrived within a week of each other when Kristin gave birth to Layla on May 18, Amie had Penelope on May 21 and Micki’s son Colton was born on May 25 2017.
“We were all updating each other as we were in labour,” Micki recalls.
“We were sharing pictures as soon as the baby was born and we were all on baby watch when we were due.”
Now that they are all parents, the group still see each other regularly and have no doubt that their children will grow up to be firm friends too.
“I can’t imagine that we will drift apart because all five of us have this connection,” Celeste explains.
“Our children are going to be celebrating milestones together and I see [us] sticking together for life.”
Commenting on the group’s supportive friendship, Dr Maria Costantini, reproductive endocrinologist and attending physician at RMANJ, says she’s not surprised the five women are still in constant contact.
“I think it is very understandable that they remained friends,” she says.
“Any individuals who survive traumatic experiences together are bonded.
“A diagnosis of infertility is traumatic in the sense that it throws your whole world upside down.
“You’ll never forget the pain you’ve gone through, and you’ll never forget how important those other women are.
“I think it makes complete sense that these women stayed friends.”