Five friends who struggled for years to conceive all fall pregnant within weeks

Five friends who struggled to conceive for years all fell pregnant in the same summer.

Micki Berg, Amie Thomas, Kristin Matty, Kristen Heller and Celeste Zazzali have today told of their joy at realising their dreams of becoming mothers.

They met every week during their pregnancies, attended each other's baby showers and even shared updates during their labours.

Now they want to help other women struggling to conceive.

"We wanted to be at each other's baby showers, we wanted our bump pictures, we wanted to be there for each other. We would chat about our symptoms and ask for advice," Amie, 36, said.

"To be able to share those feelings with four women who completely understood was amazing."

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The school counsellor, who became mum to Penelope in May 2017, met her pals at a fertility clinic run by the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ).

Doctors there 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.

Amie added: "It was really hard, I was really stressed.

"People don't know the terms – like follicles and lining.

"It was hard even to talk to friends who weren't going through fertility problems.

"It is exhausting to explain it all.

"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."

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Celeste, a 37-year-old music teacher, of Martinsville, New Jersey, mum to Annarose, had been trying to have children with her husband John, 39, also a music teacher, for three years when she walked into 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.

Celeste said: "Just being at the group helped.

"The other people were understanding and knew what I was going through without me going into the whole backstory.

"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, the needles are not even the hard part, it's the emotional side of things that is really difficult.

"The other four ladies and I started a Facebook messenger chat and soon we were seeing each other all the time."

Micki, 34, mother to Colton and Emma, struggled to conceive after she was diagnosed with Graves' disease, an autoimmune disease which can make periods irregular, and was also diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve.

The part-time behavioral analyst for children with autism, of Somerset, New Jersey, said 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.

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"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.

"We spoke about the medical stuff and the emotional stuff, how difficult it was to see other women pregnant and the anxiety of celebrating holidays when your family isn't what you want it to be."

Kristin, a project manager at an accounting firm, of 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 after undergoing radiation treatment for testicular cancer.

The mum to Layla said: "Greg was a chef at the time and working late hours and I felt so helpless.

"I felt odd about going to the group at first because I knew most of the women were there because of reproductive issues.

"But even though I have working eggs, I couldn't have kids with my husband without the help of a doctor.

"I felt instantly connected.

"The group would end after one hour and we would stay and talk.

"We had so much to talk about.

"Quickly we all started meeting up outside of the group.

"We wanted to get together more often and we began grabbing dinner before the group.

"When you are going through infertility, it consumes your whole life.

"It is all you think about.

"You keep thinking about how you are going to have a kid, when you are going to have a kid, if you'll ever have a kid.

"We were all going through the same thing – that's how our bond formed."

Kristen, 45-year-old mom to Adam and Mason was going through IVF without a partner and appreciated the support of Kristin, Amie, Micki and Celeste.

The teacher, of Bedminster, New Jersey, said: "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.

"Everyone was really accepting and I didn't feel out of place at all.

"It was a different circumstance that brought me there.

"I didn't think the odds were in our favor that all five of us would have babies.

"My fear was that one of us wouldn't become a mother.

"We just hoped and prayed that it would work for all of us and by some miracle it did."

Celeste fell pregnant first – in June 2016.

Weeks later Kristen discovered she was also pregnant and a fortnight after that, Amie, Kristin and Micki also found out they were expecting.

Celeste admitted she was nervous when she realised she and the other four women were pregnant.

She said: "I've heard that one in four pregnancies result in a loss and from a mathematic perspective, I was nervous.

"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."

The women graduated from the group and soon started taking prenatal yoga classes together as well as sharing every detail of their pregnancy in their group chat.

Kristin said: "We graduated from the group and all we talked about was our pregnancy, we went to yoga together, we attended each other's baby showers, we spoke about our aches and pains."

Kristin, Kristen, Celeste and Amie even threw Micki a surprise baby shower in April 2017.

"I wasn't going to have a baby shower but the girls surprised me with one," Micki remembered.

"It was at Celeste's house.

"I thought we were just going to hang out and do some crafts but they threw a little shower for me.

"It was just the five of us."

In February 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.

Micki recalled: "We were all updating each other as we were in labour.

"We were sharing pictures as soon as the baby was born and we were all on baby watch when we were due.

"We got all the newborns together for a mommy and me class."

The group still see each other regularly and have no doubt that little Annarose, Adam, Layla, Penelope and Colton will grow up to be firm friends.

Dr Maria Costantini, reproductive endocrinologist and attending physician at RMANJ, added that she was not surprised the five women were still in constant contact.

She said: "I think it is very understandable that they remained friends.

"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.

"No woman expects to be there.

"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."

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