Crystal Christensen is one of more than 10,000 students at SUU who have a unique story that makes the T-Bird Nation special. With four failed attempts of starting a family, Crystal is en route to the children of her dreams.
Crystal grew up in Midvale, Utah where she excelled as a three-sport athlete, competing in volleyball, basketball and softball while also being an accomplished vocalist.
Upon her high school graduation in 2012, Crystal continued her education at Snow College.
This was where she met her future husband, Payton Christensen.
“I met my husband because he liked my roommate and wouldn’t stop coming over,” Crystal said. “It took me a long time to like him.”
After four months of dating and their return from serving LDS missions, Payton and Crystal were married in August of 2015.
Soon after, Crystal was accepted into the nursing program at SUU. However, before the couple moved to Cedar City, they decided to start a family of their own.
In 2016, Crystal received the much-anticipated news that she was pregnant. However, after suffering from appendicitis and a ruptured ovarian cyst, she started having pregnancy pains that included sharp pains in her lower right side and referred pain in her shoulder.
Crystal soon found out that she had an ectopic pregnancy, which meant the baby was growing in a fallopian tube rather than her uterus. She was informed she would not be able to have the baby.
She had emergency surgery where the baby was believed to have been removed. However, after two more weeks of more pain, it was discovered that not all of the tissue was removed and was starting to regenerate. Crystal was forced to undergo chemotherapy in order to kill the remaining tissue.
“I have never been so sick in my life,” Crystal said. “It was honestly one of the hardest things I have ever had to experience.”
Unfortunately, the chemotherapy was unsuccessful, and Crystal underwent surgery in which one of her fallopian tubes was completely removed.
Crystal slowly started healing from the surgery and a few months later found out that she was pregnant once again.
After having similar symptoms as her previous pregnancy, Crystal immediately went to her doctor’s office and received the news that she had another ectopic pregnancy.
The odds of Crystal having one ectopic pregnancy was one in 50. The chances of her experiencing a second, was just three in 1,000.
Crystal underwent yet another round of chemotherapy, but the pain was back a few weeks later. After visiting her doctor’s office and having an ultrasound, Crystal learned that her baby was growing and had a heartbeat, which required an emergency surgery that would remove her last fallopian tube and forever eliminate her dreams of having a natural pregnancy.
“At the age of 22, I had no way of ever getting pregnant naturally, which was kind of hard to swallow,” Crystal said. “I never felt like I lost babies, but I felt like I lost the opportunity. But I learned you just kind of keep going.”
Soon after, Crystal and Payton moved to Cedar City and Crystal began the nursing program where she tried to stay as busy as possible. But despite her busy school schedule, Crystal still had the dream of starting a family of her own.
Looking at their remaining options, Crystal and Payton decided they would try in vitro fertilization (IVF). This process would require Crystal to receive 20 shots in her back and hundreds more in her stomach over the first 10 months of her pregnancy.
“The shots are a hormone called progesterone that makes the body think it’s pregnant, until it figures out it is,” Crystal said.
After the first round of IVF came back negative, Crystal realized she needed a break.
“I decided to take a year off to focus on myself,” she said.
In the summer of 2018, Crystal believed it was time to attempt IVF one more time. After more pain and another 40 needles in her back, the results once again came back negative. Crystal and Payton did not give up hope.
“I’ve realized that you have to look for good things that happen, even when crappy things are going on,” Crystal said.
After yet another round of IVF and 40 more needles in June of 2018, Crystal and Payton received the news they had been dreaming of.
Crystal and Payton are now expecting twin girls, Ruby Rae and Kenna, who are expected to arrive in March of 2019.
Crystal is expected to graduate from the SUU nursing program December 2018.
“Going through this has helped me become a better nurse,” Crystal said. “I understand shots, pain, loss and disappointment, even if it’s in a different way. Even though these crappy things happened to me, so many good things have happened.”
Although Crystal has experienced pain and loss, she constantly held her head high and has overcome the odds, one needle at a time.
Story by: Easton Bowring
Photos by: Crystal Christensen