In 2001, not long after marrying my husband, I was pregnant with our first baby together, Raime. My blood pressure was super high the whole pregnancy, and had me nervous. At our 20 week ultrasound, she measured a bit small, and they couldn’t get a good view of her heart because of her size and positioning. They had me come back two weeks later for a follow-up just to confirm she was growing and see if they could get a better scan of her heart.
But that’s what happened. The baby wasn’t measuring any bigger, and my blood pressure was astronomical. They were shocked I wasn’t seizing or stroking out. I spent a week on so many meds, in an attempt to bring it under control, but it only got worse. My liver and kidneys were shutting down, and I was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome. We had to induce. Raime was stillborn at 23 weeks, weighing only 10 ounces- she should have been over a pound by then. She fought until the end, her heart only stopping as I pushed her out.
After my pregnancy with Raime was over, I remained on blood pressure medication. I went through a massive number of tests, and it was determined I developed a blood clotting issue while pregnant called antiphospholipid disorder. My body treated the pregnancy like a virus, and tried to fight it off. I saw a specialist who believed that I’d do better and the issues would start later, therefor giving the baby a chance- if I went on blood thinning medications during my next pregnancy.
When I was given the go ahead to try again, we did. I was monitored very closely by the same doctors that oversaw my previous pregnancy, so they knew my history. I took Lovenox, a daily injection, as well as baby aspirin to thin my blood. Using this treatment plan, I went on to have two successful pregnancies in 2002 and 2004.
I figured at this point, I was cured- or had a least found the right treatment- of my pregnancy issues. I felt that what happened with Raime was a fluke, and surely would never happen again. I didn’t even think losing another baby was in the realm of possibilities when we decided to have one last child.
From the beginning, my pregnancy with Elora was different from my successful pregnancies because I wasn’t seeing a perinatologist. In fact, the doctors at the Naval Hospital didn’t even have me assigned to an OB- just a family practice doctor. He decided after some testing that I didn’t need the Lovenox, and felt that I would have been fine with the girls without it as well.
At my 24 week appointment my blood pressure was up. The doctor didn’t even double check it, just attributed it to white coat syndrome. I was feeling off, but he wasn’t taking my concerns seriously. The next day, I drove myself to Labor & Delivery and talked to the OB on call about my symptoms. I was immediately admitted, IV started, and then transported to the hospital an hour away that had a NICU.
When I arrived there, I was seen by the perinatologist, who was livid I wasn’t on Lovenox. He felt that not taking any blood thinners during pregnancy was what sent me spiraling towards HELLP again. After a week in the hospital, it was decided that I’d deliver. The blood flow to the baby was inadequate, and if it got any worse, she’d die.
Elora was born via emergency c-section and despite the fact she was smaller than she should have been, she was a fighter. Through several surgeries and for almost 9 weeks, she defied the odds and we grew attached. I really thought she was going to survive, that she would come home with us. Unfortunately, she picked up a blood infection in the NICU that she just couldn’t fight off, and we had to let her go.
Elora was supposed to be our last, but with her gone, we just felt like our family wasn’t complete. The perinatologist thought her early arrival and therefore subsequent death could have been avoided if only I was on the same treatment plan as I had been for Lili and Mia. With that in mind, we decided to try one last time, under the care of a perinatologist.
My pregnancy with Connor was awesome. I felt fabulous. I was taking the Lovenox and baby aspirin again, and my blood pressure was under control. I was so confident that everything was going to work out this time- because we were doing the same things we did during my other successful pregnancies.
When I went in for my 24 week appointment, I was shocked to learn there was no heartbeat. Here I was, at viability, no signs of preeclampsia setting it, everything going so smoothly… only to be told it was over. At delivery, we learned that Connor had died of an umbilical cord anomaly- in fact, they were surprised he’d made it that long and that I hadn’t miscarried.
After losing Connor, I was done. Just done with babies, well trying to have them anyway. My family felt so incomplete, but I just couldn’t do it again. Usually I bounced right back and was ready to try again as soon as we got the okay, but I having lost Elora and Connor back to back like that was just too much. It was two years before I was ready to try again, and when we did we were rewarded with twins- who arrived early but healthy.