Mom to Faith Elizabeth

August 14, 2009 – August 17, 2009

St. Peters, MO

Just after New Year’s, 2009, my husband and I learned we were expecting our first baby.  A bit surprised by just how quickly I’d gotten pregnant, I quickly became the pregnant person that everyone envied – never sick a day of the pregnancy. Other than exhausted during my first trimester, I enjoyed being pregnant and so along we went. We painted a nursery and with the help of my dearest friend in the world, Sarah, began planning a baby shower. The 20-week ultrasound came and we had decided not to find out if the baby was a boy or a girl. The doctor did tell us that they found something on the scan that was abnormal. Called a choroid plexus cyst, they occur in about 1% of pregnancies – of those, 99% turn out to be nothing and occur in otherwise normal pregnancies. When that little blip came up, the doctor recommended that we do the bloodwork we’d previously not done because, according to the doctor, we were as low risk as could be and those first trimester screenings are notorious for false positives.  Okay, bloodwork done – and all came back normal as could be. No increased risk of anything. At a level 2 ultrasound, the doctor declared, “Everything looks good. You have a greater risk of a complication from an amnio than you do that there is something wrong with this baby.” Whew – sigh of relief breathed. “We’re going to watch you on ultrasound – just in case.”

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Mom to Violet Evelyn Ochoa

Stillborn at 36 weeks on August 12th, 2011

Honolulu, Hawaii

I suppose I’ll start from the very beginning.  I found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve.  I wasn’t trying to conceive, I have always been told I have PCOS, and I would have problems with fertility.  I was shocked and scared, but I fell in love with my baby from the second I saw those 2 pink lines.  I was 27 years old when I discovered I was pregnant, and I have always wanted children.  I have 2 sisters, and they both have kids.  My fiance, Felipe, was also quite shocked!  Once it set in, we were both very excited but also very scared to be parents for the first time.   [Read more…]


Mom to Eleanor, Lost August 1, 2007 at 6 weeks

William, Lost August 4, 2009 at 7.5 weeks

Amie, Lost May 25, 2010 at 6.5 weeks

Michael, Lost December 10 2010 at 9.5 weeks

and Sunny, Lost May 31, 2011 at 4 weeks

Kalamazoo, MI


I always knew I wanted children, but I didn’t seriously think about it until I got married to my high school sweetheart in June 2006, at age 20. Then suddenly it was like a lightbulb went on and I knew that I just wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I knew it was best for me to finish college first, but it was a big struggle for me to have to wait awhile to try to have a baby. By early 2007 we had stopped using any contraception, and in June 2007 I found out that I was pregnant. [Read more…]


Mom to Carter Jay

March 27th, 2009 – May 30th, 2010

I always knew that I wanted to be a mommy, and when I was younger I would dream about what my life would be like. For some reason, I always had my heart set on having three beautiful children. That seemed like the perfect number to me. [Read more…]


Mother to Angel
Born into Summerland on March 4th, 2011
San Antonio, Texas

My fiancé and had been living together for three months and hadn’t even told our parents about our engagement yet when my period was late. Not late. Absent. I was on birth control, so I thought it was no big deal, that I was just overreacting. Finally, after a week of waiting for at least some spotting and none showing, I broke down and bought a pregnancy test. I got a three pack of electronic tests – the ones that clearly state “pregnant” or “not pregnant” after peeing on them. The first one I did in a McDonald’s bathroom. I was so nervous that I peed on it too much (I didn’t even know it was possible) and it came out with an error. The second one, I did in an Arby’s bathroom the next day. It said “pregnant” but I didn’t believe it so I used the last one and the results matched. At 20 years old, I was pregnant with an unplanned child.

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Mom to Rory Mae, July 27, 2010
Seattle, WA
My husband and I had known we’d wanted kids, many kids if we could have them. Almost three months to the day before our wedding, I discovered I was pregnant. Shock turned to fear which quickly turned to joy and excitement, anticipation, thrill. As time passed we planned, budgeted, announced to a handful of friends and family that I was expecting. We’d planned a natural birth and I was being watched over by a midwife, independent from a hospital. I didn’t have many pregnancy symptoms and I was thankful for it.
At exactly 12 weeks, just four days before the wedding, I trekked over to see the midwife, and I was especially excited because we were going to look for the heartbeat of my little baby that day. As soon as I sat down in the waiting area, a feeling of dread washed over me. Usually optimistic about the pregnancy and the baby, I was suddenly overcome with the feeling that something was amiss. We sat in the room and chatted about how I was feeling, my weight, my diet and finally we laid me down to look for the heartbeat. My midwife had a lot of trouble finding anything, and attributed it to the baby being behind my public bone but she ordered me to go over to the affiliated hospital to have a viability scan done.
The feeling of awfulness grew, and I only wanted my husband there with me. I knew what was about to happen couldn’t have been good. My sonographer was extremely quiet, barely muttering anything to me. I was relieved to see a heartbeat on the screen but I could tell by her lack of chatter something was wrong. She called in a supervisor to help her measure the baby’s organs and thrust a printout at me before going to get the doctor.

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Mom to a baby boy miscarried at 9 weeks in October 2009
and Bethany Sara born sleeping August 8th, 2010
Minneapolis, MN
I miscarried my first baby in October 2009 at 9 weeks. The baby had stopped growing at 7 weeks, but I didn’t start having miscarriage symptoms until 9 weeks. I had to have a D & C procedure to have the baby removed. It turned out to be a baby boy who had a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 15.

We started trying to get pregnant again about 6 months later in April 2010 and were successful right away. Our baby was due on January 3rd, 2011. The pregnancy was going well. I had a couple of ultrasounds early, due to my first pregnancy loss. The baby’s heartbeat was nice and strong each and every time. She was growing nicely.

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Mommy to Madelyn Rebecca
Lived for 1.5 hours on August 28th, 2009
St. Louis, MO
Our family’s story began on May 8, 2004, the day Nathan and I promised to love and cherish each other for the rest of our lives.  As I made my vows to him, I hadn’t the faintest idea how our lives would change just over five years later through the birth of our daughter, Madelyn.  In fact, neither of us envisioned ourselves as the “having babies” type.  Our plan was to work hard, retire early, and enjoy the extra money we wouldn’t be spending on things like daycare, diapers, and college funds.
A few years into our marriage, I began to reconsider my stance against having children.  Some of our friends started having babies, and I wanted that sweetness in my own life.  Nathan was still no where near ready to even consider the idea of children, but he did let me get a cat.  I enjoyed the new, furry member of our family, but she did little to squelch the desire that had sprouted in my heart for a child. 

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Mother to Gracie
Stillborn on August 1st, 2009
Montgomery, PA

My husband and I got married in July of 2008. We had been together for 14 years already, so we knew that we wanted to more or less start our family right away. We got pregnant at the end of November 2008, which thrilled us both. I went into pregnancy with a pre-existing diagnosis of chronic hypertension. It had been well controlled by medication for several years, and I had gone through the process of switching over to something pregnancy safe before the wedding. It’s funny the reactions that that pre-existing condition elicits from health care providers, though. From day one of my pregnancy, everyone expected that I would be pre-eclamptic by the end of the pregnancy…that expectation was always there.
With the exception of the first trimester screen, the first 7 months of the pregnancy were uneventful. The first trimester screen came back with an elevated risk (1:47) for Down Syndrome. Right away, the OB wanted to do an amniocentesis. After giving it some thought, we declined. We knew that a diagnosis of Down Syndrome was not going to be cause for us to terminate the pregnancy, and we figured that if there were major problems present, they would be identified without an amnio, at which point we could decide on appropriate medical testing, monitoring and/or intervention. There were never any soft or hard markers for Down Syndrome identified during the remainder of our pregnancy. 

During my 32 week appointment my blood pressure was a little bit elevated. The mid-wife sent me over to L&D for a few hours of monitoring and an ultrasound. Everything looked good with the ultrasound – Gracie was measuring in the 30th percentile for her gestational age. I left with instructions to increase my BP medication and follow-up with one of the docs in the office first thing Monday morning. The follow-up was uneventful – continue at the increased med dosage and start non-stress-tests and biophysical profiles.
At 32.5 weeks I was seen in my primary care office (but not by my regular doctor) for some fluid buildup in my ear that happened to start the same day I went to L&D. The doc said I had a middle ear infection and gave me Amoxil. Two days later I started with a GI bug and had an on/off fever and pretty bad diarrhea for 3 days. At 33 weeks, after speaking to my PCP, I went to the E.R. on Saturday morning for some I.V. fluids (to combat the diarrhea) and also get my ear re-checked, since my hearing on that side had become substantially impaired and the pressure/pain was getting worse. Long story short, it was an entertaining trip to the E.R. Everyone except my PCP wanted to make the diarrhea about the Amoxil, but I have never had that reaction to Amoxil. In the end, I got confirmation that I did not have an infection, the antibiotic was D/C, and I got some I.V. fluid. After the GI bug passed, I had a good couple of days. 
At 33.5 weeks I woke up in the middle of the night with terrible upper belly and back pain. It was some of the worst pain I had ever experienced. Another long story short, after two nights of pain and a subsequent work day of pain, I called the OB office. It turns out that I was having an acute gall bladder attack. I felt pretty dumb for not recognizing that…but because everyone had wanted to make every ailment about pre-eclampsia, I had done the same thing in my head and convinced myself that it was my liver. Once again we headed to L&D. Spent a few hours there, had an ultrasound of the gall bladder (sludge and gravel found), discussed things with the midwife and opted for an IM injection of Morphine so I could go home. Felt FABULOUS over the next two days – better than I had felt in a few weeks.
34 weeks was our first NST and BPP ultrasound. The NST turned out to be a rather drawn-out adventure. Because Miss Gracie was such a sound daytime sleeper, she didn’t do much during the NST, and as a result, she did not demonstrate the elevations in heart rate that they wanted to see. Everything looked GREAT in the ultrasound – scoring an 8/8 for that part of the BPP. Gracie’s size, in terms of growth percentile, was not measured during this BPP. I noticed when they weighed me at the beginning of the appointment that I had lost a few pounds since my 32 week appointment. The next ultrasound would be in two weeks unless there were problems. We had another NST at 34.5 weeks. It took Gracie about 90 minutes to decide to cooperate and move around enough show the desired heart rate elevations. Aside from her stubbornness, all was well.
35 weeks brought another NST; again, non-reactive results, so the midwife really wanted another ultrasound. All looked well with the ultrasound – scored 8/8 again on the ultrasound portion of the BPP. Talked to the midwife (not the one we normally saw) about my continued weight loss – I had lost 7 pounds since our 32 week appointment. Gracie’s growth estimates had also gone from the 30th percentile to the 19th percentile in that same period of time. The midwife said that some of the weight loss could be a result of getting rid of some of the excess fluid that I had been carrying in my arms and legs for a few weeks. She went over my fundal height measurements, which were all right on, and reminded us that some people grow 6 pound babies and some grow 10 pound babies. She reminded us that the measurements on the US were just estimates, +/- about a pound, and that it was certainly possible that she was larger than the 19th percentile. I suggested that it was also possible that she was smaller than the 19th percentile, and she said we would see how things measured up in the ultrasound scheduled for our 36 week appointment, but there was no concern about growth restriction until we got near the 10th percentile. 
35.5 weeks brought another non-reactive NST. We saw a doc that day that we had not met previously, who said that although the NST itself wasn’t concerning, it was considered to be non-reactive and it was desirable to follow-up with an ultrasound. The hubby and I both had time constraints that afternoon because of work, and neither of us felt that doing an ultrasound was necessary since we had just had one a few days before and we were scheduled for another in 3 days – and the data collected in each ultrasound is considered to be valid and reliable for 7 days. We declined the ultrasound and headed back to work.
At 36 weeks we were scheduled for another ultrasound and NST. I woke up that morning with the immediate realization that I had slept all night (with one very brief exception) and almost felt refreshed. This really hadn’t happened in the preceding 12 weeks. I immediately panicked a tiny bit, but then thought that perhaps she was starting to get her days and nights straightened out. I got a shower and went to the office to see my only patient of the day at 9:00. I had planned to use the remainder of the morning for paperwork and then head off to our 12:15 appointment for ultrasound, NST and midwife follow-up. By 10:00 I still had felt no movement, and I was also unable to find Gracie’s heartbeat with my stethoscope. At that point I headed home with the stethoscope for my hubby to listen. He listened for about 20 minutes, and as each minute passed, the fear of every expectant parent started to become my reality. 

We went a little early for our ultrasound appointment and I told the ultrasound tech what was going on – his response was pretty upbeat, and to the effect of ‘well, let’s see what we find.’ In complete silence he put the ultrasound transducer on my belly and went right to Gracie’s rib cage, and I had the answer that I knew was coming. There was no flicker within the rib cage – no heartbeat. Still in complete silence, he took a few still pictures, asked me again when I had last felt her move. Then he excused himself and got a doctor, who came in to officially tell us that Gracie’s heart was no longer beating. The doc (whom we had met 3 days earlier) gave us the option of inducing labor that afternoon or returning the next day for induction. 

Labor was induced around 3:00 that afternoon and Gracie was born at 2:29 on the morning of August 1, 2009. She weighed 4 lb, 3 oz and was 17” long. She was buried next to my grandmother, after whom she was named, on August 5, 2009. 
We have just completed the first year without her. So much has transpired and come to light in that year, yet time has simultaneously seemed to stand still. I now believe that the brief exception that I had to sleeping through the night before our last scheduled US and NST was directly connected to Gracie’s death. I sat upright out of a sound sleep around 0130 that night with gall bladder pain. Much to my surprise, the pain lasted literally only a minute or two and then I went right back to sleep. I am now certain that it was not gall bladder pain, but the moment Gracie died. In the months following her death we learned that, because of dropped communication between departments in the hospital, the chromosomal analysis was never done on my placenta; as a result, we will never know with 100% certainty whether or not she had Down Syndrome, but the medical consensus at this point is that she very likely did have Down Syndrome. We have been told that my placenta was about half the size it should have been, which can be common with chromosomal abnormalities, and there was also a higher than normal amount of infarct in the placental tissue. The small placenta caused IUGR, which was virtually undetected (and undetectable using the most common indicators) until we questioned the backslide in her growth at 35 weeks. Her death came at 36 weeks, 1 day…at which she was in the 7th percentile for overall growth…well below the 19th percentile where she had been estimated one week earlier.

I sometimes amazes me that, even with all the extra monitoring because of my pre-existing hypertension, our pregnancy ended without bringing our first born home.

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