Saturday, August 27, 2016

Amanda's Story

My husband, Joseph, and I were married at 22, so we waited over 5 years to get pregnant with our first child. I got pregnant right away and had no complications during the pregnancy or delivery. Our baby boy Elijah joined our family on earth July 29, 2012. We were thrilled! Of course! Elijah grew and grew, and when he was 2, we considered trying to have another. However, we had just moved to a new city on his first birthday, so we were still getting established. I just plain didn't feel ready to have another baby. Another year passed, and then I felt ready.

After trying to get pregnant for 2 months, I got a positive pregnancy test. I called my new OB office to set up my first appointment. Joseph, Elijah, and myself all went to the first appointment on a late Friday afternoon. The doctor asked me questions, checked all the usual things, and even did an ultrasound, right there! This wasn't the procedure at our previous OB, so we were surprised but excited to see a tiny baby with a heart beat. She gave us some pictures and we went home.

The following evening, however, I lost some fresh blood. I was concerned, but it stopped. The next morning, a very rainy Sunday, I lost more fresh blood, so I called the OB office. I was able to get in touch with my doctor directly, and she offered to meet us at the office for an ultrasound again. She confirmed that the baby still had a heart beat and gave us another picture. She tried to assure us that many women experience bleeding in the first trimester and everything turns out okay. So we went to church.

Elijah was already dressed in a shirt that said "Cool Big Bro" as we had planned to announce to our little church that I was pregnant. We went ahead with the plan. Joseph also was ordained as a deacon at a special service that afternoon, and we were prayed over. I continued bleeding off and on through Monday, and still Tuesday morning, so I called the OB office again. My doctor told me to come in for another look. She saw the baby floating on the screen but she didn't see it's heart beat. This ultrasound machine is a small one that's wheeled around the office, so she has not seen a heart beat before when there was one. I went back to the waiting room until the ultrasound technician could fit me in.

Finally, after what seemed days, I was called back. The baby was found, but had no heart beat, to everyone's surprise. I cried. I could hardly stop. I dressed and went to talk with my doctor in a private room with big comfy chairs. She didn't say more than "sorry" and told me my options. I called back to schedule a D & C which was completed the following afternoon. On November 17, 2015, our baby Taylor lost the fight for life in this world and went to spend eternity with Jesus.

The holidays were difficult. I put on a fake smile through it. Singing about baby Jesus and his virgin mother for a month was a bit agonizing. I had little motivation beyond eating and sleeping. I had been doing preschool at home with Elijah, but could barely think about it. I sent out nothing for Christmas. I lost it one Thursday in December after Aubin had lost Liam, we received our gargantuan hospital bill, and I attended MOPs on the day I would have announced my pregnancy. I cried and cried. I probably ate a bunch of chocolate and drank coffee; those are my comfort foods.

My period returned just three weeks after losing our baby--very fast! My doctor said that after one period we could choose to try again. Trying to fill the hole of my empty heart, we tried, and I was pregnant again just after the new year. I went for my first appointment and found the baby was about seven weeks old with a strong heart beat. For the next five weeks, things proceeded as expected. I had my usual symptoms and started growing.

On a Monday morning in March I started bleeding though. A few weeks prior to this, we had decided to proceed with maternity care through a midwife. I called her and she came by. She couldn't find a heart beat and assured me that sometimes that happens even into the second trimester. She ordered an ultrasound though. I went to the hospital for it because they could fit me in that day, but they wouldn't be able to tell me anything directly. I spoke with my midwife late that afternoon, and she told me they didn't find a baby but wanted to talk to me that evening after she got home.

When we talked, she pointed out that the report said there was an empty sac, however, I had obviously not physically lost a baby yet. I went back to my OB office. They had recently gotten a significant upgrade to their wheel-around ultrasound machine, so my doctor found the baby immediately. No heart beat. And measuring at around seven weeks old, so the baby must have died soon after my first visit with her. I scheduled a D & C for 6am the following morning.

How could this be happening again? How could the baby have died five weeks ago and I still felt pregnant the whole time? Why?! Why?! My sister-in-law was with me when I learned this news because Joseph was at work. She read Psalm 13 to me, and it accurately depicted my feelings. I was grateful that many centuries ago, even King David knew how I felt. I was not alone.

I went grocery shopping and ran some other errands that day with my sister-in-law because I knew I would be sore and unable to do as much after my surgery. I was feeling twinges of pain though, and somehow knew that I wouldn't make it to the surgery. At 11, I woke up and ran to the bathroom. I lost some large blood clots. At midnight things picked up again with regular contractions, though not as intense as those I had during childbirth before. My husband was awake and by my side through most of it. Around 5am on March 17, 2016, I physically lost our baby Aryn. I was happy it was over. I showered and we went to bed.

Soon after this, I purchased a book called Hannah's Hope. It helped me handle all the emotions I was feeling and be able to express them better to Joseph. I also started researching why I would have multiple miscarriages. One other woman who writes on Espresso and Cream wrote about her experience of sustaining a pregnancy after multiple miscarriages that validated some of my findings. I decided on four things I could do:
  • I could have MTHFR, which means I don't process folic acid well and should stick to folate. Folic acid is the the synthetic form of folate anyway, so folate is actually better for everyone, but especially those with MTHFR. I found prenatal vitamins with folate instead, so I knew I would start taking one of those the month we wanted to get pregnant.  
  • I had my progesterone level tested through a simple blood test to see if it was low. A low progesterone count can lead to multiple miscarriages because plenty of it is needed to help sustain the baby through the first trimester until the placenta is well-established. My progesterone level was slightly low, so I started using progesterone cream.
  • I may have a minor blood clot issue, which can be helped with ibuprofen, so I began taking children's ibuprofen. 
  • I decided that I wouldn't have any ultrasounds performed because both our babies died just after having one. There are some links that research has made between ultrasounds and early miscarriage. Google it to find the latest information. Instead, I will have weekly blood tests to monitor my HcG level, which is the hormone produced in mass amounts during pregnancy. 
After losing the second baby, we knew we needed to wait longer to try again. We needed more time to process, research, and heal. Now, we wait. As more of our personal story unfolds, I will update this post.

On a Monday morning after some divine appointments over the weekend, God hit me with the idea to start this non-profit ministry. By Wednesday, we had a name and people who wanted to help us get started through cash donations and donations for the gifts. On August 24, 2016, this beautiful ministry was born from our terrible losses.

Continue reading my story here:

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