Thursday, April 25, 2013

Birth Story & Reflections: The final chapter

If you want to get caught up, you can read from the beginning here...
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the LORD! - Psalm 113:9

Well Max and Emma arrived, kicking and screaming and absolutely perfect on Wednesday, 10/20/2010. Max Austin was born first at 8:07am weighing 5 pounds and 6 ounces and about 18 inches long with an apgar score of 8 (no nicu needed). One minute later, Emma Ryan came into the world at 8:08, weighing 5 pounds and 15 ounces (almost 6 pounds!), 18 and a half inches long with an apgar score of 9 (no nicu needed). I just cried and cried, I was so happy when the nurses told us that they were perfectly healthy! I am so very thankful and blessed that everything went so well with them.
Emma on the left and Max on the right

Unfortunately, things didn't go so well with me after their delivery. After they were delivered, Jason went with them back to our recovery room while the doctors finished with me. Before he left, I remember telling him that something was wrong. I have neurocardiogenic syncope (I know right, I am one f-ed up mess y'all), and because of it, I would occasionally have sudden drops in blood pressure and pass out. I felt like I had a syncope episode coming on. It felt like all the blood in my body had dropped to my feet, almost like a whoosh, and I immediately began to feel faint and light headed. Something was wrong. I told the anesthesiologist that I didn't feel well and I started to feel a little nauseous. A few minutes later, Jason was being ushered out of the OR with our babies. As he was leaving, Dr. G met him in the hallway to fill him in on what was going on with me. Apparently, my placenta was attached pretty deeply to my uterus and was not wanting to detach. Because of this, I began to hemorrhage and was quickly losing a lot of blood. Shortly after telling the anesthesiologist that I wasn't feeling well, they gave me a sedative which all but knocked me out, I could still hear things going on around me, but I was out of it and couldn't speak. Despite the doctor's best efforts and using every trick he could think of, my uterus just would not contract, and I was losing too much blood. They had to make a decision to keep going and risk me bleeding out, or to remove my uterus. They had no choice, they had to stop the hemorrhaging. I had no concept of time while I was in there, but I do remember Dr. G and they other doctor talking about other woman who had this condition, and how a few of them had died. Yeah, this was their topic of conversation as I lay there on the operating table, having just given birth, and wondering if I was going to have the same fate as those other women. By the time they stapled me up, over an hour had passed and I had lost half my blood volume. They were on the fence about whether or not to give me a blood transfusion, but ultimately decided against it. Jason later told me that Dr. G had told him that they were going to do whatever they could to keep my uterus, but that he couldn't make any promises. He also told him that he was not allowed to come back in the OR, so I can only imagine what kind of roller coaster of emotions he was going through, sitting in a small room, all alone with our two, just minutes old, tiny babies. Not exactly the way we imagined this special day would go, or how we imagined meeting our little ones for the first time. Once everything was all finished, they took the sedative off and I was able to join Jason and our precious babies in the recovery room. 

In recovery, first time holding my little angels

Dr. G had sent my placenta and uterus off to the lab for testing and he called a few weeks later to let me know why all this had occurred... and apparently I had what they call placenta accrita - which means that the placenta attached itself too deeply to my uterus and there was nothing they could do but to remove it. My doctor went on to say that I did not fit the rule book for this condition as I never had any of the signs, like bleeding during my pregnancy, nor had  I ever had any uterine surgeries or previous c-section(s). So in light of this, I felt just that much more blessed that the Lord has given us these two beautiful, healthy, and perfect babies. I guess He really knows what He's doing after all, and He really does have a plan for us all, even if we can't see it or understand it.

I certainly had my moments in those first few days when I would get very sad and cry thinking about how I would never get to experience being pregnant again. I would never get to pay it forward and be a surrogate for a couple. I would never know what it would be like to be pregnant with just one baby. I would never know what it would be like to go into labor and have a natural vaginal birth. It may sound crazy, but that was something that I had dreamed of doing. I feel very fortunate that we decided to schedule a C-section, because had I not been in the operating room, I very well could have bled out and died. It's alot to deal with, especially after everything I/we had been through to get to this point. It also didn't help that I had the most wonderful pregnancy anyone could ever ask for - bedrest and all. I just really, really LOVED being pregnant. My advice to anyone out there that is pregnant, take the time to really experience your pregnancy and embrace it and take the time to acknowledge the awesome power God has given you to grow a life within yourself - you'll be so glad you did - and you never know what can happen or when it might be the last time you are given this awesome power and opportunity.  

So...since I had lost so much blood, I became anemic, which made my recovery quite a bit slower. I was finally able to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom and even take a 5 min shower (sitting down of course) on Friday (2 days later) and was allowed to eat solid foods again. This was a huge improvement. The day of their birth, I wasn't even able to sit completely upright in bed without fainting. It was kinda like this...

I'm gunna pass out. I'm passing out. Gone.

 After that, each day was a little easier and I was able to actually get out of bed, go to the bathroom, walk the hall and shower unassisted by Sunday morning. I was released on Sunday, and things went relatively well when we got home. The incision was still pretty sore, and my body was still adjusting to its recent lack of blood, but thankfully my mom was there to help us. Nursing was a little touch and go ,considering all that was stacked against me with the twins being early and being anemic, not to mention the post-partum hypothyroidism that I developed and didn't find out about until 6 months later. Yeah, that happened too. Yup, my luck is still alive and well! I was nursing the babies, pumping, and supplementing with formula. My hope was to be able to exclusively breastfeed, but with all that had happened, and a really low milk supply, it just wasn't meant to be. I stressed about it a lot for the first 4 months. I really beat myself up about it and felt like a huge failure. I had literally tried EVERYTHING you could possible imagine to try to increase my milk production, but at some point, I had to just give in and admit defeat. I continued to try to breastfeed occasionally, but it just wasn't meant to be and I had to just let go of that image and idea of how I thought things would be. It would be ok. I was giving my babies everything I could, and they would still be healthy, productive members of society with or without formula. I continued to pump for 8 months. I had a love/hate relationship with my pump, but eventually I just started to feel depressed (this was 6 months after birth, so it wasn't the baby blues, and later I found out that it was depression from post partum hypothyroidism) and I beat myself up a lot over the decision to stop pumping, but ultimately, I cut the pump strings and just let it go. There was a lot of guilt with that decision that I carried with for a long time. But over time, little by little, I started to feel better about it, and stopped giving myself such a hard time. I was doing the best I could. I know I wasn't perfect. No one is perfect. No one has it all figured out. No one tells you that you will sit in shower and cry because you think you're doing everything wrong. Ok maybe I'm the only one that does the whole shower thing. This is the time that your support system really needs to step up to bat. It's not enough to just bring a dinner and ask how things are going. You need to just KNOW, as a fellow mom, that things are NOT ok, no matter what face they are trying to save. You as a friend, need to reach out over and over and make sure that your new mom friends feel supported, and to just let them know how you struggled and how badly you screwed up (not really, but you know what I mean). You have these visions of what it will be like to be a mom, and then when you're in it, you look around and realize that while incredibly amazing and wonderful, it's not what you expected.

Not to my surprise, Jason was/is such an amazing, amazing man, husband and father - I honestly don't know what I did to get so lucky! Jason was especially amazing in those early days/weeks when it was difficult for me to get around. He would wake up with me, bring babies to me, change countless diapers (ALL of them actually for a while), and got peed on several times! Jason has never been a baby person. I literally had to force babies into his arms leading up to our own being born, and here he was, completely thrown into everything, and he handled it with such grace, never once complaining - in fact he seemed to take pride in his awesome diaper changing techniques and master swaddler title :) My heart just swells with all the love I have for our little miracles and for my best friend, husband, and father of our children.
Jason and Max (taken minutes after being born)

Jason and Emma

This verse is used often, but that doesn't make it any less powerful.
I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted me what I asked of Him. 1 Samuel 1:27
So about the hypothyroidism... So, I turned 30 about 3 months after the twins were born, and apparently my general physician's office likes to make their patients have yearly physicals starting at 30. So, I made my appointment and went in. They ran a battery of blood tests and I went back to talk with the doctor. The doctor asked how things were going, how I was feeling, etc. He asked if I felt tired a lot, and I was like, uh yeah, I have twins, did you not hear me JUST tell you that?! Then he asked if I was finding it difficult to lose my baby weight (I should note that I only gained 34 pounds during my pregnancy and it was almost ALL baby, a week after delivery I was only up 8 pounds from my pre-baby weight, however over the past 6 months I had slowly been gaining weight, which was kinda weird because I had never had any issues with weight before, but I also wasn't doing anything active and wasn't getting a whole lot of sleep, so I didn't think anything of it), so I told him yes, but that I also wasn't doing anything to get rid of it and that unfortunately, I was not one of those women who breastfeed and lose a ton of weight. He made some notes and moved on with more questions. He asked if I had experienced any feelings of depression. Now, I'll be honest, I almost lied and said no. I felt like it would reflect badly on me as a mother if I said yes, that I had been feeling sad. I mean what kind of mother would I be having gone through this whole journey to finally get a baby(s), and now I was sad?! There is such a stigma attached to people who are "depressed" and take anti-depressants, and I did NOT want to be categorized with those people. But, I told the truth and told him that yes, I had been feeling rather down of late, but that I attributed it to lack of sleep and additional life stressors (we were about to sell our house in order to move into a cheaper home so we could afford for me to stay home with the babies, and because of the housing crisis, we were finding out that we were slightly upside down on our house, partially because of the refi that we had done the year before, but alas this was our luck, never fails). By the end of the appointment, my doctor told me that he believed that I had a thyroid issue, and that it was likely the culprit for all of my issues (excessive tiredness, inability to lose weight, mild depression, etc). Sure enough, when my blood work came back, my thyroid levels were through the roof! Apparently, it is quite common for women to develop post pregnancy hypothyroidism, but it almost always goes away on its own. Ahh, but not me. Nope, I've got it for life ese (imagine me saying this in my most hardcore gangsta voice). So I had to make an appointment with another endocrinologist (this time not the reproductive kind). She got me hooked up with some thyroid meds (that I have to take for the rest of my life), and it took a little tweaking, but eventually we got the right dosage that I needed to level out my thyroid, and I slowly started to feel human again. The pounds started to come off, I started feeling less tired, happier (thank you Viibryd), more energetic, and just feeling more like myself again. It was amazing. I felt so stupid for not going in sooner! I was pretty pissed though that I didn't know about this when I was breastfeeding, and I often wonder how different things could have been if I would have had this taken care of in those early weeks/months. But there's no point in "what if's", life is what it is, and you don't get any do-overs. All you can do is live it the best you can.

So, what now? I'm not sure where we go from here. Lately, I have been feeling pretty sad. After the twins were born, I was so caught up in how blessed I was to have them both, and that they were healthy, and that I had survived their birth, that I didn't really process the loss of my uterus. Clearly, I knew what it meant... no more babies, and I was just thankful that God had given us not one, but two healthy babies, and they were all we needed. Well, fast forward 2 and a half years, and I can't shake this feeling that our family is not yet complete. I'll say it... I want another baby. We've got our 4 totcicles (IVF slang y'all) from our last round of IVF, but I struggle with wondering what God wants us to do. I do know that, short of winning the lotto, there's no way we can afford the $20-30,000 that a surrogate would cost. Our plan is to just continue to pray about it and hope that He will make it known to us which path we should follow in this next year, be it surrogacy, adoption, or nothing at all. All we can do is what we've always done, and give it all up to the Lord. Cast away all our worries, doubts, and anxieties and just trust in Him. Know that He always provides.

Now here are some pics of my cuties...

These were the onesies that we had bought our parents when we told them we were pregnant

first recorded smile

Easter Sunday 2011

Max 6 months old

One year pics

Max hugging his sissy

This was our Christmas card photo this past year (Max & Emma 2 years old)

So in reflection... I have to tell you, I am incredibly humbled by the response I have received over the last few days. I honestly didn't think anyone would read this, but my hope was that it would reach just one woman. Just one woman, who thought that she was alone in her struggle. Just one woman who felt like giving up. Just one woman who had given up hope and lost her faith in God. Please, what ever you do, don't feel sorry for me or pity me for anything that I have gone through, for everything that I have overcome in my life has lead me here, to this...
It was all for a purpose much greater than myself. My faith was tested over and over and over again, just as I'm sure it will be again. I have been humbled and broken but saved by the unfailing mercy and grace of God. Everything in my life has brought me closer to Christ, and for that I have been truly blessed. In church, they are always telling us to "spread the gospel" and to "share the good news" and "be disciples of Christ", and I have never felt comfortable with that. I have always felt unworthy or not "Christian" enough, and scared that someone might ask me a question about the bible and I would have no idea how to answer them. Truth be told, I totally have to cheat and look at the alphabetical order of the books of the bible on my iphone, and before watching The Bible series on tv, I couldn't have told you who half those people were or what they did - heck I still probably can't. But what I can do, is share my story of how God has worked in my life and how he continues to write my story. I don't know where my life will take me, but I know that I am never afraid because my God is always with me.
Thank you for letting me share my life and my story with you,


  1. I loved reading your story! I start stims today for my third IVF (1 fresh, 1 frozen) and this will be our last. You give me hope that we might get our miracle this time! We have 2 children already and we did not think we would end up here, but here we are. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This was/is a wonderful story - thank you so much for sharing!!

  3. Absolutely amazing. I loved reading this story. How blessed you are.

  4. Thank you for sharing! Congrats on your beautiful family! I have been trying to conceive #2 since my son was 3 yrs old with no luck. He will be 7 in Dec. It has been hard to deal with, but I know god has a plan for us all! If it is in his plan HE will bless me with #2! If not my son will be the only lil Miracle that I need.

  5. Wow girl! What a story. Your kids are just adorable!

  6. You are amazing, your faith during all that you went through is an inspiration! I'm so so so happy to see you have such a gorgeous and beautiful family, you certainly are blessed. I hope God has more in-store for you!!!

  7. So amazing! God is good all the time. I hope that you find peace and comfort in what He has in store for you over the next few years! Your kiddos are so cute!

  8. I saw the link to your blog for the first time today and was compelled to read your entire story. I too, struggled with infertility and was blessed with two children over the course of 13 years, with a divorce and remarriage in the middle. I am so glad God placed Jason in your life to share this amazing journey with you. Infertility can stress a marriage to it's breaking point. In the end, I have been blessed, not only with my two birth children (again with the doctor's help) but also with three step children and five adopted children - 10 in all!! I always wanted a big family and God chose to grow ours in a different way than I had planned. May God Bless you and your miracle family in a mighty way! I know he has great plans for all of you and sharing your journey is just the beginning!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing! Love your humor and writing style! I'm so glad to have found your blog. I have laughed and cried reading through your journey. I am 30 and preparing to go through our 1st round of IVF with DE for the same reasons as you. Unfortunately, I had no idea I had a problem until we started TTC. You have given me hope! Thank you for that blessing!