I am a Statistic
I am sure that everyone was expecting my next post to be about the birth of my second child, but I think it is important to highlight the children I almost had; my angel babies.
I, like many women, have suffered from pregnancy loss. It is actually more common than you think. I have personally experienced two miscarriages in my life. Each were their own life and loss.
My first miscarriage was in May of 2018. My husband and I had decided that we were ready to try for a second baby. This was actually the first baby we tried for. As I said before, Abigayle was not exactly expected, but was absolutely needed and loved and we couldn't wait to give her a sibling. We were surprised that it had happened so quickly. You hear the horror stories about secondary infertility and some couples having a hard time getting pregnant with their second. The timing was perfect. We were ready to have a winter baby. I remember having a summer pregnancy was MISERABLE at the end.
This pregnancy started off as normal as the first. I had all the classic symptoms at the right times, but around 6 weeks, I started to spot bright red blood. As many know, this can be absolutely normal and mean nothing, but the bleeding wouldn't stop. I was concerned enough to get an earlier appointment with my OB and go in.
At the doctor's office, I had an ultrasound. I was supposed to be about 7 weeks at the time. When they measured the little bean on the screen, it was measuring smaller than expected, but it had a strong heart beat. They further investigated the imaging and found that I had what is called a Sub Chorionic Hemorrhage (SCH). it is basically a blood clot on the uterine wall. This is what was causing the bleeding. SCH are actually very common and most times can resolve on their own without disturbing the pregnancy, but this was not the case for me.
The doctor sent me home with cautious hope. The SCH was larger than what she felt comfortable with and she was not confident the pregnancy would progress. I appreciated her honesty. In the end, it was her forewarning that helped me accept what happened next. It wasn't long before I was in the emergency room with period-like bleeding. My heart was in my stomach when the ultrasound was performed. I knew what the doctor was going to say. I knew that I was losing the baby, if I hadn't already, but knowing what was coming didn't stop me from crying when I got the news.
The baby passed away only days after that first ultrasound; maybe even that day. It measured just shy of 7 weeks and was the size of a blueberry. I know this because I was sent home to pass the fetus at home. It took about 3 days or so for my body to finally expel the baby. The photo taken above was actually the day it happened. I was at a pregnancy and maternity fair holding my first ever booth for Labor to Love, LLC. I sat on that birth ball for hours in intense pain while my baby passed. All the while, I was promoting my business and watching healthy pregnant women walking up and down the halls. It was so surreal.
After my first miscarriage, I was optimistic that I could conceive again quickly. Each month I was anxious to see those two pink lines. It took about four months to get pregnant again and we were ecstatic! What were the chances we would lose this one, too?
Apparently pretty high...
After having a positive pregnancy test for over a week, on exactly day one of week five, I started to bleed. Just like a period, it came slow then progressed throughout the day. I took another pregnancy test before heading to the hospital; negative. I had what is called a chemical pregnancy. It was there and gone so quickly that there wasn't even a fetus to pass.
This miscarriage threw me for a loop. I was now getting concerned. Was there something wrong with me? Why couldn't I carry a pregnancy all of the sudden? Did the IUD I had placed after Abigayle was born scar me? I was an emotional mess. I was scared to get pregnant again. I could not bear to lose another baby. I couldn't handle the grief. It was at that time I decided to stop trying. I stopped all temperature taking, stopped my prenatal vitamins, stopped tracing my cycle and stopped having timed sex. We just went about our lives as normal.
You wouldn't believe my shock when that very next month, I missed my period...
Abigayle's Birth Story
I find it fitting to start a blog with the story that started it all, the birth of my first child. Abigayle's birth was the inspiration for my career change. She made me a mother and completely changed my life!
Abigayle Dawn was born on July 17th, 2016 at 2:54pm weighing in at 6lbs 13oz and 19in long.
As a first time mom, I had no idea what to expect when it came to labor. Much like other new moms, I brushed off my early symptoms as "pregnancy pains". I was very lucky to have an uncomplicated pregnancy thus far, so a little pain at 40 weeks was not too concerning to me and definitely did not tip me off that labor was starting.
I went to bed the night of the 16th, my due date, defeated and tired wondering when labor would start and why my baby did not arrive when she was due. Back then, I had a little knowledge of the process being as I was a medical assistant working in an OBGYN at the time, but you never REALLY know until you experience it!
I woke up at 2am on the 17th to a strong cramp. It reminded me of the cramps I would get on my period, but MUCH stronger! It almost took my breath away. The next wave came about 20 minutes later and the pace continued. I was still doubtful this was labor and I remember waking my husband briefly to let him know I would be taking a bath. To this day, he still remembers this moment and what he was thinking, "Why is she telling me this?". He was blissfully unaware of the contractions or that I had been up the past two hours working through them alone.
I was in the bath around 4:30am when I called out to my husband that it was time to go to the hospital. Looking back, I vaguely remember how intense or close together the contractions were at the time, but I remember the feeling that this was indeed labor.
At the hospital, registration was a blur and triage felt like torture. Staying still through contractions for IVs and monitors was tough, but doable. I was only 4cm dilated, but clearly in labor. They admitted me right there and I asked for my epidural immediately. I know NOW that I should have tried waiting a little longer, but the fear of the contractions becoming more painful overwhelmed me and I was not prepared to endure that.
In labor and delivery, I received my epidural quickly and don't remember it being a very difficult procedure. I was able to get it done without having any contractions and felt the sweet, sweet relief soon after. The rest of my 13 hour labor was spent relaxing in bed, changing positions and sleeping between nurse visits and cervix checks. My poor husband, on the other hand, was on the edge of his seat every time a provider walked into the room. Every check was an optimistic, "It can be any time now." or "Things look like they could happen soon.". Of course, that was not the case, but he stayed awake the entire time as to not miss a minute of my delivery.
At around 6cm dilated, my labor stalled. I sat in every position I could to get her engaged, but she was not budging. This was when my provider suggested breaking my water and augmenting the process. I agreed without hesitation. I was in no pain or discomfort and baby was content, but I was anxious to meet her and thought this would hurry things along. It did not. It just got me to a nice 8cm, where I stalled yet again. This is when the next provider on shift suggested a small doce of Pitocin to kickstart my uterus. This worked! And I was fully dilated and effaced within a few hours.
Around 2:30pm, it was time to push. Thankfully, my epidural gave me just enough feeling that I could feel the pressure of the contractions. This helped immensely when it came to pushing. Feeling the wave start and pushing in sync with the pressure made the process go much quicker. After about 20 minutes of vomiting and pushing, Abigayle came into the world... covered in poop. Yup. She pooped on the way out covering herself and me in a nice layer of meconium. Otherwise, she was a perfect specimen of a baby in every way.
As my first pregnancy and delivery, I was extremely lucky. Although I did not go in with a long list of wishes and expectations (other than my baby be born safely), I was able to experience a relatively trauma free delivery and very happy with how it went. This was coming from an under-educated mother who did not know about the effects of an epidural and labor length or the potential risks of AROM. Learning that after becoming a doula changed the way I viewed this birth and how I would have done things differently. Thankfully, my pregnancy with Aubree gave me the opportunity to take everything I learned and advocate for a different experience, and that is exactly what I did...