Mom to 3 Angels
In June of 1999 I learned I was pregnant for the first time. Less than 2 years after getting married I was excited, nervous and anxious for the uncertainty that would come with having a baby. In the weeks ahead my husband and I grew increasingly more excited of the fact that our first child was on the way. We took a trip to the hospital for our first ultrasound so anxious to see the baby for the first time. I only anticipated excitement, however, after many minutes of the nurse poking and prodding to find a heartbeat she went to get the doctor and he returned to inform us that the baby didn't have a heartbeat. I was only 8 weeks pregnant and was so unaware and naive. I thought, maybe just maybe, my baby just was growing faster and their measurements were wrong. Or that perhaps it was too early to hear a heartbeat. Unfortunately our worst fear, a fear we didn't think was even a possibility, came true. A couple days later I went in for a D&C and we moved on with the hope that someday we'd be blessed with this child we longed for the entire year it took to conceive and in the weeks I was pregnant.
In March 2001 I learned I was pregnant for the second time just a few weeks prior to leaving for a school in the military. I feared telling anyone because the school was really tough to get into. I knew going there I'd be faced with a requirement to pass a physical training test that required a 2 mile run and timed push ups and sit ups and yes, I now had to do this pregnant. I spent the first two weeks of training away from my husband and under no medical care and waiting to pass my physical training test in order to stay in the school that was so important to my career. I was so relieved to pass the test, despite being pregnant and instantly that same day I shared the news with the instructors at school and began to set up an appointment to the doctor first thing Monday. Sunday night I began to cramp and bleed and felt so nervous. My friend and husband both told me to remain calm and that maybe it was just bleeding to implantation, something we had read about. I went to the doctor first thing the next morning very frightened and still bleeding. It seemed to be more than just "spotting" so I really became worried. The doctor did an ultrasound to confirm that at just 6 weeks I had again miscarried. I left the office in tears, alone, and unsure of what to expect. Later that day I began to bleed and cramp excessively and was so frightened. I returned to the emergency room to be monitored closely and recall feeling so incredibly alone and just praying for it to all end. As I spent the next month and a half alone in school away from my husband, family and friends I recall clinging to the only thing I had left to keep me going....hope.
Fast forward to March 2001 and my husband and I who were in the military were on the brink of huge decisions, which not only included our desires for a child but our decision to take the leap to leave the military for civilian life. It was a huge risk that held so much uncertainty. We agreed not to let this interfere with our hopes to have a child. Just days after we passed the "no turning back" date before our final discharge I learned I was pregnant again. Again, nerves and fear. All I could think of was my fears of miscarrying. It was during this pregnancy that I was monitored really closely and the doctor learned my progesterone levels were lower than normal so they were supplemented and we felt such immense relief to hear and see a heartbeat and to watch our little one grow. In November 2001 our daughter, Hope was born and though it never erased my fears, her presence in my life certainly helped ease all the pain we endured.
It took me a while to consider trying again, all I could think of was my fear of miscarrying. By the time Hope was two we agreed to try again and month after month we waited and waited. Years passed. Three whole years passed before we were blessed with the news that I was pregnant again. Again, huge fears filled my mind. The entire first half of our pregnancy was filled with the fear of loss along with first trimester complications. But by the time October 2007 rolled around we were once again blessed with an amazing little boy, Jaylen.
Just before my son turned two we began to think that perhaps we were past the "miscarriage" phase of our life and we agreed to try to conceive again before I got much older. Surprisingly it only took a few months and the test turned positive. I was still quite scared and nervous. I learned I was pregnant this 5th time very early in the pregnancy and so as they began to do due date confirmation ultrasounds nothing appeared on screen. And each subsequent visit a bit more would begin to appear, but nothing to ease our minds. And then finally when I was about 7 weeks along we could see the baby but once again, there was no heartbeat. I was heartbroken and devastated. It was deja vue. We elected to have a D&C with the hopes to move past the loss more quickly. A week and half after the surgery we learned that the discomforts and pain just weren't going away and I began to bleed more. I called the doctor the next day and they saw me immediately. After trying to take preventative measures they realized that there was still remaining tissue within me from the pregnancy that needed to be removed so I went through another D&C that same day. It seemed to all happen so fast and really seemed a little surreal. Just 3 days later I thought I was past the worst and was truly ready to get up and get back to normal. I returned to work for a brief time and while there I recall feeling a gush that was uncontrollable and walked as fast as I could to the bathroom and was frightened by the sight of blood. I was scared that I was bleeding to death - it seemed as though it would not stop for several minutes. Finally once it stopped I rushed home and we called the doctor and I was rushed to see them in their office immediately. I underwent another ultrasound and then an exam and the doctor could tell I still had remaining tissue within and wasn't sure how much. They looked at the ultrasound and began to fear there might have been a condition going on with my uterus. Thankfully months later it was ruled out, however, that same day I underwent another emergency D&C. And just a few days after that I was readmitted to the hospital in fears that I might have been going through an infection due to the multiple surgeries. It was one of the most surreal and stressful times in my life. My fear of loss quickly shifted to my fear for my own life, my health and just praying I would make it through everything well enough to spend time again with my two babies.
Of course that loss kept us hoping for that child we began to dream of. I am confident losses often help you realize just how much you truly want something. This July I learned I was pregnant for a sixth time. Again, fright. I made it past the first trimester and felt so relieved and thought...normally after the first 12 weeks things get easier. I am now reminded that nothing ever happens as planned or expected. Lab work from my 16 week ultrasound came back positive for the AFP hormone which indicated concerns that the baby might have a neural tube defect. The very next day I was seen at the hospital for an ultrasound and it was confirmed that the baby has the most severe form of spina bifida. We are still weighing the options and though we've heard about so many amazing people with spina bifida the more we learn of the type of spina bifida the baby has the scarier things are. We still are uncertain of our decisions that we must make this month but we realize it may best to terminate the pregnancy given the significant issues we've learned the baby has. We may still go to term, but even then, we've learned of many who have made it that far just to end up losing their babies in the first few days or weeks.
I am also a photographer with Now I lay me down to sleep (www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org) and took the first three miscarriages as a sign that I was meant to help others who have lost. I never once thought I'd be in the position I'm in now, where I may lose the baby in the weeks or months ahead. I am beginning to take it all as a sign that I may have been lead to do this work in order not just to help others but to prepare me for what we may potentially face in the weeks or months ahead. Yes, once again I am filled with fear and pray every day that no one ever had to endure a loss of a child as I have had to do three times. I think the thing that makes it harder now is that though miscarriages and sudden infant losses are tough, the decision to terminate is so much tougher and I never in my life thought I'd be faced with deciding whether or not I should suffer such a loss.
Amanda blogs at http://www.amandakern.com/blog