Briana’s Story

In 2015, after being married a few years, my husband and I decided to try for our first baby. We had always thought when the time was right it’d be rather easy for us to get pregnant but after not trying for almost a year without any luck, I decided to seek out the help from a naturopath. My naturopath discovered I had a B12 deficiency that required B12 shots, and she also recommended we try ovulation strips. Within 2 months I was pregnant after over a year of trying.

The pregnancy was boring & without complications. At the time I was very hippy dippy and wanted a home birth. I went into labor one day before my due date and within 5 hours I was fully dilated and ready to push. Unfortunately, I pushed for 5 hours and my daughter got stuck so we drove to the hospital where I delivered her via c-section. Despite going to all my checkups with both my midwife and my surgeon at 8 weeks postpartum I started to hemorrhage and was admitted to the ER. Since it had been quite a while since my birth, they didn’t think it was related and I bled out in the ER. I was sure I was going to die and even told my husband to tell our daughter I loved her.

It took 2 blood transfusions to bring me back and a week of monitoring in the hospital with meds to stop the bleeding. At the end of a week, they sent me home without any meds and as soon as I got home, I started to hemorrhage again so I was rushed back to the ER where they did an emergency D&C. Weeks later, I would find out that I had a trifecta of issues: retained placenta, a blood infection, and AVM on the uterine wall. It was a 1 in 1 million chance all 3 of these things happening together.

For obvious reasons I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have another child and risk going through another traumatic experience but eventually 3 years later, we decided to try again. This time we started with the ovulation strips straight away but a year went by and I never became pregnant. A friend had recommended the Ava bracelet for tracking ovulation, so I got one and 2 months later I became pregnant.

The first ultrasound was the day before my daughter’s 4th birthday, and we were thrilled to surprise her with the news that she’d be a big sister soon. Despite everything going smoothly in the pregnancy I kept feeling like something wasn’t right or that we might lose the baby. I also had this strange symptom where I could never get warm. The midwife assured me every pregnancy is different and sometimes this can happen.

At 18 weeks after a particularly busy day, I had decided to go to bed early because I was just so exhausted. I woke up in the middle of the night to pee and there was just so much blood. I was hemorrhaging and having flashbacks to almost dying. We called the OB but before we heard back my body went into shock and I couldn’t stop shaking. I had spiked a massive fever and felt like I was ice cold. My husband immediately called an ambulance, and I was rushed to the ER. Meanwhile the whole time I could feel the baby moving so I knew she was still alive. After hours of poking and prodding they told me the baby was fine, but they would admit me to L&D because something didn’t look right with the uterus.

As soon as I was in L&D they told me the pregnancy was no longer viable. Yes, the baby was alive, but my waters had ruptured, my cervix was fully open, I had placenta previa, & I had an infection that threatened to kill us both. If I didn’t end the pregnancy, we’d both die. It’s been over a year since this happened, but it still feels like the most impossible decision any mother could ever make.

On April 18th, 2021, baby sister was born via a D&E procedure. Even after the procedure I didn’t feel right. I kept telling the nurse I feel like I’m going to die. For hours I told her this and she said I just needed to wait for the antibiotics to kick in, but they never did. I turned septic and 9 hours after saying goodbye to our baby they told me I needed to arrange for someone to come and stay with me at the hospital. They feared I wouldn’t make it through the night. These were covid times so the only visitor I had was my husband, but he was caring for our oldest daughter. I begged the charge nurse to let me make a change because otherwise I’d die alone. They agreed I could change the visitor to my dad. One hour before he arrived the biopsy came back, and they realized I was on the wrong antibiotics. After just one dose of the right antibiotics, I turned the corner and just knew I was going to make it.

By this point I was 38 and time was not on my side. My MFM insisted I start trying again with interventions as soon as my cycle returned because I didn’t have much time. The longest 9 weeks of my life but eventually my cycle returned. At the guidance of my new OB, I did 3 cycles naturally, then 2 rounds of clomid, then 3 rounds of letrozole, but nothing worked. It was Dec 2021 and the thought of having to go to a huge family Christmas and talk about our loss over and over just broke me. I told my husband let’s cancel Christmas and go to Hawaii. During this time, we continued to try but I started exploring the idea that perhaps my body wasn’t letting me get pregnant because I was still in a trauma loop & my cortisol was spiked.

I met a woman who specialized in cycle syncing and we came up with a plan to reduce my cortisol through diet and exercise. I had always been a big runner, but she told me to stop running. I was to do meditation, yoga, and walking only. At this same time my OB had given up on fertility meds and sent me for an HSG as a last resort to see if my tubes were blocked. They were not so she handed me over to the fertility clinic. We spend the next 3 months prepping for our first egg retrieval for IVF. On the anniversary of losing baby sister my period was late. I was so hopeful this could be our rainbow but a week later my period started. I felt defeated but we decided to try the last remaining cycle before my first egg retrieval. I was 3 days out from starting meds, the pharmacy was holding my prescription until I had a confirmed period. By some miracle we had conceived our rainbow baby naturally. This time my OB and MFM doctors worked side by side because this was essentially my last chance for a second baby. Baby sister’s loss was ruled to be complications from an incompetent cervix likely from the emergency D&C when I hemorrhaged after my living daughter.

At 12 weeks we did genetic testing, and I was cleared for a cerclage which was surgically installed at 13 weeks. One week after surgery they checked the stitch and some shortening had started to develop so they had me start on vaginal progesterone. At 25 weeks I insisted they measure my cervix one last time to see how well the progesterone dosage was working. By this point it had shortened even further and MFM said I’d be lucky to make it full term. I was told to monitor for symptoms of cerclage failure like spotting, contractions, or pain. Weeks went by and I made it to more and more appointments, growth ultrasounds, and eventually bi-weekly NST testing.

I kept saying if we could make it to Christmas which was 36 weeks I’d be overjoyed. Christmas came and went without issue, and I started wondering what if we make it to New Years. I had scheduled my c section for January 12th very well thinking I may not make it that far. I started spotting on the night of December 30th when I was getting ready for bed. The on-call OB told me to monitor for labor and if it started to come in.

I went to bed but not even 2 hours later labor had started. I call the hospital to arrange to come in and was told my hospital was on a divert protocol and I’d have to go to another hospital. My husband stayed home with our oldest daughter, and I drove myself to the hospital. Once there they hooked me up and confirmed I was in labor, and I was fully effaced. They told me at this gestation they wouldn’t stop labor and I should plan to have this baby within 24hrs. The doctor told me to go home and take some Tylenol and try to rest. Impossible as it sounds, I slept for a few hours and then woke up to contractions kicking up again. Instead of calling ahead to the hospital I just showed up because the nurse at the other hospital had told me they couldn’t deny care, it was a loophole. And sure enough I showed up and was immediately put into a room.

The divert protocol wasn’t happening because they were short on beds it was because they were short on staff. They decided to give me a saline drip thinking maybe I was just dehydrated but the contractions did not let up. Then they decided to remove the cerclage perhaps the cervix was irritated and that would help stop contractions. The team fully intended to try and stop labor to try and make it a few more weeks, I was 36+2 when I was admitted. After the cerclage was removed, they gave me 2 more hours to labor and then the plan was to check for dilation. If I was dilating quickly then we’d just move forward with the c section. In 2 hours, I was 5cm dilated so they agreed to move forward with the c section.

On December 31st at 4:55pm Baby Maya Hope joined us earthside. She had a short stint in the NICU but ultimately, we both made it out without complications. It felt like the biggest sign of relief after holding my breath for 8+ months.

Briana wears a white dress and the rainbow skirt, which is spread out on the steps in front of her.

Briana wears a white dress and the rainbow skirt.  She stonds on a dock with water and the word "love" in the background.

Briana wears a white dress and the rainbow skirt  A bridge is in the background.  She holds her pregnant belly.

Briana wears a white dress and the rainbow skirt.

Briana wears a white dress and the rainbow skirt.  The skirt is spread out on the ground on the steps.

Photos taken by Crystal Genes Photography.

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