Courtney S Story

I had 3 chemical pregnancies before I got pregnant with my living daughter. My pregnancy with my daughter was fairly normal, until it wasn’t around 31 weeks. That was when I started experiencing high blood pressure and swelling. At 32 weeks, after catching my blood pressure at 140/90 at home, I was first hospitalized and diagnosed with preeclampsia. I received 2 rounds of steroid shots for my daughter’s lungs and my medical team experimented with different levels of medication to keep my blood pressure stabilized in goal to keep me pregnant as long as possible. I was released from the hospital and told to go on strict bed rest. I was able to hold on until 35+3 when it was decided that my pressures and labs were too poor and my daughter stopped growing. 

I was able to labor on my own for a few hours because I was already dilated to a 3-4 on my own. My doctor broke my water at the hospital and I got hooked up to magnesium, antibiotics and received an epidural. A few hours later the situation quickly turned into emergent since my pressures kept sky rocking and my daughter was experiencing decels. I had an emergency c-section to save both of our lives. 

My daughter spent 15 days in the NICU as a feeder and grower. I spent 6 of those days hospitalized myself because my health was so poor. I was able to recover physically fairly quickly, and was off all blood pressure medication by 8 weeks postpartum. 

Mentally and emotionally, however my husband and I really struggled. We felt very traumatized about all that occurred. It was scary, especially for this being our first introduction into parenthood. Our daughter was born small, (4 lb at birth) and struggled developmentally for the first 3 years of her life. She was behind on a lot of her skills. Through the help of our state’s Infant Toddler program, she was able to get the help she needed and is no longer considered “behind”. 

Around the time our daughter was about to turn 3, we came to a decision to have another child. It was something we debated ever since she was born if we wanted to roll the dice and try again. It took several months, and a few chemical pregnancies, before we got pregnant with our daughter and expected the same thing to happen again. 

Several months later, and no positive test, I was feeling a little frustrated because I was tracking ovulation and timing. Late September 2022, I noticed my LH was not going down after several days which was odd for me. I decided to stick a cheap pregnancy test into my pee and it was a blazing positive. I was ecstatic! I waited until my husband, Steven, came home from work to surprise him with a shirt that said, “Big Sister” for our daughter to wear. I was confused at the timing since I wasn’t due for a period for a few weeks since I experienced my period just the 1.5 weeks or so before. 

A few days later I experienced severe bleeding and cramping. It was very painful cramps and I cried knowing this was probably a miscarriage. It was short lived and only lasted a few hours, so I went to bed that night and planned to call my doctor in the morning. 

I was able to be seen the next morning by a midwife at my practice. She told me bleeding could be normal in early pregnancy and based on my periods timing seemed very odd. But, I did have a positive pregnancy test in their office which wouldn’t show positive until at least 3 weeks. She had me give blood work and scheduled me to give more in a few days to see how my HCG rose. After that bloodwork I was told my HCG rose, but not doubled like they like to see but it was enough that something should show up on ultrasound and had me come in for one. 

During the ultrasound, I noticed my uterus was empty but knew ahead of time they might not be able to see anything. The tech was spending a lot of time on one of my ovaries and taking pictures and then told me the midwife would talk to me about the results. I wasn’t sure what to think but was hoping for the best. The midwife then came in to talk to me and told me I had a large cyst on my ovary that appeared to be bleeding and they couldn’t find a pregnancy. She told me she believed it could be ectopic and wanted me to come in the next morning to talk to the Doctor about the next steps. She counseled me that if I started to bleed, felt pain in my shoulder/pelvis, felt dizzy or fainted I needed to go to the ER right away and say I might have an ectopic pregnancy. I left feeling so unsure and scared, knowing it was likely I was going to lose the baby. 

The next day when I saw my doctor, he told me that I had a “pregnancy of unknown location” because they can’t find it for sure on ultrasound but I for sure had a large cyst that was bleeding into my abdomen and needed to go into emergency surgery to drain it and most likely have a tube taken out since that is where majority of ectopic pregnancies are located. I was told my pregnancy was not viable. Which crushed me. 

I consented to surgery and Steven and I quickly drove over to the hospital as I called my parents (who lived in town and were watching our daughter) to tell them what was happening. The staff at the hospital quickly got me ready to go and took me to the OR. Everyone there was so kind and gentle and I was a hysterical mess. I ended up with a D&C, the cyst in my ovary drained and losing my tube. 

Recovery was fairly straight forward as far as physically. I was up and down mentally and emotionally. Just couldn’t believe it was happening to me and yet another emergency in pregnancy was happening to me. I got the clear to try again at my 6 week post op. Steven and I opted to not go on birth control and just see what happened. My doctor told me my chances of getting pregnant were just as high as those who had both tubes, but I was still scared it wouldn’t.  I didn’t want to wait whatever amount of time, try for a year and then find out I was infertile. 

2 cycles later, I was pregnant again. I was indifferent to it at first. Happy to have a positive and know I was not infertile, but scared it was going to happen again. I kept waiting to bleed, but it never happened. I held my breath until I made it to the first ultrasound. It was incredible to see the baby in my uterus. I knew once I got to the ultrasound, I would have started to bleed or had severe pain if it was another ectopic, but I was still scared it would be. 

I experienced the classic early pregnancy symptoms of all day sickness and food aversions. Slowly but surely I made it to the 12 week appointment and then the 16 week with no problems. At 16 weeks we had an elective gender ultrasound and learned our baby was a girl. 

At 21 weeks I had an anatomy scan and everything looked good but her size. She was on the smaller end of growth and because my daughter was IUGR, it was something they wanted to keep an eye on. So a few weeks later I had a follow up growth check and she ended up growing well. I have had a few scares, but for the most part this pregnancy has been fairly straight forward and much quieter than my last. It is hard on me emotionally and mentally with this being my pregnancy after my ectopic pregnancy loss and also such a traumatic first pregnancy. 

I am currently 32, almost 33 weeks and already making it further than my last as far as health wise. No high blood pressure, no swelling, etc. I have a lot of hope to make it full term and to my scheduled c-section. 

Courtney wears a blue dress and the rainbow skirt.

Courtney wears a blue dress and the rainbow skirt.  She holds her pregnant belly.

Courtney wears a blue dress and the rainbow skirt.

UPDATE: I had my daughter at 39+3 during a calm and scheduled c section. Everything was just so chill and calm. I saw her right when she was born. She struggled with the transition, and I’m glad I was told that many scheduled c section babies do, because I didn’t see her again I until I got to my postpartum room. My husband stayed with her when they were doing an oxygen treatment. She recovered quickly and my husband walked into the room with her and I got the “golden hour”. It felt so blissful and so wonderful. I felt I had “made it”. All my previous pregnancies have ended in a loss of some sort or a trauma. I had made it full term for the first time and everything was okay. She’s almost 4 months and it still feels very surreal. My heart has felt “healed” in so many ways. 

Courtney holds her newborn daughter on her chest and smiles.

Courtney holds her newborn daughter and kisses her on the head.

Courtney's newborn rainbow daughter is swaddled in a pink floral blanket.

Courtney's husband holds their newborn daughter who is wrapped in a pink floral blanket.

Photo taken by EllieBean Photography.

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