I found out I was pregnant with our first in early 2017. At our first ultrasound, the technician told us baby was measuring about two weeks behind; I had an irregular cycle, which they said made sense with what they were seeing. They moved my due date out 16 days, but the best part of the appointment was seeing the baby’s heartbeat.
We decided to do the Nuchal Translucency test a few weeks later so that baby would look more like a baby in the ultrasound pictures we planned to share with family. We never expected that the test would come back abnormal, but once it did we were greeted with the most amazing perinatal doctor who got us through a long and confusing 20 weeks.
During that time period, we received extra ultrasounds and testing and by the time it came to delivery we were told that our risk for chromosomal abnormality at birth had been reduced to almost nothing. Besides the stress of the unknown, the pregnancy was relatively easy with barely any symptoms. I went into labor on my own at 39+1 and my body was doing a good job of dilating on its own, but baby remained very high and wasn’t dropping. The doctor suggested trying a few pushes to see if we could coerce him into coming down, but after the first push his heart rate went crazy and she said he needed to get out NOW. A literal bell was rang and staff began rushing into the room to whisk me down the hall to the OR.
Our son, was born 6 minutes after the bell rang. He needed to be put on oxygen right away and we weren’t able to hold him until 8 hours later. Once things calmed down, we were told that my placenta had not developed fully and that the umbilical cord was too short, which was why he couldn’t get out. It’s still unclear why this happened, but we have to wonder if it was somehow related to our abnormal NT test. Luckily, we weren’t on oxygen for long and everything else showed we had a healthy baby boy and were able to go home only a day later than normal.
As you can imagine, the traumatic delivery had me questioning if I still wanted the big family I always dreamed of, or if we should just be happy with the one beautiful baby we had. In the end, we made the decision to try for a sibling. At our first ultrasound appointment, we were told that baby was measuring smaller than they thought, and my due date was pushed out 10 days. We felt like 10 was better than 16 and were again, very happy to have seen a heartbeat. I was blessed with a pretty symptom free pregnancy, and besides a couple extra blood tests for the placenta, we cruised through the first 35 weeks.
Throughout this time, my doctor and I had had many conversations about trying to deliver vaginally. Since my body had gone into labor on its own and I had been able to fully dilate, she felt confident that it would happen again, and that the short umbilical cord was highly unlikely to happen again. At my 36 week appointment they said baby was huge, breached, didn’t have room to turn, I must have had late stage gestational diabetes, and that I needed to prepare for another c-section. I was devastated. I had to start pricking my finger multiple times a day, continue my weekly belly checks, also come in for 2 non-stress tests per week, and they wanted to do weekly ultrasounds to keep an eye on baby. Luckily baby wasn’t interested in all of these extra appointments, and he came on his own at 37+3 days. I was able to have a successful VBAC to a “huge” 6lbs 15oz baby.
These two little boys gave us so much joy that we again questioned “should we stop now” – but as one of four, my husband one of three, we just felt like we weren’t finished yet. We fell pregnant for a third time, and I could not stop throwing up. The first two pregnancies had felt so similar, but this one was different, so we immediately thought it must be a girl! The first ultrasound felt like going through the motions – we had done this twice before, we knew what to expect, we knew what to ask, it was just crossing an item off the to do list. As the tech started, she asked probing questions about my cycle and I immediately knew baby must be measuring smaller. I didn’t worry until the doctor came in and explained that they were putting us in a grey area – one where there was no heartbeat, but also was normal for the gestational age they were measuring – the fact that my first two measured smaller as well was reassuring.
We were told we had to wait two weeks and come back. It was the longest two weeks of our lives. We arrived to the followup appointment where we were told baby had not grown during the two week wait, and at this point had stopped growing almost six weeks prior. I was still very nauseous and had thrown up on my way to this appointment, so red flags started going up related to sepsis and a D&C was recommended. The procedure was scheduled for the next morning, but I had excessive bleeding overnight and had to be rushed to the emergency room. The procedure went as well as something like that can go, but the emotional trauma took a while to process. We named her Rose so that anytime we saw a rose, whether in the garden or even a random advertisement, we would know it was our angel saying hi.
My doctor felt it was a good time to investigate the irregular cycles I had been having, so the months following were filled with tests, appointments, and a lot of therapy. Eventually we got to a place where we again questioned if our family was complete. We decided to give it one more try, and same as the prior pregnancies, baby measured smaller at the first appointment. We again had to wait two weeks, but this time we were blessed with a heartbeat and growing baby. I am now 30 weeks pregnant with our third little boy and even though he already doesn’t want me to sleep, I can’t stop smiling each time I feel his little kicks.
Photos taken by Samantha Dunford.
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