The month of November is Premature Awareness Month and as we were racking our brains to best highlight it - it was as if fate brought us Laura! We reached out to her and she of course couldn't wait to share her story and left no part of her story out.
So grab a coffee or tea and be sure to read her real + raw moments and share the post with a mama who would appreciate it!
She also is donating a portion of her proceeds from her shop to "March of Dimes" + "Miracle Babies" for the month of November! Shop her store below!
Thank you Laura for wanting to share your journey of motherhood with us! I know it hasn’t been easy for you and we are so grateful to hear more of your story! First off, tell us a little bit of your pregnancy journey - I know it was long and hard fought.
"Thank you for having me and for the chance to share our story. I’ll just dive right in. We began trying to conceive a few months after we were married in May 2011. When my first ever pregnancy test was positive, I can remember feeling so lucky- so blessed. We were ecstatic. In a matter of moments, I’d planned the first few years of this baby’s life out in my head. It was happening. We were going to have a baby. The next day we began to look for a two bedroom apartment. At the time, we were living in a tiny beach bungalow in Ocean Beach, CA. Nothing but a baby would have made us happier to leave the beach life. Everything was going just as it should in early pregnancy. Not much changed except the knowledge that you’re pregnant. At 7 weeks along and just days before my first prenatal appointment, I lost the baby. We were completely derailed. All the planning and the joy and the wonder had vanished. The safety of knowing we were among the lucky ones who could conceive so easily was gone. The lucky and blessed feelings were replaced with panic, fear and questions.
In the days that followed I knew I had a choice. I could let the fear paralyze me or I could maintain forward momentum and try again. After all, first pregnancy miscarriages are common, I was told. This somehow gave me hope and so after two months, we tried again, got pregnant again and miscarried again; this time a little further along at 8 weeks. It was a perfect deja vu scenario. The choice remained and I chose forward momentum. I asked to see a fertility specialist just to do something different. You know, hoping to get a different result. My hormone levels were all ok but they gave me progesterone just to see if that might help my next pregnancy. So we tried again and, you guessed it, got pregnant again. At this point joy was replaced with cautious optimism. I realized then that I’d probably never feel joyful or happy being pregnant again. When we made it to 8 weeks and our first prenatal appointment, I dreaded it. I convinced myself that something was going to be wrong and I just didn’t have the strength for one more disappointment. At this appointment, we learned that I was pregnant with twins! This was so unexpected! A spontaneous twin pregnancy after our previous two losses was poetic. We let ourselves get excited about this. Joyful, lucky, blessed- these feelings came back full force, after all, I was further along in pregnancy than I’d been before and really feeling out of the woods and as if I’d “paid my dues”.
At 11 weeks I went in for another ultrasound and it was discovered that one of the babies had no heartbeat. Two weeks later, another ultrasound found the second baby no longer had a heartbeat. And just like that, like a thief in the night, we’d lost 4 babies in under a year."
We can’t begin to imagine experiencing the loss each time - how did you maintain perspective?
"It is hard to imagine, even for me. You know, every time I tell the story, I forget it’s my story. I think, in order to move forward, I’ve blocked some of it out- perhaps not having fully grieved even still. Perspective, in the moment, came with the desire in my heart to be a mother and the doctors telling me, after a year of feeling like a lab rat, that there is nothing “wrong” with me. Desire and hope gave me perspective during that time in our journey."
The complications with each pregnancy seems to be so heavy and almost unbearble, Where did you turn for the mental and emotional strength?
"As a Christian, I believe in prayer. I prayed a lot and we had a lot of people praying for us. We felt the prayers and with them came peace and strength. Truly. When you look back on a year like that and wonder, “how did I make it through?”, I believe that is the power of prayer. I’ll be honest, there were low points. I was secretly irritated when I’d heard someone made it to their second trimester. That was a horrible and, for me, an uncontrollable emotion. I had to dig deep and find the character to get over comparison and envy- it wasn’t easy. I didn’t shy away from social media and I encouraged myself to feel truly happy for others who were breezing through a healthy pregnancy- again, not easy. Like I said, sometimes you have to dig deep. I think for me, I had faith that whatever was or wasn’t happening for me, well, it was as it was meant to be and we can only do so much to control these things. So I prayed and led out with love instead of bitterness and I think it served me well."
Can you share with us how your next pregnancy was different? And what it was like being admitted to the hospital?
"With all of our pregnancy losses, I’d opted to forgo a D&C and I had all of my miscarriages naturally at home. This was a personal decision and supported by my doctors. So, after the loss of the twin pregnancy, I took 3 or 4 months to recover and then I was ready to give it one last try. I let it be known that one more try was all I had left in me. One.
We got pregnant and made it to the second trimester for the first time in 4 pregnancies. At 17 weeks I started to bleed and we rushed to the ER. “Here we go again”, I said out loud through silent tears. I can remember lying there with my head turned hard away from the monitor so as not to have to see the motionless screen, when the doctor said, “The baby is doing great. Nice strong heartbeat.” Cautious optimism still beat out happiness in these moments, but we’ll take it. For now it was bed rest. I spent the next 7 weeks on modified bed rest until at 24 weeks I started hemorrhaging. I honestly can’t tell you where the composure to get to the hospital came from but we went straight to the ER and they sent me straight to labor and delivery. See, I had never been far enough in pregnancy to know that at a certain point, you no longer belong in the ER. Being admitted to labor and delivery at 24 weeks was a nightmare. It truly was.
I had no idea what was happening to me or the baby. I had no idea what any of this meant. I was told that they may have to deliver him that night or I could cary him to term, either way, I wasn’t going home until he was born. He wasn’t due for another 107 days. I was there for 7 days as they did everything to monitor him and best determine whether he was safer in or out of the womb.
The ultrasounds from that week determined blood clots behind the placenta, causing it to detach from the uterine wall and a diminishing fluid level. Although the baby’s heartbeat was strong, his activity level was inconsistent and there were a few times the doctors were right outside my room ready to rush me to the OR. It was terrifying, all of it. They were trying to keep him in as long as possible. They told me that every day he stayed inside was so crucial to his health and viability. Viability?! This was all just too much."
At how many weeks did you have to deliver your baby and was the initial outcome for your baby?
"We made it to 25 weeks and 6 days. That morning, a new doctor, a perinatologist we’d not met yet came on and reviewed the fetal monitor recordings from the night and on a “gut feeling” - decided to do a BPP (a biophysical profile exam where an ultrasound is conducted for 30 minutes to assess the activity of the baby). She told me that all she needed to see from him was some movement, any movement at all and she’d be comfortable with that. She told me that after 30 minutes, if there was no movement even though he had a strong heartbeat, I was going into emergency surgery due to fetal distress.
I’ll never forget those 30 minutes as long as I live. After 29 minutes of tears silently soaking my pillow and eyes glued to the monitor praying for that knee jerk, doctor said she’ll give him one more minute to give us something, anything at all... There was no movement.
She called it after 30 minutes and with a raise of her hand to the nurse, the doors opened and my room was filled with 8, 9, 15 people all with a job. Some were there for me, a team of anesthesiologists, nurses, doctors and the others were there for the baby, neonatologists, NICU nurses, respiratory therapists. It was surreal and completely horrifying. I had an emergency c-section under general anesthesia and when I came out of surgery, I learned that when our son was born, he had a complete placental abruption. The placenta was completely detached.
His lifeline was unplugged.
This doctor, this angel of ours, came in that morning, on HER birthday and delivered our son within minutes of him being a still birth, all on a gut feeling. A complete abruption is only diagnosed or determined at the time of birth. She didn’t know that’s what they’d find. She’d never seen one in all her years of high risk deliveries and our son was the smallest baby she’d delivered at 1 pound 6 ounces. He was much smaller than he should have been even at 25 weeks and wasn’t expected to live."
Stay tuned for Part II !!