Written by Jessica Roose, Guest Blogger
I always wanted to have kids. And I think part of me always knew that I would have a hard time having them. I can remember one time after I was married I met with a friend for coffee. I had just accepted a job that would take me from where I grew up in Arizona, all the way to North Dakota! We were talking about the move, how nervous and excited I was for this new adventure. I was finally starting my career and becoming an adult. My husband and I had been married less than six months at that time. So my friend and I started talking about kids. Would I want to wait now that we were moving and starting this whole new life? Of course I didn’t want to get pregnant right when I started my new job. But I also didn’t want to wait too long. I was already 25 at this point and I knew I wanted more than one kid. And I also had a gut feeling it was not going to be easy to get pregnant. My mom had some issues having my brother and I. But besides that, I really had no other reason to think I would have any issues, but I did. Maybe it was God trying to prepare me for incredibly difficult journey that was ahead, I don’t know. But I just had a gut feeling. And I remember telling my friend that while we were having coffee that evening.
Fast forward six months or so and I had made the move and started my job. It was March 2012 and I just found out I was pregnant. We weren’t trying to get pregnant so it was a shock to both of us. But we were excited. I went to the doctor and got it confirmed. But just a couple days later I started spotting. I knew right away that wasn’t good. I went to the emergency room and they took some blood work and ran some tests and sent me home telling me to take it easy. They said I was having a threatened miscarriage. I tried convincing myself all weekend that it would be ok. Friends told me about people they knew who spotted during pregnancy and I just convinced myself that it was normal and I would be fine. But it wasn’t.
The doctor confirmed the miscarriage on Monday. I was devastated. But now I knew more than ever that I wanted to get pregnant, and I wanted to get pregnant now. We started trying after that and I got pregnant very quickly. We were thrilled. But unfortunately it was once again short lived and we had another miscarriage. It happened two more times after that. After the second miscarriage I had undergone all sorts of testing to try and figure out why I wasn’t able to keep the pregnancies. No answer. Everything came back “normal.” Which I think is the worst part of all.
All you want is to have a baby, it’s the one time I can remember hoping and praying that they would find something wrong with me. At least then they would be able to hopefully fix it and we could have a baby. But test after test just came back normal and I was told it just happens. To take more folic acid and “aspirin might help, so take that.” By the time I had gone through the 4th miscarriage, it was 2013. It had been a little over a year and I had been pregnant four times and had lost all of them.
I felt like I should have a punch card to the doctor’s office by that point. Free treatment after ten visits. Between the blood work to confirm pregnancies, blood work to test that my HCG levels were going up, blood work to test that they were going down and I wasn’t pregnant anymore after the miscarriages started. And all the tests in between. I felt like I lived at the doctor’s office and was constantly being poked.
It was the hardest time of my life. I was depressed, mad and convinced I would never have a kid. But I had to put on a happy face every day and go to work. I was working as a reporter and anchor at the time. So I didn’t want people to see that I was upset. I would go to appointments before, after, or during work and then go right back to the newsroom and go in front of the camera.
I remember one time after one of the miscarriages; I was at work and scrolling through Facebook. I saw someone I knew from high school was pregnant. And she was having multiples. I lost it. Of course I would never wish harm on her or anyone and their pregnancies. But why NOT ME. I wanted it so bad. Why did I have to go through this over and over and OVER?! I left the office and went in my car and cried. Why was it so easy for everyone else to get pregnant but I couldn’t? It seemed like friends and family were getting pregnant left and right. I was bitter. I didn’t want to hear about their pregnancies. It just made me mad. I hate that infertility did that to me. I feel like I missed out on being able to enjoy and celebrate with my friends. But instead I was just angry and wanted nothing to do with it.
After that 4th miscarriage, I gave up. My husband said it’s up to me, it’s my body and if I don’t want to keep trying, we won’t. I didn’t want to go through it again. I started looking into adoption and talking to my husband about that. I still wanted to have kids but I was going to have to come around to the fact that I wouldn’t get to experience pregnancy. A few months went by and then somewhere around the beginning of August 2013 I found out I was pregnant AGAIN. I wasn’t even excited. It was a surprise, we weren’t trying and I didn’t want to go through having another loss. I called a good friend of mine and she came over right away, with a cake! She was convinced it would be ok even if I wasn’t. In fact, I was so convinced it wouldn’t work out that I made her take me to the store to get pads for when I started spotting.
But I went to the doctor and started the tests I had grown accustomed too all over again. And this time, my HCG levels kept going up. My ultrasounds were good. I had also started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist. He was based out of Fargo, ND and I was several hours away in Bismarck. So every week I would go get blood work done and an ultrasound and then go to my regular OB’s office where they would set me up with a computer and I would basically skype with my doctor and go over the results. Week after week went by and I started getting more and more hopeful.
Then finally, I made it to the 12-week mark, something I had never done in the past. I graduated to just seeing my regular OB and I became just like every other pregnant person and moved on to having the normal tests and appointments. I don’t know why that pregnancy stuck, but it did. It was relatively uneventful, besides the normal morning sickness. Until 38 weeks. My last couple weekly appointments before that my blood pressure had been high when I first got to the doctor. They would test again before I left and it went down and so they just brushed it off. I didn’t really think anything of it to be honest.
That Saturday I woke up with a sore throat and just felt like crap. I figured it just a cold. I already had plans to get a pedicure that day and I wasn’t canceling that (because priorities when you’re about to go into labor, right ladies?) So I went and got my toes done and then told my husband I was going to stop at urgent care and just get seen so they can give me some meds that I can take to make the cold go away. I didn’t want to go into labor and have a newborn and be sick! When I got to urgent care the first thing they did was check my vitals, including my blood pressure. I don’t remember exactly what it was. But it was so high and I was so pregnant that he told me I needed to go right to the emergency room.
I left and picked up my husband from home and we went to the hospital where I was sent up to labor and delivery for observation overnight. The next day blood pressure still wasn’t going down and they decided the baby needed to come out. So around 4:30pm they started to induce me. The induction itself went well. But overnight, my labs continued to get worse. Until the nurse finally came in and said she called my OB and went over all my labs with him and found out I have HELLP Syndrome. If you’re like I was and have no idea what that is it stands for Hemolysis (which is the breaking down of red blood cells), Elevated Liver enzymes, Low Platelet count. It’s a life threatening pregnancy complication that some consider to be a much worse variant of preeclampsia.
They started me on magnesium and started padding my bed. Which is also about the time I started to have a panic attack when I found out they were doing that because they were worried I would have a seizure. It was the middle of the night, I was terrified, I was in a state thousands of miles away from my family and I lost it. My husband was great the whole time but I was just so scared and mad. Once again I couldn’t just have a normal pregnancy. But eventually (and thanks to an awesome epidural) I was able to get some sleep.
My daughter, Brooklynn, was born the next day Monday March 31st 2014 at 11:32 am. But during delivery I lost a lot of blood and coupled with the magnesium, I felt like crap. I had to stay on the magnesium for 24 hours after she was born due to having HELLP syndrome. It made me feel crazy. I was hot, bed ridden, wasn’t allowed to eat and had to ration my liquid intake while on it. It also made me hallucinate and have double vision. Because of all of this I couldn’t have my daughter in the room with me unless my husband or the nurse was with me. Looking back, I’m lucky. So many people with HELLP Syndrome end up losing their baby or their own life. But my daughter and I are here and we are healthy. But I can’t help but be mad about the moments we lost. I don’t remember big chunks of her delivery and the day after, and that makes me mad and sad.
After Brooklynn was born, I kind of just figured that I had one pregnancy to term and had a baby so now maybe my body knows what it’s doing and there will be no more miscarriages. When Brooklynn was one, we moved back to Arizona to be closer to family. When she was about 2 or so we decided we wanted to have another. About that same time I accepted a new job and my first week there I found out I was pregnant. Bad timing right? It wasn’t ideal and I was scared to death to tell my new bosses. But I figured I would wait until at least 12 weeks anyway so I had some time.
Unfortunately, it never got to that because a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I lost the baby. I remember sitting in the room with the ultrasound tech when she said she needed to go get the doctor and I knew. By that point I had enough losses to know that when the news is good, they just show you the baby. When it’s bad, they go get the doctor to tell you that you are having a miscarriage. He confirmed what I already knew and I was devastated. I couldn’t believe it was happening again. This time, because I was farther along and my body still wasn’t miscarrying on its own, I scheduled a D&C. The procedure went well, but I wasn’t happy with my doctor. I didn’t feel like he took my past seriously. That ultrasound I had was my first. I was supposed to be 7-8 weeks pregnant by then. With my other doctors in North Dakota they did weekly ultrasounds and blood work from the second I found out I was pregnant until I miscarried or got to 12 weeks.
He also didn’t seem very knowledgeable about the severity of HELLP syndrome. So I went searching for other doctors. I ended up going to IVF Phoenix and seeing Dr. Couvaras. If you’re a woman in AZ and having a hard time getting pregnant, go see him! From the first appointment, I never felt rushed. He took his time to go over every single thing about my losses and the pregnancy with my daughter. He scheduled his own tests and started me on heparin and a series of vitamins and supplements. At the same time I met with a new OB. She also ran a few tests and found out I have MTHFR. Dr. Couvaras also got those results and immediately told me to stop taking a prenatal with folic acid. The more I talked to him and the more I researched I learned that my body doesn’t process the synthetic version of folic acid the way it should. It could have been a contributor to my miscarriages. So he switched me to folate. After months of testing, changing my diet, taking injections and even getting stung by a bee (apparently the dr thought it would help, I stopped asking too many questions and was willing to try anything at that point!) he finally gave us the green light to try and get pregnant again.
One of the things he believed may have been a factor in my losses was that my immune system may have been attacking the pregnancy. So he wanted to put me on an intralipid infusion to suppress my immune system a little to hopefully stop that from happening. I had to do that once right before I hopefully got pregnant, again right after I got pregnant and again a few weeks after that. This wasn’t covered by insurance and was about $400 each time. We did the first infusion and he put me on clomid to boost my chances of getting pregnant. It worked! I got pregnant on that first try. Of course I knew it might not last so I didn’t get too excited. But the pregnancy kept going well, I did the final two infusions and eventually at 12 weeks, I left the office for the last time and went on to see my OB. She was also amazing.
She knew I was feeling a little better about the pregnancy after I got out of the first trimester. But she also knew about my past with HELLP syndrome and how nervous I was about that happening again. She set me up with a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor and the rest of the pregnancy I was seen by her and that high-risk doctor. This pregnancy went pretty well. I was more tired and sore than I was with my first pregnancy, and this baby was much bigger! Then at 38-weeks, while my OB was doing a check, my water broke. I drove myself to the hospital and my husband met me there. Less than eight hours later our second daughter, Dillon was born on April 25th 2018. Exactly two pounds bigger than her big sister! Her delivery was nothing like her sisters.
It was happy, we were healthy and I remember the whole thing. It was very healing and the perfect ending to this journey. I am so blessed to have the two girls I have. They were worth the six-year process of getting pregnant and having loss after loss. But it still makes me sad I had to go through that. It makes me angry that I don’t have these amazing and happy moments of being able to find out I’m pregnant and be happy from the start.
If you read all this and have never gone through a loss but know someone who is, my advice is to just be there for them. Let them vent, cry and scream. But don’t say things like “it will happen,” “it’s all part of God’s plan,” “Maybe there was just something wrong with this one.” I even had someone tell me that at least I wouldn’t have to go thorough the pain of childbirth. None of those comments are helpful. If you don’t know what to say, then say that and listen.
If you’d like to connect with Jessica, you can find her on Instagram!