Updated: Jun 5, 2019
A fellow Instargram Doctor @infertilitydrperfetto started the campaign #sometimeswesmile. It highlights the stories of the brave women who smile through the pain of infertility and loss. My #sometimeswesmile story expands across all three of my pregnancies....Two survived and are the light of my life. One, my girl, did not. Here is my story. Here is what I smiled through.
My first pregnancy I was young, healthy, perfectly normal. I was still in residency training for Internal Medicine. It was going great. All appointments checked out. I had no risk factors for anything and was the portrait of health. I was doing everything right. No bad habits. Eating well, taking my vitamins. All was well. Until it wasn't.I started bleeding at 37 weeks. Tests showed I had a partial placental abruption and was taken off work for bedrest where I stayed for 3 weeks. I only left the house for my daily medical appointments. Things seemed stable. It seemed all would be ok. Then one day I woke up in a pool of blood. By the time I was able to gather myself and family out the door I had left a trail of blood all over the house. I arrived to hospital and underwent an emergency cesarean section. I saw my newborn briefly before he was rushed into the able hands of the neonatal intensivists that had been called to standby at my emergency delivery. Being stabilized myself I was unable to see him for what seemed an eternity. My Lucas spent the next 10 days on life support. The longest 10 days of my life. I thank God and the medical team daily for his health and my health today.
My second pregnancy was expected to be normal. There had been no explanation for the first abruption. It was considered a fluke really. I was 15 weeks along. I had been telling people the good news. I was attending a seminar on ultrasound and since everyone knew I was pregnant they asked to demonstrate on me. I happily obliged....They couldn’t find the heart beat. I finished my out of town seminar. Went home and while on my swing shift at the hospital I walked down to the OB department where it was confirmed. No heart beat. My D & C was scheduled and I was inconsolable for days. I found it impossible to explain to anyone who hadn’t experienced it themselves. I still can’t. My oldest son who has a vague memories of the early pregnancy has named her Serenity And he lit a candle at church for her last Christmas. Sometimes that child is wise beyond his years.
My third, was to be my easiest though most wouldn't call it easy. It was ungraciously announced at work when I threw up in the trash can of a patients room while on rounds in the intensive care unit surrounded by my residents. I had hoped to keep this one quiet until it was too obvious to pretend I had gained weight. I didn't want to hear all the well meaning "I'm sorry" awkwardness from people who didn't know what to say in case something went wrong again. I was a nervous wreck through this pregnancy! I was certain something would go wrong. I would ultrasound myself almost daily at work to reassure myself he was ok. And though this was the easiest of my three, I was still hospitalized 3 times for pre-term contractions. Each time with full work-ups due to my previous history. Each time full sleepless nights while the tests were being run, while the drugs and fluids were being administered and while my mind raced wondering if all would be ok. In the end he was an uneventful cesarean delivery. A week before the planned cesarean delivery performed by the on-call OB I had never met because I was having another round of contractions, but this time, he was term. This time it was safe to deliver. So off I went for the much calmer delivery of my second son. It didn't matter to me that I was having some kind of reaction to my anesthesia. It didn't matter I didn't know this doctor. All I knew or cared about was my son was safe. Finally, on my third pregnancy, my baby and I came home together.
Both my boys are thriving elementary school kids now. They are the biggest joy of my life. Some days I forget the struggles I faced to bring them into the world. Sometimes, something will remind me. Sometimes, I still cry about it. But sometimes, I smile.