What's the deal with the dead babies?

Someone recently asked me if I would share my story… or rather the story of my babies, Raime, Elora & Connor.  She of course didn’t phrase it like I did in my title.  I have always been very open about my losses, in hopes that maybe reading my story could bring some comfort to others in similar situations- because reading others stories helped me feel not so alone in those early days.

And if I’m going to be completely honest, those not so early days as well…

But, I went rifling through my blog looking for a post to share with her, that explained the whole deal… or all three of them really, and I came up empty handed.  I even checked out my old loss blog, and there I never even introduced myself or shared the beginning of the story- I just jumped right in.

So here it goes.

I was going to start with Raime, because she was our first loss, but I think it all really began with my oldest, E.  I had him 4 weeks early in 1996.  Prior to his delivery, I’d been hospitalized for about a week for blood pressure issues, so pre-eclampsia was a factor back then, but not to the extent it would become in the future.

A year later, I had B, right before my due date… and then O in 1999, who actually came a few days after I was due with him.  During both of those pregnancies I had pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) but nothing more severe.  After E, I had some blood work come back weird, and was retested to rule out lupus or something.  After B, I had a horrendous gallbladder attack- it was worse than labor.  After O, my blood pressure never went all the way back down, but they were just ‘keeping an eye on it’ and I wasn’t medicated.

Raime's Tiny Handprints

My ex and I divorced, and I married Aaron.  In 2001, I was pregnant with our first together, Raime.  My blood pressure was super high the whole pregnancy, and had me nervous.  At our 20 week ultrasound, she measured a bit small, and they couldn’t get a good view of her heart because of her size and positioning.  They had me come back two weeks later for a follow-up just to confirm she was growing and see if they could get a better scan of her heart.

At 22 weeks, thinking nothing was the least big wrong, I went in for my ultrasound.  At this point we didn’t know the gender (her position also prevented us from seeing that clearly) and my biggest concern was pink or blue.   I never in million years did I think I’d be spending the rest of my pregnancy in the hospital, let alone lose the baby- and have it all over in a week.

But that’s what happened.  The baby wasn’t measuring any bigger, and my blood pressure was astronomical.  They were shocked I wasn’t seizing or stroking out.  I spent a week on so many meds, in an attempt to bring it under control, but it only got worse.  My liver and kidneys were shutting down, and we had to induce.  Raime was stillborn at 23 weeks, weighing only 10 ounces- she should have been over a pound by then.  She fought until the end, her heart only stopping as I pushed her out.

After my pregnancy with Raime was over, I remained on blood pressure medication.  I went through a massive number of tests, and it was determined I developed a blood clotting issue while pregnant called antiphospholipid disorder.  My body treated the pregnancy like a virus, and tried to fight it off.  I saw a specialist who believed that I’d do better and the issues would start later, therefor giving the baby a chance- if I went on blood thinning medications during my next pregnancy.

When I was given the go ahead to try again, we did.  I was monitored very closely by the same doctors that oversaw my previous pregnancy, so they knew my history.  I took Lovenox, a daily injection, as well as baby aspirin to thin my blood.  This time I made it to 35 weeks- and went into labor on my own.  I wasn’t induced because of my blood pressure or anything.  Lili was born healthy and came straight home with us, despite being five weeks early.

When I got pregnant two years later, despite being in North Carolina now instead of Hawaii where Raime and Lili were born, my doctors followed the same treatment plan.  Again, at 35 weeks, I went into labor and Mia was born, however she did end up spending a little less than 2 weeks in the NICU.  Aside from that, she’s been super healthy.

Holding Elora for the first time- she was 6 weeks old.

I figured at this point, I was cured- or had a least found the right treatment- of my pregnancy issues.  I felt that what happened with Raime was a fluke, and surely would never happen again.  I didn’t even think losing another baby was in the realm of possibilities when we decided to have one last child.

From the beginning, my pregnancy with Elora was different from my pregnancies with Lili and Mia because I wasn’t seeing a perinatologist.  In fact, the doctors at the Naval Hospital didn’t even have me assigned to an OB- just a family practice doctor.  He decided after some testing that I didn’t need the Lovenox, and felt that I would have been fine with the girls without it as well.

At my 24 week appointment my blood pressure was up.  The doctor didn’t even double check it, just attributed it to white coat syndrome.  I was feeling off, but he wasn’t taking my concerns seriously.  The next day, I drove myself to Labor & Delivery and talked to the OB on call about my symptoms.  I was immediately admitted, IV started, and then transported to the hospital an hour away that had a NICU.

When I arrived there, I was seen by the perinatologist, who was livid I wasn’t on Lovenox.  He felt that not taking any blood thinners during pregnancy was what sent me spiraling towards HELLP again.  After a week in the hospital, it was decided that I’d deliver.  The blood flow to the baby was inadequate, and if it got any worse, she’d die.

Elora was born via emergency c-section and despite the fact she was smaller than she should have been, she was a fighter.  Through several surgeries and for almost 9 weeks, she defied the odds and we grew attached.  I really thought she was going to survive, that she would come home with us.  Unfortunately, she picked up a blood infection in the NICU that she just couldn’t fight off, and we had to let her go.

Connor's Little Feet

Elora was supposed to be our last, but with her gone, we just felt like our family wasn’t complete.  The perinatologist thought her early arrival and therefor subsequent death could have been avoided if only I was on the same treatment plan as I had been for Lili and Mia.  With that in mind, we decided to try one last time, under the care of a perinatologist.

My pregnancy with Connor was awesome.  I felt fabulous.  I was taking the Lovenox and baby aspirin again, and my blood pressure was under control.  I was so confident that everything was going to work out this time- because we were doing the same things we did during my other successful pregnancies.

When I went in for my 24 week appointment, I was shocked to learn there was no heartbeat.  Here I was, at viability, no signs of preeclampsia setting it, everything going so smoothly… only to be told it was over.  At delivery, we learned that Connor had died of an umbilical cord anomaly- in fact, they were surprised he’d made it that long and that I hadn’t miscarried.

After losing Connor, I was done.  Just done with babies, well trying to have them anyway.  My family felt so incomplete, but I just couldn’t do it again.  Usually I bounced right back and was ready to try again as soon as we got the okay, but I having lost Elora and Connor back to back like that was just too much.  It was two years before I was ready to try again, and that of course resulted in the twins.

So there you go.  That’s my story in a nutshell- and the deal with all the dead babies.

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