Blog, Teddy's Story

The Preface- A Fighter from the Start

For as long as I can remember, I knew I would struggle to have kids. I have no idea why, as nothing in my life would have suggested this, but there was this underlying intuition that I would not be able to conceive or if I did my child may have medical issues. I knew I wanted children, but I also knew that they may not be biological and so from a young age I also knew I would adopt one day. If you think I am kidding, just ask my mother. When my husband Jason and I started to discuss a family, we were both open to adoption and even started researching it, but we decided to try to conceive first. As expected, it was not an easy process. By the time we started trying, I was already categorized as Advanced Maternal Age and we ended up needing to start fertility treatments. Because of my fears and our openness to adoption, we decided we would try an IUI (insemination) a couple times, but not try IVF so the funds that would be needed could be used towards adoption. We were told the IUI would most likely not be successful, but much to our surprise we got pregnant on the first try!

While we were so excited that I was pregnant, all my fears started coming to fruition the moment we received the positive pregnancy tests. From the very first blood draw my hCG levels were lower than they would expect. With each consecutive draw, they were not increasing like they should and we were told to be prepared to lose the pregnancy. I started receiving weekly ultrasounds that very first week. At one of these ultrasounds we received a shock, I was pregnant with twins! This concerned the doctor even more that my hCG numbers were so low. In the following weeks, at around 8 weeks, we learned that we had a vanishing twin, which means that we lost one of the babies. As hard as that was to process, we stayed focused on this other little gummy bear continuing to grow and fight inside of me. Every week I went in for the ultrasound and there he was still fighting. For my entire pregnancy with Teddy, there was only 1 week that we didn’t see him on an ultrasound. That is a super special thing that most parents do not get to experience, but it was also a very stressful thing to go through. While we did not share this with our friends and family (remember I said we have always focused on the shiny and happy parts), at about week 12, those weekly ultrasounds brought concerning news with every visit. He wasn’t growing like he should, he started growing asymmetrically, they weren’t seeing the things they expected to see at that milestone, etc. We checked his heartbeat on a fetal monitor at home all the time and I didn’t actually feel him moving until the end of my second trimester.

After the 20-week appointment, the doctors started getting more specific about potential challenges. His asymmetric growth was a concern, but they didn’t know why it was happening. None of our bloodwork showed any genetic concerns. They also found a heart defect that showed one of his arteries was not growing like it should. I had an MRI and it was determined he would likely need surgery after birth. I am very claustrophobic and the entire time we were in the MRI, I just kept thinking to myself “We will get through this together.” I repeated it over and over again. While we stayed positive and light around all our friends, the stress and fear were taking a toll on us. But every week we got to see and hear our little gummy bear’s heart fluttering away and it made us so happy. We were told to start preparing for an early birth, but they were hopeful things would even out and he would make it full term. Then at around the 30 week mark, the imaging started to show more potential issues, so my regular OB decided to transfer me to the high-risk OB practice at our local hospital.

At 31 weeks, I left work for a quick 2 hours to head to my first high risk appointment. Within 30 mins of being there, we entered the absolute hardest week and subsequent 5 months of our lives. It began with them telling me my blood pressure was elevated and having me do exercises to try and lower it, which didn’t work. They commented on my pretty severe polyhydramnios (excess of fluid) and were a little concerned as I was already so swollen and having a harder time catching my breath. Then they took me to the ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the chatty tech began to grow quiet, which wasn’t uncommon for us, but then she left the room and immediately brought the doctor in. This was uncommon and the doctor took over and began asking a ton of questions. Before I even left the ultrasound table, she told me that I needed to immediately check into the hospital and that not only was she concerned with my health due to the elevated blood pressure, but they were also having troubling seeing some of his vital organs and he was showing signs of potentially having Trisomy-13 (although blood work has not detected this.)

I was in a bit of shock. I, of course, immediately asked if I could go back to work? Did it have to be today? I was in the middle of a very tough two-week review at work that needed me there. Her response: “No. I would rather you not even go home to pack.” She did eventually agree to let us go home and pack, as long as we were checked into the hospital before 4pm that afternoon.

Jason and I are both pretty low key and even keeled people. We rarely get upset and if we do we are typically able to move past it very quickly. Everyone who knows me, knows emotions really aren’t my thing. 😉 I am the queen of siloing off parts of my life and locking them away. There are VERY few people who have ever seen me cry. We both are analytical to a fault and approach most things with an inquisitive attitude and that it will work out (well Jason has this part, I am more of a I will never figure this out but will keep plugging along). And while these character traits saved us during those first weeks and subsequent seven years, they also make it so that when the truly hard times hit, our armor cracks and the tidal wave of stress, fear, and sadness brings us to our knees.

The moment we walked into that hospital, the tidal wave came crashing down and we did everything we could to keep our head above the water. And this is where the story starts to get a little blurry. There are parts we remember so vividly and parts that feel like I am looking at them through a mud smeared window. Everything was happening so fast, and we were having to learn a whole new language to keep up. So, as I start to write Chapter 1- Smashburger No More!, I will do my best to make it all make sense, but please know when you are in the whitewater of a breaking 100-foot wave, it is impossible to know which way is up.

Twin ultrasound

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