I never imagined I would have any problems having kids.
We see the everyday norm of these beautiful pregnant women carrying to term, sometimes over their due date, and I didn't think I would be the exception... Except, I was. I had been pregnant three times and each time ended in heartbreak.
Losing a baby at any stage is hard, but feeling your baby, knowing the gender, getting outside of the typical first trimester miscarry stage, only to be told that your baby is coming and there's nothing they can do to save them? That is a whole different type of grief. For that to not happen once, but twice?
I was definitely at my limit.
Between the children I lost and the possibility of not having any children at all, those burdens were more than I could bear and I was ready to live my life without it. I was faced with a question: How was I supposed to overcome this?
Family and close friends tried to encourage my husband and I by saying things like, "You can try again," and the "There's always next time." But I couldn't find solace in any of it. The second loss hit me the hardest because I bonded with my baby.
Against my fear, I planned for him.
I'd walk through the baby section at Target and imagine what stroller I'd buy. I made Pinterest boards with all the cute mommy and me outfits and the adorable newborn photography. This was happening and I was going to embrace it.
What was most surprising to was the feelings of guilt and embarrassment that came with the grief. I was ashamed of my body. What I was supposed to be able to do naturally, I couldn't. It felt like not only had my body betrayed me, it had betrayed my babies. The grief after losing a baby never leaves. I just know that each day, it took everything for me to begin to piece myself back together. And it took time, but eventually, I did.
A year later, and I was living my best life. I was getting fit and working on my physical, emotional, and mental health. My husband and I were traveling and investing into our marriage. Just as I was getting ready to finish school, I found out that I was pregnant again.
All I could think was, how could I put my fears from my miscarriages aside to accept this new baby?
I couldn't wrap my mind around it. At the time, I wasn't even considering having another child. It was an everyday challenge to cultivate a positive mindset and try to accept my portion. I just decided that whatever happened was going to happen, and whatever time I had with this baby, I was going to spend it with joy and love.
I met with my high-risk doctor and we created a plan where we marked out all the milestones that would get me to term. At 13 weeks, I got a cerclage (a stitch in the cervix to keep it shut and from dilating prematurely; think of it like a drawstring purse) placed, and every week, starting at 16 weeks, I would get progesterone shots once a week until 38 weeks. Progesterone is known to aid in preventing preterm labor and my doctor felt I needed it.
When I made it past 18 weeks, I began to breathe easier. It was the longest I had ever been pregnant.
During my anatomy scan, everything looked perfect. My stitch was doing its job and baby was nice and snug. I was almost at 24 weeks then and we were finally feeling like this was happening. After 24 weeks, the baby was able to leave the womb if need be. If I were to go into labor, the baby would have a chance of living. That's when everything was put into perspective for me. He was coming. No longer was having this baby a hopeful thought. I could actually picture myself leaving the hospital with my child.
Despite having the stitch, at only 23 weeks, my son was on his way earthside. 16 weeks premature.
Nothing can prepare you for when the doctors come in and ask you if you want to save your child or just hold them and let them go. Pushing all the fears aside and the statistics of if he'd make it or not, my husband and I knew we wanted them to save our son. A day later, my son DJ was born at 24 weeks gestation. He was one pound, 11 ounces when he was born. I remember when the doctors pulled him out and said, "Whoa, he's a big 24-weeker."
I was prepared to not hear him cry.
Before the C-section, the doctors told me that he probably wouldn't cry because there was a chance he wouldn't be breathing, but our son opened his little mouth and took his first breath. He was strong. The road to recovery would be a long one. There would be ups and downs, lots of sleepless nights, but we would endure. He stayed in the NICU for over 130 days, was on a ventilator for two months, went through numerous blood transfusions, endured two low-grade brain bleeds, and was given multiple rounds of steroids for his lungs. The list of tribulations was long and hard...but he came home.
I don't take motherhood for granted because some micro preemies like DJ don't make it home.
One of my fondest memories to date, was when he was finally able to breathe on his own. None of the doctors thought he could, but I did. That has been the recurring theme in his little life, what they said he couldn't do, he did. From a 20% chance of survival to running around the house, singing his ABCs, climbing up steps, hitting therapy goals like a champ, I thank God on the daily to have a thriving toddler. Of course, having a preemie has its challenges; but if I know nothing else, I know that God is real.
I literally get to look at a miracle every day through my son.
I'm forever grateful that he chose me and that I get to do life with him by my side.
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Featured image by Shutterstock
Originally published on May 31, 2018