Natalie & Zachary
Andy and I struggled through infertility treatments for almost three years. During that time, we experienced two ectopic pregnancies and one miscarriage at 6 weeks. We also had a daughter, Rachel, whom we lost at 22-2/7 weeks due to a birth defect.
In May, 2000, we made our first attempt at in-vitro fertilizations. I had a perfect harvest and retrieval. They harvested 19 eggs and 14 fertilized. We decided to transfer four embryos and freeze the remaining ten.
It was the Sunday of Mother’s Day, 2000. I felt very bloated and it was difficult to breathe. I called the Reproductive Endocrinologist to see what he wanted me to do. He said not to worry and to take it easy for the rest of the day. I was to come into the office Monday morning to be checked. Later that day, I was admitted to the hospital due to ovarian hyper stimulation. Over the next three days, I gained over 14 pounds and was bloated so much that I looked like I was six months pregnant. While in the hospital, I learned that I was pregnant. I was so excited and happy that it didn’t matter how uncomfortable I was. I knew that I was pregnant and that was all that mattered.
The following week we went into the doctor’s office for an ultrasound. We were shocked to find out that I was carrying triplets. Wow, what do we do now? We wanted to get pregnant, but we never expected this. So after discussions with my RE, obstetrician and lots of research on the issue, we decided to reduce the triplets to twins. This was a decision we made based on the probable health of the babies and the added risks of me carrying them to term.
As Rachel had Down Syndrome, we elected to do a CVS on all of the triplets. We learned that one of the babies had a minor chromosomal abnormality, so that is the one we reduced. It was a very emotional time and more procedures that I had to endure. The CVS and reduction went fine and I was feeling great. So, we made it through all of the testing and I was still pregnant. What a relief to know that things were ok with the two remaining babies.
At this point, we also learned that we were expecting a boy and a girl. How could things be any better for us? It was a dream come true.
I had my ultrasound at 19 weeks and everything looked normal. Both babies were doing fine.
I was scheduled to start bed rest at 23 weeks (on October 1). My doctor wanted me to take it easy just to be on the safe side. So, I started to get things ready as I wouldn’t be able to do that much on bed rest. We ordered furniture, bedding and started to buy a few things for the house. We spent countless hours researching double strollers, car seats and all of the other fun things that we needed for the babies. Not only was I getting ready at home, I was also getting ready at work. I organized my office and staff in anticipation of my maternity leave.
It was Sunday, September 24. I was 22-2/7 weeks. I made a note of this on that morning because that is how long I carried Rachel. It was a beautiful fall day. I got up and was feeling great. It had been awhile since I’d felt this good. I think part of it was that I finally made it to the point when we lost Rachel.
I went to the bathroom and felt a huge whooosh. I thought to myself, What was that? I looked down and saw the whole toilet was filled with blood. I realized that my water had broken. I screamed for Andy. He rushed me to the hospital.
They immediately did an ultrasound when we got to the hospital. At this point both babies were ok, but my water had definitely broken and I was 3 cm dilated. So, I was moved to an L&D room and started on magnesium sulfate to control the contractions that I was having. The doctors were telling us that without fluid, our daughter wouldn’t survive. At this point we were very concerned. So, I stayed on the mag and was scheduled for another ultrasound on Monday afternoon. I started to have double vision and I was so hot that Andy and our parents were wearing jackets in my room.
Our ultrasound was scheduled for 4 p.m. on Monday. Although the contractions had stopped, I knew in my heart that I would be getting some more bad news. The tech started the ultrasound and then left the room. I knew that she was getting the doctor so they could tell us the bad news. Well, my instincts were correct and they told us that our daughter’s heart had stopped beating. We did have some good news and a glimmer of hope. Our son was high in the uterus and still doing well.
Our daughter had already progressed into the birth canal and they made the decision that I had to deliver her right away. After about 10 minutes of pushing, Natalie was stillborn around 9 p.m. on Monday, September 25, 2000.
The doctors cut the umbilical cord as high as they could and tucked it up past the cervix. They did not want to induce the delivery of the placenta with contractions. At this point, we focused on doing what we could to save our son. They stopped the mag and continued me on high doses of antibiotics. At this point I was moved to the antepartum room.
The biggest risk at this point was infection. If I developed an infection, they would have to induce labor. They were very clear that the first 48 hours after the membranes broke was the most critical. However, the doctors told us that most women deliver the second baby within two weeks. This was not very promising as our son would not survive out of the womb. However, we didn’t give up hope. I made it through the first 72 hours and feeling like I might spend the next few weeks in the hospital.
It was Wednesday and I was feeling pretty good. Andy left the hospital around 10:30 p.m., so I could get some sleep. A little while later, I called the nurse to bring me an extra blanket because I was a little chilled. I couldn’t get warm and I just blamed it on the bad air in the hospital. They checked my temperature around midnight and I had a very small fever. I called Andy to let him know, but at this point we were not very concerned. About 30 minutes later, my temperature was still going up. I called Andy to come to the hospital. Around 2 a.m., my temperature was almost 103 degrees. They moved me back to L&D to induce labor.
I was packed in ice to drop my temperature. They started very high doses of antibiotics and gave me a shot of morphine. Once I was stabilized, they started pitocin. I went through all of the labor pains with no hope of bringing home a baby.
Around 8 a.m., Zachary was born and soon thereafter died. He was only 22-6/7 weeks.
We held each of our babies. They were perfect in every way. They were so tiny. Natalie weighed 1 lb. and was 14 inches. Zachary weighed 1 lb. 4 oz. and was 12.5 inches. All of my hopes and dreams died with them.
We had both babies cremated and placed with other babies in a lovely place called “A Child Remembered” at a local cemetery. I now have a place to visit them whenever I want. They will forever live in my heart.
Sharon…Sharon is currently pregnant again (with twins, and doing well past 23 weeks).