A journey of hope and healing after a decade of infertility and two maternal near-misses.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Messy Middle:

Toward the end of May 2015, we had a mini photo shoot for a project related to my baby shower. If you can’t tell by the glow on my face, I was so happy! I was so hopeful! I was so excited! I was one of those women who LOVED being pregnant. This was the nearly two trimester long stage I call my “blissful pregnancy” because life was good!  

When we finally found out we were pregnant after nearly 14 years of marriage, my heart dared to dream. Just getting that statement out is excruciating, because I’m reminded of how many of those dreams have been crushed by this chaotic journey. These pictures still make me smile, but it’s mixed with a deep sadness now. They represent the calm before the perfect storm that would ravage everything. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

To The On-Call OB Who Dismissed Me

February 10, 2019

Dear Dr. Benson*,

You came to mind earlier today and I figured its long overdue that we talked.  I know we saw each other in passing a few times during my appointments with Dr. Fields* that first year after my son was born, but we’ve never had the opportunity for dialogue beyond exchanging pleasantries in the hallway of your practice.  I suppose I am mostly to blame for that after moving on to my obstetric surgeon’s practice.  Leaving wasn’t personal, but it also kind of was.  I felt my surgeon would be the best person to answer all my questions since she and her team were the ones who patched me back together when all hell broke loose.  And seeing you in the hallways saying hello like nothing had happened, well, it was getting harder for me, but I digress.

My son had a 104 degree fever two days ago that prompted a visit to his doctor on Friday.  She determined he had an ear infection and prescribed amoxicillian.  All seemed to be well until he developed a rash on his upper arms last night.  Of course, I was on high alert considering he has anaphalactic allergies to a few things already, but the rash wasn’t anywhere else on his body and it disappeared shortly after his bath.  When the rash appeared on his face this morning, I knew it was time to call her.  Eerily, my off-hours call on a Sunday morning went to his doctor’s colleague, who is on call this weekend. 

And I thought of you. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hitting Back On A Common Postpartum Phenomenon

Maybe you've had this experience too: coming home from the hospital after delivering a baby and feeling like you are not as prepared as you thought you were.  Parenthood is so much harder than anyone said.  No one receives a comprehensive education on how to be a new parent, and you might often say "nobody told me about this!"

I felt that sentiment myself in many different ways.  No one told me how determined and deliberate I needed to be with breastfeeding.  No one told me how time consuming pumping would be, especially in the beginning.  And then there are the obvious ones: no one told me about the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity in this country!  No one told me about the warning signs of life-threatening pregnancy and postpartum complications!  Who knows if that knowledge would have helped me seek medical attention sooner and changed the course of my near-misses.   

Since the very beginning, I have wanted to reach future moms and share the things I wish I knew before the nightmare of a lifetime unfolded.  I had no idea how I would begin to take on such a task.  I started where I could, with maternal health themed blood drives and it is the reason why I have been so open about our experience.  No one said "hey, here are the symptoms to look out for.  Make sure you seek immediate medical care if they occur."  I wish they had!  I've always wanted to turn around to warn the future moms and to help make things better for them, because sadly, many will face similar catastrophic circumstances too.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Our Story Part 18: Even Unto Death

I listened to two albums on repeat for most of my early recovery.  I heard the song Georgia by Vance Joy on Sirius radio the week before Nathan was born and downloaded the album a day later.  I don't know what it was about it that resonated with me even before all of the postpartum drama began.  Maybe it was the anticipation of delivery, knowing that it was high risk thanks to the blood thinners I was on.  There are so many lines on that album that ended up aligning with my battle in such a profound way.  Grief.  Heartbreak.  Suffering.  I’m sure he never thought a maternal near-miss survivor would extrapolate so much from what is very clearly a break-up playlist.  The other album was Inheritance by Audrey Assad.  I remember breaking down in my driveway with my infant sound asleep in the backseat of the parked car when I first heard His Mercies Are New and Even Unto Death.  They became a part of how I processed the trauma and a way that my heart overflowed with gratitude when I couldn't quite articulate my thoughts and feelings about everything yet.  Little did I know the melodies and lyrics would float along with me and bring me right back to those days long after they were gone.  If you have ever wondered how I dig up the emotion and rawness for most of my writing, it's a combination of music and my piecemeal journaling from the early days.  It’s amazing how they have the power to dredge it all up so easily.   

This is what I have been waiting two and half years to write.  My mind has played through it millions of times.  The thoughts.  The feelings.  The great uncertainty of whether or not I was going to have the privilege of raising the sweet little miracle I had prayed and pleaded for for more than a decade.  How would I even begin to tell this part?  Then after more than a year of avoidance, I listened to Even Unto Death on a whim and I knew.  Everything came flooding back with a vengeance.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Someone I Used To Know

November 21, 2017

I ran into her in the middle of the baking aisle and my first instinct was to give her a hug.  It’s been more than two years, yet seeing her again made it feel like it was yesterday.  It took a second for her to place me; we were in the grocery store after all, and then the gaze of recognition set in.  

“Oh my gosh!  How are you?  Wow, you look great!”  

All it took were those last three words for a mixed bag of weird, sad and heavy to set in.  Of course, I know she meant well.  Most of the weirdness was on my end.  Everyone who says it means it as a compliment but her acknowledgement of the changes she saw in me physically would feel so much different if they were because of a new set of fitness classes I had been taking.  Or running.  Or anything really.  Anything but the real reason behind the drastic transformation standing before her.  I could feel the tears welling up the second the words left her lips.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Turning Over A New Leaf

I have been an incredible slacker with my blog lately.  I knew it had been a long while since I last posted but when I counted four posts over the course of the last year, it made me really sad.  It’s not because of a lack of things going on- far from it actually- I guess I’ve taken to Instagram a lot as my place to process and share news in real time. 

Shortly after my classmate died last year, I stumbled on her widower’s blog and still check in from time to time to see if he’s written anything new.  His posts aren’t literary masterpieces ready for publication, but yet, in a sense they are because they are raw and real.  And maybe, just maybe, someone out there was checking in with my little old blog and wondering why the heck I’m not writing anymore.  It dawned on me that the rawness is what I crave here.  I often wish I had used my blog more to process in real time but I guess the nature of my experiences also made me hesitate and make a bit of sense of it all myself before letting the world in. 

I think my biggest hurdle has been my initial goal to catalog my experiences chronologically.  It’s also my perfectionist mentality- and the quest for accuracy and precision- that has been drilled into me over the course of 15 years by the never ending review processes of working in biotech.  I write something and then I sit on it because it’s not quite ready for prime time yet.  Sigh.  I kid you not; there are dozens and dozens of blog posts and thoughts just waiting to see the light of day.

So, friends, I’m turning over a new leaf.  I’m getting ready to let an awful lot out and in ways I can’t even believe I'm about to post publicly.  My story will continue but all of the side musings and tidbits are coming out in between too.  It’s not going to be perfect but I can assure you, it will be the honest ramblings of a near-miss survivor.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Our Story Part 17: Waiting and Fading

This post has been a long time coming.  If you have been following along over the last two years, you've probably noticed there is a huge gap between Part 16 and 17.  Thanks to super vague hospital discharge papers, I didn’t know exactly what procedures I had, how much blood I lost, how much blood I received or where my internal bleeding originated.  Every doctor appointment since my hospitalization has provided snippets of the unknown, new information gleaned during routine medical history assessments, leaving me with even more questions and a lack of answers.  I think it was a combination of my doctors not wanting to overwhelm me with all of these facts during such a fragile time early on and my inability to register what they were telling me.  I was so deep in survival mode that I inadvertently shut out a lot.  Even now, random bits of conversations I had with doctors from the confines of my hospital bed will come back to me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Same Song, Second Verse

I still vividly remember the first time I walked down the now familiar corridor to the elevators.  I was so slow and the 40 metal staples, embedded in my wounded flesh like a zipper, pulled and twisted with each step I took.  I grumbled to myself when an elderly person passed me.  After all, I was young!  Why was this so hard?  Maybe I wasn’t tough enough after all. 

Come on, I said.  Get it together.  

You don’t need a wheelchair again. 

Gosh, this hallway seems to go on and on.

There are times I wish I had the foresight to write what I was going through in real time.  There are so many things I have wanted to share that I’ve held back because I wanted my story to be chronological.  For some reason (I blame the science brain), I felt like if it wasn't in order, there is no way anyone could ever understand.  Ridiculous, I know.  So, when I tell you I have dozens and dozens of half written blog posts waiting to see the light of day, I’m not even kidding. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Improving Maternal Health and Safety

On January 23, 2018, New Jersey families will be one step closer to having increased maternal health awareness, helping to ensure that fewer woman will lose their lives or experience catastrophic illness as a result of pregnancy or childbirth. All hospitals, healthcare providers, professional associations and New Jersey residents are invited to participate in the campaign to raise awareness regarding the rise in the incidence of maternal deaths in the United States. According to the Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1993 and 2013 (the most recent year reported), maternal mortality rates have increased nearly 56% in the U.S. Unfortunately, New Jersey is not immune to some of the same issues that we see across the country. By creating what appears to be the first Maternal Health Awareness Day in the nation, the state is recognizing the importance of ensuring all women have safe pregnancies and proactively helping women and their families by empowering women’s voices throughout the birth process, providing increased education for women and their family members and implementing safety bundles through New Jersey’s participation in the national Alliance for Innovation for MaternalHealth (AIM). As a two-time Maternal Near-Miss Survivor, I am proud to support Maternal Health Awareness Day by co-hosting a Blood Drive with Woodside Chapel Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) to send more families home as healthy as possible.”