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

Monday, August 24, 2020

When One Of Us Hurts, We All Hurt

I drove by your house the other day. It’s only a few blocks away. I remember seeing it up for sale when we were shopping for a new home too. We bought our fixer upper about six months before you bought yours in the same little neighborhood by the river. My son and I have passed your house countless times on our summer walks. You’re so close that I felt like I had to come. As I drove by with tears in my eyes and a big lump in my throat, a little voice piped up from the backseat. “Where are we going, Momma?” And it hit me even harder just then. You'll never have moments like this with your future backseat driver. “We’re taking the long way home, sweetheart", I said.  Hearing those words, I realized we’ve taken the long way home in a number of ways that far surpassed my initial intention when they passed over my lips. I rounded the corner and the weight of what your husband and family are going through felt so massive and tangible. When I pulled in our driveway, I just sat in my car for a minute and cried for you... a sweet, new momma I will never meet.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Let's Talk About Racism In America

When the pandemic hit back in March and so much death and uncertainty loomed over our region and then our country, I found myself asking “do I have anything worthwhile to say right now?” My heavy heart said “no” at the time and so this blog took a bit of a break. Yes, maternal mortality and morbidity matter. Our stories matter. It just didn’t feel like the right time to write when so much suffering was occurring on such a grand scale. 

That sentiment grew stronger when the racial injustices over the past year began coming to light. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. So many lives have been horrifically cut short, and I fully recognize this has been happening all along. It's just recorded in graphic, indisputable detail now thanks to cellphone cameras. It didn't feel right to continue writing about my maternal morbidity battle- and more specifically, highlighting the horrendous racial disparities for black and brown mothers caused mainly by systemic racism- without and before addressing the fire of racial injustice and oppression that is burning in our society right now.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Fill Up Your Cup

This past Monday, we took advantage of the glorious 50 degree day by spending the afternoon outside. We walked and scooted for over three hours at the park near our home with many stops along the way to explore the riverbed. We dug in the sand. We threw rocks in the water. We had dirt under our fingernails and loved every second of it. We talked about erosion, the water cycle and the seasons. He's so curious about the world around him. I love how much he learns from our small adventures outside. His vocabulary continuously explodes in ways that astonish me and his interest in things like the three states of matter makes his scientist momma awfully proud. It's actually one of his favorite things to talk about.

"Momma, I love spending time with you."

Friday, October 11, 2019

At Least We Would Be Together


October 11, 2017

(Second PPH Anniversary)

It’s a dark, rainy Monday morning. My husband left for work hours ago and my little one has snuggled in close to my chest. I can feel his chest rise and fall with each delicate breath. His sweet little body still fits perfectly inside my arms.

It’s sleepy moments like this and countless others that were almost stolen from us two years ago when we skated dangerously close to the edge of losing our little family. Each day is truly a gift and it’s a fact that hasn’t been lost on me once over the previous 730 days. It’s a fact that many don’t understand and likely never will… but it’s forever a part of me and of our family’s story.

There Are Others

I've said it many time before: there are dozens and dozens of blog posts, notes and thoughts I have written over the last four years just waiting to see the light of day. Early on, I starting emailing myself in real time as a coping mechanism. It helped me document what I needed to, avoid ruminating on it and hopefully (someday) come back to it and develop it further. I still use this method to process and piece together timeline blog posts. Other anecdotes have been in the blog queue for the simple fact I haven't been ready to release them into the wild yet. Here is one of them. 

Buckle Up!

I just had a sinking feeling and wasn’t sure what it was. We took a much-needed impromptu stroll by the river tonight. I just needed to clear my head and breathe in the fresh air a little deeper.

Earlier today, I attended a maternal health meeting and met with a woman who works at my delivering hospital, and truth be told, it kind of threw me a little. She knows the characters in my story by their real names. There is no Dr. Fields* or Dr. Benson* for her. She sees my former physicians and knows them by first name. Talking with her also peeled back a layer in some ways, “I’m sorry this happened to you”, she said. I don’t know why hearing this acknowledgement is important, especially now. Talking with her helped me to compartmentalize better than I have been previously, to clearly see it’s not the hospital system that affected my outcome per se, it was literally one doctor. That fact should be a stark reminder to healthcare professionals everywhere: all it takes is one for a bad outcome. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Are We Broken?

I saw it and froze.  My chest tightened immediately, and I started involuntarily shaking. This was the physical response I had to seeing my delivering OB/Gyn practice featured in an online report touting the integration of midwives. And believe me, I know it's a good thing for midwives to be working alongside obstetricians. But when two of the three women pictured in the report were directly involved in my care just before I was diagnosed with the pulmonary emboli, it was hard not to notice every muscle in my body stiffen. This physical reaction would be far from the last one too. As I walked into the women’s restroom at the local ballpark just last week, I saw their 30-foot-long advertisement hanging on the wall above the mirrors. It caught my breath a little, and I had to laugh and shake my head. I really can’t escape them, can I?

Of course, there is an underbelly to the report and all the advertisements I have been seeing over the last four years, and it certainly hasn’t been touched on in the raving reviews I see online. The nausea starts up every time I read and see them. This report had pictures too, pictures of a room on the postpartum side of the L&D unit that looked exactly like mine. I could almost see my husband curled up with a blanket on the couch under the window like he was when our son was born. The second photo was of the nurse’s station and I knew the room at the end of that corridor was the one with the hydrotherapy tub. Nearly four years ago, I had been in that tub. My husband held my hair back and put a trash can to my face as I vomited over the side of that tub during labor. So much came flooding back in the matter of seconds reading this report, including the sound of her voice over the phone saying, “Your pain is normal.” 

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

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.