Baby #2: Pregnancy and birth

A few days after Talita was born, a doctor came to talk to us about future pregnancies and potential risks. I told him not to worry because we were done having kids. Biological ones at least. No way I was ever getting pregnant again. Ever. End of story.

But of course…as the trauma of her birth began to fade and I saw my little one grow into a cute healthy toddler, baby fever started to creep in. Well maybe not really ‘creep in’ because I’ve had baby fever since I was five but I’d say that I started considering the possibility of getting pregnant again.

Tony, on the other hand, did not have baby fever. Yes he wanted more kids eventually but he wasn’t sure he wanted to take the pregnancy route. Plus we’ve always wanted to adopt at some point in the future so why not forgo the original plan of having two biological kids and then adopt, and just go ahead and adopt right now? Ah silly men and their logical solutions. The problem with that crazy idea was: 1) I wanted to experience pregnancy again; 2) adoption takes time and I had no time. I needed to have a baby right now. If not for me, for the sake of Talita! She needed a sibling, she needed one bad. She was getting spoiled and lonely and I could tell by the way she played with her baby dolls that she yearned for a sibling (baby fever is real).

BUT since the stakes were high, we decided not to rush into anything and take the next few months to think and pray about it. In the meantime, we consulted with doctors to see if I had any underlying health issue that could explain why I developed HELLP syndrome and especially why I developed it so early with Talita. Nobody really knows what causes HELLP but they know that certain people are more predisposed to develop it (i.e. people with high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, etc). After running a bunch of tests, everything came back normal. Maybe our experience with Talita was a fluke afterall. My doctors said there was still a chance I could develop some form of preeclampsia but that we had their blessing (so to speak) to try for #2.

So after months and months of prayer, we decided to go for it.  I took every precaution this time around. I wanted to be in top shape for this next pregnancy. I started taking prenatal vitamins early, I trained for and ran my first half-marathon, I ate healthier, and I prayed over my womb. We had bumps along the way and experienced an early miscarriage in May but in July we got the news that a baby was on its way!! I was ecstatic.

At my first appointment, around 7 weeks, my doctor noticed that my platelet count was going down yet again. She prescribed Levanox -an anticoagulant drug-to see if that would do the trick. After two weeks on that, there was no significant improvement so my hematologist decided to try IVIG treatments. The treatments are a blood product that are administered intravenously every three weeks and although they did not increase my platelet count, they did stabilize it.  As long as my platelets didn’t go lower than 20k, we could keep this baby in.

Since I knew this would be my last pregnancy, I tried to enjoy it as much as I could and not to take anything for granted. I have to say though, this baby gave me a run for my money!! Prolonged morning sickness, insomnia, stuffy nose, back pain, swelling, 10 infusion treatments, 5 ultrasounds, and many ob/gyn appointments. But every new week felt like a victory. I will always remember the gratitude and relief I felt once we crossed the 26 week mark and really, every week after that.

Around week 27, I started retaining water and began gaining weight quickly. By week 32, my legs were huge and painful from the swelling. I had gained almost 60 lbs and anything that required bending of the legs became a battle. I knew by then that it was only a matter of time until I would develop preeclampsia. Sure enough, at  my next check up at 33 weeks and 4 days, my Ob/Gyn confirmed it and sent me to the hospital for observation. Since my platelets were already low, it was bound to turn into HELLP syndrome so they scheduled me for a C-Section for two days later. I had really hoped to make it to at least 35 weeks but I was already much further along than with Talita so I felt rather optimistic about everything.

The night before I was scheduled for my C-section, after finishing dinner, I got up from my bed and felt a gush. I thought for sure my water had just broke but when I looked down, I saw a pool of blood instead. Seconds later, another gush. More blood. It took me a minute to register what was going on but suddenly I felt a wave of panic.Tony yelled for a nurse to come in and in no time, a team was there. Blood just kept coming out and I didn’t know if I was bleeding or if the baby was bleeding. In total panic and in tears, I kept asking if the baby was fine. They wouldn’t really answer my questions but instead wheeled me out and said they needed to prep me for surgery. In matter of minutes, I was in the OR and before I knew it I was completely out. Forty minutes later, 3 lbs 15 oz of chunk came out kicking and screaming!!

When I woke up, my nurse said I had a placental abruption. Thankfully, our daughter was fine. Tony showed me pictures and said she was doing very well. Forty eight hours later, I was well enough to meet our baby girl in the NICU. She was beautiful, tiny and perfect. She looked so small, it was hard to believe she was three times bigger than Talita at birth!

Once again, this was not the way I had pictured our birth but I am extremely grateful for the way things turned out.Time is everything with a placental abruption and I was at the right place, at the right time. Who knows what the outcome would have been had it happened two days before when I was home. Just the thought of it gives me chills.

Thankfully our story has a beautiful ending: I thanked God for my new blessing and got my tubes tied. Because after all this drama, we are not having any more biological kids. Ever. And this time it’s true!

31 weeks

31 weeks

Swollen legs

Swollen legs

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Infusion day

Holding our little Eliana for the first time

Holding our little Eliana for the first time