“Growing up, the one thing I always knew I wanted to be was a mother. I dreamt of the day I’d have my own little girl to call my best friend. My husband and I met on a dating website in December 2012 when we were both seniors in high school. I made it clear from the beginning that I wanted children one day and it was something I wasn’t willing to change for anyone. We had a rough start to our relationship just like any other high school couple. There were a few break ups along the way but nothing too major. I think we’ve both always known we were meant to be together, but we both just had to mature a little bit before getting too serious.
My husband graduated a little early, so he worked hard to move out of his parents house and into his own apartment. I joined him right after I graduated at the end of May 2013. On the one year anniversary of us dating, my husband decided to ask me to marry him. Obviously I said yes. We were in no rush to get married though, we planned on having a long engagement. However, we decided to up and move 1,000 miles away from our home in Ohio to Oklahoma in February of 2015. We essentially eloped once we made it to Oklahoma. We didn’t care for the big wedding, we just wanted to be husband and wife. We moved back to Ohio for personal family issues a few months later and spent the next 4 years living in a camper on a family member’s property so we could build our credit and save to buy our forever home.
Our journey to being parents began in January 2019. After being together for 6 years and married for almost 4 of those years, my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby. We were in the process of purchasing our first home, we both had a steady income, and we were finally about as ready as we ever could be. First try, we fell pregnant. I got that first positive test the day before Valentine’s Day and we were ecstatic! We immediately called our family and friends to tell them the news and made a Facebook announcement. Why wouldn’t we? We had no reason to not be excited! One of my biggest fears was not being able to get pregnant because of my weight and that fear was gone within seconds of seeing the second line.
First ultrasound, all looked great. We had a single baby in the correct location with a beautiful heartbeat. I started spotting the night we moved into our beautiful home, March 15th. I spent our first night in our new home, in the hospital instead. Our baby still had a heartbeat and all seemed to be okay, so they sent me home to follow up with my OB. Then the night of March 20th, things got heavier and cramping started. I knew what was happening but I didn’t want to believe it. I had a doctor’s appointment for another ultrasound the next morning. That day absolutely broke me. It was the most traumatic and heartbreaking experience I’ve ever been through, sitting in the waiting room surrounded by all of these visibly pregnant women while I sat there in pain knowing I was losing my baby.
An ultrasound confirmed I had passed our baby. I spent the next couple of weeks crying non-stop from not only physical pain, but emotional pain too. I felt like I was alone, like I was the only one who really cared. In reality, people cared, but not many around me knew the pain of a miscarriage. Those who did reached out privately to let me know I was not alone. At my follow up, my doctor assured me this is common and it’s rare for it to happen again. So when I was cleared, we started trying again immediately. This time it took a couple cycles, but we got another positive on May 21st. We were excited but kept our guard up. We waited a few days before telling anyone due to our fear of the worst happening again. But on May 29th, it all started again. This time, the doctor told me they wouldn’t start any testing until I’ve had 3 miscarriages. That was gut wrenching. You’re telling me I have to possibly go through this again before we can start finding out any answers!?
After being cleared, we once again started trying. This time it took awhile, but we got another positive on November 14th. We were so so scared, for obvious reasons. But as long as all went well, we were excited to announce to our families around Christmas! I was in a few ‘TTC (trying to conceive) after miscarriage’ groups on Facebook and many women mentioned low progesterone being an issue with TTC in women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which I was diagnosed with in 2013. I brought this up to my doctor and demanded my progesterone be tested when they did the blood draw to confirm pregnancy. He didn’t want to do it, but he did it anyways. When the results came back, he said they looked fine, but from reading so many other women’s stories, I knew my progesterone levels were low. He still didn’t seem concerned and didn’t want to prescribe me progesterone supplements.
Once again, a few weeks later on December 6th, it happened. We lost another baby. 3 in less than a year! We were broken. My strength and faith were being tested. I was emotionally exhausted. I was just done. I went for my follow up after my third loss and the doctor looked at my blood work and said my progesterone was a little low. REALLY? I was SO angry that he didn’t listen to me from the beginning. I had to go back for another follow up to make sure my HCG levels went completely down. All the doctor had to say that time was, ‘Have you tried Adipex to lose weight? I sell it at my spa.’ I felt so defeated. I obviously had no issue getting pregnant, I just needed to STAY pregnant and that doctor obviously only cared about my weight. I left his office that day and immediately made an appointment with a different doctor at a completely different office.
I had that appointment in March of 2020. She listened to my concerns, made me feel like she truly cared, wanted to help me get pregnant and stay pregnant, and never once mentioned my weight as being a problem. I told her from the beginning I needed help, not just to be told I’m fat and need to lose weight. She understood, was upset for me, and told me she was confident we could get pregnant and stay pregnant. She prescribed me progesterone that day to start taking every cycle after ovulation and a daily baby aspirin. After 5 cycles of progesterone with no luck, we were getting discouraged. We had thought about just giving up and looking into adoption because IVF, IUI, or surrogacy were not options financially for us unfortunately.
Actually, in a sense we had given up. I didn’t test for ovulation the next cycle like I had been cycle after cycle for the past year and didn’t track anything. I hadn’t missed my period yet, but my body started feeling just like it had the other 3 times I fell pregnant. I didn’t want to test because I thought it would be a waste of time and just a huge disappointment to see once again, another negative, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. To my surprise, on July 1st I got the faintest positive on a cheap 88¢ Walmart test. It was so faint, but it was positive! We were beyond terrified. We weren’t telling anyone – not our family, friends, Facebook – no one! We just figured it would turn out like the other three. Honestly, it seemed like each time we announced a new pregnancy, friends and family seemed less thrilled anyways, which was just discouraging to us but we tried not to let it bother us. Our hopes were at rock bottom, but we tried our absolute hardest to stay positive because someone needed to believe in this little miracle.
All was going great until I lost my dad unexpectedly to suicide on July 9th. My body was under a tremendous amount of stress and I was terrified that would be the end of our rainbow baby. I tried my hardest to stay strong, I knew I needed to for the sweet baby I was carrying. We tried to remain positive. We decided to find out the gender at 8 weeks by blood test, something we had never done the other times due to fear of becoming too attached. It was a girl! My dream was coming true, if only I could just make it to term. I just kept telling myself if we can make it to 14 weeks, we’ll be in the 2nd trimester and past the danger zone. If we make it to 20 weeks, we’ll be half way. If we make it to 24 weeks, we’ll be at viability. We continued surpassing these milestones I set for us and it was becoming so real. We were so close to the end! I had a pretty easy pregnancy aside from some pelvic pain, gestational diabetes, and one scare with very light contractions that stopped on their own.
On the morning of January 2, 2021 at 29 weeks and 6 days, I hadn’t felt any movement all morning. I decided to go to labor and delivery to get checked out just to be on the safe side. The on call doctor was the same one who only wanted to blame my weight for all of my losses, which was upsetting, but there was nothing I could do about it. After monitoring the baby for hours, he decided to send me 2 hours away to another hospital because her heart rate kept dropping and there at our local hospital, they are not equipped to deliver a 30-week baby. Once at the new hospital, I spent another almost 2 days being monitored, hooked up to multiple IVs, getting injection after injection to strengthen the baby’s lungs, and I was not allowed to eat or drink. My husband wasn’t even allowed to stay with me the first day due to COVID-19 guidelines. I was so scared and lonely. Her heart rate continued to drop and it was only taking longer and longer to come back up every time. They wanted to get two doses of steroids in me to strengthen her lungs and they had to be spaced out 24 hours.
On the morning of January 4th at around 5:30 a.m., I received the second steroid shot and at 7:55 a.m., I delivered our rainbow baby, Ember Jaymes Jackson, at only 30 weeks and 1 day via emergency C-section, weighing just a tiny but mighty 2 pounds and 15 ounces. Her cry was something we were told to prepare ourselves not to hear, but she came out with the cutest little squeal I’ve ever heard and a head full of hair! I can’t speak much on my experience with labor since I didn’t get to experience labor. Delivery, though – wow was it scary. I had never had a major surgery in my entire 25 years on this earth until that day. Scary is an understatement if I’m being honest. Not only was this my first major surgery, but my husband and I were completely alone. We weren’t allowed to have any family with us per the COVID-19 guidelines.
I remember my entire body shaking uncontrollably from the adrenaline and nerves from the time they rushed me back to the OR to the time I made it back to the recovery room. Once the surgery was done though, all I wanted was to go see my baby. I saw her briefly in the OR as they wheeled her past me to take her to the NICU, but it was from a distance and her entire face was covered by a CPAP mask to help her breathe. We didn’t get to experience that initial skin to skin contact in the OR. I had to wait until the next day to hold my own baby and only one of us could hold her as to not stress her out too much. I can’t even describe the feeling of holding something so tiny and fragile in my hands; it was terrifying.
We had a 2-month NICU stay that was nothing short of mentally exhausting. It was a roller coaster ride from the start to the very end. From MRSA, to a NEC diagnosis, to a blood clot in her leg, multiple failures coming off of CPAP, learning to eat from a bottle, to failing her car seat test the day before we were supposed to be discharged to go home, our girl went through it all. By the grace of God and many, many prayers we brought our sweet girl home on March 6th, just a few days shy of her due date of March 14th. I look at her now and can’t imagine my life without her. I can’t believe we almost gave up! We would go through it all again just to be where we are now. Ember is nothing short of a miracle in our eyes and we are beyond blessed to finally have her in our arms.
I am proud of myself for not letting my weight be the only answer for my recurrent miscarriages. If you have experienced miscarriage, you are not alone. Speak about it, even if it makes others uncomfortable. It only makes people uncomfortable because it’s something not spoken about often enough. Women think miscarriage is something to hide because they feel like it is somehow their fault. I despised the doctors telling me each time it was nothing I had done wrong that caused the miscarriages. I thought surely it was my fault. Looking back, I wish I would have given myself some slack to allow myself to grieve properly. Blaming myself was not helping in any way. I built up a lot of anger towards myself. Miscarriage is so much more common than most people think. 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage and I want to repeat one more time, you are not alone! I am 1 in 4.”
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