‘I don’t see a baby.’ The screen didn’t look right. There was just a blur and it was fuzzy. My whole body became hot.’: Woman gives birth to miracle baby, ‘I’m forever grateful’

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“I met my husband, Josh, in the fall of 2011. We attended the same university and had mutual friends. My daughter, Lili, had just turned 4 and from the very start, we became a family. My life’s dream was to be a mother and a wife, so after we got married in the summer of 2014, I could not wait for us to expand our family. When we found out we were expecting in February, I felt as if my dreams were all coming true. We were finally a family, and we had a new baby on the way.

Thinking back, that pregnancy had quite a few abnormalities from the beginning. At the first ultrasound, the technician said the baby was just too small to be able to see anything, as far as a heartbeat goes. She thought she maybe saw the sac and that was the end of the discussion. At my appointments, the doctor would say, ‘I can hear the heartbeat, but the baby is too quick for me to find it long enough for you to hear it for yourself,’ and ‘Your uterus is measuring on schedule.’ I was extremely ill the entire pregnancy, to the point where I couldn’t even hold down an apple or a piece of bread. As time went on, the sicker I would become. 

Courtesy of Caitlin Rutherford

We traveled to Josh’s hometown that April and thought it would be fun to go to one of those fun ultrasounds where they tell you the gender and print off pictures of your baby. We thought this would be the perfect way to tell our families while we were there. When we got to the ultrasound, I filled out the paperwork and laid down to begin, and immediately I could tell something wasn’t right. The technician was quiet. The screen didn’t look like it should have. It was fuzzy. There was no opening, there was no little baby. It just looked like a blur. Because it wasn’t a medical ultrasound, the technician couldn’t say anything other than, ‘You’ll have to consult with your doctor and let him know we could not detect a heartbeat.’ I immediately felt fear, sadness, and panic. How could this be? 

Because we were in another province and away from my doctor, we decided to go to the nearest hospital. It was in a smaller town so an ultrasound was not available. But the doctor took my blood and my HCG levels came back showing I was most definitely pregnant. Naively we decided that was reassurance enough and announced to our friends and family later that day we were expecting.

2 weeks later, I woke up and I was bleeding. A lot. I knew something was horribly wrong. Since we live in a remote area, we decided to travel to the nearest city hospital to see a specialist. When we arrived at the emergency room, I was scared. I wasn’t ready to hear what I knew was coming. That my baby no longer had a heartbeat. Instead, the doctor said something we had never heard of. ‘I don’t see a baby. This is a molar pregnancy.’ My whole body immediately became hot, my heart was racing, tears began to flow. What is a molar pregnancy? I had never heard of this until this very moment.

It was determined it was a Complete Molar Pregnancy. This is when an empty egg is fertilized by one or two sperm, and all of the genetic material from the father, while the egg’s chromosome is lost or inactivated. I was admitted the night and would receive my first D&C. The D&C did not successfully get rid of the full molar, and a month later, another D&C was done. Again, unsuccessfully able to fully kill this molar. The final option was chemotherapy.

I began chemotherapy at the end of August and finished at the end of November. Those few months were long, lonely, tiring, and hard. I was gaining an extreme amount of weight from the steroids and I was bloated from the chemotherapy. Chunks of my hair were falling out and I was ill and exhausted. Not what I envisioned for my first year of marriage, let alone at the age of 27. After my last round of chemotherapy, the oncologist told us we needed to wait 1 whole year before we could try to get pregnant again, but that after the year, she saw no reason why we wouldn’t go on to have a successful pregnancy.

Fast forward to 2016, then continue on through 2017 and 2018. Miscarriage after miscarriage. My heart was broken. Was it me? Was I doing something wrong? Our doctor suggested I get bloodwork done for any genetic abnormalities. When the bloodwork came back I did in fact carry a chromosome rearrangement known as a balanced translocation involving my chromosomes six and seven. We were immediately referred to a genetic counselor so we could fully understand what the future would look like for our family. While meeting with the counselor we were told while this typically doesn’t cause any health problems, it can lead to reproductive consequences, including increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.

As scary as it was, as defeated as I felt, I knew in my heart I was not ready to give up hope for our happy ending. We continued to try for the next year and a half, with devastating endings to each pregnancy. I could tell my husband was sad because I knew he wanted to have at least one child. But he never let it show and was always supportive. We would try to make our future look brighter by planning future trips since Lili was getting older and only has a few short years left until she graduates. By the summer of 2019, when I had my last miscarriage at the end of July, it was becoming clear we needed to change our direction and stop trying, but much to our surprise, I found out I was pregnant in the fall.

Courtesy of Caitlin Rutherford

I was terrified. I was not ready to go through the motions of yet another pregnancy only to lose my baby in the end. I always miscarried around 8 to 12 weeks. And the first trimester is always hard. I get the same symptoms with each pregnancy: morning sickness, migraines, extreme fatigue, heartburn, etc. I knew the drill. Find a calendar, look for the dates that would fall between 8 and 12 weeks, make sure we didn’t have any major plans for those dates because, in the past, I seemed to always miscarry when we had plans. Whether it be family in town visiting, a dance competition, a family member’s wedding, it never failed.

This time around, I was so used to the motions I decided I wouldn’t even go see the doctor. This may seem careless, but it is the worst experience when you go to the doctor’s office and get told by the nurse and then the doctor, ‘Congratulations!’ when deep down, you know this isn’t a celebratory matter. Next, you go to the lab for blood work, and it never fails, I get the same technician every time. Each time she says to me, ‘Congratulations! Is this your first baby?’ and each time I give a short-irritated reply of, ‘Nope.’ And finally, the dating ultrasound where I am told each time, ‘I’m not finding a heartbeat.’ I just wasn’t going to let myself go through that again.

Courtesy of Caitlin Rutherford

Thankfully 12 weeks went by and I hadn’t miscarried yet. Josh thought it was probably time for me to see the doctor in case it was another molar pregnancy. The day we went for our ultrasound was a day I will hold in my heart forever. When I rested back on the bed and the ultrasound technician began, my heart was racing. I was scared, just waiting for her to tell me the same old thing I hear each time. Mentally preparing myself to explain my story to yet another stranger. Instead, she stood up and said, ‘Let me go get your husband.’ To my confusion, I replied, ‘What? There is a heartbeat?’ She replied yes with a confused look on her face and left the room.

Courtesy of Caitlin Rutherford

I immediately cried tears of relief, shock, joy. Tears were streaming down my face when Josh arrived at the room with the technician. Because I was sobbing, he thought something was really wrong until she showed him the screen with our little baby girl, with her heartbeat working away. When the technician left the room we stood up and held each other, crying in disbelief. This was our time. This baby girl was ours and she was perfect and healthy.

For the remainder of my pregnancy, I experienced every single emotion. I was scared, excited, and nervous all at the same time. I was constantly terrified it all would be taken away. If I couldn’t feel her kick, I would push on my belly or move around, anything to make her move just so I could put my mind at ease. But through all of the nervousness, was also joy. My pregnancy was one of the happiest times of my life, and I could not wait to experience every single part of it, even the labor.

Courtesy of Caitlin Rutherford

She arrived happy and healthy on July 19, 2020. She is 20 weeks old and not a day goes by I am not grateful for her and my experiences. As hard as this journey has been for our family, it has made me appreciate every single bit of being a mother. Being HER mother. I am forever grateful.”

Courtesy of Caitlin Rutherford

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Caitlin Rutherford from Manning, Alberta. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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