My Miracle Baby: Journey's End
I've always been healthy with no major problems. However, a few months before my 18th birthday my mom advised me to see a Doctor because I had not menstruated in over a year and she was concerned. My nurse practitioner ran bloodwork and right away diagnosed me with PCOS. The PCOS symptoms I have are of course no menstruation, insulin resistance and many cysts (undeveloped follicles) on my ovaries.
When I was diagnosed with PCOS, I was told I would not be able to conceive without the help of fertility medications. So, at age 24 my husband and I decided to begin trying. A new doctor prescribed Metformin and said to take it exclusively for 8 months to see if it helped me to ovulate. It did nothing but make me sick the entire time – not so much as one period.
Moving onto Clomid, I started with 50mg the 1st month - no ovulation; 100mg the 2nd month - no ovulation; then 150mg the 3rd month. This brought on a weak ovulation so we continued at that dose for 2 more months which were a bust...no ovulation.
The OB/GYN I was seeing told me she could no longer help me and that she needed to refer me to a reproductive endocrinologist. I was prescribed Femara and continued with this medication along with ultrasounds to monitor follicle growth. For two months we had what we thought were follicles but after receiving the trigger shot, there was no ovulation.
A laparoscopy was undertaken to make sure there were no other problems with my reproductive system before we began advanced fertility medications...injections. The laparoscopy revealed I had a slight case of endometriosis but nothing to worry about, so we began our first round of fertility medication Follistim. The doctor started me off at a low dosage, then checked me five days later during which I had already developed five follicles.
My estradiol level was extremely high resulting in painful Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), a condition that happens when too many follicles mature at the same time. I was given a talk about the risk of multiples then, once again, given the trigger shot. This resulted in ovulation FINALLY and 12 days later in Dec. 2005 my blood pregnancy test came back positive.
Unfortunately, I began spotting on Christmas Eve and miscarried on Dec. 28th. Since I was only 7.5 weeks along no further testing was done. After my HCg (human chorionic gonadotropin, the hormone produced by a developing fetus) levels dropped back to zero, we once again tried the Follistim but we had to take a lower dosage to prevent the OHSS.
Once again, ultrasounds showed I was responding to the treatment - I had several follicles ready to be released. However, that round did not result in pregnancy.
When my period showed we began our 3rd round of Follistim in April 2006 and this time I had 3 large follicles. I was given the trigger shot and ovulated, resulting again in OHSS though much less serious. We found out we had been successful ... we were pregnant.
We saw our baby moving at 9 and 12 weeks but at the 15th week I noticed ONE spot of blood. I was assured by the doctors that this was probably nothing and, to ease my mind, they would do another ultrasound. When the Doctor began the ultrasound he was very quiet and my heart dropped. I just knew something was wrong; he was too solemn and I could just feel it. What seemed like forever went by before he looked at me and said "Sweetheart, there is no heartbeat."
I was devastated. He continued to look but was unable to see it. On the monitor, he showed me my baby, no movement and the heart chamber was just as still. My baby had died. He termed it IUFD, intra-uterine fetal demise.
In Aug. 2006, I was sent to Maternal Fetal Medicine at a university hospital for another ultrasound and to confirm his diagnosis. Once there, they confirmed IUFD and I was advised to report to the hospital no later than the following day to remove the fetus. Since I was so far along in the pregnancy I had an induced labor. The fetus was contaminated in the hospital so the lab was never able to run testing for the reason we lost our baby.
My reproductive endocrinologist then gave me the news he was moving his practice. We found another Doctor and many tests were run from STD to karyotypes (a genetics profile that shows the complete set of chromosomes of a cell or organism). In Nov. 2006 we began treatments with our new Doctor but at our first appointment I had a large cyst and had to sit out a treatment. They ran more tests and this is when they finally came back with Antiphosolipid Syndrome.
This syndrome creates clots that could clog up the placenta and stop the baby's heart. The blood thinner, Heparin, was prescribed and I was instructed to begin injections 2X a day starting when I received my trigger shot.
The following month I was given Lupron to suppress my ovaries but after a few shots it was clear that my body had actually begun creating follicles on its own. Following 2 days of Follistim, then a trigger shot, I ovulated but did not get pregnant.
The next month, Jan 2007, I started with Lupron followed by 6 days of Follistim, and a Novarel trigger shot once the ultrasound showed 3 large follicles. I began the Heparin that same day.
At the end of the month my bloodwork showed we were once again successful, we were pregnant AGAIN. I was so scared and did not want to get excited because I just knew I was going to lose this baby also.
I began seeing a Maternal Fetal Medicine practice at 9 weeks and was advised to continue my Metformin and Heparin. My pregnancy progressed nicely. At 17 weeks, we found out we were having a little boy.
At 25 weeks I began having tightening in my abdomen which later I found out were contractions. After several days, I mentioned them to my Doctor at my bi-weekly visit. He checked my cervix and it was still high and closed. He advised me if I had more than five contractions within an hour to go to Labor & Delivery.
Two days later I was still having several more. I was continually monitored at the hospital and they were 4-8 minutes apart but not affecting my cervix. A shot of Terbutaline was given when the contractions did not let up – and finally, they slowed down.
I found myself once again in Labor & Delivery with contractions two days later but my cervix was unaffected so I was released.
The rest of my pregnancy went fine. And at 39 weeks I was scheduled to be induced Oct 8th so that I could stop my Heparin injections before delivery. I reported to the hospital at 7:30 p.m. and was checked prior to starting Cervidil to ripen my cervix. My exam revealed that I was already 3 cm dilated and contracting every 4 minutes.
I found this so funny since I had been having contractions since the 25th week. I had not even realized that I was in labor.
By 11:00 p.m. I was ready for an epidural but since the anesthesiologist was busy I had to wait until midnight. Because of a previous back injury my epidural was placed a little higher on the spine than usual.
Strangely, once they began to run the meds into the epidural my hearing began to tunnel and I lost it completely. I saw the Doctor injecting syringes into my IV and my hearing returned - turns out my blood pressure had dropped too low and they would not be able to administer the full dosage to me.
I tried to rest through the night but at 4:00 a.m. on Oct 9th I was checked and was only dilated to 5 cm so they broke my water. This got my labor progressing quickly. At 8:00 a.m. I was dilated to 10 cm and wanted to push. The nurse told me I could push if I felt I had to but the baby had not dropped completely. He was still at zero station ... and that I would be pushing for a while.
Much to everyone's surprise I only pushed for 30 minutes and at 8:42 a.m. my miracle baby was born. Lincoln James McGowan - weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces and 19 inches long. He is just perfect. The love I feel is unbelievable, words just cannot express the love I feel. He makes all the pain and suffering we endured with our treatments just melt away.
– Christina McGowan