Miracle Babies: Ashli's gift after 5 miscarriages

All Woman

Miracle Babies: Ashli's gift after 5 miscarriages


Monday, September 07, 2020

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This is the fifth in a series of women's journeys to motherhood after suffering through pregnancy loss, and/or gynaecological issues that may affect fertility or complicate pregnancy. These include conditions like endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The aim of these stories is to raise awareness about female reproductive issues, and help women to identify when something is amiss, while serving as a beacon of hope for women with similar stories.

IN the sixth month of her first pregnancy, Ashli O'Connor and her spouse went to do the routine ultrasound. She was having a great pregnancy so far, and she was excited to find out the sex of the baby. What she found out instead, however, was that the pregnancy was coming to an abrupt end.

“The doctor said everything looked good. She just needed to take some measurements of the baby. Then we noticed the doctor went quiet. I asked if everything was okay. All she said was, 'I'm going to give you the results and you should go back to your OBGYN today',” O'Connor related to All Woman.

Confused, the couple went back to the OBGYN, only to be more confused when she looked at the report and said, 'This pregnancy isn't going anywhere, you guys are young, it happens, you can try again. I'll induce you next week and you'll be fine.' O'Connor was stunned silent.

“Throughout the appointment I could feel the baby moving and kicking,” she remembered. “She explained that I somehow either lost the amniotic fluid or the baby's kidney wasn't developing properly, as the baby's urine is what makes up the amniotic fluid, and I seemed to have almost none, so the baby would eventually die and at that stage in pregnancy the baby would not survive.”

Though she pleaded and queried, there was nothing that she could have done. She was allowed two weeks to see if the baby would begin progressing, but she could feel his movements getting less each day.

“I was then induced at Nuttall Memorial Hospital, where after 10 hours of labour I delivered a stillborn baby boy. This was the most painful experience of my life. We got to see him for a couple minutes after delivery to say our goodbyes,” the mother shared.

She was broken. Never had she imagined that at 25 she would suffer such a terrible loss. Everything had been going so well. Before pregnancy her periods were normal, and she had never been on any form of birth control.

“How do I get closure? I was pregnant, laboured and delivered a baby boy but I'm going home empty handed. I walked out of Nuttall the next day, and it was almost as if none of the last six months happened,” she said, reliving the memory.

After two years of grieving their son, the couple decided to try again. When she realised she was pregnant in April 2017, O'Connor left nothing to chance. She didn't miss a prenatal tablet. She guzzled water around the clock. She got a new OBGYN, and even a new car to ensure she didn't have bumpy rides while pregnant.

“At five weeks I went and did my first ultrasound and the doctor was able to see a small gestational sac,” she smiled. “She told me I had a retroverted uterus, which I was hearing about for the first time. We went back at eight weeks and the heartbeat was there. The baby was progressing.”

But the very next morning O'Connor woke up and realised that she was spotting. Her OBGYN told her that a little light spotting was sometimes normal, but by the end of the day the bleeding began to increase.

“I started having abdominal pain and I eventually felt like a lump was coming out of me…”

Her doctor confirmed the worst the next day, and encouraged her to try again as soon as possible.

She got pregnant again that July and miscarried. Then in January again, only to have another miscarriage at 11 weeks.

“I was then labelled as having recurrent pregnancy loss,” she said sadly.

On a friend's advice, she went to see a fertility specialist who advised her to get pregnant again so that she could run some tests.

“At this point getting pregnant no longer excited me, it was a 'here we go again' feeling. I tried my best not to get attached to any pregnancy,” she shared.

Mother's Day was especially hard for O'Connor to bear.

“I was a mother with Angel babies,” she said simply. “People weren't sure what to say on this day. Do you tell her 'Happy Mother's Day' when she isn't happy? I used to just stay in bed and ignore everything on Mother's Day.”

She got pregnant again in June 2018, and miscarried once more.

“My doctor was unfortunately off the island, so no investigation was done. I was defeated again,” she recalled.

When the couple walked into Dr Michelle Bailey's office that October, they were full of questions and very frustrated. O'Connor had decided that this was the last shot she was willing to take.

“That very day Dr Bailey was able to come up with a game plan based on our history, but also prepared us for the worst. Right away she sent us for a series of tests, but everything came back normal.”

The doctor performed a hysteroscopy/endometrial scratch at the Hugh Wynter Fertility Management Unit at The University of the West Indies to 'freshen up the uterus' and get out any scar tissue.

“The procedure was quick and pain-free,” O'Connor said excitedly. “In December 2018 I was pregnant. She quickly started me on several medications and supplements. Then at eight weeks she started me on an injection that I had to take daily. It wasn't easy to follow this regimen, but it was worth it.”

At 13 weeks Dr Bailey put in a cervical cerclage (stitch) and an ultrasound was done at every visit. At 38 weeks Dr Bailey decided to induce O'Connor, as she noticed an oddity on the ultrasound.

“She induced me two days later, on August 19, 2019. Everything was progressing for a vaginal delivery and then it wasn't. She said, 'Ash we are ready for an emergency C-section.' In no time, she had Lia in her hands,” the mother beamed. She finally had her sweet little Lia Galbraith.

“Lia turned one last week and I am very thankful for my Rainbow baby,” O'Connor said. “She is truly a living testimony of determination, hope, prayers, faith, love and God's abundance. I am blessed that at the end of my painful journey to becoming a mother, I have such a happy ending.”

Can you relate to getting pregnant despite the odds? If you have had a baby after suffering pregnancy loss or gynaecological issues that affected your fertility, share your birth story with us and inspire others. Send e-mails to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com

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