I made it! I didn’t mean to have such negative thoughts but, after losing my first child it was hard to believe that the same thing wouldn’t happen again. I was skeptical and had it in my mind that if I reached 22 weeks (which is when I had my still-birth) that just maybe this was actually going to have a different outcome. Well, here I’am…I’m 23 weeks and with just a few complications along the way everything is going perfectly. When I think back to the beginning of this pregnancy I felt like “Geez Kristin, think more positively”. I have to admit, it is very hard to do so after being dealt such an awful hand so long ago. I mean, of course everything is fine, this is how it was meant to be!
When I met my husband Matt, I actually told him that I wasn’t sure I’d ever have children of my own. I thought that he needed to know that very early on incase that changed his mind about dating me. That combined with the Spina Bifida conversation was not easy for me to tell him. I felt like it was a double whamy and was truly worried he would run in the other direction. Of course he didn’t (again, another “Geez Kristin” moment) and that’s when I knew he really was a keeper. He was super supportive! Fast forward a year after we got married, we decided to start seeking medical advice to see if trying to get pregnant was even a good idea.
I live in New Hampshire where there are absolutely no Spina Bifida clinics in sight for adults. However, I had heard from a friend that there were amazing doctors at Brigham & Women’s Hospital (B&W) in Boston, MA. I decided to basically create my very own Spina Bifida clinic by first finding a urologist in the same hospital to take over my regular care and go from there. After plenty of research, I eventually got the recommendation from a fellow Spina Bifida warrior to see Dr. Eswara at B&W. Truthfully, I was relieved to be leaving my current doctor since he just never seemed to be a great fit for me. The first time I met Dr. Eswara I instantly felt at home; he was so knowledgeable in adults with Spina Bifida, very kind and empathetic to our concerns about trying to have a baby. He talked about how women with Spina Bifida are already prone to more UTI’s but pregnant women with Spina Bifida are at an even higher risk. He also assured us that there was no harm in trying and that he would take very good care of us; that was the first time I had ever smiled after losing my son and thinking about trying again.
Recap: About 13 years ago I was pregnant with a boy and during that pregnancy my kidney’s and bladder basically completely failed to do their job. I ended up having many, many severe kidney infections that led to having drains placed and strong antibiotics just to keep me alive. Unfortunately, that led to my baby’s demise. (check out my previous blog to learn more)
So, you can see why it was so important for me to have the best Urologist on board during this pregnancy. Having someone like Dr. Eswara who had our back in trying to do this was the first step. After we met with Dr. Eswara, we quickly realized through much research that it was time to also meet with Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) as this would be considered a high risk pregnancy. My regular OBGYN described it as – everyone in the medical field has to do a residency in OBGYN, but those who work at MFM have decided to become the experts and a concentration in less common and/or more rare, risky areas of Gynecology. Basically, our regular OBGYN is able to care for a “regular pregnancy”, but for someone with a birth defect, they would gladly transfer me to the experts. So, we called to schedule our first consultation and drove the hour to Boston to meet with Dr. Nicole Smith at MFM. My mom even made the trip with us as I really needed all my favorite people with me. I needed to be reassured by her that I was safe. I mean let’s face it, sometimes you just need your mom.
Well, we were blown away by Dr. Smith’s knowledge of women with Spina Bifida having babies, all the different outcomes and methods they implemented in the past to make sure these women had healthy, happy babies.
“My Colleague and I could write a case study based on the amount of women we have treated with Spina Bifida and are pregnant” – Dr. Nicole Smith
My jaw dropped… We left that appointment much more hopeful than ever before. Dr. Smith assured us that she would do everything in her power to make sure we had a happy outcome this time and was confident that everything would be OK. She said we could have a baby! I really couldn’t believe it. I had all these experts telling us to go for it! I thought to myself, “Do they really understand what happened last time? Are they crazy?” Of course, this is why I had my mom and husband by my side every step of the way. They were there to talk me off the ledge over a slice of pizza, and in that moment we decided we were definitely going to do this!
We found out we were pregnant in August of 2018 and balled our eyes out! I was shaking like a leaf when I told my hubby. I was so happy I could explode but also extremely scared – as I mentioned before I had my doubts – At about 12 weeks I ended up with a bad kidney infection. You see, I already have reflux (hydronephrosis) in both my kidneys, and it seems as though adding a small human to the mix can be irritating to these sassy kidney’s! I was hospitalized for 4 days and some serious antibiotics, which everyone thought would help, but two weeks later, I was rushed to the hospital again for the same problem – come to find out, I had a kidney stone (normal in any pregnancy) that was harboring the bad bacteria, which the antibiotics don’t always kill the first treatment – amazing how much you learn spending 9 days in the Hospital! Just call me Dr. Marquis! My spirits were down a little, but I had my husband constantly telling me that I was stronger than whatever was trying to defeat me, that as a team and with the doctors we have, we were in great hands. After those two bumps in the road it has been smooth sailing (I’m nervous even writing that down that I might jinx it). Today I’m 23 weeks and just had a urine culture come back NORMAL! That hasn’t happened since the beginning of this pregnancy! I was so psyched I treated myself to a trip to Target!
At my last appointment I felt the need to confide in Dr. Smith that I was skeptical that I would even make it this far. I told her that from here on out, I would think positively (my New Year resolution). I wanted to change my perspective and put out there what I hope the Universe would help me achieve… a healthy, happy pregnancy. Now instead of viewing my body as broken, I’m seeing it as something truly amazing. It has gotten me through the toughest times. It is changing to create life and I’m in awe everyday, so I’m going to sit back and watch my body do it’s thang! It may not be perfect, but that’s OK because perfect is boring anyway!
I guess the reason for writing this story is just that, this is a new chapter in my story with Spina Bifida that I thought someone else might be able to relate. This scary time in my life has felt a little lonely as I have had no one to relate to, but thankfully I have the best support system in the whole-wide world. I hope this helps someone else going through a similar story. Maybe you have Spina Bifida and are wondering how a pregnancy might go and how you can prepare. Maybe you have lost a baby in the past and wish you could have someone to talk to about the struggle of trying again. If so, I’m your girl! Since starting this blog if I have learned one thing; only you can write your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.