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High Risk Hope

Families Share Their Stories of High Risk Pregnancies

PatientStories_BiancaTroche

Bianca Troche and her husband Jonathan were excited when they found out that they were pregnant, but finding out they were going to have twins meant that they were going to have a high risk pregnancy entailing weeks of bedrest. This is their story:

When did you know you were going to have a high risk pregnancy and what did you have to do as a result of it?
We were expecting one baby, and God surprised us and blessed us with two. I didn’t find out I was having twins until I was 18 weeks pregnant. We went to the hospital to find out the sex of our baby and found out were having twin girls. My emotions went from nervous to excited to terrified. We decided we could handle this, then a split second later I was declared high risk. We were having mono-mono twins, which are extremely rare, happening in less than 1% of all twin pregnancies.

The twins share absolutely everything causing their cords to become entangled. This causes the blood and oxygen circulation to potentially be cut off as long as the pregnancy continues. The possibilities were losing one or both my babies, early delivery or having to choose one if it came down to it—anything horrible a mother never wants to think of.

I was admitted to Tampa General Hospital when I was 28 weeks pregnant. While hospitalized I found out I had gestational diabetes. Not only was I stuck in the hospital, but my diet was highly regulated. I was there for two weeks and saw my son and husband just a few times. It hurt me to my core to leave my son. A High Risk Hope volunteer delivered a bed rest basket to my room and we began talking. She also had identical twins in the NICU who grew to be absolutely beautiful. From that point on I had hope!

At 29 weeks I was rushed to labor and delivery because one twin’s, (Julianna’s), heart rate kept dipping along with mild contractions. After 2 1/2 days with discomfort and no food, I had to undergo an emergency cesarean section. Julianna had the cord wrapped around her neck. I was 29 weeks and 6 days, and expected to have them at 33 weeks. Annelise weighed 2.9 pounds and Julianna weighed 2.11 pounds. They came out screaming. It was beautiful.

My worries didn’t end there. Annelise had a grade three brain bleed, four being the worst. My heart shattered into a million pieces. She got sick and needed antibiotics twice. It was stressful enough to have babies in the NICU. I cried my eyes out when I had to go home. With my husband working, I was only able to see them evenings. It really took a toll on my 2-year-old, as all he saw were the four walls of the hospital. A HRH NICU Napsack was delivered to each of my babies’ rooms and I was beaming. I think it is amazing that anyone can be so selfless and support mothers and families with NICU babies. Very convenient supplies also; I stayed in the NICU overnight and I had everything I needed right there in the bag.

A couple of weeks before my girls were discharged, Annelise had one more head sonogram. At that moment when I got the results, I knew God was listening to me. Her sonogram read grade one. I couldn’t believe it; it was an absolute miracle!
Two months later, we brought home two chunky, beautiful and perfect miracle babies.

During your high risk pregnancy, what were some of the most important things other people could do or did that helped you the most? For example, did your family help out and pitch in extra?
Living here in Florida is a big step for me because it was just me and my husband and a few friends that we made while we were out here. My entire family lives in New York. So, coming here was a real leap but my two friends, Raquel and Christina, were a really big support system through my high risk pregnancy. They offered to take me to my appointments if my husband was working and they wanted to watch my son so I could sleep during the day, so that meant a lot to me since it was really overwhelming.

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for parents going through high risk pregnancies?
It is easier said than done, but just relax. From experience, stressing only makes it worse. Crying all the time only makes it worse. But, if you do have to cry, don’t hold it back and make sure that you talk to somebody because holding it in is worse than keeping it inside. And as far as your baby coming early: I always say they may be a little bit early but that just means you get to love them a little bit longer.

If you have older children, how did they handle the change in family dynamic during your high risk pregnancy?
It was really overwhelming for him because he tagged along through all of my doctor’s appointments and hospital visits and when I was on my bed rest it was really difficult for him. I am a stay-at-home mom, so it was really difficult for me to separate from him and it was difficult for him because he is used to me putting him in bed every night. It was stressful on both of us and there were times that he couldn’t even go to sleep because he was looking for me around the house. It breaks my heart. He would come to the hospital to visit me with my husband and I would be in tears when they left because he didn’t want to say goodbye to me.

The Olsen Family

The Olsen Babies

Shea and Chris Olsen have six children together, five sons and one daughter. It was two years ago this October when they became pregnant with their triplets. That pregnancy was challenging and brought their family into a time of stress. But the high-stress was worth it for their three tiny beautiful rewards. Here is their story:

Tell us about your story. When did you know you were going to have a high risk pregnancy?
Two years ago this October, my husband and I found out that we were expecting. It came as a big surprise because we weren’t planning on having more children. We also had private insurance with no maternity coverage and were in search of a forever home for our family. That added to the initial shock, but we weren’t upset about expanding our family by one more (and I was not-so-secretly hoping for another girl!).

I started feeling sick right away, which was new to me as I didn’t have a lot of morning sickness with the others. I also started growing very quickly in the mid-section. By 8 weeks, I looked like I was about half-way through with my pregnancy. I was terrified of having twins and my anxiety heightened as I was getting twin jokes from everyone who saw my belly. The day of my ultrasound, my husband went off to work (because we’ve done this three times) and I headed for the doctor’s office. I joked with the ultrasound tech about twins and she calmed me down. Right away, we saw two amniotic sacs and I gasped. I think my words were, “Oh no! Twins!” and she laid her hand on my shoulders and said, “No honey, triplets.” There they were — all three amniotic sacs and three little heartbeats. At that point, I just started crying. Triplets?!? I never entertained the idea of more than two and doubling my children in one shot! We took a breather and I cried on her shoulder, covering her scrubs with mascara. We decided to bring in some of the nurses and doctors in the office that day to share the news. Although everyone was excited for me, there were also nerves because this was now a high-risk pregnancy. After lots of laughs and tears, I finished my appointment and sent my husband a picture of our ultrasound. He immediately called me and we were in complete and utter shock. He initially thought I was joking and quickly went silent. Then a few words came out. Words that I can’t repeat, but are understandable after getting this type of news.

I was very fortunate to have a fairly uneventful triplet pregnancy. I had a LOT of morning sickness, an allergy issue and one trip to the ER with dehydration, but no big complaints. I had no blood pressure issues and did not have gestational diabetes. I gained 28 pounds, which is generally not enough for a triplet pregnancy, but I lost so much at the beginning with morning sickness. I didn’t follow a strict diet, but I tried to eat as healthy as possible and allow myself to indulge when a craving hit. I’m pretty sure I kept my local Smoothie King and Five Guys in business during that time. At 15 weeks, we found out that we were expecting three BOYS. It was another sob fest for me, but my husband was on top of the world. I was OK really. I just wanted desperately to give my daughter a sister.

I grew very tired around 25 weeks and at 28 weeks, I knew taking care of my big kids was just too much. Although I was never on official bed rest, my Mother was gracious enough to take my big kids all day while my husband was working. This allowed me to rest and nest. I believe with everything in me that her help (and my husband’s help at home) allowed me to carry those babies as long as I did. The doctor set a tentative date for a C-section, knowing I may not carry that long. I was scheduled to deliver on May 27 which would put me around 36 weeks. I had discussed the idea of delivering vaginally, but it’s not typical for this type of pregnancy because of the risks involved. I was 32 weeks when I went to the OB for a regular check-up. I had been having inconsistent contractions all week and the night before was a difficult one. I mentioned this and my doctor decided to check me. I was 3 cm along and they advised me to go to the hospital. I arrived that evening and the labor began! It was then, we found out that babies A and B were vertex (head down) and C was transverse. I was persistent about delivering vaginally, but assured the doctors that I was comfortable with their decision either way. I would have to deliver in the OR in the event I needed an emergency C-section. I was fully dilated around 9 a.m. when they wheeled me into the OR. I can’t say why the doctors agreed to let me try, but I believe the stars aligned that day and of course I had the best doctors in the world.

With two OB’s, my husband, and over 20 other medical professionals in the OR, I delivered Baby A (Drew) at 9:38 am, Baby B (Kipton) at 10:04am and Baby C (Beckett) at 10:11am. Drew was 3 pounds 13 ounces, Kip weighed in at 3 pounds 7 ounces and Beckett at 3 pounds 2 ounces. They were rockstars and only needed CPAP for about 24 hours and were on room air by the end of the second day. The moment I will never forget (and still makes me tear up) was being wheeled out of the OR and down the hall to my room. The entire hallway was lined with nurses, doctors and staff cheering me on and giving high-fives. It was amazing! My mom and big sister were waiting for me at the end of the hallway with huge smiles. All I could say was, “We did it!” And by we, I mean all involved. The saying, ‘It takes a village’, could not be more true.

Our boys spent four weeks in the NICU as feeders and growers. We had a few minor setbacks, but we are so fortunate that all three were such strong little fighters. It was extremely difficult emotionally with three kids at home and three in the NICU, finding a balance to being with both. Armed with a village, we made it through and the boys came home on the same day, exactly a month after they were born.

During your high risk pregnancy, what were some of the most important things other people could do or did that helped you the most?
In a high risk pregnancy, you need a lot of rest which means sacrificing a tidy home and letting go of little things. For me, a messy home means lots of anxiety. Having dinner with my whole family was also important every night. My mom and other family members would take the kids out of the house for me which was important for them to get some activity and allowed me to rest. My friends and family also sent over meals and came over on occasion to help out with laundry or tidying up the house. We also had family and friends watch the big kids so that we could visit the babies together while they were in the NICU.

High Risk Hope was also a huge help during our NICU stay and continues to be a great support for us today. High Risk Hope is a for purpose organization that provided our family with encouragement and resources during my hospital stay as well as our 4 week NICU stay. We received a bag of goodies that made our stay comfortable, including hand knit beanies for each baby, personal products and motivational items that helped us push through each day. They stopped in to check on us frequently and were there to answer any questions we had. Although I did not have any time on hospital bed rest, High Risk Hope does provide support to women who are on bed rest, which helps prolong high risk pregnancies and improves the outcome for preemies. They also provide bereavement support to families suffering a loss. They are my absolute favorite organization!

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for parents going through high risk pregnancies?
Breathe. It’s extremely overwhelming, physically and emotionally. It is so much to take in. When you are given a lot of information during your doctor’s visit and you feel like you can’t process it all, take it in and give it some time. Talk to others that are or have gone through it. I tried to stay off the internet search sites because that can just be scary. I joined a fabulous support group through Facebook actually with other mothers experiencing the same thing I was. My group is specific to triplets born in 2014, but there are several out there. I met some amazing woman who kept me calm (or laughing) and have become some of my closest friends today. Remember, this time is temporary and you can sacrifice just about anything if you need to, knowing your baby(babies) will be safe in your arms at the end. It will be worth it, I promise.

If you have older children, how did they handle the change in family dynamic during your high risk pregnancy?
My oldest two (boys) handled the change like champs. They kept saying they wanted me to have a hundred babies. My daughter, who was only two at the time, had no idea what was about to hit her. She was the baby and only girl. We had her potty trained before their arrival and she completely regressed so we had to start over. We tried to pump her up about being the only girl and never having to share a room, but she is still pouting to this day about always having to be alone. I say she is 3 going on 13. She definitely gets jealous, but she is very loving with the babies. Going from three to six kids have absolutely changed our family dynamic. It’s constant chaos and take a lot of daily work and sacrifice, but we are SO grateful to have six healthy children. It is worth it, every single day.

The Herring Family

Stacy Herring HRH Pic

Stacy Herring and her husband Rashaad Herring had a high risk pregnancy with their son Jayden. Jayden is now 4 years old and loves Thomas the Tank Engine, but the road to get their family to where it is today was not always easy. Here is their story.

Tell us your story. When did you know you were going to have a high risk pregnancy and what did you have to do as a result of it?
January 2011, we found out I was pregnant with our first child. This was an exciting time for my husband and me as we married on July 11, 2008 and were expecting our first child. Of course I wanted a little girl, since I grew up with all girls in my household and my husband wanted a boy since he grew up with all boys. Around the time we found out the sex of the baby (around 14-16 weeks), I was in the doctor’s office for a checkup and my doctor advised me I needed to rushed to the hospital to have a Cerclage placed on my cervix. (Cervical cerclage, or a cervical stitch, is used to prevent the cervix from opening too early, causing miscarriage or premature birth. After leaving the hospital the first time, I was sent home. Two weeks later, I was placed on complete bedrest at St. Joseph Women’s Hospital. This meant I could not get out of bed to take a shower, go to the restroom or walk to get food. I was on complete bedrest for 3 ½ months at St. Joseph Women’s Hospital, in Tampa. Jayden was born at 34 ½ weeks on August 25, 2011 at 5lbs, 17 inches long at 10:17pm. He was born premature and stayed in the NICU for a week due to him having jaundice. It was even more stressful to be on complete bedrest and then to have the baby and not be able to bring him home. I kept thinking this is never going to end. We are very blessed; he was born breathing on his own and did not need a feeding tube. I visited and stayed in the NICU for 8-12 hours a day till he was able to come home.

During your high risk pregnancy, what were some of the most important things other people could do or did that helped you the most?
It was an emotional rollercoaster for me. There were good days and bad days being in the hospital. I got gestational diabetes and was receiving insulin shots three times a day. My family played an HUGE role in ensuring my success during this difficult time. My husband and I lived over 40 minutes away from the hospital and he would make that drive daily to ensure I saw a familiar face. My family was my backbone during this most difficult time.

My mom dressed up my room with rugs, calendars to mark off the days and a DVD player. High Risk Hope came and provided me with a bedrest basket and it was truly uplifting to myself as well as many of the women on that floor. The bedrest basket was filled with items such as puzzles, books, magazines, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, socks, blankets, facial tissue, lotion, and gum. It felt good to know there was an organization out there that understood the needs of women on bedrest while pregnant.

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for parents going through high risk pregnancies?
Yes: In the end, it is worth it 110 percent! My advice for any mother on bedrest is you are stronger than you realize and that with family, hope, love and faith you can make it through. Remember these words when you need thoughts of encouragement to keep going. Children bring so much love and joy to our lives. This is a short period of time compared to a lifetime of love and happiness with your new baby.

For more stories, visit www.highriskhope.org.

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