Hey, y'all. My name is Jennifer, and I live in South Carolina. I'm not a native born South Carolinian, but I consider SC my home. My family moved all over the first few years of my life (IN, MI, GA), but finally settled down here. I graduated from high school in 2000, and attended Clemson University, where I majored in Secondary Education & History. I’ve been teaching 8th graders since 2004 – and absolutely love my job.
My first husband Bryan and I met in the summer of 2006. We started dating later that fall, and were engaged in February of 2007. Our wedding was a wonderful day, filled with friends and family, on June 29, 2007. Shortly after, we purchased our first home. While we weren’t actively trying to start our family, we weren’t using any preventative measures. However, I was diagnosed with PCOS several years prior, and knew that it would take some time to get pregnant. My main problem is that I don’t ovulate regularly, and it would be hard to know when an opportune time to get pregnant is. In January of 2008, Bryan and I decided to try our first round of Clomid. I can not tell you how ecstatic we were on February 16 (my brother’s wedding day) when we found out we were pregnant. We had thought for sure we’d have a long journey ahead of us, and it would take months, if not years, for us to get pregnant.
One of the first things out of Bryan’s mouth was “I hope we have twins”. He must be a mind reader, because I’ve always wanted twins. We wanted two children, and thought having both at once would be such a fun blessing. Twins run in my family (I’m the third generation), so I knew we had a chance for twins. In fact, we were so sure we were having twins that I demanded an early ultrasound at 7 weeks. I know my OB thought I was nuts, but he gave into my plea. Sure enough, we saw (and heard) both little heartbeats!
At first the pregnancy was a breeze. Weeks 7 through 15 I had a lot of morning sickness, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I was able to continue teaching, tutoring and doing everything I’d done before. Of course I was usually tired by the end of the day, but it really wasn’t so bad. At 16 weeks we found we were expecting two little girls – we could not have been happier! I started planning the nursery around a pink and green shabby chic theme, registered, and started to get excited for my baby shower.
THE BIG SCARE:
At the end of the school year, I was noticing that it was getting harder to walk without an intense amount of pressure. I just chalked it up to being a smaller person pregnant with twins. I went in for a normal OB appointment and ultrasound. The girls looked great, but the doctor was concerned about the length of my cervix. A normal cervical length is between 3cm and 5cm. Mine was measuring under 2cm, and when pressure was applied, it would go under 1cm. I was set up with an appointment at a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist for the following day. At that appointment, I was sent directly to the hospital for contraction monitoring. I was given a shot of Brethine to stop the contractions I was having, and ordered home on strict bed rest. This was luckily the last day of school for me, so I knew I would be able to follow through with bed rest. I went home, ordered a ton of books from Barnes & Noble, and got prepared to stay with my feet propped up for a week or two. Boy, was I wrong!
The next week I went for a follow up appointment. This time, I was dilated, my cervix was opened, and the waters on Baby A were hanging in my birth canal. Basically, my body was in labor and I was only 21 weeks pregnant. I was sent immediately to the hospital. Bryan barely had time to get to the hospital before I was taken to have a rescue cerclage performed. My biggest fears about labor and delivery have always been getting an epidural. I had a spinal given to me before the rescue cerclage, and weighing the fear of losing my babies over the fear of pain was a no brainer – I would have walked over hot coals to keep them inside of me.
While I was not put under for the surgery, I remained groggy the rest of the night. Bryan said I tried to answer Jeopardy! questions while half asleep, making no sense at all. My dad came to visit at the hospital, and I don’t even recall him there. I woke up the next day feeling very tired from all the medications I was on. All of a sudden, I felt a gush of water. I immediately called my nurse because I feared my water had broken. The resident on call collected a sample, performed a test, and confirmed my worst fears – my water had broken at 21 weeks. I called Bryan and parents and had them come to the hospital.
The general consensus of the doctors was that my water had broken, I was in active labor, and that they would take out the cerclage and let me deliver that day. Bryan and I had a very emotional talk with the NICU doctor, one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. He told us the chances of survival (less than 2%) and that chances were they would have been too small for their instruments to even try to help. He told us about comfort care, and how we would be able to hold them until they passed, and would be given medications so they’d not feel pain. After he left, Bryan and I just held each other and named our baby girls – Audrey Claire and Natalie Marie.
When my doctors reappeared at 4:00pm to take out my cerclage and prepare me for delivery, something compelled me to ask the most important question of my life. I asked just how much amniotic fluid I had lost, and could we check it with an ultrasound. One of the doctors wheeled a machine into the room and checked the girls out. He was very surprised to find that Natalie’s sac remained perfectly fine, and Audrey’s had only leaked a small amount of fluid. At once the delivery was canceled and a different action plan was set in place. I would remain in the hospital on constant antibiotics (to prevent infection from the open amniotic sac) and contraction medication. I shudder to think of what would have happened if I’d not asked that question.
I ended up spending three weeks in the hospital. Everyday the doctors were amazed that I was not leaking fluid and that Audrey was even gaining fluid back in her sac. I had successfully stumped a team full of highly qualified specialist, who could only chalk this up to a miracle. On July 4th, I was sent home on strict bed rest.
Miraculously, I was able to keep the girls inside for almost 3 more months. Towards the end of September (at 36 weeks), I went in for an amniocentesis, to determine the lung development of the girls. We were given the all clear, and my c-section was scheduled for October 1st, 2008. We welcomed Audrey Claire & Natalie Marie into the world. The girls were very small, weighing in at under 4 pounds each. They spent a very long 13 days in the NICU. We were so happy to have healthy little girls to bring home.
A NOT SO HAPPY ENDING:
In December 2008, I filed for a divorce. My babies were not even 3 months old, and their family was falling apart. The stress of my high risk pregnancy, Bryan’s father being ill, and many other factors just led to our marriage crumbling. Throughout some of 2009, we tried to reconcile. Bryan lost his father in July 2009, and we all traveled to Michigan to bury him that August. I don’t know that I’ve ever been through a harder time. But ultimately, the trust, love and respect were complete gone from our marriage. Without getting into the nasty details (and trust me, they were plenty awful), we officially signed our divorce papers April 2010.
Over the past year, I’ve struggled to help Bryan maintain a healthy relationship with his children. I do have primary custody, and he has visitation every Wednesday evening, and every other weekend. He is supposed to have several weeks over Summer, and alternate Christmas/Spring breaks, but that hasn’t happened thus far.
BUT THE STORY ISN’T OVER:
Even though one chapter of my life closed, my story is still just beginning. In December 2010, I met my current husband, Eddie. We had both ventured into the world of online dating, and I reached out to him. By some odd, twisted chance of fate – we realized that we had met before…through my ex-husband. After a few days of conversation, and struggling with that fact, we decided to give dating a chance. Honestly, we both knew early on how serious dating each other was going to be - considering we both had children and gone through divorce once before.
Eddie proposed to me in May 2010, and we eloped on June 3rd. Our girls are the best of friends, and love being sisters. Blending our families has been a bit stressful at times, but overall we're one big happy family. We also welcomed our fourth, and last child, Corbin Reid, into our family in November 2011.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
10:55 AM 33 comments