The amazing Crystal Michel with her daughter Katelyn (8) and fraternal twins Adelaide & Dawson (2). Crystal had a healthy first pregnancy but was ultimately labeled as high risk for reasons she didn't fully understand. She delivered via emergency cesarean and didn't feel like she had even given birth. She was so out of it and then 12 hours later someone gave her a baby. Breastfeeding didn't work out, she had postpartum depression and all in all it wasn't the start to motherhood she had expected. As Katelyn's first year of life progressed something felt off to Crystal. She took her daughter to the pediatrician concerned that she wasn't growing and they sent her away as a worried first time mom. She continued to press for answers, noticing that Katelyn's hands looked different and her forehead was enlarged. They did a nutritional study worried that she wasn't getting adequate nutrition which Crystal felt embarrassed by but was happy to hear that she was feeding her daughter beautifully. They continued searching for answers, eventually through an endocrinologist and finally a geneticist. In the interim, a friend called and told her to turn on the television and watch a program airing on children with dwarfism. She sat there crying knowing that was her daughter. A bone age study revealed that even though Katelyn was over a year old her bones were that of a 6 month old. They ultimately learned that Katelyn has a rare form of dwarfism called hypochondroplasia and while it was a hard battle, Crystal was happy to finally have answers.
When Katelyn was 3, Crystal married her now husband and they tried to conceive but continued to have difficulty. Their military insurance wouldn't cover IVF so they begged to try IUI. They were ultimately successful in conceiving their twins. Crystal had a healthy pregnancy until she was 24 weeks along and discovered her cervix was open at a routine exam and she had to have a cerclage placed. She had planned to try for a VBAC and found a doctor who committed to supporting her in doing so. At 35 weeks and 6 days, she went into labor and was floored when he doctor told her they needed to prep for a cesarean even though both of her babies were healthy. When she asked why he responded that he had said he'd let her try at 36 weeks and since she was a day early, it was his call. She was worried she wouldn't be able to witness her babies birth again, but even though they wouldn't allow her birth photographer present until after the babies were delivered, she feels she was more present in the experience. Both Adelaide and Dawson were over 5 lbs at birth and were able to come home after a 14 day NICU stay. Crystal was able to successfully breastfeed for the first 18 months which she found to be a healing experience.
Crystal has a sincere passion for women and childbirth. She is finishing her Masters in Public Heath because she wants to help and be the change in maternity care. She says, "I was accepted into my MPH three weeks before I found out I was pregnant and our IUI was successful. (I didn't think it would work. Our doctor said less than 10 percent chance of it working) so I started school on bed rest with my husband wheeling me to class. I have yet to take a break from school despite their NICU stay, it's been a crazy two years but I graduate in December with an MPH and my concentration is environmental health."