The phenomenal Tiffany Holtzinger, Nicholas (10), Aston (7), Maksim ("Maks" - 5), Henry (3), and Roman (18 months).
Tiffany always knew she wanted to be a mom and found out she was pregnant with Nicholas when she was 18, the summer after she graduated from high school. Pregnancy with Nicholas started off very well, but during her late second trimester she began to bleed. She was referred to an MFM but they were unable to find a cause. When she was 28 weeks pregnant, Tiffany was sitting at work and felt like she was getting her period. She went to the doctor and learned she was dilating.
Over the next few weeks Tiffany was put on several medications to try to stop labor and help her babies lungs mature but nothing helped with the frequent contractions. She was put on bed rest for four weeks until she was released to go back to work at 35 weeks, one day later she woke up in labor. Tiffany tried to wake her boyfriend and attempted to get ready, then woke her parents and drove herself to the hospital. She was already 5cms dilated when she arrived and received an epidural, just a few later Nicholas was born. Tiffany had been cautioned that Nicholas may need to be transferred to a different hospital with a NICU but they were able to remain together and simply stayed for an extra day of monitoring.
Tiffany thought that breastfeeding was weird at the time, she'd never seen anyone breastfeed a baby and didn't even consider attempting to nurse Nicholas. While she had anticipated her boyfriend to be an active father, he was gone often and didn't end up being supportive. They stopped living together before Nicholas' first birthday and he hasn't been in his life since.When Nicholas was 2, Tiffany reconnected with her high school boyfriend and and they've now been married for 7 years. They learned they were expecting their first baby shortly after they were engaged and he made plans to adopt Nicholas once they were married. Nicholas' adoption was final in 2009.
Tiffany's second pregnancy was uncomplicated and Aston was born at 37 weeks. Tiffany recalls being worried during her short labor because she had tested Group B Strep positive but hadn't been able to receive the full dose of IV medication needed. Thankfully he was born without complication. Tiffany was opening up to the idea of breastfeeding with Aston and felt some pressure from the hospital lactation consultant to try. The LC was rough with her though, which was very uncomfortable for Tiffany. She left the hospital considering pumping and making attempts to nurse but decided to mostly formula feed.
The day after Aston was born Tiffany felt postpartum depression set in. She felt incredibly sad but didn't know why. Tiffany says that she struggled silently and felt embarrassed about admitting that she needed help. Her relationship with her husband was suffering and she wasn't connecting with her baby. Tiffany eventually opened up to her nurse practitioner who was able to prescribe medication which helped her immensely.
Just before Aston's first birthday, Tiffany learned she was pregnant again. The excitement was short lived, however, when they discovered the pregnancy was a blighted ovum. They scheduled a D&C and Tiffany felt so alone without the support of anyone who understood. She was told to wait about three months before trying to conceive again and they began actively trying as soon as they could.
Maks was born at 37 weeks, 6 days and Tiffany had a significant amount of back labor with him. He was born without complication, after a few short hours of labor, and only a couple pushes. Tiffany decided she wanted to breastfeed him, but before she left the hospital her nipples were bleeding and sore. Maks had a very strong latch and it took about 6 weeks before they finally got a good latch down. Pumping was too painful and her milk never fully came in as it had with her first babies so she needed to supplement with formula. Researching led Tiffany to Domperidone and she reached out to her doctor who reluctantly prescribed it. Tiffany's milk production increased a bit but when her prescription was changed to Reglan she began noticing tics in her baby. Her pediatrician had her stop the medication immediately but the tics continued for months before going away. She was able to resume Domperidone and Tiffany continued to nurse Maks until they weaned at 16 months old.
Pregnancy with Henry was perfect up until an anatomy scan around 20 weeks revealed choroid plexus cysts in his brain. Tiffany was encouraged to have further genetic testing and went home to research the what-ifs. Thankfully, everything came back okay and the cysts disappeared on their own.
Tiffany developed gestational diabetes in her third trimester with Henry but was able to control everything by remaining on a strict diet. She had been warned that her baby may be big due but he arrived quickly at 37 weeks, 6 days at just 6 lbs., 12 oz. Tiffany had hoped to breastfeed exclusively but needed to give Henry formula in hospital to help his blood sugar and went on to nurse with supplementation for 5-6 months.
With Roman, Tiffany developed gestation diabetes again and was able to manage her symptoms with diet changes. He arrived after another very fast labor without any interventions at 38 weeks. Tiffany and her husband chose to delay cord clamping and encapsulate her placenta this time. She initiated breastfeeding but again felt forced to giving Roman formula to get his blood sugar high enough to go home. Her milk barely came in but her placenta pills helped increase her supply and she felt so much better. She was able to continue nursing Roman for 2-3 months when her supply diminished.
Tiffany says that she and her husband would like to try again soon for another baby, however she's hoping to have a better support system in place to help her along the way.
Participating in this project is something that Tiffany hopes will help her feel better about herself. She gained weight while taking Domperidone that she couldn't get off and realizes she's felt disgusted in her physical appearance for a very, very long time. She hopes that maybe she can someday see herself as her husband and children do. She wants them to grow up knowing they're incredible people and hopes that they can learn to love themselves without conditions.
"I have a mixed reaction to loving my body for what it's done and being disappointed in my physical appearance and the fact that my breasts failed me. Sharing my story reminds me of all the wonderful things it has done. Our bodies are incredible, they're capable of so many things and I'm hoping I can look at this picture, smile, and see the beauty. I know I'll see the love."