Diana Bonacci (33) and Francesca (15 months)
Connecticut. Photographed in West Springfield, Mass.
"I have lost the ability to carry more children due to an emergency partial hysterectomy following the birth of my daughter. Although not the traditional type of loss people share, secondary infertility is something many struggle with and it's not always talked about."
"For as long as I can remember, above anything else, I have always wanted to be a mom. When I found out we were expecting, I was over the moon. I had a relatively stress free pregnancy and enjoyed most of it. At 40 weeks, 4 days, however, we discovered my daughter had flipped and I would need to deliver via cesarean - a stark contrast from the unmediated birth I had wanted. I went in the next day, excited to meet the person I was sure would be my soul mate.
Unfortunately, I don't remember much from the days leading up to and the days following her birth. In the OR, after my daughter was delivered, I complained of difficulty breathing and went into cardiac arrest. My husband and daughter were whisked into a private room and I had CPR performed and was intubated. I went into DIC (Disseminated intravascular coagulation) and had over 37 units of blood and blood products to save my life.
Still, my wonderful team of doctors were unable to stop the bleeding from my uterus and at 31 years old, I had to have a partial hysterectomy. I was cut open the length of my abdomen and left open with a vacuum to pump out all the blood I was losing. I had a stroke and my kidneys started to have issues. I was told I had an amniotic fluid embolism (affects 1 in 40,000 pregnancies ) and the fact that I didn't die and didn't have any serious neurological or organ damage was a miracle.
When I was finally stable, I got to hold my daughter for the first time while in the ICU and I don't remember this at all, which is really hard. For a week and a half I recovered in the hospital. I was excited to get discharged so I could go home and feel "normal", however it was a short lived trip as I was readmitted within hours' via ambulance' for internal bleeding. I have never been more terrified of dying as I was on the drive back to the hospital. It took months to heal physically from my ordeal. It has taken much longer to heal mentally.
Between my birthing complications and my inability to breastfeed exclusively, I felt like my body failed me. My husband or family had to be the primary caregiver for my daughter and that was really hard. When I finally made it home, I was inundated with follow-up doctor's appointments, and it's not that I missed out on time with her, but I was preoccupied with my own recovery the first few months.
I was diagnosed with PTSD and postpartum depression because of everything I went through and that has made being a first time mom challenging. I tried opening up to some people but felt like they didn't understand or were not supportive of what I was going through so I closed myself off. I've also felt a lot of people were insensitive to my situation, and have found myself sitting and listening to insensitive comments and feeling the familiar ping of pain inside, wanting to say something but also not wanting to seem overly sensitive. I have found a few people I am comfortable talking with and am grateful to have them. In addition, I have always struggled with anxiety so I've spent most of the last 15 months worrying about something bad happening to my daughter or to me. I absolutely love being a mom but worry I'm not doing good enough job raising her.
Since I cannot carry anymore children, we have explored adoption and surrogacy to expand our family. We have had a failed egg retrieval, which felt like my body failing all over again. I would love it if we were able to have more children, but feel anxiety most of the time that our options won't work out.
I knew my body was going to change when I became pregnant, however, I could never anticipate the upside down "T" scar I would have forever down my abdomen as a result of 5 surgeries within a two day period in early 2016. I also developed an umbilical hernia and had a 6th surgery recently to repair it. The hernia left me with a large pouch where a baby bump should be, a constant reminder of what I can never have again. Since having it repaired, I feel a little better about my midsection, however, still have a ways to go before I feel 100% about my body.
I want new parents or those hoping to become parents to know you aren't alone. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Participate in support groups. Take time for yourself. And know you are good enough."