The stunning Brett Casto, mama to Blanca (23 months) and Manuel "Ito" (10 months)
Brett is a previous project participant, you can view her initial photo and story here.
When we saw Brett last, she was 16 weeks pregnant and there was some concern that she had a marginal cord insertion. A follow up ultrasound revealed that her baby only had a two vessel cord and also had a cyst on his spinal cord. While their OB said he wouldn't be concerned with one of those, the presentation of them together could mean that there were genetic abnormalities, including the possibility of Edward syndrome which would be incompatible with life. Brett was devastated and weighted whether to have amniocentesis or further blood testing to see if they could learn more. They ultimately chose to have the blood work done and after a two week wait learned that everything came back negative.
The cyst resolved on it's own and they continued to monitor the babies heart and kidney's throughout pregnancy. Brett had a high risk pregnancy the first time so she was accustomed to extra monitoring but found this pregnancy was a whole to be much more difficult than her first. Because Brett had developed preeclampsia in her first pregnancy her urine was monitored for protein weekly. When protein showed up in her urine at 37 weeks they decided to deliver via cesarean immediately and things went really well. They took Manuel for an echocardiogram and ultrasound after birth and they were happy to learn he was perfect and they were able to go home just three days later.
Brett struggled much more in her postpartum period with Manuel than she had with Blanca. She knew how to take care of a baby but the shift from one to two hit her hard. To make things more difficult her Grandfather became sick and passed shortly after she gave birth. While Blanca was a very happy baby, Manuel cried constantly. They were referred to a pulmonologist due to his fast breathing and he was ultimately diagnosed with GERD. Brett switched to soy formula and ultimately Nutramigen which almost immediately allowed Manuel to feel better. She says that his entire personality changed and he became happy and engaged. She was thrilled to have figured out what he needed but soon had a breakdown. She knew she needed to get help and returned to her OB to ask to be put back on anti-depressants she had been taking prior to pregnancy. Brett is feeling so much more capable and is happy she had the support of her husband and family to help her along way.
After always being "the heavy girl" Brett decided to consider weight loss surgery after her son was born. Her husband was also considering whether or not to take that step so they went to support meetings and finally decided it was a great option for them. Her husband had a successful, gastric bypass surgery and she had her classic Roux-En-Y operation just three months later in November of 2015. While Brett is now down 89 pounds and happy with her decision she went through a period of struggling whether or not is was the right choice. She had been pre-diabetic and was clinically obese but didn't have any other health complications. While her initial surgery went well and she was able to get through the liquid and soft diet following, she soon became unable to eat at all and was in a lot of pain. She called her doctors and ultimately went to the ER. Her doctor realized her gall bladder was only functioning at 5% so they removed it in hopes that she would get better. Brett continued to struggle and her overall health began to decline. She was having neurological issues and became so weak that she couldn't get out of bed. Her B1 vitamin levels were dangerously low and she was told that she would have to get a feeding tube if she couldn't begin eating and keeping food down.
Brett ultimately discovered that she had an ulcer from her surgery and the new stoma they'd created had healed too small for food to pass through. They were able to dilate her stoma enough for her to be able to eat which allowed her to improve. Brett is finally feeling like she is on the road to recovery and is very grateful that she made the decision she did to allow her to reclaim her health. She hopes that she will soon be able to reach her goal weight and is considering her options of having her excess loose skin removed or learning to live with it when it gets there. Brett has never been comfortable in her body but is working hard to get there and finding more self love and acceptance daily.
The empowerment that comes with sharing your story and joining a movement full of strong, brave, and beautiful women is what drove Brett to participate in this movement. Connecting with the community and previous participants drew her back in to share this next chapter of her truth.