Summer Roger (29), Augustine (5), June and Nora (2)
Massachusetts | Phoenix, AZ
Summer shares -
“I had a very early miscarriage while going through fertility treatments prior to getting pregnant with Augustine.”
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
It has taught me that my body is so much stronger than I ever realized. Creating life from almost nothing is the closest to magic that I'll ever feel. There are days when I feel frustrated with the extra skin that I have on my stomach, but most of the time I see myself and I am in awe of what my body has done and celebrate the permanent physical reminders that are left behind.
What was your postpartum experience?
My postpartum journey with my twins was brutal. Twin A, June, was diagnosed with hypoplastic right heart syndrome at 19 weeks gestation. Essentially she was missing half of her heart. We quickly learned about what it would take to keep her alive (three open heart surgeries before she's 4) and from that point on all I felt was fear.
When the twins were born via planned cesarean at 37 weeks gestation, I was drowning in anxiety. Would I love them the same? Could my brain even let me love a baby who might never come home? The last thing I remember from their birth before I lost consciousness was hearing them screaming.
June had her first open heart surgery at two weeks old, and came home 41 days after she was born. The months between her first two open heart surgeries were dark and painful. They were full of feeding tubes, vomit, oxygen monitors, and watching her struggle to live. She would often get so low in oxygen that she turned dark purple when she cried. I felt like I was drowning.
My husband was an incredible support, but he was also going through the same traumas right along with me. We could barely keep it together during the weeks leading up to her second open heart surgery at 5 months old. I remember bringing the twins to sleep in bed with us on the night before her second surgery. I thought it would be our last chance to all be together. She had an incredible recovery from surgery and came home just a week later. Things slowly started to become "normal" and we started to work on healing the trauma of what we'd been through. The girls are two now, and June will be having her third open heart surgery in Boston in May.
What is your truth?
The things that you think "only happen to other people" can happen to you too. Parents of children with special needs aren't super heroes, we just have no other choice. Be nice to us, surprise us with happy things every once in a while. Sometimes when you're taking care of a child who you know you might lose, it feels like all the surprises you'll ever get will be bad ones.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I want to remember myself in this moment. June has open heart surgery in a month and I'm weak, afraid, and staring down hell for the third time. I'm not ready, and I'm vulnerable and I want to remember this.”