Heather Dowey (40), Bergen (5), and Asa (19 months)
New Hampshire | Photographed in Seattle, Washington
Heather shares -
" I had a miscarriage when my daughter was just over 2 years old. We found out at our 10 week OB visit that I had a missed miscarriage. It was a complete surprise and very devastating since I had been trying to get pregnant for a few months. I choose to complete the miscarriage at home, which was a surreal experience. Even though I understood that the fetus had already died, it was difficult to take the medication and then simply wait for the abortion to occur. Yet, I was grateful to be at able to be in our home during a weekend, choose to play and cuddle with our daughter or go and be alone, and also have the space to cry with my husband.
As a mom, I feel it is very important to accept my body as it is and never verbally criticize (verbally or nonverbally) my or other people's bodies around my kids. Yet, I oscillate between feeling really proud of what my body accomplished in carrying and delivering my children to having days where I wish I could find a way to once again have my "pre-mom" body.
I got pregnant very quickly with our daughter and had an easy, comfortable pregnancy. We worked with a great team of midwives, found a doula that we connected with, took a Bradley birthing method class, wrote up a great birth plan that focused on a non-medicate birth, and were ready. I went into labor a few weeks earlier than our due date, but delivered relatively quick with a vaginal birth and no medication in a birthing suite. Our daughter started to breastfeed almost immediately and we thought we were golden.
Meanwhile, our midwife gave me a shot of pitocin to try and get the placenta out, but nothing happened. The on-call ob gyn came in and gave me the option to first try and manually extract the placenta, which she then did. It was incredibly painful and all she was able to grab were small pieces. By this time, I was bleeding heavily and the midwife and doctor very quickly gave my daughter to my husband and took me to an OR. I was given anesthesia and had an emergency D&C, after which I received a number of stitches. I was later diagnosed as having placenta accreta, even though I had not exhibited any of the signs (minus the early delivery) during the pregnancy. The emergency surgery saved my life, but the surgery coupled with the blood loss made my postpartum recovery much, much longer than I expected.
I was encouraged to wait for some time before trying to get pregnant again. Luckily, I was able to still breastfeed my daughter and she had no impact from the accreta. Getting pregnant again took a lot longer and included a miscarriage and using letrozole. We were not sure if the accreta would happen again and therefore were were much more cautious about the pregnancy. Given my age and my accreta history, I had more intensive ultrasounds at earlier stages of my pregnancy. At the 20 week ultrasound, it was found that my placenta was developing into two sections (an accessory lobe) and that the umbilical cord was attached closer to the smaller lobe. The doctor reviewing the ultrasound that day called that evening and told me that we should prepare ourselves for a premature birth or possibly even the death of the baby. It was horrible news.
However, during my next visit with my regular OBGYN, he assured us that I had been told the worse case scenario. Instead, he advised more intensive, more frequent ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy and together, we would make decisions as the pregnancy continued. The rest of my pregnancy was pretty typical. At 37 weeks my water broke and had to use pitocin to induce the delivery. I also choose to get an epidural as the pain was completely different than what I had experienced during my daughter's birth. The doctor also recommended using it in case I need emergency surgery after the delivery due to any issues with the placenta. However, my son was delivered vaginally, along with an intact placenta soon afterwards! And coincidentally the midwife who delivered my daughter was also able to attend and help with the coaching. My recovery was so much faster and easier the second time around.
Your expectations and reality are rarely going to match up. And that is okay, in fact, it is part of the joy of parenting.
I love that the 4TBP is trying to share stories to demystify all that is wrapped up in our culture's perspectives about fertility, birth, and what constitutes a family. I hope that adding my voice and story helps."