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Laura's Story - Part Two

I’m Laura, I’m 30 and I’m a wife to Scott and a mother to Zoe and Rory. My children are so special because I don’t hold them in my arms, I hold them in my heart. You can read more about Zoe and her sort but special life here.

I wrote the first part of my story back in May 2017 when I was experiencing my third miscarriage. I was so broken, it was all so much at once, the anniversary of Zoe’s death, a miscarriage, bereaved mother’s day, mother’s day. I took a lot of time off from my job because I just couldn’t function I did not have it in me.

I also underwent investigations in to my reasons for recurrent miscarriage in May/June of 2017. I wasn’t expecting much to come out of this, I was certain it was just our luck. Those investigations found that I am a heterozygous carrier of the MFTHR gene mutation which has been linked to recurrent pregnancy loss as well as other pregnancy complications. It was also found that my ovarian reserve was low, not a major cause for concern but as I was not ready to try to conceive again it was recommended to go back on birth control.

During the time I was on birth control I used that time to try to piece my heart back together again. So of course I got another fur baby – Bruce! Now I had two puppies to occupy my time when Scott was in Brisbane. Training two puppies was no easy task but their wagging tails and puppy kisses are a pretty good reward.

When I was nearing the end of my last packet of birth control I went looking for my prescription to get a refill as I wanted to wait one more month before trying to conceive. Turns out I never got a repeat on my script and I couldn’t get in to my doctor to get a prescription in time for me to take the pills correctly. So we decided to be careful and to not not try… I fell pregnant the one time we slipped, there are a lot of people that say it always happens when you least expect it. 

Being pregnant again was such a mix of emotions. I was excited and terrified, so anxious about how things would progress. Just like that I passed all of my early loss milestones and I was listening to my baby’s heart beat on an ultrasound at 6 weeks and 3 days pregnant! I was prescribed Aspirin, Clexane and Progestrone from early in my pregnancy to manage my MFTHR and a low progesterone levels. My doctor is fantastic and I had fortnightly appointments with bedside scans to put my mind at ease. We were so happy, starting to let ourselves think and talk about the future.

The time came for my Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) I was initially booked for this at 12 week gestation in Brisbane as Toowoomba Hospital isn’t a tertiary facility. Unfortunately, we were unable to undergo the test, I had forgotten to declare my medications and needed to stop them for a few days prior to the test. We did undergo our genetic counselling and were told about some further information that had come to light since 2016. The mutation I have has been seen in several other individuals and although I am not symptomatic it is disease causing on its own. This meant really, we only have a 50% chance of conceiving a genetically healthy child and 25% chance that our child could be affect by a mutation and a 25% chance that this child would have both mine and Scott’s mutations (like their older sibling Zoe).

We rebooked the CVS for 19thDecember 2017 at 13 weeks gestation. The test its self didn’t hurt but it was the most unpleasant sensation in my stomach that made me want to faint and throw up at exactly the same time. I was lucky to have only a small amount of cramping afterwards but did experience a lot of blood loss which is normal but incredibly scary.

On 22ndDecember I received the initial results that we were expecting a baby boy that had no chromosomal issues. Scott was in Brisbane and I called him straight away to let him know this news. We were so happy, things were falling in to place. It never crossed our minds that we would face another devastating loss. That all changed one week later on 29thDecember 2017. I was called to say that our son had two mutations on his RYR1 gene, just like Zoe.

I was distraught, I was at work when I received this news and it took all of my effort to try to call Scott. He was having his hair cut and I called him 15 times without him answering before I called our hairdresser (who is a close friend) – thankfully she answered and said Scott was on his way over to me. I could barely get the words out. I don’t know how Scott managed to drive home but he did - I was in a state of shock. How, how could this be happening all over again? I was in disbelief that after everything we had already been through here it was happening once again.

What followed was 9 days of what I can only describe as pure hell. For those not based in Queensland - any form of termination is still written in to the criminal code here and Toowoomba is pretty conservative. Given the time of year the Doctor and Genetic counselor we had seen at the Fetal Medicine Unit were both on leave. I was under the care of an Obstetrician practicing from a private hospital that was unable to assist me in terminating my child  – my much wanted, loved and longed for child - as the facility would not allow it.

No one had any answers for us sbout what the process would be from here and when I contacted private clinics I didn’t have a lot of options due to my gestation. Eventually after breaking down (read more like lost my shit) at multiple people from my OB to medical receptionists between Toowoomba and Brisbane we still were no further in knowing how we were able to terminate our pregnancy. After pleading to a midwife at the FMU on 3rdJanuary she somehow arranged for another genetic counsellor to call us after hours that day and finally – FINALLY - we had some answers.

There had been a miscommunication and the FMU thought we were still deciding if we wanted to terminate and were providing us time to process the information. In reality we had made that decision long before this baby was ever thought of. After that was cleared up things moved very quickly. My OB had refereed me to Toowoomba Base Hospital and they were waiting on information from FMU that was faxed first thing on 4thJanuary. Within minutes of that paperwork being received I was called to attend an appointment as soon as possible.

This appointment was long and heartbreaking. I thought I was prepared but I wasn’t. We took in as much information about Zoe as we could gather, to show we were making an informed choice. I had to explain no less than three times to three separate Doctors that I wanted to terminate my pregnancy with my much loved son. When I got upset Scott could not answer for me, I could not be seen as being coerced in to this decision. Once those doctors had signed off on my wish to terminate it still need to be approved by the head of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as a Director of the Hospital. Due to this process and a bed shortage I was not able to be induced until Monday 8thJanuary.

We tried to make the most of our last three days as a family. We went to the gold coast with our dogs for the day, we named our son Rory James, we made arrangements for Rory to be cremated and crafted a coffin for him to be laid to rest. I enjoyed his tiny butterfly kicks and we told him how much we loved him.

On Monday morning we arrived early at the hospital sick to our stomachs. As soon as I was admitted I was given anti-nausea medication and pain relief to calm me down. Once final confirmation had been received I was administered my first dose of misiprotol and Scott and I were left alone. We watched movies on Netflix and lay in bed. I think we both dosed off at some point. A few hours later it was time for my second dose of misiprotol and not much really happened I was a bit crampy and given some more pain relief. When the time came for my third dose I was told I was about 4cm dilated. About an hour after this dose was when I got very uncomfortable and ill, I threw up several times and was given more anti-nausea medication and stronger pain relief. My blood pressure was also very low so I was asked to drink more water to help with this. By 10pm I was relatively comfortable on my mixture of pain meds and resting on my side. The decision was made for me to just rest and I would be administered more misiprotol in the momring. By 2am I woke up to a pool of blood and very uncomfortable. I called the midwife in and she gave me some more pain relief.

I woke Scott up at 3:55 am with the unmistakable pressure and pushing sensation. I used the call button and the midwife asked to check me and I was right Rory was coming. She left the room and in that moment Rory was born, sleeping, encual and perfect at 4:03am. Neither Scott or I knew what to do until she came back. When she did Rory was placed on my chest just as I asked. Scott and I talked to him for hours and looked at his perfectly formed tiny little features.

Rory - Wedding Bands    Rory

We had a wonderful woman from Heartfelt come and take some pictures for us that I treasure greatly. By early afternoon I was ready to leave the hospital and start to heal. Our first stop was to take Rory to the funeral home to be cremated. The surrealness of visiting the same place we had planned our daughters funeral and being in the same room was like a dream for me. When we left I desperately wanted to see our dogs so we picked them up from our friends before we went home. I don’t even think I cried. I was just numb, drifting along like I was in a weird dream I would surely wake up from.

Laura, Scott, Zoe and Rory

Four days later I experienced a lot of pain and a heavy bleed which landed me right back in the emergency room. I had retained part of placenta and developed a nasty infection. I was put on antibiotics for several hours and a D&C scheduled for Monday morning. After my D&C I felt so much better physically and was able to work on mentally feeling better.

At the end of January I started to think about returning to work and after meeting with my boss, I just knew I couldn’t return to my much loved but highly stressful and reactive job. I resigned and upset as I was, it was exactly what I needed to do. 

I spent 8 weeks as a full time stay at home dog mum before finding a new job working a three day fortnight which is exactly what I need right now. I am so much more relaxed, I feel so much more joy and I have finally found a counselor who is helping me through this grief journey.

Scott and I started trying to conceive in March and it took us four months to get that big fat positive. With that positive test came a whole lot of extra emotions. Just like that again we were passing the early pregnancy milestones, my beta HCG levels were sky high at my initial test as was my progesterone levels. I booked in for a dating scan at 6 weeks 3 days and again there was our baby’s heart beat on the screen flickering away.

We were cautiously excited because our world has crashed down around us too many times before. We were hopeful that this time will be different that we would be getting our happy ending. We reached the all-important 12 weeks gestation and attended the same FMU to have our CVS test. We had arranged for the results to be forwarded to my OB to deliver to Scott and I two weeks later.

Again, I experienced the strangest and disgusting feeling of wanting to faint and throw up at the same time as the needle was guided through my uterus to my placenta. I was so lucky this time to only experience cramping as the anesthetic wore off and no blood loss.

One week after the test I received a call from our genetic counsellor. The test results were back already and did we want to receive them early. I practically screamed yes at her down the phone before I remembered that Scott was not at home and I couldn’t find out without him. After some discussion it was decided she would call us back after hours. We waited and waited for a call that didn’t come.

Finally, on Friday 31stAugust first thing in the morning we were notified that we are expecting a healthy baby boy! Sprout (as he is affectionately known) is unaffected by both of our gene mutations. There is still a possibility that he is a carrier or could be affected by my gene mutation but it is chance we are willing to take.

I am still waiting for my head to catch up with my body, it still doesn’t feel real yet. I still can’t believe that I’ll get to take to take my baby straight home from the hospital not connected to a ventilator or in a tiny coffin. That I will be able to experience what life is like for a new mum with a tiny bundle of joy. 

Laura and sprout

Feel free to follow along with our journey over on Instagram - @chizandmepluszrbb - where I post weekly bumpdates and share about grief, loss and love.

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