On episode 60, Nana is almost 42 and recently married with their son that is four and half months old. She and her husband are from Ghana and live in Las Vegas, Nevada. When she first got together with her now husband, they were ready to have kids right away. She says it was quite a journey to have her son.
At 39 years old, she was dating her now husband and fell pregnant in January 2021. That March she miscarried. It was tough, but she wanted to try again. The doctor told her this happens based on her age. She started looking into IVF as a solution. She had her first appointment on zoom with their doctor when she was on vacation in Jamaica. She ended up conceiving while in Jamaica. She was very excited about it. Everything was going well with the pregnancy until she was 23 weeks. Unknown to her she developed severe preeclampsia. She went into the hospital because she didn’t feel her baby kicking enough. She assumed everything was fine but wanted to get it checked out. They confirmed the baby was fine, but her blood pressure was through the roof. She was in the hospital for three or four days to try to reduce her blood pressure, but it wasn’t going down. She had protein in her urine, extreme swelling, and was at risk for seizures. Nana had a c-section at 23 weeks. Mikelle passed away five days later, Christmas Day.
Nana’s sister was pregnant at the same time she was pregnant with Mikelle. It was a dream come true to be pregnant at the same time as her sister. Her sister had her baby a month before Nana had Mikelle. Nana is thankful she met her nephew before she had Mikelle and loves him very much. She didn’t see him much after that for a few months. She gave herself permission to cry and be happy for her sister.
It was devastating for her, and she needed time to heal. She was very angry at first, then denial. At her follow-up appointment her doctor told her to never get pregnant again and put her on birth control. Hearing this felt like a gut punch to Nana. She was devastated because she always wanted kids. Her follow-up appointment with the doctor she saw in the hospital told her he thought she just had a bad pregnancy. He wanted to run some simple blood tests. He found out she was deficient in two types of protein which was a blood clotting disorder. He put her on aspirin and a couple other things. After some time, she was ready to try again. She also considered IVF again. Both the perinatal specialist nurse and the clinic said since she got pregnant twice last year, she doesn’t need IVF. Her issue was maintaining a pregnancy. She began to research getting pregnant and preventing preeclampsia. She went to a fertility acupuncturist that put her on a regimen of vitamins to help with egg quality. She still had high blood pressure from her pregnancy. Her doctor told her it can take up to six months before it will get back to normal. Her doctor advised against getting pregnant with high blood pressure. This was very challenging because she was taking multiple medications four or five times a day. She was on drugs that shouldn’t be taken while pregnant.
Nana did two things to help her through the grief. She found a manifestation coach who was also a licensed therapist from a YouTube search. She signed up for Dr. Lisa Grant’s program called 90 Day Fertility Reset because it was goal-setting and manifestation. She was going through therapy, and she found comfort with lots of affirmations. Nana is Christian, so the therapist suggested she find scripture that helped. For her, she wrote it down with the notes app on her phone. She also went to church every Sunday. She participated in a mission trip to Mexico to help build a home there. A great part of the trip was finding other women who were on similar journeys. The other thing that helped was exercise: Walking, yoga, or Pilates in the morning. There was a lot of therapy, prayer, affirmations and talking to herself because she needed to constantly combat the negative thoughts. She also just allowed the grief. She knew if she did nothing, she would go into a dark space.
She called herself Fertile Myrtle, she says through a laugh. She was ready to try again at the beginning of March, but she was waiting for her cycle to return to normal. June her body was ready: She improved her nutrition to help the quality of her eggs, her cycle was back and her blood pressure was down. She continued the fertility acupuncture treatment every other week and walked regularly while she tried to get pregnant. She tracked her ovulation with the digital sticks and tracked her basal body temperature. She went to visit family in Ghana and assumed she’d get pregnant there. She was afraid of pregnancy. She was afraid to get preeclampsia again and didn’t want to go through a loss like that again.
In September, almost two months from being home from Ghana, Nana cautiously felt like she was pregnant. The day her cycle was late was when her husband was on his way to drill. She wanted to test before he left. She didn’t want him to be gone all day, and she would be thinking about it the whole day. She took the test that morning and it was positive. Of course, she was excited, but it was also hard.
Nana found a new OB and perinatal specialist. She wanted to get a blood tested right away. It was important to her that her doctor be a woman of color. She wanted to be heard. To maintain the pregnancy, she took a daily shot of Lovinox in the belly to prevent blood clots. It was hard, but she also knew this was helping with the pregnancy. Most days her husband would give her the shot or she would give it to herself. She also took a baby aspirin every day because of her blood issues, but she also took a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin D, magnesium, Vitamin B complex, Ovasitol, and DHA. Since she didn’t want vegetables so she took a prebiotic green powder and liquid chlorophyll. She could eat salads, but she didn’t have a huge appetite. She was a snacker. She liked crackers, fruit and a lot of protein. She avoided fast food. She thinks she only gained a total of ten pounds.
The pregnancy went fairly well. She didn’t have too much nausea but had the fatigue pregnancy comes with. They knew about the blood issue, but she didn’t know what else contributed to preeclampsia. She tried to take it easy. She stopped working during her second trimester, partially because that coincided with the anniversary of her loss. Christmas was not a happy time, but she got engaged on Christmas Day. Her now husband wanted to create new happy memories on that day. She kept doing morning prayer and morning affirmations. She believes what helped the most was finding other women she could talk to that also went through loss. She spoke to women who were in their late 30’s or 40’s that had gone through loss, also. She listened to podcasts of stories of women triumphing and stories that were more heartbreaking than hers. She told herself, “If they can do it, I can too. All things are possible with God.” These are the things she said to herself all the time. She would even listen to affirmations while she slept. She would find some on YouTube, “You’re going to have this baby. You’ll be holding your baby.” She tried to saturate her mind as much as possible with positive thoughts. She called her baby, Baby Bear throughout the pregnancy. She did not find out the gender. She was good with whoever showed up. She was just so grateful. Every day was a blessing she was still pregnant. She didn’t think mentally she could handle finding out the gender.
The doctors told Nana they didn’t want her to get to 40 weeks because something could rupture. Her c-section was scheduled at 37 weeks. The night before the c-section, she relaxed at home. She was packed and ready to go. The last time she was in an OR, it was not the positive outcome she wanted. The doctors spoke to her the whole time. They told her what they were doing and why they were doing it. Her husband stayed by her side. She didn’t have the space to think about what could go wrong. It happened so fast. Her doctor said, “It’s a boy!” She breastfed him initially, but they noticed he was breathing a little fast. He was taken to the NICU. She’s so grateful for that moment with him. There was some anxiety with him being in the NICU. They were good about giving her updates and telling her exactly what was going on which gave her some relief. She will never forget the day the nurse tried to discharge her without her son. Nana started bawling. The nurse figured out a way to let her stay and have insurance cover it. Her son was in the NICU for five days. Leaving the hospital with her son was fantastic. That first night she was so delirious but happy. She wishes she did a better job of educating herself as to what to do after taking the baby home.
She recovered fairly quickly. She doesn’t know if it was the supplements or all the walking she did during pregnancy. They have a guest bath/bedroom downstairs that they moved into. She thought everything was going well until she noticed swelling in her feet. Something told her to check her blood pressure and it was sky high. She had no issues during pregnancy, so she was confused. This was postpartum preeclampsia. Now her baby was here, she knew she had to take care herself by seeing her nephrologist and her OB and get back to the meds to keep her blood pressure down.
Mentally, it was a challenging period. The baby was cluster feeding and she wasn’t sleeping. She felt guilty for feeling it was hard but wanted this for so long. She stayed in therapy. It was harder than she thought it would be and she felt bad for thinking that. It was very challenging, but so rewarding.
Nana started off doing a combination of breastfeeding and formula. She started to pump when he was in NICU, so he got some colostrum. It took some time for her breast milk to come in, so he also got some formula. When she was leaving the hospital, her baby started to cry. The nurse fed him a bottle formula. This is when she first learned about bottle preference. When she got preeclampsia, she went into a nervous state and wasn’t able to produce well.
Today, she’s pretty good. She still takes her medicine every day. She’s working to be more diligent in checking her blood pressure because she wants to get off the medication. Her dad is a pediatrician, so he is also on her to know her blood pressure. She’s started walking more again. Now her son is formula fed.