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I’m so happy to have my sister-in-law, Jennifer sharing her miracle story here on the blog today. All I can say is if you read only one thing today, read her story. It’s one of incredible faith and lots of tears, but one that shows that God is real and he still works miracles!
I should have known to switch doctors long ago, but being one to avoid conflict I wrote off the subtle feeling of something being wrong. This would turn out to be my first mistake in this journey.
My second was ever letting Satan have a foothold in my mind where he would whisper doubts. God has given moms a special instinct to help us take care of our children and it should never be quickly put aside. Here’s the story God is writing for my second daughter and how we are surviving PPROM day-by-day through His grace.
PPROM: Our Story
My husband Michael and I have always prayed for a big, close-knit family. So when my eldest daughter began to self-wean (she loved table food!) we decided we were ready for another baby. A little over a year later, I held in my hand a positive pregnancy test! With pure joy and trembling fingers I made a few phone calls and set up an appointment with the local midwife.
Since I was only an estimated 4 weeks along healthy, young, and no history of miscarriages I would have to wait until I was 12 weeks to be seen. Initially I was disappointed. I mean, who doesn’t want that little kidney bean ultrasound picture to put proudly on their fridge?
It wasn’t long after that happy day when my troubles began. When I thought I was in my 7th week of my pregnancy I started bleeding. With my first pregnancy, I never bled until labor had begun so I panicked and made an emergency appointment.
The next morning my husband, my daughter Hollie, and I rushed off to make sure the newest baby was okay. The doctor on call quickly gave me an ultrasound, a new due date, and reassurance that all was well before rushing back out the door. We were happy that the baby looked perfect for being 9 weeks along and the bleeding was explained away as implantation bleeding. I went home and continued life as normal, but the bleeding never stopped.
Family and close friends advised me to take it easy, but I assured them the doctor said it was completely normal. Besides, who can take it easy with an energetic toddler?
Then came my next scare. A few weeks had passed since my first unscheduled OB appointment and I was now sporting cute maternity clothes. Everything was perfect! At least that was what I kept trying to convince myself of even though deep down I knew something was amiss.
As usual one night we finished our late night movie and I stood to make my way to bed. I felt a small gush and went quickly to the restroom to investigate. By the time I reached the bathroom upstairs blood was everywhere. I began to shake violently and sob thinking I had lost our child. I cried out to God praying that somehow the baby was alright inspite of so much blood. I cannot lose my baby. I am simply not strong enough! I prayed.
Even though I prayed earnestly, the bleeding only continued to become worse. My husband checked on me and seeing the blood he began to silently pray as he knelt to clean up the floor. I quickly changed and rushed to make phone calls. Being new to the state and having no family or friends within hours of us I only knew to call the pastors wife of our church to watch my daughter. She arrived quickly and we sped to the ER.
At the ER, they did the usual run-of-the-mill tests. I sat solemnly while my sweet husband tried to make me laugh. The doctor said the bleeding was normal and sent me home with a bottle of antibiotics for an early UTI. No one believed me about the fluid loss before the bleeding.
The OB office called me the next morning wanting to check on the baby for themselves. She discovered the amniotic sac had not fused to the uterine wall yet. But all in all the baby was fine, I was fine, and bleeding was normal. I tried telling this doctor about the leak and got the same answer that the ER doctor said, “I’m sure it was just the baby kicking your bladder.” At this point I felt insulted and frustrated. I was not a first-time mom. I had given birth before and knew the difference between a swift kick to the bladder and the feeling of my water breaking. To appease me, I was scheduled for a level two ultrasound of the baby and placenta. I would never keep this appointment.
A little over a week later, I had put myself on moderate bed rest. I was home alone (My husband works a lot to be a good provider) with my almost two year old daughter. I had no friends or family close by to help out so I rested as much as I could.
Tuesday afternoon I had just come back down stairs from putting Hollie down for a nap and sat on the couch to relax and watch a movie. Within seconds of sitting I felt a medium sized gush. Upon standing clear fluid began coursing down my legs. I KNEW this was not the result of a bladder kick and was very bad.
My mind went blank. I was home alone, with no one else to call. I couldn’t call an ambulance with no one to watch Hollie, so I prayed for help and my mind switched into action. After several minutes I finally had the security at My husband’s work track him down and bring him to the phone. Over the phone, I sobbed and begged him to hurry home because my water had broken. I was losing our baby.
I managed to track down our pastor’s wife in between some of her errands and she once again dropped everything and came to my aid. We made that horrible drive to the ER once more. We were ready for a few days stay and broken hearts. It felt like the ER had never moved more slowly as it did then.
I had been placed in a good sized room slowly leaking more fluid while Michael tried to reach family so they could pray. I tried to lay still and not to cry too much as it only made the leaking worse. A different doctor came and did a pelvic exam (I later realized this should not have done because of the risk of infection). She said I was not dilating and wasn’t sure what the fluid was and sent me to get another ultrasound.
The tech was kind and turned the monitor so I could see what we suspected to be our second girl. She wasn’t able to say much but I could tell something was wrong. She called in another tech and they pointed and whispered until they called in yet another doctor. My heart felt crushed and dried out. I saw a perfect child on their screen with a strong heartbeat moving around, yet something had gone wrong. I watched my daughter, whom I never thought I’d have a chance to hold, suck her thumb and then wave.
Finally the doctor acknowledged me and informed me the amniotic fluid was low but not critical and the baby seemed fine. However, the sac had still not fused to the wall. Shortly after being wheeled back to my husband I was discharged with no explanation, no plan of treatment, and no medical help. My husband watched me like a hawk for the rest of the day and everything seemed to be getting better. The leaking stopped and the bleeding had almost stopped too.
The next morning, he went to work and I went about my day trying to take it easy. Shortly after Hollie had woken from her nap I laid on the couch reading to her while she munched on her snack. An all too familiar feeling of my water leaking made me pause our story time. I stood to get clean clothes and this time much more fluid mixed with blood went everywhere. I prepared to make more phone calls while Hollie cried in fear.
This time I called my OB first. She was to meet me at the ER and warned me this would be it for my unborn child. I called my husband Michael, the pastor’s wife, and both sets of parents preparing them for the loss and asking for prayer. My parents hurried to be by my side in this time of sorrow and the pastor’s wife took Hollie to church until my parents arrived to take over.
I had been allowed to carry this blessing for 15 weeks and 6 days. We had decided to name her Elaina Marie and loved her just the much as we did Hollie.
At the hospital they declined a pelvic exam, but quickly checked my blood for infection. The nurse came in and could not find Elaina’s heart with the doppler. I began to think she was really gone this time. Eventually, I was taken for another ultrasound where they finally agreed with me that my water had broken and there was no measurable fluid left. They were sorry for my loss and wheeled me out of the way for the next patient.
But I had heard a strong heartbeat during the ultrasound. How could they give up so quickly? Back in the room the attitude of the nurses and staff shifted. Hardly anyone would look me in the eye and they all just kept saying how sorry they were. No one offered hope, no one but my God! I wept in my loving husband’s arms and tried to relay what the doctors had told me in the ultrasound room. We cried and prayed together. Things only got worse from there.
In walked the OB doctor. She was sympathetic and with tears in her eyes offered me a pill to end my suffering. I laid there in shock. I am a Christian and know abortion is wrong. Elaina still lived! Even the doctors said there was no reason for my body to be doing this . They wanted me to stop her heart, but I could not begin to understand how that would end my suffering. It would only increase it and fill me with guilt and to be forever questioning what would have happened had I given her a chance at life.
I politely declined “the pill” and was taken to labor and delivery were they assured me I would give birth in the next 24 hours. My dad arrived and sat with me while I blankly stared at the TV not even watching what was on. After a few hours our pastor arrived to pray with us and my dad went to my house.
Through the night I was checked for a temperature and to see if labor had begun every four hours. At 6 am I was told they would do another blood check and my midwife would see me. One of the doctors I had seen previously at the OB office, my midwife, Michael, Dad, and a few nurses were all in a crude semi-circle around me. The midwife did another ultrasound while everyone silently looked on.
There was Elaina scrunched in a tight ball hardly able to move. But there was a heartbeat! My daughter had made it to 16 weeks!
They switched off the machine and the doctor began his horrible speech. Again and again, from all different angles he fervently pressured me to kill her. He was adamant that I would lose not only her, but my reproductive organs and possibly my own life if I fought to save her. Tears streamed down my face unhindered. How could they be so cruel? I shook my head stopping him mid-rant. “As long as there’s a heartbeat we will not give up,” I said.
Not pleased with my response, the doctor moved closer and raised his voice some changing tactics. He firmly told me that if by some small chance she did survive (he had given her a 1% chance of survival) she would be extremely handicapped both mentally and physically. He then presumed I would not want a child like that. He advised me to be induced and to try again for a healthier pregnancy in six months.
Anger rose within me! I could feel my blood pressure rise. How many times must I say no? I glanced at Michael. His jaw was clenched and he was tightening his fists. We did not need a lawsuit on top of this so I gave him a look and a hand motion that said not to strike the doctor.
Somehow I was able to convey in a civil tone that it did not matter if my daughter was handicapped. I had worked in a group home for disabled and handicapped people before and I had a special heart for these people. I deemed them of no less value than a perfectly healthy child and would be fine being blessed with a child like that. We would never wish ill on any child, but to kill a child simply because they were not guaranteed to be born “perfect” was a cold and heartless notion we would not entertain.
When the doctor realized we would not be forced to his will he quickly left the room. My midwife advised we just let nature take its course and that it would be over in 48 hours, a week at the most. At this time, I remembered my original appointment with the high risk doctor for my level-two ultrasound and asked if I could see her. The midwife called and arranged for me to see her that afternoon. Hollie and both my parents came for a quick visit while I waited to be discharged.
Michael called his father and asked him to come pick up Hollie for a few weeks so I could focus on getting better. I was sad to know I wouldn’t see her for a while but I knew I needed to give her little sister a fighting chance. My discharge nurse was understanding and she cried with me and shared that she had lost three babies around years ago. Once we composed ourselves she read me my discharge papers that instructed me to watch for labor, infection, and to continue life as normal. I asked about bed rest and was told it wouldn’t help.
On our way to the specialist I researched my condition which I learned was called PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes). I found a few support groups on Facebook and began to reach out. In the groups the ladies shared with me their resources, success stories, and much needed encouragement. I was amazed at how many people made it weeks after rupture and had healthy, living children.
We made it to the bigger hospital and were quickly seen. The tech was also a Christian and was very kind to me. The ultrasound showed 2 cm pockets of fluid (at 16 weeks the average amount is 5-10). This was still critically low but better than zero!
The specialist came in and discussed her opinion of the circumstances. Elaina had a 25% chance of making it to the viable week of 24 where I would be placed on hospital bed rest. If I made it to week 34 they would induce me no matter what. At the first sign of infection they would do an emergency C-section and it would be over no matter how far along I was. Again, I was reminded of the risks I was taking but in a kinder tone. She told me she would see me next week to check on the baby’s progress.
So back home I went, exhausted physically and emotionally. My parents had gone grocery shopping for us and were dinner cooking and I gingerly walked upstairs to get into my bed. All too quickly my father-in-law arrived to take away my little Hollie. For how long? I did not know. She would be seven hours away and too far for quick visits. Could this day get any worse?
They brought her up to say good-bye to me, but being so young and so excited that both sets of grandparents were there, I only got a quick peck on the cheek and a “bye-bye, Mama” and away my little girl went. I felt like I had lost both my daughters in one blow.
I wept with tears I didn’t think were left, but the Great Comforter reminded me of the verse in Job 1:21: “The LORD gave; and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the LORD.” I would praise my God no matter what! I wiped away my tears and went to sleep.
1. I Prayed without ceasing and asked people to start prayer chains.
2. I laid and reclined in the position where I leaked the least.
3. I stuck to strict bed rest and only got up to use the restroom (My husband would kindly wash my hair).
4. I drank a gallon of water a day.
5. I ate healthy.
6. I took vitamins (your usual vitamins plus vitamin C, E, and zinc supplements).
7. I took Knox Gelatin mixed in a glass of ½ coconut water and ½ cranberry juice.
8. I drank milk.
9. I ate yogurt to fight infection (the less the sugar the better).
10. I kept myself and the bathroom clean to cut down the risk of infection.
11. I had faith and a positive attitude. I refused to give up!
At this point in my pregnancy, I lived for Thursdays. Every Thursday afternoon Michael would come home early, help me downstairs, and we would cautiously make our way to the high-risk specialist. My most recent visit would confound the doctors and leave us in awe of God’s almighty power.
Usually the technicians alternate between patients, but when the tech from the previous week saw I was the next patient she insisted she do my ultrasound in place of the other nurse. She has been such an encouragement to me through this, but even she had been trying to prepare me for the worst.
I laid on the table prepared to see my littlest love tightly balled up and looking uncomfortable, but what I saw instead was God’s mercy in black and white. Tears streamed down my cheeks once more. The nurse gasped and Michael grinned from ear to ear. Elaina was stretched out and gloating in a normal amount of amniotic fluid!! I reached for my husbands’ hand and we praised our Lord. Not only had my fluid miraculously replenished in a mere seven days, but the sac had fused completely to the wall.
Our tech rechecked the levels in disbelief. The rest of the appointment she sat shaking her head mumbling, “There’s just no way. This doesn’t happen.” Our daughter looked perfect, as usual. The nurse left in such a hurry she stumbled over my wheelchair on the way to share her findings with my doctor. Several minutes passed before the doctor came to see for herself. On the computer screen it showed an average pregnancy with no evidence my water had ever broken.
The doctor praised me for my “good work,” but I quickly corrected her. It was nothing I could have done, it was all the Lord. We told her how we had many people praying, even some in other countries. “I guess prayers do work sometimes,” was her response. I said, “Yes, ma’am prayers DO work!”
If I do not re-rupture or get an infection, I should be able to carry Elaina to my due date! Some readers may read this and wonder why I’ve already written about my experience with PPROM as I am still in the midst of it and still on bedrest. Others who are also battling to save their unborn child may feel a tinge of jealousy because they have prayed and still have no measurable fluid.
I am writing this in gratitude and praise to God for what He has already done and in faith that He will continue to keep my daughter safe until I deliver a strong and healthy child. I am also sharing this to raise awareness. I had no idea what PPROM was until 48 hours after it happened to me. I didn’t know that a vitamin C deficiency can cause this as can smoking, severe infection, drinking, trauma to the abdomen, and other health problems have been linked to the cause of PPROM or PROM. I am telling my story in hopes to save a child’s life.
Doctors’ first option for treatment for PPROM is an abortion. If I did not have my values and beliefs I do not know if I would have given Elaina a chance. After all, they said no matter what I did my daughter’s life was going to end shortly and they are the ones with the degrees so they must know what they are talking about. My hope is that people will read this and that hope will spread. I pray more mothers will give their precious child a fighting chance because miracles do happen. Elaina Marie Niederer is proof of that.
“Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear:” Psalm 27:3. No, I don’t know what tomorrow may bring. I don’t know if my next appointment will find things still improving or no heartbeat at all, but when Satan surrounds me with doubts and doctors present me with bad news I will place my littlest love in His arms and not fear. He created her and loves her even more than I do and His will is perfect.
So when the odds seem stacked against you cry out to God! Never lose hope because our God is a God of comfort and miracles. I will be praying for you and your babe.