High Risk Birth Stories listener Vani shares the story of her own pregnancy. At 12 weeks, Vani learned that her amnion and chorion membranes had not fused. Later tests then showed high risk for structural anomalies and heart defects, and anatomy scans confirmed these concerning signs. Vani explains how she ultimately made the decision to terminate, and the process of healing both physically and emotionally from this experience.
“Finding Support Through a Very Difficult Decision” – with Vani
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Dr. Fox: Welcome to “High Risk Birth Stories” brought to you by the creators of “The Healthful Woman” podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Nathan Fox. “High Risk Birth Stories” is a podcast designed to give you the listener a window into life-changing experiences of pregnancy, fertility, and childbirth. Vani, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate it. How are you doing today?
Vani: I’m great. Thank you, Dr. Nathan, for having me, really excited.
Dr. Fox: So we’re talking about your pregnancy from just last year in 2021, which is your first pregnancy. And you actually reached out to me during the pregnancy to say that you wanted to tell your story on the podcast, either while it was happening or afterwards. So, first of all, how did you even find the podcast.
Vani: So while I was going through a high-risk pregnancy, I was struggling with finding the right source of resource to sort of calm my nerves. I was googling different resources and looking at different podcasts and actually heard a few until I came across yours, which focuses essentially on high-risk pregnancy. And I really felt connected. That’s when I figured I think I should reach out and even share my story.
Dr. Fox: Wow. Well, I do appreciate that. I didn’t know that anyone could find this on Google. So that’s great. A lot of people who volunteer are doing so for something that happened either in the recent past or even the remote past. But the fact that you were thinking about sharing your story while it was unfolding, did you volunteer to do that because you thought it would be therapeutic for you to sort of talk it out while it was happening, or because you thought it would be more relevant to tell a story while it was happening?
Vani: I think both. Certainly, I was reaching out to look for some type of therapy because it was obviously a tough experience to go through. And I feel like every time you look at experience in hindsight, your perspective differs a little bit versus when you’re going through it. And I thought it would be relevant to share what I felt at the time versus, you know, reach back out, let’s say in a few years. So I think both, to answer your question.
Dr. Fox: Take us back to the beginning of pregnancy, right when you got pregnant or just before you got pregnant, you know, what’s going on with you in your life? Where are you living? And, you know, did you have a difficult time getting pregnant? So what was your story at the start of pregnancy?
Vani: Funny story, we had just gotten married in the summer of this year, and we’re thinking about getting pregnant towards beginning of next year, which is 2020 at the time. I was 34 when I got married. So certainly, you know, it was top of mind for us to have kids in the near future. So I got off birth control right after the wedding just to sort of, you know, clear my system or whatnot and started taking prenatal just to get ready for pregnancy. And funny story, we actually conceived spontaneously, which means like we weren’t trying. So it was unexpected. I didn’t find out till week five when I felt I had sore breasts, and I just wasn’t feeling right, and I woke up in the middle of the night at 4 in the morning and said, “I think I’m pregnant.” So it was spontaneous, a little bit ahead of when we had originally planned in terms of our timeline.
So this was in August. We kind of came to terms with how this would affect obviously our work and, you know, maternity. I had just joined a new job in May. So it was a little bit not timing perfectly. But come September, everything looked great, and we were super excited, but we had not shared anything with anyone at that time.
Dr. Fox: Right. So obviously then no difficulty conceiving, maybe a little bit faster than you had expected, but a delightful surprise at the same time. And did you think that you would need a lot of sort of preparation before you got pregnant in terms of..? Are you the type of person who likes, you know, research and look things up and, you know, have all your ducks in a row before you get pregnant, or are you more of a go with the flow type of person?
Vani: I think, in general, I’m go with the flow, but when it comes to pregnancy, and now I can speak from experience, I would certainly want to be better prepared than I was at the time. It took us some time getting used to the fact that, oh, my God, we were pregnant only because I didn’t have the time to prepare myself for it.
Dr. Fox: And did you have any medical concerns coming into pregnancy, you know, whether it’s, you know, some problems in the past or anything that you thought might be a problem during pregnancy or other than…? You know, you said your age, which obviously was not, you know, remarkable. But other than that, was there anything you were thinking about?
Vani: No, not at all. Both me and my husband in our family history don’t have any complications. And at the time, we’ve not heard of anybody having any complication, which, of course, changed very quickly. So, no, we had no concerns, except, you know, everything that we didn’t know at the time.
Dr. Fox: Right. And so how did you find a doctor or midwife or provider at the beginning of pregnancy?
Vani: So I had sort of already…I moved to New Jersey, so I was looking for an OB-GYN long-term only because I knew that I’d wanna be pregnant soon. So I had my annual checkups with her. So that was pretty easy. That sort of almost aligned itself.
Dr. Fox: Oh, so you already had somebody that you called said, “Hey, I’m pregnant,” and you started your prenatal care.
Vani: Exactly. And I’d seen her before, and she knew that, you know, we were thinking about pregnancy next year. So she was obviously happy that we conceived. And I remember at the time, I joked and I said, “Well, this is not really on my timeline.” And she said, “Well, you can’t really control everything in your life.”
Dr. Fox: Well, how did the first trimester go? What was it like for you physically?
Vani: Oh, it was awful. It’s funny, when you hear a pregnancy, whether it’s through media, or friends, or even family, you only hear the good things and not the negatives. And I knew nothing what first trimester would be when I obviously went into it. I felt not like myself up until week 12. I was extremely low in energy, and I’m generally a very energetic person. I felt extremely slow. I had terrible gas the whole time, sorry, if I can use that.
Dr. Fox: It’s all right.
Vani: Yeah. I didn’t feel great. I didn’t have crazy nausea, but I had the need to keep eating to avoid getting nauseous, which, obviously, it was concerning because I didn’t wanna put on weight. But all in all, it wasn’t a fun first three months.
Dr. Fox: It’s interesting what you said to preface that people will only tell you the good parts of the pregnancy and not the bad parts. It’s interesting to me for two reasons because I guess in my line of work, it’s the exact opposite, people tell me all the bad parts and none of the good parts. Okay, it’s my job. That’s cool. But also how you mentioned before that you didn’t really know anybody who had any complications with pregnancy before this pregnancy. In your circles, do you have, you know, a lot of friends and family who have had children, and you sort of your understanding of their pregnancies was it was all, you know, peachy and fine? Or did you not really know a lot of people yet who even had kids?
Vani: So I know a lot of people who are actually currently having kids and have had kids, I say, in the last year, year and a half. So certainly, most of them are all good story except one, well, which is a close friend of mine who I will mention a little bit later during our talk because it’d be more appropriate. But other than her, everyone just conceived, had unremarkable pregnancy, beautiful children, no anomalies, no issues at all. And I had heard that, you know, 95% or 99%, I don’t know the percentage of pregnancies, are normal. And that’s the number I was going with.
Dr. Fox: Well, because there’s definitely a much higher rate of people miscarrying. So I wonder if, you know, your circles a lot of people don’t talk about the early miscarriages because, yeah, I guess once you get to about 12 weeks, 95% plus are gonna go fine. I agree with that. But from getting pregnant until 12 weeks, it’s definitely not 95% go fine. There’s a much higher percent than five that’s gonna miscarry. So it’s interesting just because I’m always fascinated by people’s…sort of people’s circles, how much people do and don’t talk about these things. And I’m not… You know, people have the right to keep quiet about their business and the right to talk about their business. I’m not judging anyone. But it’s just fascinating what types of things people do share with their friends and family and what types of things they don’t.
Vani: Exactly. And I think that was one of my biggest takeaway from this experience. I became a virtue not sharing because I did the same thing the first three months not share. And that almost becomes the burden you carry if you’re going through a high-risk pregnancy because you wanna be able to talk, you wanna be able to sort of alleviate the pressure that you’re going through in isolation. And as I shared along the way, people opened up to me, including my friends and my family, my own mother sharing information and experiences about their own miscarriage or about their own pregnancy losses, which is, again, one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to come and share my story because I think it’s very important to do that.
Dr. Fox: So what did happen? So everything up to 12 weeks other than you feeling miserable was going well. And obviously, at some point, things took a turn and got more complicated. So what happened?
Vani: Okay. So we’re surprised with pregnancy, we’re finally accepting it, and we’re doing great. I’m doing my, you know, weekly visits and everything looks great. At the time, something urgent or like an emergency happened with my family, and I was required to travel to see them, and it was a long flight. And this is right around week 11. I had my doctor’s visit, we heard the heartbeat, everything looked great, and she said, you know, “You’re totally okay. Go ahead, visit your mother. And you should be totally okay, take certain precautions and whatnot.” So, because of the timing, I had already done my NIPT testing here in New Jersey, but I was required to find someone to do my 12 weeks anatomy, not anatomy, scan.
Dr. Fox: The nickel ultrasound.
Vani: The nickel, exactly. We were able to find, you know, a location, and this is an international location. And it was totally fine. We were comfortable. I flew, I felt great throughout the flight. I landed, and now I’m in India, and I have to go through my nickel there. I was 12 weeks and 3 days at the time. So during the nickel, they were…they found nothing wrong with the fetus, you know, anatomically, it looked perfect. However, they started finding a few concerns. So they called the doctor, and the doctor came and mentioned that what we see is not common, “Your amnion and chorion membranes have not fused, and typically by 12 weeks, we see that they have fused. However, sometimes there is a delay.” So she said, you know, “You’re still very early. Let’s give it a few more weeks. If you’re still here, come back. We’ll relook at it. But I would recommend that you take it easy, don’t do anything strenuous.” And then, of course, I was, you know, asked to go home. And I had all the time in the world to google everything possible, which I do not recommend.
Dr. Fox: Just for our listeners just so I can just interject and explain, the fetus…the developing fetus is in a water bag, and the membrane around the baby is called the amnion. And then that bag is inside another bag called the chorion early in pregnancy. So early in pregnancy, you’ll see the fetus inside a little bag, and that bag inside another bag, think of like a Ziploc inside of a Ziploc. But what happens is as the amnion grows, the inner Ziploc grows and grows and grows until it’s as big as the outer and so they fuse. So the two Ziplocs become the same size. And then they’re nearly indistinguishable from one another until you actually deliver. So what you’re saying is, yours was not doing that, meaning they remained separated at a point where they would have expected for them to have fused. So just sort of put some background into what you’re talking about. And that can be a problem in pregnancy as they told you. Okay. So you’ve done that, you’ve done the google, you got scared to death, obviously, from what you find on the Google. And you’re back in America now?
Vani: I’m not. So I go back a week… Yeah. So week 14, I go back. And obviously, I was hoping for everything to have fused. I literally stopped doing any type of physical activity, which is very hard on me because physical activity is important. However, you know, I was hoping for best outcome, and unfortunately, the fusion had not happened at the time. It was recommended that I go back and get a rescan at week 16. Apparently, week 16 is the threshold that medically they look at for the fusion. So now I’m back in America, I’ve been referred to a high-risk facility, and I go in for my anatomy scan at week 16. At the time, the doctor during the scan very, you know, early on said, “Yes, you do have a complete chorion-amnion separation, which is very concerning at week 16.” And ideally, here in the United States, they don’t look for it until week 20, which is very alarming. And just because I was in India, they were actually able to catch it at week 12, which I don’t know in hindsight if it’s good or bad.
Dr. Fox: At 12 we don’t make much of it. I mean, not everyone…I’m gonna call the standard, but it’s not really a standard. I would say most people in the U.S. are gonna get a scan at 20 weeks, and so that’s when they look for it. It’s not that we don’t look for the amnion-chorion separation until 20 weeks, it’s a lot of people won’t have an ultrasound between 10 or 12 and 20 weeks. In our office personally, we do ultrasounds routinely at 16 weeks. So it is something we’re looking for. But, you know, it really depends sort of what the practices are locally, regionally, nationally, and different places, definitely do it differently. Were you having any other symptoms? Like, if you hadn’t had an ultrasound, was everything going fine, and you’re feeling well, you’re not bleeding, you’re okay, you’re growing, like, all the things you would have expected?
Vani: Yeah. And thank you for asking because I did miss a part. So during the scan, they did ask if I had any bleeding or discomfort during my pregnancy, and I’d had none of that. I felt great. Actually, by around week 12, I was physically starting to feel fantastic. I was starting to feel myself. I had all the energy. I wanted to work out. So at the time when I was told to stay away from strenuous activity, I was actually feeling great. I had absolutely no complication. So week 16, I’m having my anatomy scan. I’ve been diagnosed with complete chorion-amnion separation. And during the consultation and after actually when we got the report is what really scared me and my husband because we got some percentages, high risk for structural anomalies, which the report said 53%. Heart defects roughly I think around 46%. And some of the other adverse pregnancy outcomes, which includes like growth restriction, abruption, preterm delivery, IUGR, etc. And most of these things we had never heard before. So, looking into all of this and starting to research, really scared, you know, both of us at the time.
Dr. Fox: What were you thinking at that time? You get all this bad news, what’s swirling through your head, other than obviously the devastation of it that you’re hearing bad news, in terms of moving forward?
Vani: So during this time, we were waiting…and I wanted to add, we were waiting till week 12 to actually share, you know, the pregnancy with our families. And right before we found out about the separation, we told both of our parents. So that part was really tough that I was starting to show, I wanted to share with everyone else, and now we have this complication. So there was a stress of, how do we, you know, break the news, or how do we continue to hide the pregnancy? That was actually stressful at the time. In addition, of course, all the percentages and the bad outcome we were getting was also stressful. But the way my husband and I both dealt with the news, and we both dealt with it very differently, was certainly stressful as well. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about termination. I was thinking about, “Hey, where can we find information to fix this?” Versus my husband was already thinking about termination. So that was certainly stressful as well.
Dr. Fox: What were the doctors telling you? Were they given you any advice or messaging, or they just sort of dropped the percentages on your lap, and have a good day?
Vani: Yeah. They kind of dropped the percentages on our lap. The recommendation that was given was, “Hey, you can continue with the pregnancy. However, we will monitor it very closely,” which meant every two weeks, we’d have to go in for an ultrasound. They also recommended a fetal echocardiogram at week 21. However, most doctors had not seen many cases with CAS, and everyone I spoke to and all the research I did, we found out that it’s extremely rare. There is not a lot of literature around this. I think the number of cases my high-risk doctor at the time had seen was two. Both of them didn’t have good outcomes. So that wasn’t really reassuring. And we were sort of just left to soak this in and figure out what we wanted to do.
Dr. Fox: And how did you do that? I mean, how do you move forward? You have this very troubling news, you don’t really have great recommendations of what to do from your doctors, which is understandable in conditions that are rare, and people don’t have a lot of experience with them. And you and your husband are sort of at least initially not on the same page of how you’re gonna move forward. You know, you’re looking for more information, “What can we do? How do we fix this?” And he’s thinking, “Oh, my God, we have to get out of this.” How did you move forward? Was it just with each other? Did you consult with anybody, you know, family or friends?
Vani: Yeah. We have a few doctors and family, some of my close friends as well. We consulted with all of them. And because I was looking for more answers, of course, the next best step for us was to get second and third and fourth opinion, see as many people as we possibly can. And we did exactly the same. And my husband was extremely supportive of that. You know, he wanted me to get…take the time to figure out if there was an answer. So we, you know, moved our care to New York and actually saw, you know, [inaudible 00:20:26] Dr. Cornell. And at Mount Sinai, got multiple scans from week 16 to week 19. And what really worried us and I think didn’t help was how everyone approached this. You know, we got opinions, which favored, “Hey, this is rare. It’s certainly high risk. You guys didn’t struggle with getting pregnant. You know, it’s understandable if you wanna start over.”
And then we got the second school of thought, which is, “Hey, you know, what if you can get pregnant again? And you must fight. And even though, yes, this is rare, and we know little, it is possible to have a good outcome.” And after seeing maybe about six doctors, we were still…you know, ultimately, the decision landed on me and my husband’s shoulder. And we realized, and it took me a long time to understand, that there was no right answer. And by the time we were at week 18, we were starting to get concerned about the fact that, you know, if we were to terminate, we only had to like week 22 or 23 in New Jersey and New York. And if something was to go wrong after, how would we, you know, move on with our lives? That was a big question.
Dr. Fox: You know, you saw a lot of doctors, and you’re talking about these two schools of thought. Do you think that people fell…? People, doctors I’m saying, fell on one side of the line versus the other because they felt differently about the actual prognosis, or just some people are glasses half-full and some people are glasses half-empty, and that kind of comes out in their conversations with you about the same thing?
Vani: Yeah, I think it’s certainly the second. I think everyone has a different capacity for risk. Some people are naturally more optimistic, others more practical, or whatever, the opposite of that. We had the same difference me and my husband as well. You know, I was trying to be more positive. He was certainly, “Hey, listen, we didn’t struggle. We could try again. We still have time.” We both did agree along the way and with our conversation, is that we preferred to maybe not even have kids versus have kids with special needs. And I don’t know if as a couple we were strong enough to deal with kids, or to support kids with special needs.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. I mean, I think that a lot of couples struggle through that exact question. And I’m just curious for context because you brought it up, the concept that termination was one of the two options on the table. Before you got pregnant, had you ever thought about this? Like, what was your views on abortion before the pregnancy started? Did you have strong views personally, you and your husband?
Vani: No, not at all. In the past, I’ve known people who’ve had abortion, either because of their age or because of their relationships. And I’m all for whatever works for you at the time. I think it’s important to not only bring a child but be able to care for the child in the right way. And if sometimes timing is not right, or if a couple is not financially ready, I’m okay with that. And for us, it wasn’t abortion being something we didn’t agree with in terms of our thought, but it was more so we have a healthy baby, which is growing inside of me at this time, a healthy fetus. And making the decision to terminate when the fetus is healthy, for me, that was the tough question.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. And then what about your support network, you know, like your family, or your friends, or anybody who knew about this? Did you have concerns that maybe they would have very strong opinions on this that would color their advice to you or support for you?
Vani: So thankfully, we had a lot of support from our close-knit community, which included our friends and our family members. And this was the time when people really started coming out to me and sharing stories about their pregnancy losses and why they choose to either end their pregnancy whether It was because of a medical issue or a personal issue. And I think that was very comforting, certainly at the time, because I felt like if I was to, at the time, terminate the pregnancy, I was doing something wrong. And just hearing other people’s story and even hearing stories on your podcast is what really sort of helped me find support at the time.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. I mean, we definitely…most of our podcasts are not terminations. Although we did have a podcast from a woman who terminated her pregnancy, not the same circumstances, obviously, because all circumstances are different. Was that a podcast you had heard specifically?
Vani: Yes, I did go through all to find that. But it wasn’t only just termination, right? It’s how do you deal with a high-risk pregnancy? How do you manage your…whether it’s emotions or support group or just finding…? Finding support I think is what I was looking for at the time. But I forgot to mention, at the time I’d spoken to my friends, and one of my close friends is a neonatologist, and, you know, she deals with preterm delivery and certainly was, I think, one of the person that knew most about the separation and the risk associated with it. And she mentioned that…her words were, “I don’t think this would really be an anomaly. However, there is a chance, because it is a placenta issue, that there could be IUGR, which, you know, it’s intrauterine growth restriction. And that’s something to look out for.”
So during week 16, she was one of the persons that actually recommended that we wait till our full anatomy scan to actually see the growth of the baby. And, you know, she almost told us to not make any quick decisions and wait and see. So we waited for the next couple of weeks, which are really tough, only because, you know, I was told to take it easy. I was I think at all point concerned, “Am I doing something wrong?” I was, you know, like looking if I’m gonna miscarry anytime, I was checking. So mentally, that was really, really tough. Around week 18, we went for three full anatomy scan. Once again, we got different point of views. But there was one thing that we noticed, which really helped us make a final decision, that our baby just was not growing the way we would like it to..the way a normal growth should be.
Dr. Fox: It was already measuring on the smaller side.
Vani: Yes. So by week 19, it was measuring at 30 percentile.
Dr. Fox: Okay. And at week 16, it was more on park.
Vani: Yeah. At week 16, it was 50.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. No, that is a concerning sign, particularly…I mean, general it’s not a concerning sign. But when you have something that has such a strong association with the baby not growing well, and then you see that, it’s definitely much more concerning.
Vani: Yeah. So our last scan was 19.5 week, and during that time, when, you know, our doctors raised concern at slow growth, knowing the complication we had with separation, that finally…and we consulted with all of our friends in our extended group of doctors that we were consulting with at the time, and sort of came to a consensus that we should terminate.
Dr. Fox: Tell us about the termination and the process, was it very difficult for you to find somebody? And, you know, I’m gonna ask you how it went for you physically, but obviously, typically, it’s more of an issue emotionally than physically. What was it like for you, the process?
Vani: So for me, it was fairly easy to find the doctor because, you know, at this time, we’ve seen so many, and we picked one at Mount Sinai, had been recommended by more than one doctors. However, I know in terms of how we should terminate. I’d read up articles where women wanted to deliver just to feel the pain, and at one point, that’s what I wanted to do. But my doctors were smart, and he told me to proceed with D&E just because the baby was measuring so small, and it would have been equally safe, and they said, “It would be less traumatic for you.” And all the doctors noticed that mentally, it was a struggle for me. I’m happy that that’s the route I ended up picking. So went through a D&E, and the procedure itself was physically not traumatic. It was super…if I can use the word easy, the recovery was very easy. I felt physically normal in about a week. However, you know, mentally, it was a longer process.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. Tell us about that. What did you do, or who did you turn to help you with that emotional part of the recovery?
Vani: One of the biggest take away and I mentioned early for me was not sharing about the pregnancy. So once I started to see how much I was struggling, I really started reaching out and talking to all my friends, whether friends that were in the medical field or not in the medical field. I spoke to mothers. I spoke to, you know, my own families as well. And everyone was very supportive. People shared stories of their pregnancy losses, which was very comforting at the time. People were positive for us and our future as well because, when you think of it, we didn’t struggle getting pregnant. And I think that was also one of the decisions…one of the reasons why we could make that decision. You know, had we struggled getting pregnant, maybe I would have fought longer. But in terms of struggle, I think it’s something we’re just going to have to take time to recover from, whether it is, I don’t know, a year or five years or until we have a child. I don’t know that yet.
Dr. Fox: Where are you now in that process in terms of your recovery, meaning recovering from what happened before in the past versus plans for the future? It’s like a spectrum, you sort of recover from what happened, and then you plan for the next, and there’s obviously some overlap in that. Where are you, you think with that process?
Vani: I like the way you mentioned it because that’s exactly how it is. I think physically, I felt like I recovered very quickly. And then, you know, I think for me, it’s been like, I’d have two great weeks and then I’ll sort of just go back and go over it again in my head. And that doesn’t help. We do want to have kids this year, and I still have to come to terms with whether I am ready. And I think going through the experience almost shades you, I don’t know if that’s the word, you get jaded. And I don’t know if you wanna go through it again. And I see people who go through high-risk pregnancies and have healthy outcomes, and they forget somehow all the bad that they went through. And I think for me, that piece has been very hard.
Dr. Fox: My experience is they don’t forget. Maybe they give you that impression, but in my experience, the following pregnancy is very, very difficult emotionally. Usually, it goes perfectly fine because, you know, things like that when they happen are usually just random bad luck events, you know, you get hit by a bus, you get struck by lightning. It’s one of these things where it’s just, you know, you couldn’t predict it, you couldn’t prevent it, it just sort of happened. And so it’s not gonna happen the next time almost certainly from sort of intellectual perspective. But that part of the brain does not work so well during the pregnancy, it’s all the emotional part that’s just all the fear and the anxiety. That’s typical, I would say and understandable. It’s a real trauma you go through when you have a pregnancy like that, and you make a decision to terminate a pregnancy. It is traumatic, and it haunts you, and it sits with you for a long time.
And so when you’re pregnant again, you know, all those emotions come back, and you, of course, have anxiety, is it gonna happen again, or something else gonna happen? It’s tempered by the fact of everything is going well, then there’s that, “Okay, this time it’s not happening.” And you do get through the pregnancy, ultimately. But it’s a tough road that pregnancy is hard. It’s not to be sugar-coated, it’s not an easy pregnancy, but again, it’s likely to go fine. That statement is not particularly helpful during the pregnancy, it just doesn’t matter. Even though you know it’s likely to be fine, you’re still terrified. That’s just how it is, unfortunately.
Vani: Yep. And that’s exactly how I feel about going into next pregnancy.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. I think it’s one of the mistakes people made and people still make when giving advice. They say, you know, “Back on the horse, you know, do it, it’s gonna be fine. You know, put it behind you,” like those types of things. And I just don’t think that that’s how humans work. I guess there are people who are, you know, the Vulcans out there who can just, you know, put all those emotions in a box and shut it and never bring them out again. I don’t know. I guess those people exist, but there’s not a lot of them. For most people, it just doesn’t work. You can’t put those emotions in a box. They keep coming out. And so, for me, it’s about sort of recognizing that that’s gonna happen and expecting it to happen and being prepared for it and sort of working through it as it’s happening rather than trying to suppress it. I tell people sort of to like…to own the anxiety. Like, it’s okay, you’re allowed to be anxious and nervous and terrified, like, just own it. That’s fine. You know, this is how I’m supposed to be in the next pregnancy, rather than, “Oh, there’s something wrong with me because I’m so worried when everything’s going fine.” That’s not realistic.
Vani: Exactly. And I think along the way, and I didn’t mention this, I did seek…you know, I started seeing the therapist who helped me through the pregnancy at week 16 and up until today, and it is certainly a work in progress. It’s not something you get over in a week or two weeks or three weeks. And, yeah, it’s a long road ahead, for sure.
Dr. Fox: It’s so helpful that you’re sharing your story because, as you said, a lot of people go through either this or something like this or similar. And every story is unique, obviously, but there’s so much overlap in experience and emotion, and to hear others tell their story just straight up, it’s comforting to know you’re not alone. But also to hear how people go through it and how they struggle and how they cope and how they, you know, find support, where they find support and where they don’t find support, I do think is not just sort of emotionally helpful, but sometimes practically helpful. Do you have any specific advice or lessons that you wanted to sort of state just because you’re telling your story, something that you learned from this whole experience?
Vani: I think what my learning out of this is certainly to check on each other as partners. Our biggest win here was how we, even with the differences and opinion early on, how we came together as a couple and finally communicated, openly made decisions that were neither one-sided, you know, it was decision that was both of our decision, support each other and love each other. And I think that’s most important because healing is going to be a long road, but you have to make sure you’re keeping your relationships healthy because that’s the support you’re going to really need to move on.
Dr. Fox: Wow, what an important lesson. And it’s true. I think that experiences like this, for some couples, it drives them apart. It’s too much. And for other couples, it brings them together. And I don’t know, you know, if that’s something that just happens, or if there is a way to, you know, be the latter rather than the former like, you know, there’s a strategy to be that couple, or if it’s just sort of happenstance. I don’t know, but I definitely have seen both. And I think that the fact that this experience made your relationship stronger is terrific and something that’s gonna be really helpful moving forward for, you know, your lives together and also for your future pregnancies, hopefully.
Vani: Certainly. That’s the hope.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. Wow. Vani, thank you so much for volunteering and for telling your story. I know it’s difficult to tell stories in general, but also, you know, a pregnancy that you ended, it’s very painful. I do think it’s very important and helpful for our listeners, and I really do appreciate it. So thank you.
Vani: Thank you so much, Dr. Nathan, and thank you for the platform you’re providing for all mothers going through their own journey and experiences.
Dr. Fox: Thank you for listening to “High Risk Birth Stories” brought to you by the creators of “The Healthful Woman” podcast. If you’re interested in telling your birth story on our podcast, please go to our partner website at www.healthfulwoman.com and click the link for sharing your story. You can also email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like today’s podcast, please be sure to check out our “Healthful Woman” podcast as well, where I speak with leaders in the field to help you learn more about women’s health, pregnancy, and wellness. Have a great day.
The information discussed in “High Risk Birth Stories” is intended for information and entertainment only and does not replace medical care from your physician. The stories and experiences discussed in our podcasts are unique to each guest and are not intended to be representative of any standard of care or expected outcomes. As always, we encourage you to speak with your own doctor about specific diagnoses and treatment options for an effective treatment plan. Guests on “High Risk Birth Stories” have given their permission for us to share their personal health information.