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Chrissy's Journey

Sep. 20, 2023 11:50 am

After several years of marriage, Chrissy O'Connell and her husband Patrick decided it was time to start a family.

"We were trying and it just wasn't happening," she said. "I went to see Dr. Reed to get tested; the results revealed I had poor egg quality and low egg quantity."

That begs the question of how O'Connell came to meet the provider who would be with her on her fertility journey.

"As a marketing guy, you're gonna love this: I picked Dr. Reed because of her video on the Women's Care website," O'Connell said. "And we clicked immediately. When we talked about fertility, she understood my struggles because she had had her own."

Long story short, after three rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI), the O'Connells were still not pregnant.

"We decided on one last round of IUI," O'Connell said. "It gets expensive. It's not covered by insurance, it's never guaranteed, your body's going through a lot because you're on different drugs, you're getting injections into your belly, tons of ultrasounds, the egg checks and the bloodwork. It's just a lot to physically go through."

But the fourth time was the charm.

"We got the news about our miracle baby," she said.

Later, they'd receive other news.

At her 20-week ultrasound, O'Connell found out she had placenta previa and vasa previa. The first condition is when the placenta partially or fully covers the cervix; the second is when some of the blood vessels that connect the umbilical cord to the placenta lie over or near the entrance to the birth canal.

"Basically, my placenta and the baby's umbilical cord were routed right over my cervix," O'Connell said. "Those sure can't come out first."

The presence of placenta previa required that her team keep a watchful eye on the position of the placenta (a low-lying placenta can cause severe bleeding in the mother before, during or after delivery) and cervical length (a short cervical length is associated with increased risk of hemorrhage and preterm birth), as well as to closely monitor blood flow through the umbilical cord.

Vasa previa, a rare and serious pregnancy complication, can lead to severe, potentially life-threatening blood loss to the fetus. Once diagnosed, a c-section is scheduled, typically at weeks 34-37. Careful monitoring continues throughout the pregnancy to maximize the amount of time pregnant while taking care to deliver the baby before the onset of labor.

"They told me I was going to be in the hospital at a certain point in my pregnancy, that I was probably having a NICU baby at 34 weeks," O'Connell said.

For O'Connell, this meant being admitted to the hospital at 28 weeks.

"In the six weeks of my hospital stay I think I met every one of Dr. Reed's partners at Women's Care," said O'Connell. "I was there long enough that everyone had the chance to round on me."

Dr. Reed would deliver baby Maggie via c-section at 34 weeks. And there was a NICU stay.

"We had our miracle baby, then we lost two babies that we conceived naturally," said O'Connell. "Then we had our second baby, Bailey, two and a half years later. I had a repeat c-section so I knew what I was headed into, but I did not know what it was like to be pregnant after 34 weeks. So every day was like 'I've never been this pregnant before!' But after Bailey we did have two more miscarriages."

O'Connell ends with a memory from her first pregnancy.

"There was one day that Dr. Reed came in and sat on my bed," said O'Connell. "She held my hand and told me how I was handling the situation with such grace. She was my biggest cheerleader. She helped create baby Maggie, supported us through miscarriages. She's one of my absolute favorite people."

Maggie is now in first grade ("she's energetic and compassionate"); Bailey, who loves being a little sister, is in 4K ("she's playful and silly"). The two are different in many respects but share the most wonderful commonality.

"They are our miracles," said O'Connell.


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