Real Life Stories: Pregnancy Complications

Three mothers share the hurdles they faced along the way.


Being pregnant can result in unexpected medical conditions. Here, three mothers share the emotional and physical hurdles they faced along the way.

Rachel's Story

“The idea of a C-section scared me because it is major surgery.” Rachel Rosen, Tarzana, Calif.

At my first-trimester screening, I was told I had a lateral cord insertion, meaning the umbilical cord was attached near the edge of the placenta instead of at the center. This condition could affect the baby's growth due to a lack of nutrients, but it was not a major concern as long as I was checked each trimester. At 32 weeks, the specialist said the condition had gotten worse and the cord was now directly on the edge of the placenta. While the baby was still growing, this could cause vasa previa, a condition in which the umbilical cord crosses the birth canal during labor and delivery, making it likely to tear, causing blood loss and a lack of oxygen to the baby. As a result, I scheduled a Cesarean section for 38 weeks to avoid this potential complication.

At 37 weeks, I mentioned to my OB-GYN that the baby had not been kicking as much. I almost didn't say anything, but I'm glad I did. An ultrasound showed that my amniotic fluid level was low. My fluid level was checked again 48 hours later, and because it had decreased further I was told I would need to deliver the baby within 24 hours. I was shocked because I had mere hours to get ready for major surgery! Plus, I knew it would be a much harder recovery and a less intimate experience. But, once I had my daughter in my arms, it didn't matter that things hadn't gone as I had planned.

Rachel and her family.

Elizabeth's Story

My biggest motivation was my desire for a home birth.Elizabeth Halpern, Los Angeles

During my second pregnancy, I knew something was drastically different around my fourth month. Eating even slightly sweet treats made me nauseous. I also felt an extreme exhaustion that was very different from the regular tiredness I had with my first pregnancy. Even though I was working out almost every day, I was gaining weight, getting frequent headaches and feeling very lethargic. It wasn't until I had my glucose screen at seven months that I discovered I had gestational diabetes. I was scared, and also upset because I wanted to have a home birth and I knew that might not happen if I had a pregnancy-related complication.

My doctor and midwife recommended I meet with a nutritionist who specialized in treating diabetes. She felt that I could keep it under control without insulin by continuing to exercise and changing my diet. I couldn't have any carbohydrates, including seemingly healthy foods such as flaxseeds or brown rice, and the closest thing to sweets I could have was half of an apple or half of a banana each day. I also had to test my blood sugar with a finger prick first thing in the morning and after every meal. After just two days of being on the new eating plan, I had lost five pounds, I was less swollen and I felt amazing. My son, Winston, was born at home and was perfectly healthy.

Elizabeth and her family.

Jennifer's Story

I was worried about how this baby was going to survive with so little amniotic fluidJennifer Lourie-Steele, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

My pregnancy started out normal. Then at 22 weeks, an ultrasound showed that my amniotic fluid level was low and that I could have oliohydramnios, a condition in which there's not enough amniotic fluid. Two weeks later, my doctor checked the level again and it had dropped further. She told me to drink a lot of water and come back in two days. When I was tested again, the fluid level was the same and I was put on temporary bed rest. (I was allowed to shower and use the bathroom.) One week later, an ultrasound showed that my fluid level was still low and I was put on permanent bed rest. The hardest part was that I didn't know if I was losing fluid on a daily basis. It is very difficult to replace lost amniotic fluid so it becomes a matter of sustaining what you have left.

When I was on bed rest, I felt as if I was robbed of the joys of pregnancy. I even canceled my baby shower. But, after about four weeks, I embraced my situation. I decided it was my job to make sure this child survived. Since my fluid level was so low, I rarely felt my daughter move. I put on 40 pounds because I would constantly eat things to try to incite movement. I was also drinking 10 8-ounce glasses of water every day. I was able to maintain my fluid level for six weeks, but then at week 32, an ultrasound showed that my fluid level had dropped dramatically. I was hospitalized and put on an IV for a week. My fluid level went up slightly so I was discharged, but a visit to my OB-GYN four days later showed another decrease in fluid. At this point, I checked into the hospital and was there until I gave birth. At 35 weeks, an ultrasound showed that I had zero amniotic fluid and I was immediately prepped for a C-section. The surgery went really fast and my daughter was perfectly healthy, weighing in at 5 pounds, 9 ounces. Today, she is in the 95th percentile for height and weight.

Jennifer and her daughter.

What's your story? Did you have an unexpected pregnancy complication?