When I was pregnant and in the process of writing our birth plan I had so many people tell me that I needed to be flexible and remain open minded because birth rarely goes exactly how you want it to. For my birth, they were right. Nothing. Went. As. Planned. For Susanna and Adam however, it was like their birth plan was a script for their sweet Lila’s birthday. And if anyone has ever deserved for their birth to go exactly as they wanted it to, it was these two. Buckle up y'all and get your tissues, this one is beyond incredible.
When I first meet with a client one of the most important questions I ask is what the road to pregnancy looked like for them. Susanna and Adam’s answer literally floored me. I was sitting at their kitchen table, Susanna to my left, glowing with her perfectly round baby belly and Adam, directly across from me beaming with pride at how totally awesome his wife was. Susanna laughed a little and then started to tell me their story, a story that had begun 4 years earlier.
They were married in 2011 and one month after returning home from their honeymoon Susanna discovered that she was unexpectedly pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy. She had to have immediate surgery and ended up losing one of her fallopian tubes. After taking the time to heal, they decided to start trying to get pregnant again and with Susanna having only one fallopian tube had been told it could take some time. Again, she got pregnant very quickly but during their first ultrasound their doctor told them they were actually experiencing a molar pregnancy. They explained to me that a molar pregnancy happens when the tissue that would normally become a fetus instead becomes an abnormal growth in the uterus; it isn’t an embryo but it triggers all of the symptoms of a normal pregnancy. Molar pregnancies can quickly become dangerous so their doctor immediately scheduled them for surgery. There is a very small chance that women who have molar pregnancies can end up with trophoblastic disease, and an even smaller chance that those women will develop cancer that spreads to other parts of their bodies. Susanna was part of that very small percentage of women. After her initial round of chemotherapy her doctors found thirteen tumors on her lungs and she had to undergo several rounds of even more intensive chemo.
Two years into their marriage and finally cancer free, they were hit with their next obstacle; at just 26 years old chemotherapy had kicked Susanna into early menopause. She began taking hormone replacements and was instructed by her doctor to meet with a fertility specialist to see if IVF was even an option. At their egg retrieval they were told that all of her eggs were most likely destroyed by the chemo; her doctor came back with 36 viable eggs. They were told that their chances of having any healthy embryos to implant were extremely slim; they ended up with 7.
In August of 2014 they decided to move forward with their first round of IVF. Knowing that they had 7 viable embryos they only implanted one, and it took. They were pregnant! But sadly, one month later they suffered the devastating loss of a miscarriage.
After years of heartbreak, of surgeries, needles, hospital visits, and appointments with specialists, they were done. They needed a break. They needed to enjoy one another in the ways that most newlyweds get to from the very beginning. So they took a step back. They made plans to take the trip of a lifetime, to get away from everything… really far away. They jetted off to Amsterdam and then to Norway, where they stayed in the Ice Hotel and when they arrived home they were rested, refreshed and ready to start their second round of IVF.
Having already gone through one round together, Susanna went in for that first appointment alone. They knew the routine, she’d go in and have an ultrasound to make sure she was ready for implantation and then schedule her next appointment; something she could surely do solo. But during her ultrasound they were shocked to find she was already pregnant! In making the decision to take a break from all of the medicine, hormone replacements and IVF treatments, her body had reset itself. She was no longer menopausal and they were able to get pregnant on their own.
Watching them tell their story was like watching a couple that had been married for 50 years. With only 4 years of marriage under their belts they had been through more than most couples will have to go through in a lifetime and they were still so happy and so obviously in love with each other it took my breath away. I cried most of my 30 minute drive home.
A few weeks later I got a call from Adam at 3:30 in the morning; at 41 weeks pregnant Susanna had gone into labor.
From beginning to end, Susanna fought to be present for every second of her labor. She was an incredible force and trusted her body in a way that was so innate and incredible to witness. She had an amazing team around her who all trusted in her body as much as she did, they were there to do all they could to support her and with the help of her incredible midwives, doula, and husband she was able to have the natural water birth she worked so hard for. After four long years, Susanna and Adam finally welcomed their daughter into this world and into their arms.
Lila Rose Ames was born on September 23, 2015. She is a miracle among miracles.