Samuel Emmit Franks was born on July 29, 2022 at exactly 3 PM weighing 6 lbs. 11 oz., 20 3/4 inches long. The sweetest little bundle ever!
My Sammy was a complete surprise. Having had gone through IVF with Emma, Jeremy and I never thought that we would be able to get pregnant without medical intervention. For Thanksgiving that year (2021), we visited family in Ohio and even though my cycle was late, I did not think anything of it. I couldn’t get pregnant! Not without a Doctor anyway. It wasn’t until I was crying in the backseat of the car on the way home watching Moana with my daughter that I thought something was wrong. Boy was I right! Fast forward a few weeks to a blood test confirming that I was in fact pregnant and we are having a boy. We only have girls in our family, this would be the first boy!
This pregnancy was 100% different than my last. I had zero nausea with Sammy. I was also carrying a lot lower, did not have the heartburn as I did with Emma or the trouble breathing but I slept like CRAP every night. No matter, we had a healthy baby growing, and life was good. Around week 28, they started monitoring me a little bit more closely. Fundal measurements started coming back a little smaller than normal, but only a centimeter or so each time. The doctors were not overly concerned, thankfully. Week 38 came and went and my blood pressure remained normal. The Doctor who had delivered Emma was going to be out of town on my due date so at my 39 week appointment, we pre-scheduled an induction for when she would return (nearing my 41 week appointment if I made it that far). I felt at ease because I trusted her, I wasn’t dilated much and we had been through this once before so I knew what to expect. However, Sammy had different plans! My water broke at 11:30 PM that night! I called the physician on staff and they requested I come in as I needed to be put on antibiotics for at least six hours prior to delivery. We called my mom to come sleep over at our house with Emma and checked the midnight run to the hospital off of our bucket list! After we were checked in and put in our delivery room, the nurses started noticing Sammy‘s heart rate dropping periodically on the scans. After a couple hours my labor was progressing but I had lost too much fluid when my water broke. They suggested we insert a catheter that flooded my whom with the fluid he needed. This seemed to help initially but as my contractions got stronger, his heart rate dropped more and more each time. Although I was progressing well, they suggested we add Pitocin to an IV drip to speed up labor. I knew all too well what Pitocin felt like and was ready to get an epidural. I labored naturally until 7 cm and the pain started getting pretty intense, however not unbearable. They had instructed me to let them know an hour or two ahead of time when I thought I would need the epidural as the anesthesiologist was in surgery all day and may take some time to get here. I did as told and got an epidural within five minutes. Hindsight is 2020 as Sammy arrived less than an hour later! Thus began the scariest hour of my life.
After the epidural, Jeremy and I stared at the monitor watching his heart rate drop with every contraction and then bouncing right back up when it was over. It was like he was riding the wave with me. The pain management helped the fluctuations partially and it seemed like he was faring better. It wasn’t until the heart rate monitor went silent and we could not find him that I started to panic. The next 30 seconds are still a blur. I remember a flood of nurses and the physician coming into my room. I remember a panicked look on my husband‘s face as he grabbed the heart rate monitor and started searching on my abdomen. One of the nurses strapped an oxygen mask to my face and I knew in that moment I would be wheeled away for an emergency C-section. It wasn’t until Jeremy yelled, “I found it,” that my heart began to settle. Sammy had dropped low into the birth canal. It was time! When the physician checked my dilation, I was well past 10 cm. Everyone scrambled to get the table set up and when they asked if I could push, we saw the head. Two pushes later and Sammy was here! It was as if God himself knew he needed to get into my arms fast! I cannot even begin to describe the fear and happiness I experienced all within an hour. He is the sweetest little boy. Smiles all the time and laughs at anything his sister does. The blessing I didn't know I could have and still do not understand how I deserve it.
Over the last couple years., I have been quite public about my journey to motherhood, having gone through several years of infertility to finally get our miracle Emma Jean. Life has changed so much since then but when I am having a particularly difficult day, because lets face it MOTHERHOOD IS HARD, it always helps to count my blessings and see just how far we have come.
Jeremy and I were married in January 2015. Much like many married couples, we weren’t ready to start a family just yet but within 9 months, we decided to go ahead and just stop preventing. It would all happen in God's timing and we were perfectly alright with that. Oh the ride we had in store. At this point, we lived in Middle Georgia, about two hours away from any family. Looking back now, we were crazy to want to start a family with any sort of help being a 2 hour car ride away! Never the less, we tried for several months to no avail but we weren't too concerned as my OB/GYN at the time had told us that 80% of healthy couples tend to conceive naturally within the first year of trying and to come back in a year. Well, one year went by with countless tracking apps, ovulation tests and every wives tale under the sun and still no baby. Queue my first panic attack but that is another blog post!
Just when the loneliness and anxiety regarding our infertility has peaked for me, by a sheer act of God, Jeremy received a relocation offer from a company 40 minutes from my parents, so we were moving home! This was just in time for my sister to have her first child, Catie. Soon after relocating and I found a position at a local college, we began trying to conceive again and thus began my fear of needles. The practice I attended ordered test after test and prescribed multiple medications that had me crying and thinking I was losing my mind. Hormones are not to be messed with. After an HSG and MRI, the lines of communication with them abruptly stopped. They just stopped calling me back.
After zero communication from that practice regarding the results of my scans, I finally sought out a physician in Atlanta who took one look at them and knew exactly what needed to be done. I needed to have surgery. He would love to do it and we scheduled it for 2 weeks after our consultation which was on our 2 year marriage anniversary! Surgery was scary. My blood pressure and heart rate plummeted, needing to have CPR on the operating table resulting in a one hour procedure lasting seven hours BUT he removed anything and everything preventing me from getting pregnant! That is infertility in a nutshell- whatever the cost, we pay it. The physician had instructed us to try traditionally for six months and if we weren't pregnant by then, to come back and we would begin the IUI process. Well, 6 months came and went which were followed by more medications, shots in my stomach and 3 IUI cycles. Nothing but we were finally ready to begin IVF.
We began the IVF process in July 2021, accruing the funds (30K) and setting up our timeline. After all of the initial bloodwork, remainder of the tests, polyp removal‘s and scans, I was finally able to have an egg retrieval that October. What they don’t tell you about IVF is the numbers can look really good at first. It can lure you into a false sense of security. We had a successful procedure and they harvested 22 eggs, 12 of which were mature and could result in an embryo, maybe. After five days of maturation, our 12 had decreased to 6 embryos that were fertilized and grew to the needed size. We decided to have these embryos sent off for genetic testing at the suggestion of our doctor. This was due to age and the fact that Jeremy and I have been unsuccessful in conceiving for several years. After testing, we had 2 perfectly lovely embryos. See, we went from 22 to TWO.
Emma Jean Franks was born on October 7, 2020 at 10:10 PM, weighing 7 lbs. 9 oz., 21 1/4 inches long. Absolute perfection.
Having gone through IVF, I was considered a high risk pregnancy. In my understanding, IVF puts the mother and baby at additional risk factors, however I was never too concerned as Emma’s heart rate and measurements were always on track and I felt great most of the time. In comparison to others, my pregnancy was a breeze. I had hardly any nausea after week 13 and felt amazing up until 34 or 35 weeks. I also slept great for the first seven months. Prior to reaching 36 weeks, my pregnancy was relatively uneventful.
At 36 weeks I developed gestational hypertension, unbeknownst to me. I just felt off all the time. My vision was blurry, my equilibrium felt shaky. I knew something was going on but had heard of this happening towards the end of term. I got the surprise of my life when during my weekly check up, I was admitted to the hospital for high blood pressure and additional monitoring for preeclampsia, which all tests came back negative. The following week, my OB decide to schedule me for induction after my blood pressure continued to
remain elevated. I had read horrible things about induction but the planner in me was a little excited to have an actual DUE DATE. The end was in sight and we were finally going to get our baby girl! At exactly 38 weeks and six days, my husband and I checked into the hospital and the induction process began! Medication was administered to speed up the process and start labor. For the first several hours, there was really no change. I didn’t feel like I was in labor, it wasn’t until I hit around 5 cm that the pressure and intensity increased as did the Pitocin level. I did not go into labor with a birth plan other than to be flexible and listen to my body, do what I needed to do for me. A very close friend of mine told me that no one gets a trophy for not getting an epidural. I took that to heart however I did want to see how long I could go without as I had also been told that they tend to slow the labor process down. But after hours on Pitocin, I quickly realized an epidural was eminent. My body was convulsing uncontrollably as I transitioned into different labor phases, forcing my body into labor when it wasn’t ready and the pain was excruciating. Overall, an epidural took the edge off and allowed me to rest.
Finally around 9 PM, just around the 24 hour mark since our check in, it was time to push! I had a wonderful experience birthing Emma. Active labor lasted just over an hour and she was here! We found out that she had gone to the bathroom in utero which caused her to have a short 4 Hr NICU observation. After we held her, they rushed her away for monitoring. It was then that the golden hour ended for us. The scar tissue from my previous surgeries throughout infertility had caused a wonderful place for my placenta to attach. Because of that, my doctor had to manually remove my placenta causing me to hemorrhage. After 15 to 20 minutes of making sure that all of the birthing tissue was removed from my body, they ordered an ultrasound and my husband and I were praying not to be whisked away for a complete D&C. Luckily all ultrasounds came back clear and we could be moved to our recovery room. On the way up to our room, we stopped by the nick you to see Emma and she was doing wonderfully. We were able to rest for an hour or two before she was returned to us in the recovery room and we have not looked back since. That little girl is worth every needle, every blood draw, every ultrasound, every surgery, every test... everything. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.