Ta­mara’s Rain­bow Baby Mom fi­nally sees suc­cess af­ter los­ing eight ba­bies

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - ALL WOMEN - BY CANDIECE KNIGHT

was not liv­ing, and they said I should wait it out to see if the other twin would sur­vive. The fol­low­ing week we went to do an­other ul­tra­sound and they said the other twin had passed, too.”

Grow­ing tired of be­ing told to try again by her doc­tor, Ta­mara switched spe­cial­ists. When she re­alised that she was preg­nant again in 2015, she con­sulted an­other high-pro­file doc­tor lo­cally.

“This time I didn’t even know

I was preg­nant,” she con­fessed. “I vis­ited be­cause I missed my menses, and it was an ul­tra­sound in his of­fice that dis­cov­ered the preg­nancy. He put me on a blood thin­ner, as by now they as­sumed that it must be a blood-clot­ting is­sue. It was a trial and er­ror thing now.”

By this time Ta­mara was be­gin­ning to no­tice a pat­tern. At her 20 week ul­tra­sound scans, her ba­bies were al­ways be­ing es­ti­mated by the ma­chine to be 18 weeks. Though she was re­as­sured by the doc­tors that the ul­tra­sound es­ti­ma­tions can be off by a few weeks, she could not help feel­ing wor­ried when it hap­pened once again.

“I knew there was a prob­lem, so I went over­seas this time” she rec­ol­lected. “If the baby came early, I wanted them to be able to save my baby, be­cause even if the baby came at 26 weeks here they might not have the re­sources to help him/ her, while abroad ba­bies who come much ear­lier have a bet­ter chance at sur­viv­ing.”

She went to Florida, where it was re­vealed that her baby was suf­fer­ing from In­trauter­ine Growth Re­stric­tion (IUGR), which means that the foe­tus was not grow­ing at the rate that it should, and was at risk for se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions. The doc­tors could not help, so Ta­mara waited, prayed and hoped to make it to at least 28 weeks.

“I felt a flut­ter­ing in my belly one night. It was very, very strong and then it stopped,” is how Ta­mara de­scribed the last mo­ments of that preg­nancy, at 23 weeks. She went to the hos­pi­tal, where they con­firmed her fears, once again.

She re­turned home to the co­coon of her hus­band, friends and fam­ily, plas­tered on a smile and went back to work.

“I got preg­nant again af­ter­wards. It hap­pened that the preg­nancy ended spon­ta­neously at eight weeks. By now I thought that I needed to know what was wrong with me. Be­cause some­thing must be wrong, and I needed some­thing to fix it.”

In 2016 when Ta­mara found her­self preg­nant again, she de­cided that she wouldn’t take any chances with this one. She trav­elled to New York, where they found that the child she was car­ry­ing also suf­fered from IUGR. But the eighth child, Is­abelle, was de­ter­mined to make it out of the womb.

“They took her at 26 weeks by C-sec­tion,” Ta­mara smiled as she re­mem­bered touch­ing her daugh­ter through the in­cu­ba­tor. “Be­cause she was so young she had to be in the NICU (in­ten­sive care nurs­ery), but she was do­ing so well.”

Is­abelle’s health took a turn for the worst when she con­tracted Ne­cro­tiz­ing En­te­ro­col­i­tis, a con­di­tion which com­monly af­fects pre­ma­ture ba­bies.

“She lived un­til she was ex­actly a month old. I held her while she was dy­ing. I re­mem­ber pray­ing and ask­ing God please to save my baby girl,” she rasped.

Though she lost her daugh­ter, Ta­mara did not lose hope. She met a doc­tor through that ex­pe­ri­ence who helped her to fig­ure out what was wrong.

“That doc­tor was Dr Jef­frey Braver­man from Long Is­land, New York. He was the one who did tests on both me and my hus­band. He told me that there is a prob­lem, and he could help me,” she beamed.

Though Ta­mara didn’t have celiac dis­ease (an im­mune re­ac­tion to gluten), Dr Braver­man treated her for it. When she got preg­nant again in Septem­ber of 2017, she was al­ready on a gluten-free diet, med­i­ca­tion to sup­press her im­mune sys­tem, and was be­ing tested monthly to make sure her lev­els were good. Though Dr Braver­man was on call via e-mail, she was also see­ing two lo­cal doc­tors — ob­ste­tri­cian/gy­nae­col­o­gist Dr John Har­riot and ma­ter­nal-foetal medicine spe­cial­ist Dr Leroy Camp­bell.

“It was the first ul­tra­sound that I went to at 20 weeks and they said that the baby was nor­mal. Ev­ery­thing was nor­mal. I felt good but I was still ner­vous,” she re­counted. “I went abroad in Fe­bru­ary, just to be on the safe side.”

Ta­mara sailed through the first two trimesters with­out a hitch, but at 33 weeks preeclamp­sia reared its ugly head.

“I was hos­pi­talised for two weeks, but they said to me that the baby weighed four-and-a-half-pounds, and was healthy, and they felt com­fort­able de­liv­er­ing him at that point, and they did.”

It was a boy, and he was only in the nurs­ery for 17 days, Ta­mara shared, be­cause he was strong enough to be dis­charged. Fi­nally, she had her rain­bow baby.

Re­flect­ing on the jour­ney, Ta­mara said it was just not in her to give up, as she clung dearly to the hope of hav­ing a baby, and knew it would hap­pen to her some­day.

“I’m not go­ing to say I wasn’t sad, but I never dwelled on it, be­cause if I did then I couldn’t have got past it,” she said tri­umphantly. “And be­cause of how my hus­band is, he helped me not to stay sad. He helped me to move past it.”

With­out the love and sup­port of her spouse, Ta­mara says she could not have got past the loss of any of her preg­nan­cies.

“And my fam­ily and friends, es­pe­cially my close friend, who is now my son’s god­mother, and my par­ents, I could not have got through it with­out them,” she said.

“My man­ager was also very un­der­stand­ing and sup­port­ive; be­cause I had to take a lot of time off each time I got preg­nant.”

Ta­mara de­cided to share her story so that it may in­spire other women who may have had mis­car­riages and feel hope­less and alone.

“I think it’s some­thing that is very com­mon, but we don’t talk about it,” she said. “Just don’t lose hope, be­cause it [suc­cess] can hap­pen.”

Though she un­der­stands that not all women will be able to travel to find help, she also urged them to seek out al­ter­na­tive opin­ions and treat­ment if one doc­tor or method isn’t work­ing.

“It doesn’t make sense to keep try­ing the same thing if it’s not pro­duc­ing the re­sults,” she said.

Al­though she wanted a large fam­ily, now at 33 Ta­mara is not sure whether she wants to try again for an­other child. Though she be­lieves her jour­ney was for a pur­pose, she does not wish it on any­one.

“Just to hold up your head and to say to some­body, ‘Oh, the baby didn’t make it’, is rough, and to go through that re­peat­edly for each preg­nancy, it’s a lot. I used to ask God ‘Why me?’” she said.

She added: “The love and af­fec­tion that I have for my son now, it takes away all the pain that I went through. He is now nine months old and is cruising. He is very ac­tive, and I don’t feel as if I missed out on any­thing with him.”

HE term ‘rain­bow baby’ is the name given to a child born af­ter a woman has lost a pre­vi­ous child due to a mis­car­riage, still­birth or death in in­fancy. For one Ja­maican mother, though, ‘rain­bow baby’ has taken on a new mean­ing, as she had lost a child for each colour of the rain­bow, and then some, be­fore she fi­nally got to her pot of gold.

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