Photo Credit: Amelia Zobrist Photography
This story has been a long time coming. I’ve asked you all more than once on stories if you wanted to read it or if it was something you didn’t care about. I appreciate the amount of you that care and want to know. It makes my heart SO FULL that our readers, some of whom don’t know me personally, wanted to know our story. I’ve had this written since a week after we launched the blog. I thought it was ready to post. I read it a few times and decided I wasn’t ready. I rewrote it a few weeks ago and decided again that I wasn’t ready. On Valentine’s day, I recruited my husband to help me by reading the story from my perspective and then writing his own. This is a combination of our stories.
My husband Steven & I had Nathaniel very soon after we got married. We got married on October 22, 2016. I found out I was pregnant on January 25, 2017. We planned it that way because we knew we were mentally ready for a baby. That story is simple and easy to tell. I wasn’t sick. I was induced on 9/11/2017. He didn’t want to come out. I pushed for 5 hours and he was here. We’ve thrived with him ever since. Kennedy’s was not simple. Honestly, it was so much harder, exhausting and terrifying. It was an emotional drop from the very beginning that just kept going down, and we are so lucky that it ended on such a high.
In 2019, I was ready for another baby. Steven was quickly on board with the idea, and we started trying in September 2019. Many pregnancy tests were taken & SO many were negative before I got the first positive test on November 9, 2019 (which is also my husband’s birthday). He says “probably the best birthday present ever” and I’d have to agree. We were so excited to add another member to Team Overmyer. Little did we know all of the things we were about to go through.
Because this story is a very rough read, I wanted to include a tidbit that I find hilarious to lighten your heart before reading. Before I found out I was pregnant, I learned that the Sneak Peek Early Gender Reveal blood test existed. It is an at-home blood test that you send in to find out the gender as early as eight weeks for those who aren’t aware of it. One of my cousins had friends who had used it successfully, and I was convinced it was worth the money. As soon as I found out we were expecting it, I ordered it & paid to get the results in 72 hours.
When week eight finally rolled around, I had a day off and decided to take the blood test. Thankfully, Kaitlyn is an RN, so she and her RN friend Suzie came to help. Thank god they did. They can tell you all about how long it took! The way this test works is that you have to basically squeeze the blood out of your hand into a tiny little tube, secure it and send it back. Whatever room the test is completed in must be completely clear of any male DNA, or the test will come back that it’s a boy.
Long story short, there was a LOT of male DNA in my home between Steven, Nate & our dog Chief; HA! Three days later, I got the email in the evening, and it came back as a boy. I sobbed. I knew that this would likely be our last baby, and I was mourning that I’d never have the daughter I dreamed of. Fast forward to week 20 (March 1, 2020): our anatomy scan. The sonogram tech asked first thing that if the baby cooperates, would we like to know the sex…of course, we said yes. She did all of the things they look for in the anatomy appointment and then said, “I think the baby is looking a little girly!” I didn’t believe her. I literally said, “it isn’t that I don’t think you know how to do your job, because I trust you completely, but I took a blood test that said baby is a boy”. So I told her and my doctor all about my experience with the Sneak Peak test. They all laughed with me and showed me on the sonogram the places that specifically show this baby was a girl. I still didn’t believe Kennedy was a girl until she was out of my body. HA!
Trigger warning: This post contains content about stillbirth and medical issues with babies.
It was VERY early on when I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t get to see the doctor until just before Christmas. Before that first appointment, I thought I was miscarrying due to some discharge I was having. Steven says that Kennedy started scaring us right out of the gate. Accurate. AF. I called my doctor’s office & went in for blood work. I was put on progesterone until I was 12 weeks, and let me tell you, that was the WORST 12 weeks. Without getting into too much detail, progesterone made me feel like I needed a shower all the time. It was gross. I digress. Week 12 happened. I saw the nurse practitioner in the office who said, “Hey girl, you don’t have to take this anymore!”. We were thrilled & thought that was the end of the weirdness. It wasn’t.
Still, before the eight-week mark (for it to be time to see my doctor), nausea kicked in. Steven felt so bad that there was nothing he could do to help me. He would have to force me to eat just so I would have something in my stomach, even though I would throw it all up anyway. Another fun tidbit, my 28th birthday was 24 days after discovering I was pregnant (I only know this because Steven and I are 24 days apart in age). I threw up all over my job parking lot, all over my clothes, coat, and car. I had to go come and change my clothes before I went to my birthday dinner, and then I threw that up too.
I called my doctor’s office and explained my nausea to them. Instead of giving me Zofran (thank god), which is often what doctors prescribe for nausea in pregnancy, I was given Bonjesta. Bonjesta is a combination of an antihistamine and B6 (is that medically correct? I have no idea), and let me tell you, it made me TIRED. Like, I can’t keep my eyes open tired. I took it my entire pregnancy. I was throwing up constantly, all day, every day, therefore couldn’t keep my prenatal or anything else down. Things went along like this for weeks, and I just figured it was my new normal. I had purchased a second trash can for my bathroom designated for getting sick because it was too much and too uncomfortable to throw up in a toilet. Life went on like this for a while. So sick, constantly throwing up, and I did not look pregnant at all for quite some time.
I hit about 24 or so weeks when the weirdest things were happening to my body. I was SO ITCHY. Everywhere. I was breaking out in a rash at my 24-week appointment. I had the same issue with Nate and mentioned that with him, I used Benadryl cream, and it went away. The doctor and nurses said it looks like a heat rash & to use Benadryl cream, and that would make it go away. It didn’t work this time. Over the next few weeks, I wasn’t sleeping at all, even though I was exhausted. I was up all night scratching all over my body, most specifically my hands and feet, and only at night. I couldn’t control the itch. For the most part, allergy medicine isn’t safe for pregnancy, so I didn’t try to take them. I was losing my mind. The weirdest part of it all was that I had NO rash on the itchiest places. ZERO. After a couple of days, the itch subsided everywhere but my hands and feet. It was the most severe itch I ever remember having in my life. Finally, one day at 4 AM, after I had been up for over 5 hours scratching my hands and feet, I gave in and did the one thing I promise myself I regularly that I will never do. I googled my symptoms.
If my memory serves me correctly, I google-searched “itchy hands and feet with no rash pregnancy.” The first thing that came up was a Mayo Clinic article that explained something called Cholestasis of Pregnancy. I’m going to link that article here for you all to reference. The short and easy-to-understand version is that it’s a liver condition that occurs in late pregnancy. It causes extreme itchiness with no rash to the hands and feet and can cause detrimental complications to mom & baby.
I immediately panicked. The Mayo Clinic article almost verbatim describes the symptoms I was having. I had no idea what this all meant, so of course, I kept reading. That’s when I got to the “consequences” section. At this point, I could feel myself going ghostly white. Cholestasis of Pregnancy’s consequences are preterm labor, lung development problems (if any cholic bile acid ends up in the baby’s lungs), and stillbirth.
I didn’t go back to sleep that night. Steven woke up that morning, and I explained it all to him, assuming he would tell me that everything was fine, that I was overreacting, and not to be that girl that googles her symptoms. He didn’t tell me that. That terrified me. He told me to call the doctor and get in immediately. I called my doctor’s office when they opened, and they had me come in for blood work, for the third time this pregnancy. I was advised that it would take a week for the blood work results to come back, but we would have an idea in a few days. I was told approximately three days later that I had it.
At this point, my doctor made a game plan for us. I was put on a medication for my liver. I was to come in weekly to do a non-stress test (NST); we were to schedule an induction at week 36 and get two shots to assure lung development in the baby girl. Those weeks went on, and I was so sick and so exhausted. Kennedy HATED the NST’s. She hated them to the point of I was hospitalized three times in that 10ish week period.
FINALLY. Week 36 came. We were scheduled to be at the hospital at midnight on June 22, 2020. On June 20, I thought I felt contractions as we were going to bed, but I thought nothing of them because they weren’t strong. I slept as much as I had been with being uncomfortable because of pregnancy, nausea, heartburn (that was so bad it burned in my ears), and the itch.
The next morning, Sunday, June 21, Steven had to work and was supposed to work a 12-hour shift. Nate and I had been hanging around the house, packing the hospital bag, cuddling and doing all of the things with your first baby before getting ready to bring home a second one. The contractions started early that morning but got noticeably severe around 2pm. We had A LOT of hours to go before midnight. I texted Steven through the day, telling him how much pain I was in. He said I called them cramps. I don’t remember that, but I guess it probably happened, HAHA!
I was bending over trying to pack Kennedy’s things for the hospital and had to stop every few minutes to try not to scream/cry. Steven ended up coming home early and arrived home about 3pm. He saw how much pain I was in and started timing the contractions. They were around 10 minutes apart when he got home. Steven tried to convince me to let him call the hospital and tell them we were coming. I refused, “because if anyone knows Adrienne, you know she isn’t going to do something she doesn’t want to unless she can’t handle it anymore,” according to Steven. My mom came to get Nate around 6:30 PM so he would think he was leaving for a sleepover, not us leaving him. I cried in agony while packing for another two and a half hours before I agreed to have Steven call L&D and tell them we were coming.
We got to the hospital just after 9 PM. By 10:45, I was getting an epidural. Steven would like to point out that I was having contractions during this entire process, and they never slowed down in between contractions. As soon as one ended, another would start. By 11:30, I was getting a second one because the first one didn’t take at all. The second one did. I felt GREAT. The nurses came in to check on me periodically, and I wasn’t progressing much further. Around 2am, I was administered Pitocin. As the next hour or so went on, I couldn’t feel the contractions’ pain, but I could feel the pressure.
The Actual Birth From Steven’s Perspective:
At this point, we tried to get some sleep. I was awake on and off throughout the night. The nurses were constantly in and out of the room, checking on Adrienne and working with the monitors. The monitors kept going off because, as you know, Kennedy hates NST’s, which is basically what this was.
I sat in the back, trying to stay out of all of the nurses and doctors way while they rushed all around Adrienne. I was watching the monitors profusely, seeing Kennedy’s heartbeat stop as Adrienne would have contractions. I was terrified we were losing our little girl before she got here but couldn’t show it because it would terrify Adrienne, and we had to keep her calm. I remember at 4 AM nurse saying she was dilated, that the baby was coming anytime, and that they needed to call the doctor in for delivery. Kennedy was ready to come out to the point the nurses were telling her, “whatever you do, don’t push because we’re waiting on the doctor to get here.” A few minutes later, the doctor rushed in, saying, “okay, we are gonna have a baby!”
One or two pushes, and our little girl was here. I bawled like a child. I was so happy that our little girl made it and Adrienne was okay, and that our family was going to be whole. After Adrienne passed the placenta, the doctor looked at it with a confused expression on her face and announced she had a learning opportunity for some of the nurses. The doctor started talking about how the veins on the placenta were outside the sac instead of inside the membrane. The doctor said that our daughter shouldn’t have made it to the point of being born. The doctor specifically said that Kennedy was a miracle baby. I knew she was going to be a little fighter from that point on.
The Actual Birth From My Perspective:
Around 4 AM, I was told not to push–an impossible task when a baby is crawling out of your body. (Steven told me afterward that the nurses were getting ready to deliver Kennedy because my doctor wasn’t there yet). The doctor arrived. I pushed one time, and Kennedy Blair was born. 4:13 AM. 6 pounds 7 ounces. 18 inches. The daughter I had prayed for was finally here, and the hard parts were all over! We didn’t realize the storm wasn’t over yet.
Once Kennedy arrived, I held her, cried and told her how much I love her, how long I’ve prayed to have her, how thankful I am to be her mom, and how I’ve dreamed of this day my entire life. The pediatric doctor and team took Kennedy to be examined because she is a premie and a Cholestasis of Pregnancy baby. During that time, my doctor delivered the placenta and realized immediately that something was not right. She called it velamentous and explained it similarly to what Steven did. (you’ll have to google it for more information, I’m not a medical professional and still don’t really know what happened). My doctor immediately advised me of how rare this is, that Kennedy shouldn’t have survived and that she is a miracle baby.
The pediatric doctor quickly noticed that Kennedy was having issues with her oxygen levels and hadn’t cried. The doctor handed Kennedy to me for skin to skin. Once they were regulated, they took her to the nursery to monitor her oxygen levels and was put on oxygen. She was off the oxygen quickly, but they started giving her caffeine to kickstart her breathing, to regulate her breathing because she was holding her breath. The first time Steven held his baby girl, she was hooked to machines and had her oxygen and heartbeat monitored. And, of course, was wearing a mask because, 2020.
We were in the hospital from Sunday, June 21 to Friday, June 26. Kennedy came home on caffeine and a monitor similar to the one she was on in the hospital. Nate met her that night, and he was in love immediately. My immediate family was able to meet her over that weekend, and they were in love. While we were home during the weekend, Kennedy decreased her eating from 2 ounces to not eating half an ounce. We were up all night, every night that whole weekend between the leads from the monitors coming off and alarming the machine and trying to make her eat. The following Monday, we took Kennedy to the pediatrician for her “3-5 day” wellness check. She had lost a significant amount of weight, and we told the doctor that she was barely eating 20 ml. The pediatrician gave us a plan (which, after all this time, I don’t remember what it was), and we scheduled a weight check for the next day. Monday to Tuesday was AWFUL. We were up all night again. We couldn’t get Kennedy to eat more than 10 ml’s a feed.
We went to the check, and all I did was sob. She had lost a significant amount of weight overnight again. The nurse tried to stick to the plan at the appointment, but I voiced (between the crying, I was probably screaming) all my concerns about her not eating, and she grabbed the doctor. He said we needed to have her readmitted. Tuesday, June 30, we were readmitted. Steven had to go back to work that Wednesday, of course. He was feeling helpless because he couldn’t get more time to be with us. For ten days was in the hospital alone with Kennedy. Nate went back to my mom’s, and daycare reopened just in time for that.
The Second Hospital Stay from Steven’s Perspective
We had Kennedy readmitted to the hospital the day before I had to go back to work. Those were the longest two weeks of my life. I’d get up in the morning to an empty house because Adrienne and Kennedy were in the hospital, and Nate was back at Adrienne’s mom’s because I had to be up for work at 5 AM. I would go to work and try to distract myself from the fact that Kennedy was back in the hospital with a tube going into her stomach (an NG tube) so she would get the energy to eat by herself eventually. I would get home from work, shower and change, see Nate, then head to the hospital to see my exhausted wife and our little girl. It was extremely hard to be willing to walk out of that room, even if it was to get something to eat. We felt guilty for leaving Kennedy alone for even a second. I felt terrible that Adrienne was doing it all by herself in the hospital and that there wasn’t anything I could do about it but wait.
The Second Hospital Stay from My Perspective:
We were readmitted back to the hospital around 11 AM on that Tuesday. We texted our families. We quickly got phone calls from all of them that could. My in-laws were in town and ended up bringing us lunch. They couldn’t come inside because of Covid, so we came outside to have a picnic by the Van in the hospital parking lot. I saw them and immediately started to sob. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law immediately came in with hugs, love, and words of assurance that this wasn’t my fault. In this ten-day time frame, my mom and mother-in-law both were there for sound advice and to be the voice of reason for me, as both of them had multiples (My mom obviously had twins with Allyson and Audriana, Steven’s mom had Steven & his triplet sisters) and spent time in NICU’s as well. After we came back in from lunch, the Pediatric NP that was on call said, “Well, she earned herself an NG tube.” Not the most delicate way for it to be put, but direct enough that I understood what it meant, which I needed and appreciated it.
To make an already long story just a little shorter, we were in the hospital for ten days. It was the most helpless Steven, and I have ever felt in our lives. We were constantly choosing between our little boy and our baby girl, and no matter which decision we made, we were wrong to every eye that looked at us. We were heartbroken, exhausted, and just yearned to be back home as a family. I fought to the (almost) death that we were not bringing our daughter home on the monitor she was sent home on. ALL of the doctors, nurses, and probably Steven thought I were a little overzealous. I was confident she didn’t need it. Finally, on July 9, we were able to go home for good, without monitors! Kennedy was back up to eating 2 ounces every 3 hours and eating well (for the most part) ever since.
Others who have heard this story often ask, “after all of that, is she at least a good baby?!” The answer is yes. She sleeps, she eats, she smiles, and she laughs. Now she is eight months old, and at her six-month appointment, she weighed in at just over 14 pounds. She just now is fitting well in 3-6 month clothes and some 6 month clothes. She was taken off the high-calorie formula on December 23, 2020. At her 6 month appointment she was still not near the 50th percentile for her age, but we will see where she’s at in March at her 9-month appointment! We are just so thankful the nightmare of this is all over.
I want to go ahead and add a huge thank you to the nurses and Pediatric NP/Doctors at OSF St. Joseph. I wouldn’t have made it through those ten days without you all checking in on us (I know, it’s your job, but I knew you wanted to be with us, not just because it is your job), keeping me sane, making me eat, making me laugh and sometimes keeping me distracted from the whole situation. I am so thankful for everything each and every one of you.
Another huge thank you to my OBGYN and the nurses at Advanced Women’s Health Care for not making me feel insane when I called and told them what illness Google says I have. They took me seriously the whole time. They developed a plan quickly and constantly reassured me that I was doing everything for our girl that she needed and that she would be okay.
Before I had Cholestasis of Pregnancy, it’s not something I had ever heard of. I had never known anyone to go through it, and no one I knew had heard of it either. I feel like I needed to tell this story as part of the mental healing process and to help me move on from a situation that took such a heavy toll on me in every way. I hope that if you stumble upon this blog post and this is something you are experiencing, you know that you are not alone and that even in this terrifying timeframe things CAN turn out okay, against all odds. This is the worst thing I’ve ever gone through, and I can’t imagine if things would have gone the other way. I thank God for Kennedy Blair every single day. I prayed for a daughter my whole life, and I finally have this beautiful angel. I am so thankful for her.