March 07, 2024 - 7 min read
March 07, 2024

Infertility, Placental Abruption and My Beautiful Baby Boy

Leah after birthing her Beautiful Baby Boy

Years of inconsistent periods, then infertility, PCOS, and a placental abruption all led me to my beautiful baby boy. I’ll never forget hugging the first doctor who finally said, “let’s figure out the problem.”

My story started when I was a teenager, however, I didn’t really know that until I wanted a baby. 

I was one of my last friends to get my period. It was towards the end of our 8th grade year and I was growing impatient. Everyone was so excited that when it finally happened, they threw me a party. Fast forward three years, my period was very irregular; I got it every three to six months, very heavy, and very random.  It made planning cute outfits as a teenager very difficult.  

Did you ever read the teen magazines that had the “Say Anything” column at the end that told super embarrassing period stories? Well I had my embarrassing moment while sitting in Social Studies watching a movie in the dark (I slept through it) and I woke up covered in blood; it was on the chair.  I tried to be so discreet and quickly wiped it off with my black flared pants. I have no idea how successful I was because I bolted. 

I went to the gynecologist and they put me on the birth control pill to regulate my period.

No bloodwork, no testing, just another teenage girl that wanted to go on the pill.  Due to intense basketball practice and being a busy 17 year old, I missed a few pills from falling asleep right after practice and was bleeding heavier than ever.  My gyno ended up switching my birth control brand, again no blood tests, just another prescription.  No one wanted to investigate the “why” of this scenario. They said it happens if you miss a pill, so now I changed my daily dosing time to 12pm, a time I would always be awake and probably eating something.  This 12pm time went on and on until I was 30 years old. 

My husband and I got married on April 11, 2014 and I turned 30 two weeks later.  We started talking about having kids shortly after that. I told him I didn’t think this was going to be easy for me and that we are going to struggle conceiving. I came off the pill in August and got my period after 35 days, then 36 the next month, then 37. My grandmother, my aunt and my father-in-law all passed away between November/December and at this time, I went 67 days without a period. I told my doctor and they said call us at 90!!! Again, no one looked at why.. I switched to a third doctor at the nearby University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Prior to my first visit, they sent me for an internal ultrasound and at my first appointment they said, we think you need to go to a fertility clinic. 

I hugged the doctor!  It was the first time that someone said, let’s figure out the problem.  After doing the extensive testing, it was found that I had PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  I didn’t fit the mold of the label because I was 5’3” and 120 lbs. I was not overweight, I didn’t have unwanted hair and didn’t have oily skin.  I had abnormal, heavy, irregular menstruation.  The doctors told me that the ovulation kits were a waste of money because I wasn’t ovulating. This is where my teenage experience upsets me; why did no one check for this prior? I swore if I had a girl, I would advocate for her and ensure that she had a full blood work up prior to being put on any type of medication. 

We started fertility treatments in May. 

It was a huge fertility practice with about 5 lead doctors.  The first cycle did not work; we used oral medication.  The second cycle, we did the same treatment with an IUI, an intrauterine insemination. The easiest way to explain it is a turkey baster type method where they wash the sperm and remove excess fluid and focus on the sperm and get it right into your uterine cavity. One of the older, most experienced doctors said he did not think that this treatment plan was going to work due to my irregular periods and inconsistent/unknown ovulation.  

I had a trip planned to Aruba and a period that was supposed to be on its way but with no idea if and when it would come.  The doctor sent me to Aruba with the oral medications so we did not waste a cycle.  It was a very relaxing trip with my husband and family.  The day after we returned home, my period came.  I had a feeling, I told my husband.. this is it, this is the cycle that’s going to work.  He thought I was crazy but went with it.  

We ended up using injections in my stomach with a Gonal-f pen, followed by the trigger shot to release the eggs and another IUI to enhance our changes. 

It worked!! We were pregnant. However, because of the trigger shot, it overstimulated my ovaries and I developed two cysts, 10cm and 6cm.  I was in agony and any minor twist caused me to double over in pain. The doctor’s placed me on vaginal progesterone suppositories twice a day and told me to take it easy until the cysts shrunk. They said in a few weeks they will go down in size and I will be okay. They were right.  Thank god for specialists!  

I was very cautious. I was a 3rd grade teacher at the time so I went to work then came straight home to relax.  At our 20 week ultrasound, my husband and I wanted to find out the gender of our baby alone and together; it was a boy! 

We were also told at our 20 week ultrasound that I had placenta previa, meaning the placenta was covering my cervix.  

I was scared because my sister-in-law had it years prior, was on bedrest due to bleeding, and delivered my nephew prematurely at 32 weeks.  

At 28 weeks, I had a severe bleed and was hospitalized. 

I had the scariest, most painful internal ultrasound and was kept in the hospital until I was blood free for 36 hours.  At this time, I received two bata-steroid injections in case my little man decided to come early.  I had a second minor bleed at 31 weeks and refused to go to the hospital and demanded to be seen by a high-risk doctor.  I called and scheduled an appointment with the sweetest receptionist who calmed me down and assured me I would be fine.  This ultrasound revealed that my previa had corrected itself and we were both fine to deliver vaginally.  

Easter 2016 was on Sunday, March 27.  We were visiting my parents and celebrating Easter at my sister’s house.  We were getting ready for the twenty minute drive and I went back inside to pee. I figured I didn’t want to risk having to pee more on the drive.  

I sat down and when I went to the bathroom, it was a toilet bowl of blood, not pee. 

I was so scared and I started yelling for help because my phone was already in the car.  I figured my mom or husband had to hear me. My husband walked in and I said, we have a problem, I am bleeding again.  We called our doctor and they advised me to come to the hospital in Philadelphia. The problem was that we were in New Jersey and closer to New York City than Philadelphia.  I remember asking, is this an emergency? Do I need to go to a closer hospital in Hackensack, NJ? We have an hour and a half drive. They said and I quote, “This isn’t something you should go home and sit around with, just come right here.”  

In hindsight, I never would’ve gotten in the car and driven to Pennsylvania hospital, we would’ve just done the ten minute drive to Hackensack. In the meantime, my mom came in and saw the blood and me and I saw the fear in her face.  We took all of the food out of our car and started the drive.  We witnessed a fatal accident going in the opposite direction on the New Jersey Turnpike. I started having contractions and we pretty much just drove in silence the entire way.  

Since I had been admitted there before, we knew where to go and we were quickly admitted.  After that, for the next 14 hours, nothing was quick. Thank god for the March Madness games going on to distract us and help pass the time. They let me go into labor, inserted a foley bulb to help me dilate, I received an epidural, Pitocin and we waited. Since I did not progress past 2.5 cm, after 3 am they decided to break my water.  

Again, like the urine, it was not water, it was blood. I began to hemorrhage. 

Nathan, our sweet boy, his heart rate began to drop.  I was petrified, thank god I already had the epidural because I did not have to be put under general anesthesia.  The cause of all of this was unknown. I was rushed into the OR, my husband switched into scrubs and called my parents to come. They began my C-section.

I remember starting to panic in the OR.  The anesthesiologist was amazing; I wish I knew what his name was.  He stood by my side the entire time and calmed me down until my husband came in.  He asked me what I felt as they started working. I had no idea what to expect so I told him I felt a lot.  He stopped the team and they quickly increased my medication.  

Within minutes, Nathan was here!  All 5 pounds, 13 oz of my little man came at 36 weeks and 5 days.  

He ended up spending 3 nights in the NICU due to low glucose levels.  

Baby boy in NICU

It turned out, due to my placenta previa and the correction and all of the movement, it never had a “home” and it abrupted in the end; placental abruption is what they said.  

Leah's baby boy

There are some details that were fuzzy and some things I remember exactly.  I don’t remember him being placed on my chest in the OR and I couldn’t hold him for at least an hour because I couldn’t feel my hands due to the epidural. 

Leah and her baby

It’s almost eight years later and I hold and hug him every day and I am so grateful for the team of doctors that were on call that day, my husband for keeping his composure and talking me through the epidural that I laughed through with nervous energy. 

father and newborn son

Nathan turns 8 this month, I cannot believe it has been eight years.  He is so amazing, his eyes are gorgeous and his heart is huge and he is the best big brother to Jake (6).   

I am sure I am missing details.. but I just am so grateful for this boy.

For another birth story, read: Turning Pain into Purpose: My Motherhood Journey.


Written by

Image of Leah Miller

Leah Miller

Leah is a 39 year old mom of two boys, wife of almost 10 years, and is a former educator. She has been working in Early Intervention as a Service Coordinator for the past 7 years helping parents advocate for their children and assists them in their child’s development from birth-3 years.



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