A few days ago I shared a slide show featuring Stefanie and Sean Reeder of Savannah. The slide show was an example of the importance of documenting artistically this important first year. Their story was featured as one of our Your Portrait, Your Story features on my blog. Anne Hart, of the Savannah Morning News, read their story on the blog and sought them out. This Easter Sunday she featured their story. Click here to read the story. In addtion to writing for the Savannah Morning News, Anne is also the founder and publisher of Southern Mama’s website. It is one of my favorite sites and you can find it in my favorites list. Please check it out if you have not already discovered it.
Here is Anne’s story:
Hart to Heart: When a miscarriage is prevented
Anne Hart | Sunday, March 23, 2008 at 12:30 am
The pregnancy wasn’t supposed to last. At least, that’s what the medical tests showed.
Stefanie and Sean had their children’s names picked out since they were high school sweethearts in a small Kentucky town. Grant for a boy. Molly for a girl.
On trips, the couple bought children’s books in lieu of traditional souvenirs, even though they didn’t have children yet.
But becoming parents turned out to be more difficult than expected. Stefanie has a thyroid disorder and gene mutation that made getting pregnant a challenge.
A memorable announcement
Month after month, she had negative home pregnancy tests. After she finally got a positive one, she was so thrilled she took a picture of it.
Stefanie managed to hide her exuberance from Sean for two days. She wanted a memorable way to announce the news.
The couple already had a photo appointment set up with photographer Lori Grice. Stefanie and Lori conspired together to capture the “I’m pregnant” moment.
While Lori shot portraits of the couple, Stefanie pulled Sean’s arms around her. Stefanie told her husband “Put your hands on the baby.”
He was stunned. “Whose baby?” “Our baby,” Stefanie said.
That moment came to mind a few days later as Stefanie and Sean were told the pregnancy most likely would not last.
Medical and divine intervention
Stefanie said Dr. Lawrence Odom was sympathetic as he explained that the pregnancy hormone HCG was not increasing as it should.
Miscarriages are often seen as the body’s way of ending an unhealthy pregnancy. Fetal chromosome abnormalities account for about half of all miscarriages.
But what about the other half?
The program’s goal is not to prevent miscarriages that are the result of chromosomal abnormalities, but those that could, with some medical intervention, have resulted in healthy babies.
Stefanie had started going to Odom, a reproductive endocrinologist, because of the difficulties she had becoming pregnant. She believes divine guidance led her to his specialized practice since the threat of miscarriage turned out to be more of a problem.
Stefanie recalls asking Odom what the chances were the pregnancy would continue. He sadly held up his hand, indicating maybe five pregnancies with hormone levels like hers had been successful in his 20 or so years of practice.
Even Stefanie’s medical paperwork didn’t give much hope. It was filled out to indicate the most likely outcome: “spontaneous abortion” the medical term for miscarriage.
Odom advised the Reeders to cancel their travel plans that weekend and told them the signs of a miscarriage. He also told the Reeders he would pray for them. They asked loved ones to do the same.
That night Stefanie did what she had done since finding out she was pregnant. She read “Goodnight Moon” aloud to her unborn baby.
Sean put his hand on Stefanie’s belly and prayed.
“We decided this is our baby as long as he’s with us,” Stefanie said.
Stefanie and Sean knew that medically speaking, their baby didn’t have much chance. But they hoped God had other plans.
Turned out, He did.
After several days, Stefanie still had not miscarried.
Her blood work was checked again. Her pregnancy hormones had increased dramatically. There were still complications, including a small gestational sac indicating that the fetus wasn’t getting enough blood. It wasn’t growing.
That’s where Odom‘s medical intervention helped. Two-daily shots of the blood thinner Heparin until 36 weeks, HCG hormone shots twice a week for five months and progesterone suppositories helped the pregnancy continue.
On May 30, 2006, the baby who wasn’t expected to make it was born.
The wonder boy
At the Reeders’ church, Grant, now 1, is known as the Wonder Baby. His loved ones credit Grant’s life to a mix of faith and science.
“A little bit of intervention and a whole lot of prayer, and there he is,” Stefanie said.
Grant is living proof of Odom‘s belief that some miscarriages are preventable.
“Nobody with a genetically OK baby should suffer a miscarriage,” Odom said.
At the Reeder home, photo albums and framed portraits chronicle Grant’s life. But the most important photo hangs just outside the nursery door.
It’s of the exact moment when Grant’s mommy told his daddy “Put your hands on the baby.”
It’s of the exact moment his parents knew they’d hold onto him and never let go.