After Gage was born, my OB/Gyn, Dr. Fliedner, had recommended that I see a hematologist to rule out any diseases that can trigger pre-eclampsia. I was sent to Dr. James Strauss, a hematologist/oncologist at Texas Oncology in Dallas. He ran a full array of tests, all of which came back normal. However, he did advise that I come back to repeat the testing once a trimester if we decided to conceive again. Much to everyone's surprise, I was never advised not to get pregnant again. When Matt and I talked about having more kids, so many people asked why we would take that chance again after what happened with Gage. My answer was that I would not allow fear to win! We would just try. I knew my doctors would not let me die, and if it turned out that we lost a child, we would find another way to expand our family. Adoption and surrogacy were always options if my body could not tolerate another pregnancy.

Matt and I found out we were pregnant again in February of 2004, and we were due November 2nd, 2004. My first appointment with the hematologist was at 12 wks, and all my tests were still normal. Before I left that day, they scheduled my next appointment for testing for 24 wks. I was a nervous wreck to wait that long since, with Gage, things had already gone seriously wrong! I had a new OB/Gyn, Dr. Katrina Allen in Grapevine, TX. She was fully aware of my history and stayed in contact with my hematologist, and I was monitoring my blood pressure at home several times a day. From day one, this pregnancy felt MUCH different than my first. In fact, it was so different that I was absolutely convinced I was having a girl! At 22 weeks, we had a sonogram and found out that we were actually having a boy! I was put on modified bed rest at 21 weeks because my blood pressure had begun to rise. By the grace of God, we made it to 24 wks and my second round of blood tests. This time when the results came in, he found that I had a Protein S deficiency. Most women's Protein S levels drop during pregnancy, but mine had dropped to an abnormal level. Protein S functions as an anticoagulant in the bloodstream, which means it helps to keep the blood thinned out and helps to prevent clots. So, when there is a shortage of Protein S in the bloodstream, you're more susceptible to blood clots. They believe this may have been the reason I developed such severe, early onset pre-eclampsia with Gage. To prevent this from happening in our second pregnancy, I was put on Fragmin, a form of heparin which is a blood thinner. Fragmin is administered as an injection into the skin of the abdominal area once each day. So, I learned how to give myself the injections, and became a human pin cushion! After the Protein S deficiency was discovered, Dr. Allen ordered blood tests, urine tests, and sonograms to be done once per week. As the weeks went by, I kept a close eye on my blood pressure at home. Unfortunately, I had developed what is known as "white coat syndrome," meaning my blood pressure automatically went up every time I was in the doctor's office! It was growing increasingly hard to convince Dr. Allen that my blood pressure was not nearly as high when I was at home on bed rest!

I was thrilled and amazed about moving further into my pregnancy. I was experiencing so many things for the first time. I was feeling REAL kicks and movement! I even felt his hiccups! I still had a lot of water weight and retention though, so it was always a reminder of the risk of this pregnancy. At my 34 wk appointment, Dr. Allen did a non-stress test. Basically, she put me monitors to see if I was having contractions and how much the baby was moving around. She felt that the baby wasn't moving enough, even after a Coke and a candy bar, so she sent me to the hospital for more intense monitoring. Matt and Gage met me up at the hospital. I think Matt was convinced that we would be having a baby that day, and I was just sure everything was fine....and it was! They sent me home at the end of the day.

Dr. Allen had scheduled a c-section for 37 wks, which was October 14th, 2004. At my 35 wk appointment, my blood pressure had gotten too high for home bedrest so I was admitted to the hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy. All went well for one week. On the morning of Friday, October 8th, Dr. Allen came in and told me that everything was looking ok, and she was going to allow me to take a wheelchair ride that day. She also told me that she was off for the weekend, but that her partner Dr. Walters was on call and was fully aware of my history and problems. She said she didn't anticipate any problems and would see me Monday and we would do the c-section on Thursday. Later that evening, Matt took me on my wheelchair ride. We were only allowed 15 minutes, so we just went out front and I kept my feet propped up on a bench.

When we got back to my room, there had been a shift change. The new nurse was in my room going over my chart. Since I had to be put on the monitors every morning and every evening, she asked if it would be ok if we went ahead and did my evening monitoring. I agreed, and she strapped on the monitors. A few minutes later, I felt my abdomen get uncomfortably tight. The nurse turned around to look at me and said "Did you feel that?" I said "Yes, I did!" We were both a little confused. About 5 minutes later, the same thing happened... and these were HUGE contractions on the monitor. After the first two contractions, they started coming every two minutes. Dr. Walters, the on-call doctor was paged. Incidentally, she and her husband were having dinner with my doctor Dr. Allen, and her husband! They ordered a morphine injection, saying that if it was false labor, the morphine would relax my uterus enough to stop the contractions. They also ordered emergency blood tests just in case, because I was now taking heparin injections twice a day. When on heparin, you can't have an epidural or spinal because of the risk of developing an epidural or spinal hematoma which can result in long-term or permanent paralysis. If I had too much heparin in my system, I wouldn't be able to get a spinal for my c-section and would have to be put under general anesthesia. While waiting for those results and to see what the morphine would do, the nurse checked to see if I had dilated. In less than an hour, I had dilated to a two, and the contractions were still coming. The on-call doctor was called in to deliver, and because Dr. Allen was having dinner with her, she came in too! I was so happy that my doctor was going to do the delivery... not because I didn't trust Dr. Walters, but because I was so comfortable around Dr. Allen after seeing her every week for 12 weeks, and sometimes twice a week! Finally, the blood results came back, and I was cleared to get a spinal for the c-section! I was relieved! I was so touch-and-go with Gage that I didn't feel "present" during his delivery. I certainly didn't want to miss all of this one! Both Dr. Allen and Dr. Walters did the surgery. They were talking to each other and music was playing. It was really quite relaxed! So, at 11:49 p.m., Britton Matthew King was born at 36 wks! They showed him to us and then took him to the warming table to be suctioned and evaluated. Unfortunately, Matt and I had spent so much time in the NICU with Gage, that we had seen many babies as they were admitted. Britton was making a strange noise which we both immediately recognized as "grunting," a symptom of breathing difficulties. The nurses confirmed this, and Britton was weighed, measured, assessed, and sent to the NICU. Naturally, this was scary for us, but we both knew that he was in FAR better condition than Gage had been. We knew that we could handle it! He weighed 6 lbs, 10 oz. and was 19 in. long. Britton was put on oxygen via a nasal cannula for one day and was released from the NICU on Saturday night and allowed to stay in the room with me until I was dismissed.

The whole experience was amazing...from experiencing the third trimester of pregnancy and the pains of labor, to leaving the hospital with our newborn baby in my arms! Matt and I consider Britton to be as much of a miracle as Gage. When you think of all the many things that could have gone wrong, a healthy baby seems as much a miracle as one who had to fight for his life! We love you Britton Matthew!