Progesterone and Specialists

Mama Mama

My husband and I had just gotten to Gold Beach the night before our baby shower, Friday January 31st, 2014 when we ran into a friend at the store and I started feeling slightly crampy around my lower belly. Our friend noticed and asked in a joking manner, “Are you having your baby now!?”  We laughed, shrugged it off, and returned to my father-in-laws house for the remainder of the night.

Sometime shortly after Javin and I both fell asleep, I was in and out of the bathroom, uncomfortable, on my knees, curled in a ball…nothing made me feel better so I dozed when I could but spent the majority of the night in pain.

In the morning, my father-in-law saw my behavior and called the hospital to see if a doctor would be available to see me, he insisted we go get checked out. I mean, I was bending over the couch and could hardly move, but being as this was our first child, and we still had 10 more weeks until our due date, being in labor wasn’t even an option. Was it?!

At this time, the hospital in our tiny little home town wasn’t delivering babies, they were not staffed or prepared for it. But being as I came in and was already 6 cm dilated and progressing quickly, they made an exception. Yes we were ahead of schedule, and yes, I had a baby shower planned, but we were also having a baby.

Though the circumstances were not ideal, I remember feeling so calm, while I sensed everyone around me was a ball of nerves. My husband and both our moms were emotional, and there was nothing I could do at this point besides play things out.

Labor and delivery was tough for me. My body had began labor the night before (I know now) and when I got to the hospital they gave me I believe indomethacin to attempt to slow/stop labor. They would not fly me because I was already progressed further than they would have like, and so our only option was to wait for a team to fly in from Medford, to assist with the baby and take him to the NICU there once he was born. Because the doctors were trying to somewhat regulate and keep my labor on their schedule, my body was confused when they then broke my water to begin labor again.

Once I began to push, it wasn’t long at all until our son, Parker, was born. 10 weeks early, breathing on his own, and 3lb 12oz of all our love. After I delivered the placenta the doctors then saw there had been an abruption, and I had a large blood clot that worried them enough that they insisted I stay the night for monitoring. The most difficult night in my life was this night. My first born had just been flown 3 and a half hours away and I didn’t get to hold, admire, or nurture him. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect since this was NOT a part of our birth plan.


Long story short, we spent 6 weeks in the hospital, allowing Parker to mature. I lived in the hospital with him, while my husband continued schooling and working full time back home on the coast. I was his advocate, and I am so thankful I could be there to stand up for him and what I felt was appropriate. I saw many other babies have multiple set-backs during our stay, and we were so blessed to be able to bring our baby home even weeks before his original due date.

Once Parker turned one, we knew we would want to start trying for another baby soon. And when we got pregnant, I was in the best shape of my life. I actually was pregnant with our daughter while I attended a bikini competition and as lean and strong as I’ve ever been.

Our journey with Avaley’s pregnancy was much different than Parkers. I changed midwifes, and knew I wanted a more natural approach to birth this time around. My midwives suggested I go see a specialist and discuss progesterone shots to possibly help prevent preterm birth with this pregnancy since the placental abruption I had with Parker was from an unknown cause.

So I did, and we came to the conclusion that we would begin shots at 20 weeks, and continue them once a week for 17 weeks until I reached “full term”.

These shots sucked. They were a pain in the ass, literally.

Every Friday my husband would stick a large needle into my rear-end muscle, and have to slowly inject a thick, oily, hormone-filled shot over 60 seconds. For two days after each shot I could hardly sit, lay, or touch near the injection site. Down my leg ached, and felt as though I had been injected with cement. I grew moody and grouchy, partly because I was in pain, and partly because of the extra hormones I am sure. Because I was even more uncomfortable, and even more moody, I had less sex-drive. After each shot my stomach would turn, and I’d be in the bathroom the following day more frequently than I would have liked. I also remember having headaches frequently following the shots.

The truth of the matter was, I was scared to have another preemie. We were blessed with Parker, he had no significant issues from being born so early, where in many preterm births, that is not the case. I also felt obligated to follow the recommendations of my midwives because I didn’t want another hospital birth either, and I needed them happy with the choices I was making. So we toughed it out and took the shots.

In addition to taking these shots, I had multiple additional ultrasounds to determine if my cervix ever shortened, which it never did. And it never was short before beginning the shots as well.

Come 37+ weeks, I had no more shots, and I lost my mucus plug. After this, I began very inconsistent contractions. I was so hopeful for a baby on my birthday, or even on Christmas, but that didn’t happen. December 29th, my water broke at about 11:00 at night. True, more consistent contractions began almost instantly and we grabbed our bag and headed to the birthing center. I was so thankful we were to term, I was free of any medical intervention, and I could do as I pleased while I labored. Shower, ball, and bath. Avaley was born in the water at just after 2:00 am and we had a healthy baby girl whom I carried for 38+ weeks. Her daddy got to cut the umbilical cord, and I got to hold her first thing. It was magical. Everything I had hoped for.

Now, here we are, 14 weeks pregnant with our third child, and we’ve arrived at the dreaded progesterone dilemma again.

This time around, I’ve done more research, asked more questions, and discussed more with my husband about what we should do as far as taking progesterone shots goes.

My midwives again are sending me to another specialist. My husband and I will see them in a couple days. I was adamant about Javin coming with me this time, because I didn’t want to forget anything, or feel pressured without him being there. Part of me also knows Javin doesn’t want me to take the shots, and has had strong opinions about that from the beginning. So it will be good for both of us to be a part of this meeting and doctors appointment. I don’t want to take the shots either, not just because they hurt, and are incredibly expensive, but as I said, I’ve done my research. 

During my second pregnancy I received 17 Makena hydroxyprogesterone caporate injections. I began my research at the source, the Makena website. The “negative side-affects” list is never-ending, and many quite severe. Blood clots, yellowing of skin and eyes (which indicated liver complications) etc. However, I already knew how my body reacted so I wasn’t going to spend my time there.

Ingredients: Man-made and chemical form of progresterone (which only makes up 25% of each injection), sesame oil, and preservatives.

Stress level officially through the roof! So, 75% of each injection is actually GMO sesame and preservative junk?!

Okay…moving on.

In a clinical study, certain complications or events associated with pregnancy occurred more often in women who received Makena. These included miscarriage (pregnancy loss before 20 weeks of pregnancy), stillbirth (fetal death occurring during or after the 20th week of pregnancy), hospital admission for preterm labor, preeclampsia (high blood pressure and too much protein in your urine), gestational hypertension (high blood pressure caused by pregnancy), gestational diabetes, and oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid levels).

This was taken directly from the Makena website. I re-read that paragraph multiple times, and even had Javin read it to make sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me.

“complications occurred MORE OFTEN in women who recieved Makena.”

I realize that clinical studies are very difficult to utilize for true results, because each individual is so different that there is no way to actually compare these women properly. So I began a full-on obsession with digging deeper into this. To spare you all the never-ending data, I’ll just say I came out of this feeling frustrated, and discouraged more than anything. I know my brain and my heart say these shots aren’t necessary, and there’s absolutely NO WAY of telling if they did or didn’t play a part in Avaley’s full-term pregnancy. Pharmaceuticals scare me for a lot of reasons, and I chose to use them as little as possible in our lives. (We don’t even take ibuprofen.) And where are the studies showing that these shots are not affecting the babies, and that down the road there wont be learning complications or some other negative side-effect because of the progesterone shots?!

There’s no way of truly knowing these things. The only thing we can do is pray for guidance, and trust God’s plan.

So we are meeting with a doctor at Maternal Fetal Medicine in just a few days, and after that appointment, I’m not going to trust a specialist or anyone else. I am going to follow my gut.

It has gotten me this far.