Return to site

Answers in Blood

As many of you may know, I have had four miscarriages over the last few years, three since my healthy son was born in 2021. They have been emotionally devastating as well as physically miserable. I wanted to know why this kept happening. To have another healthy baby has been one of my most frequent prayers. The doctors kept saying that everything looked healthy, there was nothing to indicate anything was wrong, other than the fact that I had four dead children. So I prayed. I prayed for answers.

And then, I tore my Achilles. It wasn’t just that I tore my Achilles, I tore my Achilles, had surgery to repair it, then went on a 10 hours each way road trip to Texas which led to me getting a blood clot that travelled to my lungs (pulmonary embolism). This was the answer to my prayers. At the time it sure as heck didn’t feel like it. This all happened within 33 days of each other. Mid-December through the end of January was one of the worst times in my life. I was in and out of hospitals more times than the rest of my life combined.

broken image

At the time, I was also going through my fourth miscarriage and when I went to my follow-up appointment with my OB, I informed him of my blood clot and his whole demeanor changed. You can imagine, he was very somber when discussing my miscarriage and recovery, but when I mentioned I had a blood clot, for some reason he perked up. He asked if I’d ever had any other blood clots. I told him no. Then he asked me if I had ever heard of “Antiphospholipid Syndrome” (APS). I told him no.

Back in college I had done work with phospholipids. I knew they were molecules that contained a phosphate group (PO4) and make a wall around some cells. I knew that they had hydrophilic (does like water) heads with long hydrophobic (doesn’t like water) tails. The tails all congregate together, blocking out any outside liquids. They form a bilayer, two layers, so that the hydrophilic heads are the ones interacting with the liquid INSIDE the cell and the liquids OUTSIDE the cell.

broken image

That was all I knew at the time; he gave me a brief overview at the appointment, but I of course googled it when I got home to learn more. APS is a disorder of the immune system that causes blood clots. This means the immune system which normally protects the body from infection and illness, attacks healthy tissue by mistake. In this case, the immune system produces abnormal antibodies called antiphospholipid antibodies. Antibodies are a tool of the body which attach to things it thinks are foreign and then the immune system goes and attacks it. In APS, the antibodies target phospholipids. When this happens, the blood is more likely to clot.

broken image

It turns out that this condition is commonly the cause of miscarriages when all other health factors have been ruled out. The problem is that APS is difficult to diagnose. Unless you have a catastrophic blood clot, there are no other major symptoms. You may experience tiredness or temporary tingling/numbness in other parts of your body. But who these days isn’t tired? And if I ever felt tingling I just assumed I needed to move more and that my limb had fallen asleep, or that I needed to drink more water or something. Those are normal things that people feel all the time, and very few people feel those things because their body is making tiny little blood clots.

I am one of the few. Thanks to tearing my Achilles, having surgery, taking a road trip, and getting a pulmonary embolism, my OB was able to diagnose me with APS. He was able to confidently say that my miscarriages happened because my body was making tiny blood clots and when my babies were still very early on in their development, those blood clots were too big for their tiny veins. The children were unable to circulate blood and died. It was tragic to find out, but when he told me this news it gave me hope! I understood his change in demeanor.

A few months later I became pregnant again. This time my doctor put me on a blood thinner to prevent any blood clots, and I am happy to say that I’m in my 2nd trimester and everything is looking great! I am due to have a healthy baby child at the beginning of December this year.

broken image

This may sound like a very long and personal baby announcement, which it definitely is, but I wanted to write it out to give others hope. I wanted to remind you that God hears our prayers, and He answers them. Your answer may come, like mine, in the form of catastrophic health problems, but He answers. In my case I was fortunate that I got a good and helpful answer even though it came in a horrible package. That is not always the case. Sometimes God takes years to answer, and often times it is not the answer we want to hear. Some people are lucky enough to get answers through receiving flowers or by a kind action by a friend. Others, like me, get answers by getting sent to the hospital multiple times over the course of a month. I know it is cliché and overused, but it is true that God works in mysterious ways. We can never fully understand it, but sometimes if we’re lucky (like me in this case) we can look back on a part of our life and see how God was moving and answering our prayers.

He is listening. He does answer prayers. Keep praying for whatever it is that you desire. Our God is loving and kind and wants to give us answers. We must pray knowing that they might not always be the answers we want, but that they are there if we but listen.