Amazing things happen at the YMCA. You can workout, enjoy lunch, take a dip in the pool, watch your child dance like a ballerina, and meet some wonderful new friends. This is how I met Christa Rogers, we were sitting in the Dance Studio at the Harris YMCA and got to talking. Immediately I knew we were going to be friends. Christa has a lovely, calm grace about her. Her smile is brilliant and she cherishes being a mother to her beautiful daughter Caroline. The “mother, daughter” connection between Caroline and Christa is deep, and it should be, Christa almost lost her life while carrying Caroline.
Christa developed life threatening complications during her pregnancy. Her story is simply amazing. Doctors misdiagnosed her condition explaining her symptoms away as pregnancy side effects. Christa knew something wasn’t right within her body and, along with the help of her mother, did her own medical research. Amazingly, she was able to self diagnosis her condition and saved her own life. Today, Christa is an advocate for women with pregnancy complications and a true example of following your “gut instinct”.
Currently, Christa is in the process of adopting as another pregnancy would be far too dangerous. Smarties, I’m nothing short of honored to introduce you to Christa Rogers! Enjoy her miraculous story and spirit.
Let’s meet Christa…
You saved your own life by following your gut instincts. Truly amazing! What can you tell other women about the knowledge you gained from this experience?!
Be your own advocate! Doctors are of course a good resource, but they don’t always catch what is going on. They certainly don’t expect to find the worst case scenario. Be aware of your body and how you are feeling, and don’t be afraid to request treatment. I trusted what the doctors were telling me for weeks, and my situation ended up being much worse than it had to be. If it were caught earlier, I could have been spared the near death experience.
How did you handle the news that your condition was life threatening? How did your husband handle it?
At first I was terrified. Here I was 8 weeks pregnant, and I was being told that pulmonary embolisms had already gone through my heart and I had too many clots in my chest and neck to even count them. As a team of over 8 doctors piled into the room, I was overwhelmed and it felt like an out of body experience. The first night in ICU was the longest of my life. I knew I had this huge time bomb, which was a very large clot in my chest, that could go to my heart at any time. I remember staying awake all night, in extreme pain, waiting for morning to come and thinking about my unborn child. Praying and hoping that we would make it through this. The next day when I was going in for the first procedure to begin the clot busting drug, TPA, I was shaking in fear. Before going in for the procedure, they had told me that I could end up having a stroke or bleeding out. Furthermore I was told they were treating me as if I was not pregnant. But something changed when I was on that table for the procedure. Lying there, scared out of my mind, I started praying. I went from shaking to total relaxation as God truly gave me a peace that passes all understanding. From that point on, I wasn’t scared. I knew that even though it wasn’t going to be easy, I would make it through the critical 48 hours that followed. My husband, Ben, was amazing throughout the whole situation. His faith and ability to remain calm was so encouraging to me. After three days of intense treatment, the clots were completely gone and I was out of the woods. The doctors were calling me a “walking miracle.” They did an ultrasound to see how the baby was doing after all the trauma. Seeing that little heartbeat was the best medicine I could ever receive!
You also dealt with another condition later in your pregnancy called cholestasis of the liver and were misdiagnosed at first. What was the condition you had verses the condition you were originally diagnosed with?
When I was around 33 weeks pregnant, I started itching intensely all over my body, mainly on my legs. My regular doctor was out of town for several weeks at the time, and the other doctors diagnosed me with PUPPS, the common pregnancy rash. Completely harmless, just annoying, but not dangerous to mom or baby. Once again, I did my research (bedrest is good for something!) and found out about a condition called cholestasis of pregnancy. This is a condition when the liver gets backed up with bile and the bile then builds up in your bloodstream. The result is an intense itching all over your body. It puts the baby in some danger, as there is an increased risk of a stillborn birth when carrying the baby beyond 38 weeks. After researching this, I suggested and actually insisted that they give me the blood test for this. Well, it turns out I didn’t have PUPPS after all, but cholestasis. Score another one for google! I needed Fetal Non stress tests weekly and had to be more attentive to doing kick counts. Caroline was delivered at 37 weeks as a precaution due to the cholestasis. I think cholestasis is sometimes misdiagnosed with the assumption that the itching is the result of PUPPS. So, please take note- if you start itching anytime during your pregnancy, please insist on the blood test for cholestasis if your doctor doesn’t suggest it first.
What will you tell Caroline about your pregnancy experience?
I have a journal that I kept throughout the pregnancy. I think that when Caroline is old enough to understand, I will share it with her. There were very few moments throughout the pregnancy when I could actually relax. A few weeks after the blood clots dissolved, I ended up with a tear in the placenta and a lot of bleeding which later caused early contractions. Then of course, there was the cholestasis liver condition. It amazes me when I go back and read it all today, as Caroline and I really did go through so much to get her here. Furthermore, the fact that she is healthy and I have no long term side effects from the pregnancy is truly a miracle.
How did you come to the decision to adopt and how truly excited are you for this new and exciting road?
I have always wanted to be a mother to more than one child, and after the life-threatening pregnancy, it was a no-brainer that we didn’t want to take that route again. My heart has always been open to adoption, and we are so excited about our second child! It’s really the best of both worlds: getting to experience having a biological child, but also adopting. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Right now we are waiting to get the call that we have been matched with the birth mother of our child. It could be anytime- one phone call will change our lives!
What symptoms should women look for after taking fertility drugs that might suggest they have clots developing?
I had ovarian hyperstimulation as a result of the extremely high levels of estrogen in my body. My ovaries were about 10 cm each and I looked like I was already 5 months pregnant when I was only 6 weeks along! It also caused severe pain in my abdomen area. The hyperstimulation then caused a build up of clots throughout my chest and neck. I was in pain for weeks, short of breath, extremely exhausted, and I distinctly remember feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest. The last symptom to develop was a pain in my neck that almost felt like a crick. The morning I woke up and went to the ER, the vein in my neck was distended, it was very sore to the touch, and I could barely swallow. Thankfully my mom came to help me that week. Being the smarty mom that she is, she googled neck pain with hyperstimulation and up popped thrombosis (blood clots). I am so grateful she was there, as she took me straight to the hospital.
However, it should have never gotten to this point. If you are short of breath, have pain in your calves (there can also be swelling or warmth), or have a general feeling of heaviness in your chest, please insist on being checked out! Especially if your ovaries are hyperstimulated, because that increases the risk of clots developing. I went in four different times over a period of 6 weeks complaining of these symptoms, but my doctors were blaming it all on the hyperstimulation. Obviously, there was more to it than that. After I was stable and they did extensive testing, it was determined that the blood clots were a result of the fertility drugs. Let me clarify that ovarian hyperstimulation is more common, but the blood clots are rare. I also don’t want to scare anyone or create a negativity about fertility drugs. Many times they are successful and people have no problems. It is just a good idea to read the fine print and know what can happen. Don’t worry about being a hypochondriac either-that is something I will never worry about again!
What inspires you about your daughter, Caroline?
She is so healthy, strong, and caring. She is very determined, which makes sense to me. After all, she had to fight to stay alive in the womb. I count each day as a blessing and am so very grateful for her!
Well, you’ve looked death straight in the eyes and didn’t get scared. What frightens you most today?
Since becoming a mom, I most fear something happening to me because then I wouldn’t be here for Caroline. That is a big reason we decided not to get pregnant again. It’s not fair to Caroline to put my life in danger when we have this wonderful opportunity to grow our family through adoption.
Favorite “mommy time” activity?
I know it sounds cliche, but I love taking long hot baths! A good read doesn’t hurt either.
Favorite girls night out spot?
Dean and Deluca Wine Bar… or I will settle for a girls night in at someone’s house. It’s just a treat to have some girl time!
Best place to eat out with the whole family?
Nothing But Noodles. Caroline has food allergies, but they are very accommodating and we can always find something there for her to eat.
Davie Park and Pineville Lake Park. Also like Latta Park for the spray grounds.
Mini-van or SUV?
I have been wrestling with this one for a while! My first instinct would be to say SUV, but as a mom, those automatic sliding doors on the mini-van are very appealing! We are actually about to start shopping for a new vehicle, so it remains to be seen which one I end up with.
Best book you’ve read lately?
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Loved it!
I could not live without my…
My iPhone! It meets a variety of needs, and the apps for kids are a life saver when I need it the most! (namely on an airplane, in the grocery store, or stuck in traffic:)
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
It is truly a family friendly city. I love that places like Carowinds are so close. Plus you can travel to great vacation spots in just a few hours!
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
On Monday nights, kids eat free at the Chick-Fil-A on South Blvd. (Pineville end). This location also has a good play area. The reason I think that this is a best kept secret? It’s never crowded on Monday nights like you would expect!
WHOSE DAD ROCKS?!
We want to honor our awesome Charlotte area dads this Father’s Day! Please send us a photo of your children & their dad with a quote from one of your kids stating, “My dad rocks because …”
Please also include the father’s name. (You can send us his full name, or just his first name and last initial.) We will run all submissions on Father’s Day, June 20th. Please be sure we have yours by Friday, June 18th in order to be included. Send your photo and quote to firstname.lastname@example.org.