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Losing Her Way to Motherhood

For eight years, Breteni Morgan dreamed about holding a child in her arms.

She placed her hopes and some tiny little baby clothes in her “someday box,” creating a layette that she put aside for the day that her baby was born. There were days that she thought about throwing the box away, but she just couldn’t permanently put the lid on those dreams. “I just wasn’t ready to give up yet,” Breteni says. “You want a child so badly that you just ache.”

A long journey

Today, Breteni slips a bright orange flowered headband across tiny little Kamiyah’s forehead, tearfully smiling at her sleepy face. Getting to dress their little girl, whose name means “one and only, precious,” with those special outfits set aside so long is a miracle after their long journey with infertility, says her husband Stephen.

“I can’t even describe what it was like to hold her for the first time,” says Stephen, cradling his daughter. “We had been through so much she hardly seemed real.”

Mother’s day was always a painful day for Breteni, who had lost two babies at birth, a little girl in 2005 and a boy in 2007. The couple decided to consult with reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Keith Hansen to find out why they couldn’t sustain a pregnancy.

The fertility specialist discovered that Breteni had a uterine septum, a malformation in her uterus that made it difficult for her to carry babies to term. The doctor repaired the problem, but when Breteni got pregnant again, she miscarried the baby.

“It was so frustrating for her and for us because her case was not so simple,” says Dr. Hansen. “We were dealing with multiple things and we needed to try several approaches to find out what was going on.”

Trying a new path

The doctor suggested that Breteni, whose weight was close to 300 pounds, take action to lose the majority of her excess weight. For years she had struggled with weight gain, having a hip displaysia condition that made it difficult for her to walk, much less exercise.

One of the effects of obesity is that it can affect a woman’s ability to ovulate, the fertility expert says. Women who lose a substantial amount of that weight will ovulate more regularly and are more likely to get pregnant, Dr. Hansen adds.

Breteni consulted with weight loss surgeon Dr. Dennis Glatt, who advised her that gastric bypass could be a tool to help her fertility and overall health. Research has shown that obesity not only can prevent a woman from getting pregnant, but can also have a number of negative effects on both mom and baby throughout pregnancy.

Being severely overweight raises the risk for stillbirth, preterm delivery and conditions like gestational diabetes, hypertension or preeclampsia. In addition, laboring moms who are obese have an increased chance of having difficulties during and after labor and delivery, the surgeon says.

“It’s not just about getting pregnant,” says Dr. Glatt. “The point of the surgery is to improve the mom’s health, quality of life and long-term survival. Anything we can do to help a mom be healthier is better for both baby and mom.”

Breteni opted for a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, a procedure that divides the upper end of the stomach to restrict food intake. The goal of her surgery in July 2009 was to help her lower her weight from 290 pounds to a healthier weight, increasing her chance of both conceiving and successfully keeping the pregnancy.

For about a year and a half, they waited to try to conceive, until Breteni was at a healthier weight. During that time she worked hard to slim down. By changing her diet and exercising regularly with Zumba, a Latin dance exercise program, she lost 175 pounds.

“Every piece of broccoli that I ate was for a baby,” she says. “There was a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Reaching her goal

Feeling fit and healthy, Breteni was ready to try again for a baby. She almost didn’t believe it when home pregnancy test confirmed they were pregnant again. Her husband read the results and she fell to the ground, shocked their dream might come true.

After an early scare where they thought they might have lost their little “pancake,” they found that she was developing healthily. Breteni reveled in being pregnant, celebrating with her best friend who was also carrying her first child at the same time. The women painted and decorated their soon-to-be babies’ rooms and watched their bellies expand.

“You lose so much when you are waiting for a baby for so long,” Breteni said. “When you gain it back you have so much more, you’re so full of joy, you can’t even contain it.”

In April, Breteni went into labor, having a quick and natural delivery with their little girl. Meeting her in person was the sweetest moment of all, says Stephen.

“It was so long overdo and such a journey and now you have her,” he says, watching his wife wrap their daughter in a striped orange blanket. “My hope for her is that she figures out what makes her happy in life. She’s already made us so happy.”

Throughout the whole process, losing their babies, fighting the infertility, working to lose the weight and then during their pregnancy and afterwards, the family felt fully supported by Sanford. Everyone they encountered treated them kindly and compassionately, helping them reach their goals.

“They didn’t just see part of me. They saw the whole story and supported us every step of the way,” Breteni said.

After Kamiyah’s birth, the couple brought her to meet Dr. Hansen, who was pleased to hold the baby with beautiful brown curly hair in his arms. The new family is so happy with their little girl and will be wonderful parents, he says.

“They didn’t give up,” says Dr. Hansen. “We have so many options and approaches we can take to help. It’s so exciting to see them start their family.”

Breteni says the family tells their little girl every day how much they love her and how beautiful she is. She is “easy to love,” she says, listening to her breaths as the baby sleeps in her arms.

“Being a mom is everything I ever dreamed of and more,” she says.

Posted Date: September 2012