Article by: Erica Douglas | Photography by: Jennifer Roberts
Dan and Alexis Williams have always dreamed of a big family. When they got married, they looked forward to starting that family but were in no rush. “We thought we had plenty of time to have kids. We had a lifetime ahead of us,” Alexis said.
What they didn’t expect was miscarriage. Over the years ahead, the couple experienced five miscarriages before welcoming their two daughters. “It took five years of a lot of waiting, a lot of loss, a lot of struggle to have our two. I never imagined starting a family would be so hard.”
Their first miscarriage occurred in 2013. “We were upset but didn’t lose hope. When we tried again, I was scared, but not overwhelmed by the fear of it happening again.”
When they learned they were expecting again, they were in the middle of preparing for a move back home to Barry, Illinois and were in search of a new doctor. At the time Dr. Obioma Maduakor had recently joined the Obstetrics and Gynecology team at Quincy Medical Group, and they chose her for their care. That choice would lead to a deep bond that formed between the couple and their new doctor.
As her pregnancy progressed, Alexis started to get nervous. “Everything up until that point was going great,” she said. “We got to about 8 ½ weeks, and I just wasn’t feeling the best. Something just didn’t feel right.”
Dr. Maduakor quickly got the couple in to check everything out. She ordered a sonogram, and although the technician performing the exam couldn’t share the results, Alexis knew in her gut something was wrong. Dr. Maduakor reached out later that day to confirm their fear. Their baby had no heartbeat. “She didn’t want to tell me over the phone, but she knew I wanted to know. It was earth-shattering. It really took an emotional toll on us,” Alexis said.
The dreams of having a big family were suddenly coming into doubt. Deeply rooted in their faith, Dan and Alexis made a choice. “At that point, I decided I needed to trust God or blame God, and I decided to trust and put everything in His hands. I knew he would provide a family for me one day if I put my faith in him.”
After waiting for some time, they found out a few months later they were pregnant again. They were excited but cautious. Dr. Maduakor was there for the couple throughout, and they welcomed a baby girl, Ariella, in July of 2014. “When I had her, it was like a whole nine months’ worth of stress melted away as soon as she was laid on my chest. It was like a sigh of relief.”
Dan and Alexis were hopeful for the future with Ariella and looked forward to expanding their family. After having a successful, healthy pregnancy, they were hopeful. They never expected another miscarriage. However, they experienced three more miscarriages after Ariella and were left heartbroken. During this time Dr. Maduakor ordered some further testing and referred them to a specialist. “The specialist told me I suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss, and it would be a hit or miss game, but to keep trying. Everything checked out fine, which was a relief, but gave us no answers.”
Experiencing a miscarriage can be devastating, not just for the loss of a pregnancy, but also, in part, because the cause of a miscarriage can be so inexplicable, explained Dr. Maduakor. “Approximately 10-20% of all pregnancies result in miscarriage. The most common cause is unknown, but some are related to chromosomal or genetic disorders; meaning the way the genes come together from the parents. And, sometimes there are anatomy issues with the mother’s uterus.”
“Dr. Maduakor and her nurses never lost hope for us. They wanted this for us just as much as we did.” – Alexis Williams
Their unexplained case, let the Williams asking ‘why?’. Under the care of Quincy Medial Group, Dan and Alexis decided to try again. Dr. Maduakor consulted with her colleagues at Quincy Medical Group and decided a course of action for their next pregnancy. “Dr. Maduakor and her nurses never lost hope for us. They wanted this for us just as much as we did,” Alexis said.
In January 2017 they became pregnant. Throughout the pregnancy, Alexis was monitored closely, and took daily blood thinner shots. At 37 weeks along, Alexis was sent to the hospital and welcomed their second daughter, Mireya.
Even after having Mireya, Alexis still fights anxiety as a result of her losses. Though the anxiety has lessened with time, it’s a reminder of the impact the miscarriages had on her mental state. For patients like Alexis and others, Dr. Maduakor says it’s important for women to remember it’s not their fault. “Just because it happened once or twice does not mean it will always happen. Stay positive, and do not be afraid to see an OB/GYN or infertility specialist.”
Today, Dan and Alexis are enjoying their daughters while continuing to keep the memory of their babies alive. “Our girls know about them, and we keep them in our day to day conversations. We don’t think of them in a sad way like we used to, we celebrate them now.”