Amanda Spilde, owner of Jane Cane Photography, is a well-known Duluth photographer who specializes in newborn and family photography. She and her husband Andrew dreamed of having their own baby. After struggling with infertility and experiencing a miscarriage, they finally had their daughter, Maggie. Here is their story.
Soon after Andrew and I got married in 2017, we were ready to start a family. We were both in our 30s, and I had a history of endometriosis. We’d been together for 8 years before we got married, never used birth control and never got pregnant. We jumped into infertility testing, which confirmed that we would need help with our fertility journey. After two more unsuccessful years of laparoscopic surgery, multiple rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI), medicated cycles and trying to get pregnant on our own – we chose to go in the direction of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
We began the process in early 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting. Due to protocol setbacks, we weren’t able to do an embryo transfer until Summer that year, but were ecstatic to learn the procedure had worked and I was pregnant. Things were going fine, until there was no heartbeat at our first ultrasound appointment. I had miscarried. Andrew was in Boundary Waters without service when I found out – I felt alone and completely devastated.
Pregnancy after loss
I was so grateful for the humanity shown to me at St. Luke’s during that heartbreaking time. Because of the pandemic, all the doctors had triple layers of personal protective equipment (PPE) on. Still, they were so kind and compassionate towards me. This made a huge difference in my grieving and processing experience.
In Fall 2020, we did a second embryo transfer and I got pregnant again.
The pregnancy itself was riddled with anxiety and fear. Experiencing pregnancy after loss, and after infertility – I felt intense gratefulness and worry at the same time. While we were so excited, we also spent a lot of time feeling like it wasn’t real.
Resources like therapy were so important in helping me through. And having such a great care team at St. Luke’s. It was nice to be guided through the process by providers who understood that pregnancy isn’t always all sunshine and rainbows.
On top of that, it was a hard pregnancy. I didn’t enjoy it in the way I had dreamed of, navigating various issues including persistent hypertension and blood pressure medication. Because of these complications, on June 9 it was decided that I needed to be induced. However, twelve hours and four doses of induction medication later, I wasn’t making a lot of progress.
Then, at 6 am, my water broke naturally and active labor started immediately. I got an epidural around 8:30 am, and by 10 am I was ready to push.
Welcome to the world, Margaret Jane
After pushing awhile, baby’s heart rate started to decelerate. It was realized that I needed an emergency surgery, stat. I gave consent and within 3 minutes was rushed to the Operating Room (OR) for a red-light c-section.
I’m so thankful that we took the labor and delivery class that St. Luke’s offers. Because of that, even though emergency c-sections are intense and things were happening extremely fast, I felt safe during the process because I had been informed.
In this situation, they had to put me fully under with anesthesia. I was so grateful to trust our care team to help us make those decisions. And as I was falling asleep, I looked around at all the faces in the OR, knowing I was going to wake up everything was going to be fine.
Which it was. Maggie was born at 12:58 pm. I met her after surgery around 4:45 pm. She was safe, I was safe. Both our lives were saved that day, thanks to our incredible healthcare team. It was the scariest and most amazing day of our lives.
Gratitude in action
Nine months later, I knew I wanted to give back in some way. So, in March 2022, I joined St. Luke’s Perinatal Loss Workgroup as a volunteer photographer for grieving families experiencing the death of a baby.
It’s a beautiful thing for me to go full circle and help people going through bereavement and loss. Even though I may not have gone through the same thing, I can empathize with the grief they are going through. That loss, that grief, doesn’t go away. It morphs and changes and becomes a part of your story.
St. Luke’s provided us with exceptional care. I grew up going to St. Luke’s, but once I was old enough to make my healthcare decisions for myself, I felt it was important to go where care teams humanize us, with respect and empathy and compassion. Infertility is devastating on so many level – physically, emotionally, financially. To have care teams to make it all a little easier is everything.
Read more birth stories from moms like Amanda.