Vanessa Fernandez Arango was so ecstatic when she became pregnant through IVF that she started sharing her story through social media. This meant that virtually every twist and turn of her tale – even its tragic end – would play out for the world to see.
And when Arango, a native of Bilbao, Spain, met her husband, Jonathan Garcia, in 2010, it was on a memorable day. Spain had just won the soccer World Cup, and that joyous occasion would mark the start of the couple’s six-year courtship.
Then Arango and Garcia married on June 4, 2016. And, two years after they had tied the knot, Arango wrote on Instagram that their anniversary was “a very special day” and that time had “flown by” for the loved-up pair.
But the couple’s wedded bliss was marred by their ongoing struggle with fertility. Arango had experienced two ectopic pregnancies, which occur when a fertilized egg settles outside of the uterus. This therefore means that the egg cannot develop into a baby, nor will it be possible to save the pregnancy. In the United States, around one in every 50 pregnancies is ectopic.
Complications from Arango’s ectopic pregnancies meant that she also lost her fallopian tubes. Also known as oviducts, these structures shuttle eggs from the ovary to the uterus. They are vital to a pregnancy in that they bring the fertilized egg to the womb, where it then attaches and grows into a fetus.
In spite of this setback, medicinal advances gave Arango and her husband an opportunity to conceive without her fallopian tubes. She began the process of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), through which doctors were able to harvest multiple healthy, mature eggs and fertilize them in a laboratory setting.
Then, after an embryo – or an egg that had been successfully fertilized – had been created, doctors placed it into Arango’s womb. After that, it would be a waiting game for her and Garcia, as only time would tell if the embryo had attached and begun to develop.
However, on May 8, 2018, Arango and Garcia were ready to share their news with the world: they were having a baby. And so the expectant mom posted an image of her positive pregnancy test on her Instagram page, which she accompanied with a touching caption about the couple’s struggle to conceive.
“The beginning of the end. The beginning of feeling life and the end of suffering. So here begins our story, our story with a happy ending,” Arango wrote. From there, she began sharing images of all aspects of her pregnancy – from her ultrasounds to the adorable clothes that she had picked out for the baby.
Soon, the Instagram account had racked up more than 5,000 followers who kept track of Arango’s developments. Perhaps her success was a ray of hope for the many others undergoing the same treatment; according to a report released in 2017 by the U.S. Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology, 61,740 U.S. babies were born through IVF in 2012.
And the attention that the couple’s pregnancy had been receiving was precisely what Arango had wanted, according to her husband. In a September 2018 interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Garcia claimed that his wife had started the account to help women who were going through a similar situation to the couple.
But, tragically, the story would not end in the way that Arango, Garcia and their social media followers had hoped. Instead, in early September 2018, when she was 38 weeks pregnant, Arango started to eat breakfast. She hadn’t been feeling very well – and then she fainted.
An ambulance then brought the expectant mother and her husband to the hospital, where doctors made the decision to perform an emergency cesarean. Then, during the surgery to deliver her baby, Arango suffered a cardiac arrest.
It’s rare for a mother to go into cardiac arrest during a C-section. The procedure is common, after all, and it’s often a life-saving method of delivery in emergency situations. Usually, in fact, the biggest risks to a woman having undergone a cesarean are infection, hemorrhaging or blood clots.
Yet Arango’s case was severe. Devastatingly, she did not survive the procedure – and her baby, a boy, was not faring well either. It fell to her husband, then, to share the news with those who had followed the pregnancy online from the start.
Garcia posted on Twitter, “They had to do an emergency C-section. The baby is in very serious condition in the ICU, and my wife has suffered a cardiac arrest that she could not overcome.” Shortly thereafter, he wrote, “You will understand that this account will now close.”
And for Garcia, the depth of his loss was hard to express. Speaking to El Mundo, he said, “I do not have enough words to describe how wonderful [Arango] was. She was unique [as] a best friend, daughter, companion [and] wife, and I’m sure she would have been a great mother.”
Amid all the tragedy however, there was one silver lining: Garcia’s newborn son, named Alvaro, had survived. And on September 6, the new father shared, “I can finally get something positive. Alvaro is recovering little by little.”
Then, eventually, baby Alvaro was healthy enough to head home with his father. And, together, they snapped a family picture – complete with their pet dog. The father of the clan wrote alongside the snap on Instagram, “Here you have our first family photo, missing the fourth member of the family who watches from the sky.”
With his new normal in place, Garcia decided not to close his wife’s Instagram account. Instead, he vowed to use the platform to continue her mission to help others who struggled to have babies of their own. To this end, he wrote, “I want you to know I will continue with her dream of helping other couples.”