**Trigger Warning- This post talks about high-risk pregnancy & pregnancy loss and might be a sensitive issue for some readers**
The Truth and Reality of a Complicated Pregnancy
We as Moms will always remember the day we found out we were pregnant. With both kids, mine brought a different set of emotions but nonetheless I was happy and excited to begin this new journey. My pregnancy with my first born was pretty typical and I might dare even say easy because compared to my second pregnancy it was. So when I got pregnant with Elise I didn’t give a thought to the possibility that anything could be wrong. I was blissfully unaware that anything was wrong and nothing could prepare me for the complications that were to come.
When I had my first appointment to confirm my pregnancy I was excited and nervous. I have an auto-immune disease so I knew there would be a lengthy health screening. The doctor asked if I wanted to do an ultrasound just to check on everything but had advised me that because it was so early that I shouldn’t worry if she can’t find anything. But since I had an ultrasound with Xander this early I said yes. I quickly regretted that decision. The doctor couldn’t find the baby but assured me again that it could be that it was too early. That didn’t ease my mind at all. She scheduled an appointment for me to have another ultrasound in two weeks to give it some time and by then we should see something. It was the longest two weeks of my life. The thoughts consumed me that something was wrong or that I would lose this baby. I spent so much money on pregnancy tests just to reassure me that I was still pregnant. Well, that ultrasound appointment came and I got to see the “little bean” on the screen. I felt such a relief and was so glad this hurdle was over with and I could be happy and enjoy this pregnancy…or at least I thought I was.
This pregnancy was much different from my first from the beginning and one of the things that came on which I didn’t have before was morning sickness, except it was really all day sickness. At first, I thought it was manageable but then it got to the point I was spending more time in the bathroom at work than at my desk. It was all day long and I tried every natural remedy you could think. I bought all the ginger chews, ginger pops, ginger teas, you name it I tried it! When it got to the point where none of that worked and I could barely function I made an appointment with the doctor to be prescribed something. At that particular appointment, I met with the nurse practitioner who addressed my all day sickness and wrote me a prescription but then she did something that I am forever grateful for. She told me she was looking at my chart and saw that I have lupus. She went on to tell me that one patient they had who had lupus just delivered her baby the other day and how this lady previously had suffered from many miscarriages and couldn’t figure out why but they ran a series of blood work and determined there was an issue with one particular test and once they found it they were able to treat it and she was able to have this baby. Now I’m thinking “why are you telling me this lady?” She then asked me if I would be up for being tested for this particular blood work because I have lupus too and she said” I just feel like we should rule this out but if not that is ok too. It’s just something that came to my mind.” I really didn’t think twice about it because I was scared of anything happening to this baby so I said yes and had the blood test that day. A few days later I got a call that would change everything.
I was at work when the doctor called to tell me that something came up in the blood work and that she recommended I see a hematologist immediately and that they would get me an appointment today. I panicked and made the appointment for that afternoon. At the appointment the hematologist told me that my blood worked showed that I had what is called Protein S Deficiency. Protein S Deficiency is a type of blood clotting disorder. She explained to me the severity of it but that it was treatable with Heparin or Lovenox injections. I’ll never forget when she looked at me with that serious doctor look and said “you need to get these injections in you immediately and if I had one here I would give you one, but this can’t wait. I’m surprised you were able to make it this far without a loss.” Just when I was about to lose it then, she told me that with this disorder comes a high risk of losing the baby later on in pregnancy and that most experience loss during the second trimester(which I was about to enter). If you know me you know that I can put on the best poker face but after hearing this I fought back the tears and lost it in the car calling Mike and telling him to come home. It was at that very moment that I thought “I can’t lose this baby” and this fear that I would carry my entire pregnancy set in.
I had a team of doctors working with me throughout my pregnancy. I saw my regular OB and a high-risk doctor as well as the hematologist. I was going to the doctors every other week, then my high-risk doctor and OB weekly, and then seeing all three doctors weekly towards the end. I had ultrasounds so many times I lost count, all to make sure she was doing ok. There was a lot of risk for both myself and Elise that came along with this blood disorder and my auto-immune disease. Every appointment felt like I was holding my breath just praying for good news. My 20-week appointment (which I remembered brought so much joy when I was pregnant with Xander) brought fear and anxiety with Elise because there was such a high risk that there would be something wrong with her heart and possibly other issues (something they find very common in patients with both the blood clotting disorder and auto-immune disease that I have). But my little fighter proved them wrong.
The injections sucked and that’s putting it lightly but they saved me and my baby. Having to stick a huge need in my belly every single day (and twice a day for two months) never got easy. I am so thankful to have such a supportive husband who would do these injections for me. They were painful each and every time but when Mike would inject me I’d close my eyes and think of my baby girl and that gave me the courage to make it through. The injections left hideous bruises on my belly and made my hair fall out so much so that people would ask me if I got my haircut because it “looked shorter”. So that “pregnancy glow”, well between the constant throwing up affecting my teeth, hair loss, and completely bruised baby bump… I didn’t have it. With every appointment, Elise proved to be doing well and I was grateful. But this pregnancy left me with so much fear every single day until the moment she was in my arms that I didn’t get to enjoy it. I felt robbed and not in control of anything. It’s like being on a roller coaster just clenching to the handlebars, waiting for the ride to be over knowing you’re safe, that’s how I felt every appointment. I had to have an induction at 39 weeks because the risk of losing Elise if I carried to 40 weeks was so high. I had an induction with Xander it was not a good experience so this just added to my fears and anxiety. I lived day by day just holding on to my faith and the fact that Elise kept proving them wrong as my hope that all would be well, and it was. Elise came two days before her induction and on her own time and as healthy as can be! She was tiny but mighty and man oh man is that true to her personality now.
This picture was from my 20-week ultrasound, I love how she is flexing to show us how strong she is!
This picture gave me so much hope!
The Truth & Reality
All the hell I had to go through to get Elise here was worth it and I’d do it a million times over for her. Looking back on it now I wish I would’ve been more open to what I was going through so I wouldn’t have felt so alone. And that’s why I wanted to tell my story to provide some hope and support to others who may be going through something similar. The fact of the matter is that not all pregnancies are sunshine and rainbows. I was so naive to think so myself. In fact, there are so many women out there struggling and maybe it’s from loss or it’s from infertility or other complications, but the more we make ourselves aware to this the more we can hopefully help and understand others. These women are all around us. They could be your friend, neighbor, co-worker, or someone in your family… but sometimes they keep this pain to themselves and that’s ok too because some just aren’t ready to talk about it or want to share (that was true for me and my sister). The point is that as women who are close to us begin to start a family or grow their families, that we more than likely will know someone going through this heartache.
When I talked to my sister about this post and her personal experience with miscarriage and trouble conceiving I asked her if it was ok if I mentioned it and she said: “yes, this is something that needs to be talked about.” I learned from her how devastating a loss can be and how even after the loss you struggle with many emotions and fears going into the next pregnancy. And some things will be triggers such as hearing a seemingly healthy pregnant woman say how she “hates” being pregnant can feel like a kick in the gut for someone who is struggling to conceive or seeing pregnancy announcements after a loss or when struggling to conceive can be extremely hard. Now, this is not to say that these things shouldn’t be celebrated or that that person isn’t happy for the other one but it’s just the harsh reality so many women are living with that if you haven’t experienced loss or difficulty conceiving you wouldn’t even think of. I myself didn’t think about this until after my sister’s loss. I do believe in the power of us women being able to uplift and support each other during these times and although social media can have its ugly sides, it’s the sharing of stories like this and many others that can help others feel less alone. My sister had her rainbow baby, my adorable nephew and is now expecting her second, a baby girl this June! Hope and inspiring stories can be found all around us and I find that to be something extremely beautiful in times of heartache and pain.
What I have learned from my own health issues with pregnancy, and my sister and other close women to me who have gone through a loss,struggle to conceive, or high-risk pregnancies is that there is no love and no force on this earth that is stronger than a mother’s love and her strong will to fight for and protect her babies nor can this force be explained by words. If you’re a women reading this post then you know what I mean.
I hope and pray that anyone reading this post who is experiencing heartache or struggling will know that they are not alone and that there are many supportive women out there who will be there for you. I’m sending hugs your way and as always I’m just an email away…
Hope Anchor’s The Soul- Hebrews 6:19