I am always hearing about mothers that loved pregnancy, had easy child birth experiences, or whose babies were "such sweet angels" throughout infancy. I have also seen criticism stating that moms who had c-sections did not really "give birth" to their children or that moms that did not breast feed harmed their children's nutrition. Any one of these things can really bring down a new mom's confidence. When dealing with all of the emotions and hormone changes that come along with having a baby, this blow to their self-confidence could add on to issues with post-partum anxiety or depression.
Have no fear!
This blog post will not be one of those "perfect mom" posts. It will be real. It might seem scary - but it does have a happy ending, I promise!
I absolutely HATED being pregnant! I was not glowing or taking fun bump pictures that compared my belly to fruit. I did not feel motivated to "nest" and turn my home into the perfect baby sanctuary.
I suffer from a number of chronic illnesses and am on and off of different medications constantly. With all of the issues, I am acutely aware of any changes or strange feelings in my body. Therefore, I knew pretty early on that I was pregnant. I felt WEIRD! The doctor really did not know what had prompted me to take a pregnancy test because I was on birth control and rarely had a period. However, I just felt off and the first thing I thought to do was to take a pregnancy test (and then take another one, just to be sure). Imagine my shock when I found out that I really was pregnant. I immediately had to go off of a number of medications to ensure the safety of my child and was marked "high-risk" due to my medical conditions.
I suffered from what I call "all day and night sickness" throughout most of my pregnancy. Everything made me sick to my stomach and I ended up on 2 anti-nausea medications. The doctor repeatedly told me that I had to eat for the sake of my baby. One would think I could have lost some weight, but that didn't happen.
Not long into my pregnancy, my blood pressure started to slowly trend upward. The doctor told me to walk as much as possible in an attempt to combat this naturally. Of course, this did not work and I was soon put onto a blood pressure medication. Unfortunately, we discovered that I am severely allergic to one type of BP meds. As my pregnancy went on, the meds that I was able to take had to be increased on a number of occasions and it wasn't long before I was officially diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.
Throughout my pregnancy, I dealt with other medical issues as well. I had a severe gallbladder attack, which resulted in having my gallbladder removed a few months after I had my daughter. I fell on numerous occasions. I got random back spasms and abdominal pain from stretching.
As my blood pressure rose and my body refused to cooperate, I was put onto partial and eventually total bed rest. Luckily, I had a very understanding boss and was able to work from home. I was even on bed rest for my baby shower, so I had to sit with my feet up the whole time, couldn't wear cute clothes because nothing fit, and was all-around miserable.
On April 28, 2015, a month before my due date, I woke up to the worst swelling I have ever seen. My face was so swollen, I did not look human. My eyes were nearly swollen shut. I was having daily non-stress tests, so we headed to my doctor's office for my appointment. The nurses were shocked at my looks and hooked me up to the machines right away. My BP was so high, they sent me right to the hospital for a 24 hour monitor. In that time, once an anesthesiologist was finally able to find a vein to start an IV (I was SUPER swollen), they began pumping me full of magnesium and other things to bring my BP down - which did not work. They also monitored my fluid output - which was negligible.
After 15 hours in the hospital, most of which I was not allowed to eat because they did not want anything to impact my situation, my doctor decided it was time for an emergency c-section. Things moved quickly and within two hours from the time they told me to get ready, I was headed to the operating room. Considering how sick I was, they had me strapped to the table with so many wires and machines, it was scary. When they gave me the numbing shot, I puked in my hair (which did not get washed out for a few days....YUCK!).
On April 29, 2015, at 8:06 a.m., my beautiful daughter was born. Although she was a preemie, the doctors said that my body was under so much stress that her lungs were fully developed when she was born. She was slightly jaundiced, but otherwise, so perfect.
On the other hand, I was not so perfect. My BP continued to spike and I remained strapped to a bunch of wires. I did not get to hold my baby until 7 p.m. that day! Can you imagine laying in bed, miserable, and watching your entire family pass around your beautiful new baby? Finally, my sister noticed how sad I was and forced everyone out of the room and held my daughter up to my chest so that I could bond with her. It was the most precious moment, finally getting to really see and touch this beautiful, real-life Disney Princess that lived inside of me for the last several months.
I was in the hospital for about a week before they let me go home because they could not get my BP under control. The doctor told me later that the day I was admitted to the hospital, I had toxemia that turned to HELLP Syndrome. This means that my body had started shutting down. My liver and kidneys lost function and my red blood cells were dying. When I had my c-section, I was about 12 hours from dying and they were worried about me having a stroke when they started the surgery because my BP was SO high. By the grace of God and the power of prayer, I survived that and my daughter was born without the many issues that are often associated with preemie babies.
I continued to struggle with my blood pressure for months after giving birth. My doctor told me that this would be something I would likely deal with for the rest of my life and that if I ever got pregnant again, there was a very high possibility that I would go through the same issues again (and that they would happen sooner in the pregnancy). Considering how much I hated being pregnant, no one needed to convince me to not have any more children. Luckily, my blood pressure is no longer an issue and I do not need to take medication for it, thanks in large part to support I receive from essential oils.