Mamas on Bedrest: Why I’m so thankful I had my 2 high risk pregnancies

November 24th, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Mamas!

Thanksgiving is upon us and Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa are not far behind!

I know that many of you will spend these holidays on bed rest and that is a bummer to say the least. I wasn’t on bed rest during the holidays with either of my pregnancies, but was on restricted activity with my son so I do have a bit of an idea of what you are going through.

For me, the more major complications came when I was delivering, especially with my daughter. For those of you who know my story, you know that I bled heavily after I delivered my daughter. (They didn’t write hemorrhage in my chart as technically I didn’t bleed enough to have hemorrhaged. Go figure!) After my daughter was delivered via emergency c-section at 36 weeks and 6 days, she was whisked away to the nursery because she was having trouble breathing and had fluid on her lungs. Meanwhile my uterus was atonic. It wasn’t contracting and was sluggish and spewing blood like a punctured water balloon. Once my daughter was delivered, all hell broke loose in the delivery suite! Staff members started walking briskly hither and yon and there was a steady clang as new instruments were dumped onto the operating tray from their sterile packages. The former chatter that had been going on as my daughter was being delivered ceased. The room became eerily silent and from over the blue veil, I could see the very intent and focused eyes of my doctor as she contemplated what she needed to do and gave orders.

For a while, things didn’t go very well. Every time she tried to stitch up my uterus, blood shot upward like Old Faithful Geyser. As I laid there, I thought, “I can’t believe that after all I went through to have this baby, I may not make it to raise her.”  I had had surgery to remove uterine fibroids prior to becoming pregnant with my daughter because I had had a miscarriage and they thought that the fibroids were the cause. I had taken progesterone prior to that surgery and had blown up like a ballon. But the surgery went well and I was pregnant 3 weeks later.  However, by 6 weeks of pregnancy, I was sick as a dog and could not hold down a thing so I stopped eating. As time went on, I was able to eat about 10 things; applesauce, ginger ale, hot dogs, oatmeal, apples…but as late as 32 weeks, I had only gained 10 lbs. I felt sick the entire 9 months and didn’t get relief until the day after my daughter was born.

The intense nausea wasn’t the only problem. At about 14 weeks, I began spotting. Panic set in as I feared the worse-I was losing another baby. My OB did a thorough check and we never did find out why I was spotting, but it eventually stopped. At about 20 weeks, I started having cramping. I told my OB who said they were Braxton Hicks. This being my first pregnancy, I trusted what she said and kept going. But she did begin to mention bed rest and I knew that this wasn’t a good sign. I talked this over with my then husband who was traveling internationally for work. I also alerted my mother and mother in law to see if they could fly in to help me out. But at subsequent office visits my daugther was quiet so we held off on bed rest (Despite the fact that she seemed to be always looking for the exit!!) I was forbidden from traveling outside of Austin at 28 weeks and just kind of laid around after that. I went into active labor at 36 week 6 days and my daugther was coming fast so I was admitted and she was delivered.

Things went much better for my daughter and I once she was on the outside. I got pregnant 2 years later and lost that pregnancy at 9 weeks. Devastation. I really wanted another baby, but I was 39 and both my OB and husband were thinking I had better quit while I was ahead! After grieving the loss of this pregnancy for 9 months, I made a pact with my husband that whatever was in progress when I turned 4o we’d go with it. And if I was pregnant and lost that child, We’d stop. Well, my son was born healthy and hefty at 7lbs 2 oz at 39 weeks via c-section. I was 40 years and 4 months old when I gave birth to him! While his pregnancy and delivery were much less complicated, I most certainly did not bounce back after having him. In fact, I still felt pretty crappy 3 years after I had him! After checking blood work, physical exams and saliva tests, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism-finally. Once my thyroid hormone was replaced, I felt much better. I never really returned to my pre-pregnancy state and have been since diagnosed with perimenopause. I have since settled into this “new normal”.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because these pregnancies changed me. They changed my outlook on life as a clinician and as a woman. I was a physician assistant prior to getting married and having babies and my entire demeanor had been detatched and matter of fact. It’s how I had been trained. “Don’t get too emotionally attached to your patients,” I was told by attending physician after attending physician at Duke University Medical Center where I did my PA training. Oh how this changed as I lay on the table, watching my own blood spew upwards! I had been trained to use words and phrases like, “You’ll experience some discomfort after the c-section.” Discomfort my a–! I was in major pain! And as for “being a bit emotional” from the hormones-I was a raging BITCH! I vaccerated between fear and panic and intense melancholy. Looking back, I probably had antepartum depression with my daughter and I definitely had post partum depression after I miscarried between pregnancies. Neither was diagnosed and quite frankly, no one ever asked me how I was doing emotionally. Looking back I am amazed that I came through those years as “sane” as I am (sic). But after each pregnancy, I vowed that no other woman would have to go through what I was going through-and at the very least, she wouldn’t have to do it alone as I did.

I am thankful for my pregnancy experiences. I don’t know if I would have been as thankful a mom if I had breezed through pregnancy. I was on a mission to “get it done”, and pregnancy and childbearing are so much more that checking something off a “to do” list. Arrogantly, I had seen women labor and struggle through pregnancy and often thought, “Geez, she’s making such a big deal out of something so natural!” Oh Yeah, the arrogance of ignorance!!! It’s so easy to be caviler when you’re not the one on the table doing the work! And it’s because I did lay on the table and truly believed that I would die without holding my daughter that I feel so deeply for you all. They tell us not to feel in our medical training, but I just can’t imagine how clinicians are expected to care otherwise? You have to feel to care.

This Thanksgiving, you may not feel so thankful for being on bed rest and that’s okay. But one day down the road, you’ll be able to look back and see the blessing in this time. For me, it’s Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. I never would have started this service had I not so wanted it for myself when I was “going through”. I am so thankful for all of you mamas who stop by and allow me the great honor of being a little bitty part of your lives in one of the most important times in your lives. I stand with you and I stand for you and I am here because I was once where you are now. Happy Thanksgiving and may you all be richly blessed!

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