Monday, June 26, 2017

On Pregnancy, the Second Time Around

     When I was pregnant with our first child, I loved it. Sure, not every minute of it was wonderful, but it was a really positive experience overall. I didn’t have excessive nausea, my fibromyalgia pain was well controlled, and I enjoyed being pregnant. There is something wonderous about growing a human in your body. It’s amazing to watch your body change drastically, to feel the baby move, and to anticipate the birth of a child. You know that addition to your family will change your life forever.

     Fast forward almost two years, and we were ready to think about having another baby. I was excited. I will admit, I was feeling some ‘baby fever’ while watching my first son turn into a little boy more and more every day. I was also really excited about the possibility of hormones helping my pain once again. While I had a good supply of milk to breastfeed my first, my hormones had continued to help me. Due to lack of supply, I weaned my firstborn at about 18 months, but my hormones had helped less and less after the first year.

     So, in July, we got pregnant. We have been blessed that it really was that easy for us, twice. I stopped taking my pain medicine, Lyrica (not approved for pregnancy/breastfeeding), and waited. I hoped that my hormones would kick in for me sooner rather than later, but I kept waiting. I held onto hope longer than I care to admit, but eventually I had to come to the conclusion that this time, my hormones were not going to ‘fix’ my fibromyalgia. That was hard.

     Not only did I have more unpredictable (and therefore less manageable) morning sickness, but I felt tired and achy, in more pain than before without Lyrica on board. So, I made it through first trimester and started to feel a bit better, though I had to adjust to my new normal level of pain.

     In November, we found out we were having a second boy. I will admit that I was caught offguard by that! I felt like this pregnancy had been so completely different from my first that there was no way that we could be having another boy. Andrew and I had both been expecting to hear it was a girl, so that was certainly a mental adjustment. 

     Not long after that, I ran into the next hurdle of this more difficult pregnancy: migraines. I started having such frequent migraines, some of which lasted for more than 24 hours. It was miserable. Then, they let up for awhile, and I thought maybe they’d passed. 

     I started back to work at a second job (with my previous employer), so that I was working four shifts every other week. It was a struggle to find the energy to work three nights a week, let alone four. In December, I faced my next major hurdle.

     One night at work, I was pulling a patient up in the bed, working with a coworker. The patient was unable to help, and with the size of my belly, I couldn’t get close enough to the bed. I also couldn’t get close enough to the head of the bed to effectively pull. Instead of asking for help, I stupidly miscalculated that I could handle it. The next day that I was off of work, I woke up and couldn’t stand up. I had tweaked my low back (sciatic nerve) so badly that I couldn’t bear weight. I spent the next six hours in bed laying on an ice pack, and immediately, desperately, tried to find solutions. I bought lidocaine patches and a TENS unit, found a chiropractor, and tried a support belt.

     For over a month, I dealt with all my normal pain, the discomforts of a third trimester pregnancy belly, and an injured sciatic nerve. Weeks went by in which I didn’t have the ability to lift my left leg more than a foot off the ground. 

     Finally, in January, I was able to see a chiropractic practice that specializes in pregnancy. I was so incredibly grateful that their interventions did eventually help.

     Also in January, I got to the point that I couldn’t handle everything anymore. I was beyond stressed by working two jobs, being pregnant, and dealing with so much pain. I was anxious and depressed, and got to the point where I had the kinds of thoughts you never want to say out loud. I knew I needed help. After having a massive emotional meltdown, I went to my midwife and started taking an antidepressant. Once I was at therapeutic levels, I felt like a different person. I still had a lot of stressors in my life, certainly, but I was not so overwhelmed by my life and crippled by anxiety.

     In February and March, I started to move forward, only to face the next battle of this pregnancy: preterm contractions. I began to have consistent contractions to varying levels of discomfort, starting at 30 weeks. I went to the hospital to be observed and treated five times by the end, and had at least a couple of other incidences besides. 

     When I was 35 weeks pregnant, I had contractions that led to cervical change, officially considered preterm labor. I got two doses of steroids after the medication to stop my contractions was ineffective, and we braced to have a baby a little too early. 

     I stopped working, tried to take it easy, and we prayed that our baby boy would hold out awhile longer, until it was safer. At the same time, I was more and more ready to be done being pregnant! Thankfully, my body let him continue baking for another two weeks. As I turned 37 weeks, I noticed various signs (other than the contractions that had been constant for too long) that my body was ready. I stopped taking it easy, and started thinking about how to trigger labor. I was really ready to be done being pregnant. 

See Simon's Birth Story for the rest of the story...

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