BECOMING MAMA - EARLY SLIPS AND STUMBLES
I’m usually pretty good at keeping secrets, but the last few weeks I’ve been practically bursting to share our news - we’re having a BABY! We couldn’t be more excited and are totally over the moon about it! But let me tell you - it was not what I was expecting. Those first three months were really difficult and I felt like I was holding my breath the entire time - waiting for something to happen.
I’ve always wanted to be a mother. I’m a caregiver and a nurturer down to my core. It’s who I am and it’s also what drew me to david. Family means everything to us and we both knew that one day we wanted to experience parenthood together. But I didn’t expect we’d have so much difficulty starting a family. After going off the birth control pill, I suffered from Ammenorhea (no period) for 3+years, which was then followed by an irregular cycle. I would get my period one month and then it would disappear for 6-10 months. I took pregnancy tests occasionally and was always disappointed with a negative result. My OBGYN suggested a blood test to track my progesterone levels (an indicator of ovulation) so every two-three weeks I would get my blood tested. After a year and a half+, again the results were always the same - negative, I wasn’t ovulating. It was extremely disappointing. After a lot of discussion and consultation with my OBGYN, this summer I decided to take a medication to help me ovulate. As a natural health practitioner this wasn’t part of my “plan” but after a lot of of thinking/talking/journaling, I felt it was the right decision for me. Dave was starting an 8-month clinic rotation in a hospital 3 hours away from our home at the end of august, so we decided to take a little vacation up to our favourite cabin on Lake Superior to celebrate our 4-year anniversary and have some alone time before he moved away. We spent a blissful 4 days secluded in the woods on the water, without cell service - no internet, no distractions.
And then I had my accident. Late Friday night (our last night at the cabin) I fell down some stairs, breaking my fibula and tibia (in two places), requiring emergency care. I spent the weekend at the hospital hooked up to IV’s receiving pain meds, waiting for surgery to repair and rebuild my ankle. I was released on sunday and dave started work at that very same hospital the next day. Thankfully dave’s parents live nearby and took charge of my care and recovery. That tuesday it was time for my progesterone blood work. A stickler for following directions, I told dave’s mom, who not only happens to be a mid-wife, but is also the Chief of Obstetrics at the hospital. She took my blood that morning from the comfort of the couch (that was quickly becoming my new home). The next morning I went online to check my results and instead of seeing the usual 1.0, jumping off the screen in front of me was a 40.0! It was clear - for the first time in over a year of tracking, I had ovulated. I don’t know how to explain it, but while we were up at the cabin, I felt a change. Maybe it was intuition, I don’t know, I just felt different. A few days later, dave’s mom pulled out her kit and took my blood again - this time preforming an HCG test (looking for the presence of a hormone indicating pregnancy). I didn’t sleep. As soon as dave left for work the next day, I pulled up my results online and saw a positive result! I was in total disbelief. We continued (in secret) to check my blood every few days from the couch (over the first month+, HCG levels need to be doubling to show that pregnancy is progressing). The numbers were more than doubling and the results were clear - I was in fact pregnant!
I was excited and happy, but I was also so scared and guilty. There is a critical period early on in pregnancy, where the fetus is extremely fragile. And within that time, like THE WEEK of conception, I had experienced some serious trauma - a fall, numerous x-rays, pain killers, anesthesia, surgery. As someone who rarely takes any over-the-counter medications and questions everything I put into my body, this was OVERLOAD. How could my body possibly handle all this? How could a baby handle all this?! We had tried for so long, and now when I was finally pregnant, I had put myself at such a disadvantage and risk for problems. I cried, a lot. My mother-in-law talked to her colleges and told me that all the trauma would likely result in a miscarriage - early on. I waited about a week to tell dave the news, knowing he had a lot on his plate and was pretty overwhelmed already. Sure enough, when I told him, he immediately pulled out his phone and was worriedly scanning the screen. The medical student was searching for complications/risks to do with pregnancy and surgery/anesthesia/pain killers etc. I burst into tears and cried - hard. I told him I was already scared. I told him I already felt guilty. I told him I already knew I had likely fucked it all up. He was by my side immediately - consoling me, reassuring me, holding me. And he hasn’t stopped since. He’s been my rock. Partner first, doctor second. Sharing with him helped a lot. I didn’t feel so alone in it. Journaling helped too. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t still feel scared sometimes, but I’ve come to trust in the strength of my body and in babe.
Those weeks were physically tough - dealing with the aches, pains and fatigue of early pregnancy while recovering from an accident and surgery without any prescription or over-the-counter pain medications. I was uncomfortable, nauseas and had trouble sleeping. Thankfully it was temporary and I knew it would pass but I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally draining it would all be. I continued getting my blood tested every so often, just to put my mind at ease that things were progressing. Three weeks after surgery we traveled south for my brothers wedding and my mom was in charge of my care. I confided in her and was happy to have her support. I stayed there for a few weeks and then came back up north after thanksgiving. As the days slowly passed the reality of my situation started to sink in bringing another rollercoaster of emotions. I had imagined myself pregnant so many times but never thought I would be in the situation I was in. Immobile, dependant, bed-ridden and not even in my own home or bed! No - this was NOT how it was supposed to be. I should be in my home, making juices and clean meals, working out, taking my dog for hikes, getting fresh air and sunlight, practicing yoga, doing my morning meditations, living my cleanest, healthiest life! Instead I was couch hopping, laying on my back 24hrs a day, unable to make my own food and even bathe myself.
I was so grateful to be pregnant but also really upset. As a natural people-pleaser, it was hard for me to express this. I didn’t want people to worry or feel bad for me. I didn’t want to show I was sad and angry. And then one night, I found myself inconsolably crying alone in my temporary bedroom. Dave found me sobbing and patiently helped me talk through what I was feeling. I felt like SUCH a burden, so to compensate I felt I always had to go with the flow and was making a lot of compromises. Keeping my true thoughts and feelings in and bottling things up was making the situation worse and making me unhappy. I was sad. I was frustrated. I was irritated. I missed my independence. I didn’t feel like myself. All the things I had previously identified as/with - an active, healthy, caregiver, busy-bee, was no longer my current reality. And I had lost my voice. Realizing this and sharing this, helped enormously. I couldn’t change my situation. I couldn’t fix my leg and start walking. I couldn’t live in my house and take care of myself and my dog. But I could ask for help. And I could say how I felt and what I needed - whether it be a ride to the health food store or just some time alone. And it was OK for me to be pissed off and frustrated. I didn’t have to pretend to be happy all the time. That helped BIG time. So did more journaling, talking and meditating. About 6 weeks post-surgery I got the OK from the surgeon to start physio and weight baring exercises - this was a huge game changer. I made it my job to work on rehabilitating my leg/ankle. I had something to work towards and work at - a goal! And man was I motivated! Laying still for weeks was hard and I was so happy I could move my body again - my mind and spirit needed it too.
Now don’t get me wrong, fast forward to now, 4 months pregnant, 3.5 months post-surgery and I’m still not walking on my own or living in my own home. At my last follow-up with my surgeon I was told that even though my fractures and breaks are healing something else is wrong and slowing down my progress. I’m suffering from something known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a chronic pain disorder of the nervous system. Yet another obstacle. Another challenge. There’s no quick fix and it’s looking like the second trimester isn’t going to be ‘a walk in the park’ either. I still get frustrated and have a pity cry every once in a while, but every day I’m getting stronger and feel more in tune with myself and babe. And those are the things worth focusing on xx