I am so happy to announce the birth of our little girl Ava. She is now three months old. If you’ve been following along you may be wondering “Why did you not post about your pregnancy at all?” There were a lot of reasons I took a break from blogging after I found out I was pregnant. The main reason I took a break from blogging was to focus on being in the moment with my pregnancy. I reduced as many stressors as possible in order to be physically and mentally as well as possible. But I am very excited to get back into blogging again.
In my previous post you may remember I was talking with a doctor out of state about the possibility of Mini IVF out of state, as well as his keto diet he suggested to help me become more fertile. I was able to lose about 20 pounds doing intermittent fasting and avoiding junk food. I think losing weight helped me, but what I think helped me conceive more was that I had previously gotten surgery to correct my septate uterus and uterine scarring from Asherman’s Syndrome. I was born with a septate uterus which could have contributed to my previous miscarriages. I am so thankful for that doctor who was trained well enough to spot on the HSG Xray image when all my other doctors could not.
I will admit this pregnancy was really hard on me emotionally. I was experiencing a lot of anxiety because I was so used to every pregnancy turning into a miscarriage. Throughout most of my pregnancy I felt as if I was always waiting for something bad to happen, because that’s all I ever knew with pregnancy. I miscarried six times before and I also had a failed embryo transfer, so in total I consider that to be seven heartbreaking losses of children I could have had. I’ve had a hard time wrapping my brain around the amount of loss I’ve experienced over these past six years, and I think it’s something that is a process. I’ll never “get over it” but rather I will learn to live and cope with it better over the years.
So how did this pregnancy go? As I mentioned, I experienced a lot of anxiety, which I feel was normal considering all the loss I experienced before. I also had some scares during my pregnancy. I have high blood pressure normally when I’m not pregnant, but oddly enough my blood pressure dipped so low during my pregnancy I almost fainted about half a dozen times during my second trimester. I later learned that for many women blood pressure dips low in the second trimester. My doctor advised me to stop taking my blood pressure medicine because of this and I started to feel better. She told me that my blood pressure would probably go up again in my third trimester, which it did.
I had a few other scares. Because of my blood pressure issues I was told to look out for signs of preeclampsia. At one point my face swelled up on one side and I was worried it was preeclampsia so I called my doctor and they recommended I go to the hospital. The hospital determined it was a blocked salivary glad. They told me to eat sour candy to get me to salivate more and to reduce the swelling. That tops the weirdest doctor recommendation I’ve ever received but it actually worked. I was chewing on different sour candies and my face went back to normal.
The biggest scare I had during this pregnancy was that I was having contractions at work and felt really, really sick. It turns out I got Norovirus from my husband, who had been sick just before me. I was having full-on contractions, seven minutes apart, and I was only in my second trimester. I was terrified of losing this baby. The Norovirus made me so sick from all of the throwing up I was doing that it actually triggered the contractions and left me extremely dehydrated because I could not even keep down any water. I decided I had to go to the hospital for help at that point. They hooked me up to an IVF and gave me nausea medicine. Thank God I started to feel better. I was in the hospital for several days until I went home. Unfortunately Mom got Norovirus too after I had it. We think that maybe my husband first got the Norovirus from a food order he got, which caused all of us to get sick. I’m so thankful to the hospital for taking good care of me during such a scary time.
All throughout my pregnancy I had to give myself a shot twice per day for my blood clotting disorder MTHFR. I was used to doing belly shots (not the belly shots you might do in a bar…haha) during IVF rounds in the past. I was on Lovenox for most of my pregnancy and then near the end of my pregnancy I was taking heparin shots. I found out soon after I started the heparin shots that I was really lucky to get them when I did because there was a heparin shortage due to supply chain issues relating to COVID. I saw so many posts in different Facebook groups about how women were unable to get the heparin they needed during their pregnancy. I was grateful that I had the exact amount I needed to get by until my induction date.
I was scheduled to be induced one day before my due date. I was induced due to my blood pressure and blood clotting disorder, so they could monitor the whole labor and delivery process. I needed careful monitoring because hemorrhaging could happen, or my blood pressure could have gone too high or low in my case.
The birth itself started off not too bad, I was having contractions I didn’t even feel but the monitors were picking up. But then the contractions became really extreme. I told the nurse that I was ready for my epidural. She reassured me that the anesthesiologist was in the next room and would be helping me with my epidural shortly. But “shortly” was not enough time. I began having extreme contractions, to the point that I was screaming in pain “Something isn’t right! Help me!” I was so scared and in such pain that the nurses called my doctor in to check me again.
I went from 1cm dilated to giving birth in just under 2 hours. I had no epidural either because there was not enough time. Before I knew it the doctor was at my feet telling me that I needed to push. It was an extremely fast birth and the pain was so immense. It was not at all how I though my birth would be. I thought it would be a long drawn out process like my Mom said her birth was with me. The only thing I was processing in my birth was the pain.
But I was reassured by my nurse and doctor that my baby girl was okay, I felt so relieved. When I was able to feel the weight of my baby girl on my chest after she was brought into this world it was such an amazing feeling, words can’t describe. Before I knew it, my husband was holding up his phone taking a picture of the three of us. My first picture with my baby is of her tiny hand wrapped around my finger. He snapped a few more pictures to document the very special first moments with our daughter.
Shortly after the joy we felt, there was concern for a lesion they found on my daughter’s back. After several days in the maternity ward the lesion was getting worse and they were concerned that it might be related to something going on with her spine. I was an absolute mess with my emotions, thinking that my baby girl might have serious spine issues. The doctors had to transfer her to the NICU to monitor the issue with her back as well as the concern they had for her low-birth weight. At one point in the NICU her weight dipped down to a tiny 4 pounds, 13 ounces.
I have never cried so many times in my life. I was crying all the time, worried sick for my baby. But after about one week in the NICU her mysterious lesion was determined to not be spine related, and there was no other medical explanation other than maybe it was trauma from the birth, possibly her back was pushing up against a pelvic bone they thought. They had ran so many labs and tests on her that that was the only explanation they came up with. I was just relieved it wasn’t spinal related.
I was so happy when her weight went up again too. She was back to her birth weight of 5 pounds, 2 ounces by the time we left the hospital. She was little, the size of a premie baby, but she was considered “term” and normal otherwise. I was glad to put the NICU in my review mirror and to now focus on being a new Mom on my own. I was so thankful to all the NICU nurses who helped me learn how to take care of my fragile little girl. With their help I felt more confident that I could take her home, without all of the wires she had been hooked up to most of the time at the hospital.
The next chapter of our story was “new parenthood,” and this too was also incredibly hard. I became so incredibly sleep deprived that I was starting to unravel physically and emotionally. I had insomnia so bad that I began having auditory hallucinations. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I got help with medication while I was in the hospital so that I could get back on my feet.
Thankfully I had a lot of precautions put in place ahead of time, preparing for the possibility of postpartum depression. Thankfully the hospital helped me to get on the right medication to reduce the voices down. I am also talking with a therapist to help me process everything.
This is the point in my story where I want to stop and talk directly to my readers about the stigma of maternal mental health. If you have any concerns at all about your mental health during or after pregnancy, get help from a therapist, doctor, and even hospital if you need it. You can even call a crisis line or your health insurance’s nurse hotline. Reach out for help from people you trust. Do anything and everything to get help and do not keep it to yourself. The stronger your support system the more likely you will get back on your feet more quickly. There is no shame in getting help, because getting help will also benefit your baby. Don’t suffer in silence.
So as you can tell my pregnancy story, birth story, and new parent story is full of many trials along the way. But through all the chaos, I am so happy to have our little girl here with us today. She is growing well and is a normal weight. She is a nice chunky baby who loves to laugh at daddy’s funny faces and enjoys cuddling in mommy’s arms. My baby girl’s smile makes everything absolutely worth it.