Flashback to 2011-2013, what I would like to define as our most "emotionally challenging years" as a young couple. We were in the thick of trying to finish school, amidst a rigorous nursing program with clinical rotations and working full time as a CNA. Lance was busy waking up with the sun to mow lawns, grow his pest control business, work as a teachers assistant, finish his bachelors degree, and coach basketball. Not to mention we were in the process of building what we thought was going to be our "dream 'forever' home." In hindsight I see how having a baby probably wasn't the best "timing," but tell that to someone struggling with infertility and they might slap you in the face. We spent thousands of dollars, had dozens of tests and ultrasounds done, performed seven intrauterine inseminations, and shed hundreds of tears when it was all for not. Then our miracle happened and Bennett entered our lives.
You see, when you struggle with infertility it basically classically conditions you to be disappointed every time your period shows up, or a pregnancy test is negative, even when you aren't "trying" to get pregnant. You have overwhelming emotions of fear, anxiety, and frustration at even the thought of having to endure the struggle yet again.
Of course you know that just 4 short months after Bennett was born we got pregnant with Jillian and have been CRAZY busy with two kids just thirteen months apart.
We knew we wanted to space out a third child because physically, emotionally, and financially we just weren't quite ready to have 3 kids under 2 years old (as most people aren't).
As Jillian turned 1 year we made the plan that the fall/winter that Bennett would be turning 4 and Jillian would be turning 3 would be the "soonest ideal time" to have our 3rd baby. It would allow for me to be on maternity leave through basketball season (which was a life saver for scheduling with my work and basketball games my previous two maternity leaves).
So the time came where we were going to "start trying" and I became excited, anxious, nervous, and impatient. I took 4 pregnancy tests across a 2 week span with three of the 4 coming back as negative. I was extremely frustrated as I sat in disbelief. A 35 day cycle? This is what happened as we entered the 2 years of infertility with Bennett. Was I about to go through this all over again? More infertility? More stress and frustrations? I was literally emotionally crippled at the thought of not being able to get pregnant.
I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to either 1. be pregnant or 2. start my period so I could move out of this limbo stage I was sitting in.
I had made this video college for Lance as part of his Christmas present in hopes that I could tell him at the end that we were expecting, but as timing would have it I didn't get the BFP until after New Years.
Yay! We are pregnant!!
The news was exciting for just a few weeks before the morning sickness took all the fun out of being pregnant. I had gone from a very active, fun mom taking my kids to the gym 5 times a week and going on "fun trips" to the park, museum, aquarium, ect. to a blob on the couch that could barely get up to fix my kids breakfast. Some may say that is typical for the first trimester, but it was NOT typical for me. I had worked full time as a nurse through my other two pregnancies and had occasional moments of nausea, but never full blown, all day, "morning" sickness in addition to 4 weeks of serious neck pain. I went through almost $300 in pillows and a few chiropractors visits before it was finally resolved. The only days I could really pull myself were basketball game days medicated with Zofran.
Just as my first trimester ended and I started to feel like myself again it was short lived as my gestational hypertension started to reveal itself. With gestational hypertension the headaches also became more severe, like they are each others evil twin. Can't have one without the other. Starting at just 20 weeks gestation my diastolic (the bottom #) was consistently hitting in the 90's and occasionally hitting in the upper 90's to low 100's. I contacted my MD who advised anything >105 would require me to be on an antihypertensive medication (anything >110 is considered severe range). I had dealt with gestational hypertension with the end of Bennett's pregnancy and for half of Jillian's pregnancy so it wasn't new to me, but for some reason this time, this pregnancy, felt so different. My body from as early as 7 weeks was going on a roller coaster ride of anxiety and what some days felt like depression. I was irritable and quick to scream and yell at my kids and husband. I was easily frazzled by things that pre-pregnancy wouldn't have phased me. I was living mentally in a very lonely place, but just as I felt out of control I would see a light pull me up to the surface for a few days of normalcy, then dunk me back under. I failed to mention it to my MD because those times when I felt normal were the weeks I had an appointment, and I thought I have conquered the beast myself. As a L&D nurse I had my fair share of patients on anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications and the outcome was usually a very calm and almost sedative like newborn who had no respiratory drive to breath on their own. Combine that with a 37 week (or earlier) baby and I just felt total mom guilt for even thinking about getting on any medication to help me cope.
Finally at my 24 week appointment I vocalized my anxiety and was given a few options: medication, meditation, and me time. I decided to try some meditation, and be more vocal about needing me time and or date nights and the dark clouds were slowly dissipating. Then one Friday night as we were celebrating our friends birthday I got a severe headache. Once we got home I saw my pressures consistently in the 100's and took two headache pills (the type we give when you come into L&D for a headache) and monitored by blood pressure all night to make sure it was trending down. My stubbornness had gotten the best of me and I instead was triaging myself (playing nurse and patient) because I did not want to be at the hospital all night monitored. I did not want for them to tell me I would need hospital bedrest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I certainly didn't want them to tell me I would need to deliver a 24 1/2 week old baby (which was unlikely...). I just wanted to be ignorant, strong, and smart (I'm not sure how those things fit together... but thats what I wanted).
I felt better the next could of days only to go into a full blown panic attack the following Tuesday. My blood pressures were high 100's, even as high as 146/112. My head was throbbing, hands shaking, and uncontrollably sobbing. I knew my symptoms were anxiety related. I knew if I could just CALM DOWN my blood pressures would stabilize and I would be fine, but then my mind turned to this tiny 25 week old baby inside. Was it tolerating my anxiety? Was it getting enough oxygen from my "crappy" placenta?
I quickly packed up my kids, threw them in the car and made the journey to the hospital. The 30 minute drive there calmed me a little, but as soon as I walked in the doors and saw my former co-worked the water works started again. I moved into a triage room and waited for 20+ minutes before my nurse came in (of course I'd show up when they are drowning in patients). My first pressure was 120's/98 and from there trended down to normal blood pressures. My baby was active and had a beautiful tracing, and my headache subsided with an ice pack and some Fiorcet (the headache medicine).
Of course when you show up to labor and delivery with high-severe range blood pressures and your doctor finds out she brilliantly categorizes you as high risk and increases your monitoring tenfold. The next day I got a call from the nurse saying I would now need twice weekly non-stress tests, ever 1-2 week(s) lab draws, every 2 week dr. appointments, and monthly growth ultrasounds. That's a LOT of driving to the hospital, and all of the non-stress tests and ultrasounds are restricted to kids.
Bless my sweet ward/neighbors for stepping up and being willing to watch my kids as I go in for monitoring.
In addition, I've found a new love for yoga as its calmed my spirit and given me a sense of peace I have been missing this entire pregnancy. I've spent more time poolside with my kids and the vitamin D has helped immensely to drain their energy so they nap (haha) and overall made me feel a lot better.
I keep thinking about these next 9 weeks. To try and enjoy every minute I have with just Bennett and Jillian. To let them know they are loved and to soak up their spirits instead of being quick to anger. After all, they are only 2 1/2 and 3 1/2. I am preparing these next 9 week to taking care of myself, body, mind, and spirit. To know my limitations, to ask for help, to having a strong body capable of carrying this babe. I am striving to be more in tune with my health, responsible as a patient (those dang nurses are the most stubborn patients), and enjoying my two days a week where I get to listen to the sweet beating of this babes heartbeat and leave with the reassurance that it is safe and all is well. I'm excited for the day (hopefully 9 weeks from now and not sooner) that this sweet babe will be here. A little frightened by being outnumbered 3 to 2 with kids to parents, but so freaking excited to see Bennett and Jillian in a "big brother" "big sister" role to a new infant.
Here's to making it to a 37 week induction day!