Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Scary Pregnancy Stuff - Part 2

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[EDIT: Be warned this post discusses a lot of blood.]

So, at 6 weeks I at least knew that I was cleared of an ectopic pregnancy. Thank goodness.

Then, as things progressed, I had all the awful physical side effects as listed in one of my previous posts. But the good ol' scary question marks have reared their ugly heads twice more now. instance number one is as follows:

When I went in for the anatomy scan at 21 weeks, they found I had a Grade 3 placenta previa. That means the placenta is being a dick and is sitting at the opening of the cervix. While your eyes just glazed over there, I can sum that up to mean that if blood vessels rip there and/or shit doesn't move out of the way on its own, I'm in big trouble. You can hemorrhage out and in extreme cases, Mom can die within 10 minutes from blood loss. Things get pretty grave for baby, too. Your body still keeps pumping blood to the placenta to help the baby, but it's essentially like a garden hose just spraying out of control with the tap turned to full blast.

If they know you have it, but you don't go into early labour, your doc will book a planned C-section so no one dies and bleeds out. If you go into early labour, or you have placental abruption, shit goes bad fast and an emergency C-section is necessary to save mom's life.

I discovered that there were risk factors that increased my chances of having placenta previa. They include: 
  • Being old as fuck while pregnant (that's me, so yep, check)
  • Having had a baby already (here's lookin' at you Baby D, check)
  • Previously having a D&C (had that 12 days after delivering Baby D, check)
  • Previous scarring in the uterus (likely from infection after Baby D, check)
  • Late implantation of the fertilized egg (seems that way based on dates, so check)
  • Cocaine use (wait. No. Goddamnit I never have any fun.)

And while it often CAN self-correct, and you assume that description is a worst case scenario that likely never happens, I can tell you that I sat with my sister's legs elevated on my shoulders as she bled out on her bedroom floor in this exact scenario while pregnant with her second child. It was utterly fucking terrifying. And there was nothing we could do for her but hope the ambulance would arrive soon and somehow fix things. 

I remember chatting with my 2 year old niece at the time, pretending EVERYTHING WAS NORMAL and okey dokey so she wouldn't feel scared, while her Dad was on the phone with 911 running all over the house trying to find my sister's health card. It was surreal as my sister went in and out of consciousness. It felt like everything was moving in slow motion. I felt terrible that I was acting so nonchalant with my sister essentially dying on the floor behind me. I was just so determined not to let my niece see how dire the situation was. 

I eventually took her out to the backyard to play on the swings before the EMT technicians came in, until her Mommy was in the ambulance. We stayed out until it was dark. I vividly remember the ambulance lights flashing in the night sky from the driveway out front. I had to wait until they pulled away to go back into the house. And my God, all the blood. It was everywhere. The bedroom, the hallway and all down the stairs. And they would have taken her out by stretcher... so, WTF.

I don't remember putting my niece to bed, but I did, then I began sopping up the blood in a kind of numb state. We didn't all have cell phones then. I couldn't text or call anywhere for an update. I remember her neighbour came over and asked what was going on, as she proceeded to tell me it was God's will, blah blah blah as I wiped up pool after pool of blood. My sister was only 34 weeks pregnant so it was not a good situation.

They survived. She needed a blood transfusion. Her baby had to go to a specialized hospital. They were both so very close to dying. We later met up with the EMT to attended to her that night and heard even more horrifying details of what happened and just how close we were to losing her.

So as soon as I heard that I had previa, I have been on edge and afraid. In BC, where I live, they don't even consider it an issue until a scan confirms it is still present at 32 weeks - OR - you have bleeding (or a "sentinel" bleed which is like a warning that shit isn't quite right) at some point before that. Relatives (who are doctors) in another province were aghast that I wasn't being followed before that with regular ultrasounds with an obstetrician and that I wasn't put on pelvic rest, either. (No exercise, heavy lifting, sexy time, etc).

Apparently, as the uterus stretches and grows as you get farther along, the placenta can eventually move up and not be in the way. It's clinically insignificant what it's doing before 32 weeks, because the body won't have enough room for it to self-correct before then. So extra ultrasounds may show things improving a bit, or may not, but it doesn't really matter until further down the line. Makes sense, but it definitely not comforting to say the least.

I can tell you that it is a loooooong wait between 21 and 32 weeks. I still have almost three weeks until this scan. Until then, I can't fly, can't be too far from the hospital, can't do road trips, all that, in case I start to bleed. I continued doing spin classes, being careful not to slam my junk down hard on the seat or anything (since my midwives said to keep exercising as normal).

My body totally gave up on exercise just after 24 weeks. The anemia, sciatica and hip/butt pain have made it totally impossible. In the last four days just walking 20 feet I have almost passed out three times. No joke.

That can be attributed to my anemia. My levels are brutal. I am supposed to be getting an IV iron infusion very soon. It also carries risks, and can result in anaphylactic shock or severe allergic reaction. It's scary, I'm scared, but my levels are dropping too fast and my body is not tolerating the oral pills or liquids. Further that, if I DO get a sentinel bleed, or have previa that doesn't resolve, the already low blood and iron levels can mean an even more dangerous situation for me. So, fingers crossed that my body accepts the iron IV with little to no side effects, and I can carry on with this pregnancy hopefully better off and not scared to move, walk or drive.

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Monday, March 5, 2018

My Scary Pregnancy Stuff - Part 1

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I am a blob.

A pregnant, dizzy, pukey blob.

I've been hesitant to write anything here because none of it is particularly enjoyable or positive. But then again, this blog has been a useful outlet for me over the years so to not write is essentially defeating the purpose. Derp.

I wrote my last post around the difficulties I'm having with being pregnant. The plot has thickened further so I might as well keep going with it. Let's take a look back to see where my mind was and where it is at now.

If we go back, way back, way way back to after Baby D was born (4 weeks premature with a stint in the neonatal intensive care unit), I was in a significant amount of pain even 10 days after she was free of my belly. The public health nurse at the time told me that the amount of pain I was having didn't seem normal and that I should get checked out. My family doctor could not have given less fucks, and I ended up back at the hospital emergency department.

I waited for hours, still in pain, and the doctor I saw was very dismissive as well. He asked a few questions, squished my post-baby belly but did no exam. He said to come back the next day for an ultrasound, IF I WANTED TO BOTHER, and that was that.

When I had the ultrasound the next day, the tech's face went serious and she told me not to go home but to proceed back to the emergency department straight away. OH, GOOD, I thought. I'm sure they tell that to everyone that is healthy and normal. The panic started to set in.

I went back to emergency and explained the deal. I assumed the ultrasound report was already there, or at least on its way. After hours and hours of waiting in the waiting area, I finally called the on-call OB (obstetrician, aka baby doctor) number I was given pre-labour and left a message begging for some help. The pain was getting worse, and I was sitting in the waiting area seemingly forgotten.

A resident doctor called back and said she would be down to help me. She examined me and immediately noticed that I was still 4 cm dilated with a clot!! It was visually obvious. It was not good. And my body essentially thought I was trying to push out another baby! Nucking futs if you ask me!

From there, I needed a D&C to get rid of whatever squatters were hanging out in my uterus without a lease agreement. It's the post-delivery surgical equivalent to using a spatula to get all the cake batter out of the bowl when baking. It was awful. I was readmitted to the hospital while my 11-day old newborn and husband were left to fend for themselves. I needed to pump my ginormous milk-filled boobies but by the time I was actually brought to the ward, the lactation consultant wasn't on duty and apparently morphine is readily available, but the breast pumps are on goddamn lock and key. I hadn't eaten. I was alone. I cried myself to sleep that night in pain, scared, missing my family, wondering what was going to happen to me.

Though this type of procedure happens pretty often, I was really worried I would die. Labour was traumatic, Baby D's heart rate skyrocketed and she was whisked away to the NICU. I bled so much. I felt like she was going to die or I was going to die. I had just gotten over that emotional hurdle and then had to go under anesthetic and hope things went ok.

My Mom actually had to meet Baby D at the hospital. She flew in and everyone met up there so I could be a part of it. Not stressful AT ALL. Nope. Good times.

Anyway, fast forward a bit and I had infections post procedure, illness and all kinds of troubles. My OB at the time was a fucking moron and I ended up needing IV antibiotics in-hospital for over a week because she didn't culture anything and the 4 different oral antibiotics she put me on were ineffective. I was the lucky recipient of an infection that caused scarring in my Fallopian tubes. And who says being female isn't awesome?

When I finally saw a competent OB, he explained that I likely had scarring and I would need to be careful and monitor early if I were to get pregnant again because I was at greater risk for an ectopic pregnancy. That's where the fertilized egg gets stuck in one of the two Fallopian tubes and starts to grow, but eventually it runs out of room and bursts. An ectopic pregnancy can never survive, and it often results in serious blood loss and is potentially fatal for the mom. I know someone who nearly died from it a few years ago. You typically end up losing that tube and it can reduce the chances of getting pregnant in the future, too.

So once we found out I was really pregnant, I remembered that advice, and went to my family doctor. While it is almost impossible to see a 4-week embryo on an ultrasound, there is a possibility of seeing a 5 or 6 week embryo. Sometimes the ultrasound technician is able to rule out anything growing in the fallopian tubes, but usually the technician is looking to see is a tiny yolk sac in the uterus. At least then they know that it isn't dangerously growing in a Fallopian tube.

I had researched this and knew it was important. Often times if the tube bursts, mom can get incredibly weak and have a high volume of internal bleeding before she even knows to call for an ambulance. It is scary shit. It is time sensitive and some women don't know there is a problem until someone finds them passed out on their bathroom floor. There is absolutely no warning signs, and nothing that a mom can do to prevent or help an ectopic pregnancy.

So at my doctor's appointment, with my 4 year old in tow, that same family doctor once again gave zero fucks, despite what I told her the experienced, well-respected OB had told me years before. Her response?

"At 4 weeks they can't see anything anyway. Yes, it could burst and you could die, but what can you do?"

SERIOUSLY. I started crying immediately. My poor daughter looked so concerned and asked what was wrong, why I was crying. Ugh. It was just so cold and dismissive.

Luckily for me I had signed up with midwives while the pee was still drying on my positive pregnancy test, and they saved the day, sending me for a scan to be booked between 5-6 weeks. They hadn't even met me yet but they went above and beyond to help me out and relieve my fears of bleeding out and dying in the night.

The technician was able to see the yolk sac in a safe place. So I could breathe a sigh of relief instead of wondering if my tube was going to explode at some point between 4 weeks when I found out I was pregnant and my first dating ultrasound at 9 weeks.

And so it began, the wondering if my body would turn on me, not having any way to check or know for myself, relying solely on how seriously my care providers took the situation, and waiting for the scan to hopefully provide more information. It was a very stressful start to what should feel like an exciting time.

And then, the anatomy scan decided to turn things upside down again...

To Be Continued...


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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Why I F*cking HATE Being Pregnant: A Rant

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Hey, yeah, so... SURPRISE! I'm growing another human being. I bet you are just as shocked as I am. Even though we actually intentionally made this happen, it's kinda like... well... WHOA.

Before I delve into my personal pregnancy hell, I feel it necessary to point out that I am not a completely heartless asshole who realizes the pain, sorrow and heartache that many families endure through infertility, loss and complications. I am one lucky motherfucker to have life growing in me, healthy life, and I know I should count my lucky stars. To anyone who has had a heart-wrenching experience, I sincerely apologize deeply for your suffering.

I am grateful for this life in me, just not the goddamn process to get there.

So, if we are being honest, it is safe to say that it is NOT socially acceptable to convey anything more than mild dissatisfaction about heartburn or frequent urination while pregnant. It seems as though society has assumed that you are an angelic, uber positive matron saint when growing a human and that everything is rosy and glowing and vibrant and wonderful.

I'm here to tell you, in no uncertain terms, FUCK THAT SHIT.

Some women DO truly enjoy pregnancy and have very few negative experiences, pains and suffering. They are the elusive pregnancy unicorns, and good for them. But just because some people think it's great, doesn't mean that is my experience, or another woman's. And people look down their noses at a woman who has anything negative to say about it.

  • Well, why did you get pregnant then? ('Cause I keep scouring Amazon but they NEVER have my biological baby available for delivery. Not even with a Prime subscription. SMH.)
  • You had to know what you were in for. (So... that means that I'm supposed to enjoy the misery? Here, you sub in for my body for a minute and see if deciding to have a child means it's TOTES cool to feel like complete shit for 9 months. I'll wait.)
  • Why wouldn't you hire a surrogate? (Um, I looked under the bed and we didn't have $20,000. Dammit.)
  • Can't you just keep it to yourself? (Sure, but if you ask me how I'm doing, why I can't meet up with you, what's wrong, why am I so green/white/pale, or perhaps ask if I've had any morning sickness, then you kinda opened that can yourself. If you don't actually care, then don't actually ask mmmkay?)
Those are just a sampling, but you get the idea.

So... what's so awful about pregnancy, you ask? Why do I fucking HATE being pregnant with a passion? How on earth could something so joyous seem to turn me into a venom-spewing demon?

Well, for starters, all that VENOM SPEWING. I'm well into my second trimester and I fucking puke. EVERY DAMN DAY. Often. And it's hot and it burns and I can't lean forward after eating or else I get food V2.0. On the strongest anti-nauseant available. They have some cute little medications that have antihistamines and B-vitamins in them called Diclectin. That shit made me sleepy and did fuck all for my nausea and puking. As did the second line of defence, Maxeran/Metonia. And of course, with any medications come risks to this little human growing... but when you have a four year old and can't just curl up in bed for 9 months, Mama needs to find some options. (Cue the entirely different group of judgers who are drug-free in their pregnancies and assume I am worse than Satan for poisoning this child. Thanks. Ok, moving on).

I'm sure before I endured pregnancy I assumed puking often wasn't THAT horrible. I mean, you get a cute little human at the end. Indeed, if we are lucky and things go well, we WILL get that human. But I can tell you that my body is utterly exhausted from all the vomiting. It's so gross. And when I'm not ACTUALLY vomiting, I feel like I am ABOUT TO vomit, or else just feel like there is a live wire in my stomach.  Yesterday Baby D was kind enough to tell me I was disgusting after puking multiple times in the Benjamin Moore parking lot. The entire highway got to witness the glory. Such joy.

POOPING. OR NOT POOPING, I GUESS. Ahh, pooping. Such a lovely, functional, necessary thing. When I get pregnant:

My Body: "Huh? What? Pooping - what's that? Sorry, no comprende. That doesn't happen here anymore. Save your energy. Just puke if you have to. Consider your bowels to be a concrete landmine until sometime in late 2018". Um. Okay.

Me: *consumes any and all forms of approved fibre, laxatives, suppositories, enemas and milk of magnesias approved and available*

My Body: "Nah."

Me: *consumes decaf coffee, waits, consumes caffeinated coffee, waits, exercises, waits, prays to the fecal release Gods, waits*

My Body: "Solid effort. Nah. We got you covered"
My Body: *vomits*

Yeah. So.

HEARTBURN. Burny, raging, painful reminders of all that spicy stuff you just ate. You know, white person spicy like multigrain bread and ranch dip. Or just looking at orange juice. Even with twice a day medication, my esophagus is just a waterpark consisting of purely lava. And the slides defy gravity and go uphill. Super fun. 24/7.

DEHYDRATION. You'd think that drinking liquids is sort of a natural, no-brainer-type life supporting activity. And while I AM actually fairly bad at hydrating at any time of my life, apparently my body feels the output of vomit somehow fills the daily-liquid-in-the-esophagus quotient for my body and essentially gags or refuses adequate hydration. I try. I drink. Some. If I drink when I eat, I puke. If I drink too much at all, I puke. If I drink and lay back or lay down, I puke. This snazzy little pregnancy bonus has led to 5 hospitalizations for I.V. fluids/nausea meds. You'd think I would learn and just drink, but I enjoy going 30 minutes away, paying $40 to park, and sitting or laying for 6 hours while I get rehydrated. SO MUCH MORE CONVENIENT than just, you know, keeping a goddamned Gatorade down.

FATIGUE. Like, next level fatigue. Like, I've struggled with fatigue for years due to a number of health conditions, the dog or Baby D or insomnia keeping me awake for large chunks of the night. But this. THIS is like no other level of knuckle-dragging survivalism. I regularly fight back tears because I feel like my body is going to collapse into itself. Exercise can help at times, but if I ride the endorphin wave and skip the chance for even a short nap, whoa Nelly, the rest of the day results in an increased level of vomiting and sensory processing issues.

SENSORY OVERLOAD. At first I thought I was just cranky. Then I realized that I have far far less tolerance for things like loud or repetitive noises, rough fabrics or repetitive touch, lights. Seriously. It's like my sensitivity dial upped itself to maximum and nothing I can do seems to stop it or lessen the agitation it creates for me, no matter what I try to do. I just need to lie down in a dark, quiet room. It's brutal. And I am much shorter with Baby D which sucks and makes me feel terrible, but I'm working on it and she's a pretty chill and understanding kiddo, so we work together on it.

ANEMIA IN PREGNANCY. Oh yeah. I've been dealing with this for years, and about a year ago my ferritin (iron stores) were at 12. That's low. I started 'roiding myself up with bovine-blood-sourced iron pills (*hurl*) to help because every other supplement under the sun seemed to have no effect. After months and months of taking the pills I finally reached 32, which is still kinda shit. It's suspected iron deficiency below 50. Well, when you are pregnant, your body creates up to 50% more blood to keep the little human alive. And aforementioned little human leeches all they need from mama's blood supply, so guess who is anemic again? All my levels are dropping or are at the literal lowest "safe" number. I know that low iron affects me immensely, more than most, and more than the ranges of acceptable blood work. So iron infusions will likely be in my future to hopefully save me from pre-term delivery again, and improve my chances of not hurtling down the rabbit hole of postpartum depression and anxiety (low iron FUCKS YOU UP, Bruh).

PEEING. ALL THE TIME. ALL NIGHT. ALL OVER THE PLACE. And don't get me started on the hormonal mood swings, body pain, painful kicks, breathlessness, itchy skin, boobs the size of an independent nation, nipple sensitivity, leg cramps, strangers trying to touch your body, and a slew of other "joys".

I will likely write another post of the complications I've already endured that are both potentially fatal. I successfully dodged the first bullet after my family doctor told me that yes, the FEARED THING could happen and the embryo COULD burst and I COULD die, but what can you do. (Side note: A FUCKING early ultrasound. That's what you can do. Christ. And she said this in front of my 4 year old as I burst into terrified, hormonal tears.)

So there's also this fear that the little baby is plotting my death, though kiddo can't really help it so I'm holding no grudges. It's just fairly frightening to know your body can turn on you so fast and the possibility of expanding our family could end up with the Hubs and Baby D on their own if I died. Hopefully very unlikely at this point, but still possible. Yay?

Geriatric pregnancy looks soooo good on me. Have I mentioned that I fucking hate being pregnant to you yet?

It doesn't help that I am an older mom and it can make it really tricky to manoeuvre with this big bump and my walker and stuff. You know how it goes.

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