I’ve gotten three positive home pregnancy tests since Monday.
I celebrate this with trepidation for two reasons. One being that I have yet to get my blood pregnancy test, which isn’t scheduled until Monday, Oct. 1. If you get pregnant the old fashioned or “normal” way, getting a positive is usually all you need to start celebrating. If you’re “broken” like myself, along with approximately 7.4 million other women in the United States, multiple blood tests are required before you start decorating a nursery.
While both tests detect the pregnancy hormone hCG, a blood test is able to measure the amount of hCG in the blood. If the amount of hCG is 25 mIU/mL or greater then it’s considered a positive. This number should double every 48-72 hours, so you’re then brought back in for two more blood tests following the initial to make sure you’re REALLY pregnant.
So what you may have thought is pregnant, could actually be, KIND OF pregnant, but not really. It’s honestly just like anything else during the infertility journey; a giant mind fuck.
The second reason I celebrate this with apprehension is my previous experience with pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum.
I want to warn you that this post is not a light, funny account of my hormonal rage. This one is heavy, and proving to be very difficult for me to write. It may make you feel uncomfortable. But, these were my experiences and I vowed to be fully honest, so here it goes.
I hated being pregnant. After years of endless fertility treatments, my dream of finally being a mother was going to come to fruition; and I fucking hated it. In the first trimester I battled with depression, that was a sadness like I had never experienced. And then, I battled the guilt that soon followed when I started feeling better in the second trimester. I’ve always dealt with internal guilt, but this is when I was first introduced to “mom guilt” aka the guilt that will make you feel like a fucking monster of a person. “Mom guilt” lives in the front of my brain now, so I know her ways, but God was I unprepared for that bitch.
Once the guilt subsided a bit, I was flushed with intense, all consuming fear. I was convinced that I was going to accidentally kill my daughter in my womb daily. If I couldn’t feel her move for more than two minutes, I was calling the doctor’s office and performing at home sonograms. I barely moved a muscle my entire pregnancy. Don’t even ask me about intimacy, because that was completely off the table.
If I was somehow able to keep this baby alive in me for the whole nine months, then what? A smooth labor and delivery? Doubtful. My biggest fear has been labor and delivery, since I was like four years old. How was I going to face that fear? What if my epidural didn’t work? What if something happened to her? What if the cord gets wrapped around her neck? What if she doesn’t make it? What if I don’t make it?
To say that I obsessively worried about this shit would be a kind understatement. It kept me up at night. (On a lighter note, I also obsessed over the idea of pooping on the table. Which, of course, I did.)
Everyone told me even if labor was incredibly painful, when the doctor handed her to me, it would all be worth it. I would instantly bond with her and my heart would be full. This kind of put my mind at ease.
And then I went into labor and every single one of my fears was realized.
I was in labor for 24 hours before I started to push. My epidural was patchy, at best, for a few hours out of the 24. Apparently my scoliosis made it impossible for the medicine to actually do what it was supposed to. Because my contractions were getting so intense, they pumped me with pain meds through an IV. These made me puke. So here I was, up for 24 hours, puking, writhing in pain from contractions, and unable to move because of the useless epidural that was shoved into my spine.
When Dr. England came in, he announced that he was in the middle of a 24 hour shift himself. Then he joked that I’d need to make this quick because he had a lot of patients to see. You can imagine how unamused I was with this joke, and realized I was going to fucking hate this guy.
Fast forward to four hours into pushing. Mickey’s head kept crowning, then going back in, over and over and over. Dr. England yelled at me that I was “pushing like a wuss” and continued to yell at me like he was a wrestling coach and I was loosing the match. Mind you, at this point I had broken every blood vessel in my eyes and chest. I can promise you nothing I was doing was “like a wuss.”
Michael noticed that our nurse kept showing Dr. England the heart monitor for Mickey. She looked concerned, but he kept brushing her off. Four and a half hours into pushing, by the grace of God, Dr. England was paged to perform an emergency c-section. A female doctor from another practice entered the room and told me she’s going to take over for a while. About five pushes in, she stopped everything, sternly told me not to push and hit some emergency button.
Before I knew it, the room was full of doctors. The doctor calmly told me that umbilical cord was wrapped twice around Mickey’s neck and she wasn’t breathing. She looked at me in the eye, told me to take a deep breath, and proceeded to cut her out of me.
The image of Mickey’s gray, lifeless body being pulled out of me, is forever burnt into my mind.
I looked at Michael and my mom for reassurance, but the horror on their faces told me this wasn’t ok.
Michael begged Mickey to breathe. He pleaded with the doctors and nurses to tell him she was okay, but all they could say was “We're doing everything we can.”
Almost a minute into attempting to revive her, Michael ran over to her in desperation and screamed “MICKEY!!! CRY FOR DADDY! PLEASE!”
At that moment, her eyes opened, and she let out a soft cry. She was alive.
She was quickly whisked away in an incubator to the NICU. As I realized what had just transpired, I began to hemorrhage. The doctor who saved my child’s life, told me that my placenta was stuck and she’d have to remove it manually. After wrestling with it, again this with no pain management, she stitched me up. Just in time for me to begin hemorrhaging again, only to realize there was still placenta stuck.
Now at this point Michael is in the NICU with our daughter, trying to get answers. Dr. England is back in the room, with a completely different tone. He instructed me to hold his hand and prepare myself for something unpleasant. They manually extracted the rest of my placenta, which thank God is a blur to me today.
Michael returned, white as a ghost. The doctors and nurses informed him that they were concerned there was significant brain damage due to the length of time she wasn't breathing.
He then proceeded to show me photos of our little blue daughter on his phone. The first look at my daughter’s face was on a fucking iPhone screen. My body ached with pain, anger, worry, resentment, sadness, and panic. Where was the joy that made all the pain of labor and delivery worth it?
I delivered Mickey at 6:31 pm. I met her at 1:15 am. My mom (aka my real life guardian angel) wheeled me to the NICU, where I touched my child for the first time. I’m actually not strong enough to describe what that experience was like. I simply don’t allow myself to go there.
The nurse told us that she wasn’t crying as much as they’d like and informed us that she’d have days of testing and a long road of recovery ahead.
As we laid in our postpartum unit and attempted to get some rest, we listened to other babies cry. We could hear other couples talking to their babies. But ours was on another floor, in an incubator, surviving on a breathing and feeding tube. I thought I had experienced pain before. I hadn’t.
It wasn’t until the next evening, I was able to hold her in my arms. But I will tell you, it is magical, even 24 hours later.
Over the next four days, Mickey grew stronger and stronger. She aced every test. She was showing no signs of brain damage, was eating well (from a bottle), was gaining weight, and overall looked like she was ready to come home. The doctors and nurses were shocked with how quickly she was bouncing back. This was a miracle.
I, on the other hand, was growing weaker and weaker. I could barely find the strength to stand up. I was in a ridiculous amount of pain, passing enormous blood clots, and had a gut feeling that something was off. I communicated to anyone who would listen that I didn’t feel right, but the doctors kept assuring me this was normal.
We brought her home on Valentine’s Day. The magical moment where we were finally all together as a family was here. When we got home that evening, I could barely lift my head. Once we discovered I had a temperature of 102, we knew something was definitely wrong.
I called Dr. England, aka Mr. Sensitive, and his response verbatim was, “You’re probably fine, but you can go to the hospital if you want. You just brought your daughter home today huh? You probably want to kill yourself.”
I was in such an emotional blur that I couldn’t begin to understand how incredibly fucked up that exchange was. My mom took me to ER, while Michael stayed home with Mickey. Yet again, Michael was playing the role of the mother because I was unable to. I had been a mom for four days and was proving to be incompetent.
After arguing with the ER doctor that something was in fact wrong with me, my mom demanded we see a different doctor. A resident came in to take a look. Immediately he discovered that I was still 10 cm dilated and ordered me an ultrasound. Turns out there was retained placenta in my uterus; which if not handled quickly enough can be deadly.
The doctors put me in a twilight, opened up my stitches, and performed a D&C. When I woke up, in an enormous amount of pain, they informed me it was much more involved than anticipated. I would have to stay overnight, away from my newborn baby.
It was her first night home and I was back where I started five days prior. The guilt and sadness hit me like a sharp pain in my chest. Oh, and just to top it off they were short beds so they put me in a random unite that had nothing to do with postpartum. When I got there, my milk came in for the first time. So I was pumping myself like a fucking cow, sobbing, high on pain pills, holding icepacks on my vagina.
They discharged me late the next afternoon. I couldn’t even pee by myself. How was I qualified to take care of a newborn?
My mom helped me up the steps, into my living room, where I was reintroduced to my daughter all over again. I was convinced she thought Michael was her mother and she’d have not a clue who I was. This is when my downward spiral into postpartum depression began. That’s a topic that deserves a post of its own.
So that is my war story. I survived. Mickey survived. Michael survived. And we are one strong fucking family because of it.
And though I vowed to never go through any of that again, here I am, scared and anxious, but confident that I can handle anything.