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In February of 2016, I found out that my boyfriend and I would be parents for the first time. We were shocked and it definitely took some time to let the news sink in. Once it did, we couldn’t wait to meet this new bundle of joy. My pregnancy was anything but easy. I was not one of those women who would be glowing and peppy.
My job at the time was causing me a lot of stress. The coworkers I had were not the easiest to get along with and constantly started making my life a living hell. The tension at work was so strong you needed a butcher’s knife just to cut through it. Have you ever felt someone’s eyes burn through the back of your head from staring so long? Have you ever felt like you were constantly walking into a room where someone was spewing nasty words about you? That was what I felt on a daily basis. I started to get so paranoid about my work life I stopped leaving my desk. I wouldn’t even leave work before the other two coworkers because I knew they would go through my desk and work computer. So many times I made management aware and so many times nothing was ever done.
When I was fourteen weeks pregnant, life at work became a nightmare. It was Friday, April 30, I arrived at work to find my work email opened. I shut my computer down the night before. I was told when I started that we shared passwords in case one of us was out we could get to the work. I stupidly believed this. They had gone into my work email because they thought I was sneaky and doing things I shouldn’t have been doing. I wasn’t.
The following week I had become extensively ill, I called my doctor and she informed me that I was severely dehydrated and she hospitalized me. I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis gravidarum. This is a severe form of morning sickness. I had become so stressed from work that I had stopped eating and drinking. That when I would eat or drink, I would instantly throw up. For two weeks I was in and out of the hospital. My doctor finally decided that I was pushed to this brink because of the high level of stress I was dealing with. For two months after, I was instructed to go to the local cancer center to receive hydration through IV. I started to get better and my pregnancy seemed to be taking a turn for the best. Then at twenty-nine weeks things started to go south.
I was yet again hospitalized but this time for high blood pressure. For two weeks I was stuck in the hospital. I felt trapped. I was clawing at the walls trying to escape. I would try and find any reason or excuse I could for them to let me leave. I was monitored constantly for my blood pressure. Doing constant urine tests because the ketones were so incredibly high. (Ketones are produced when the body burns fat for energy or fuel. They are also produced when you lose weight or if there is not enough insulin to help your body use sugar for energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the blood. Since the body is unable to use glucose for energy, it breaks down fat instead.)
I also wasn’t sleeping. Let’s rewind for a moment. We are back in February. On February 28 I found out I was pregnant with a very fast pregnancy test. A week and a half before this I had scheduled a sleep study. I was constantly tired, falling asleep at work and at home all the time. Super tired driving. So I decided I needed to find out what was going on. A week after I found out I was pregnant, I was going for a sleep study. The conclusion; I have sleep apnea. I was prescribed a CPAP which became extremely difficult to use and the fact I went for this sleep study in March and I did not receive my machine until June. By then I was already six months pregnant.
Now when I say I wasn’t sleeping, I mean I was falling asleep standing up, in the shower, in the bath, sitting up on the couch and in chairs. In the hospital I had to sleep in the recliner because I fell out of the bed on more than one occasion. Whenever I fell I always caught myself and would slide to my knees so I didn’t fall on my stomach. It was like I was in Nightmare On Elm St. and I couldn’t sleep because Freddy Kruger might show up and end it all.
Back to the future, I’m finally discharged from the hospital. My blood pressure wasn’t changing they couldn’t keep me any longer so they let go home. I was to be checked twice a week until I was 37 weeks. I never made it that far. At my 32-week appointment my blood pressure sky rocketed, back to hell I was sent. Two days later when the high risk doctor preformed my ultrasound scan she informed me that the baby stopped growing since I had been in last. I was going to have this baby that day. I was 32 weeks and five days pregnant. I stared at the wall for what felt like eternity. My mom was there, she put her hand on my shoulder and I melted into a puddle. This was too soon to have a baby. I knew when I birthed the baby I wasn’t going to be able to leave with her.
Twenty-two times I tried to call Bryan that afternoon. He worked nights and was home sleeping. Twenty-two times his phone rang and twenty-two times he missed the calls. Luckily his mother worked in the hospital and raced to our apartment to wake him up. Waiting for him to come through the hospital room doors felt like an eternity. He showed up right on time, the doctor started the induction. Time ticked on. Three hours later I was receiving an epidural. A half hour later I was blacking out. My blood pressure dropped. The baby’s heartbeat slowed. Everything started to intensify.
“We need you to roll to your side,” the nurse frantically spoke.
“Roll to your other side.”
“Roll to your back.”
“I’m not getting a heartbeat!”
“Okay, let’s prepare for a c-section. Let’s go have a baby!” my on call doctor calmly let the words roll off her tongue.
Meanwhile, my eyes are welled with tears. My breathing is intense. I’m searching for Bryan through a sea of nurses. Our eyes meet. He’s nervous, he’s scared, he tries to hide it. “I love you.” I read his lips. They aren’t telling him what’s happening they just whisk me down the hall to the OR. An hour later we hear the singing of a new baby. Our baby. Our daughter. Her lungs strong, she belts out a cry. Three lbs. and 14 oz of perfection born at exactly 8 PM on September 8th, 2016. Seven weeks prematurely. Her due date wasn’t until October 29th, 2016. She’s tiny. I never get to do skin to skin. I see her for the first time for a few seconds.
They take her from us, Bryan goes with them to the NICU. For twenty-nine days our home becomes the NICU. Every day after I am discharged from the hospital we are driving back to see our baby. She was and still is a fighter. She needed help breathing for a week, spent two weeks in an incubator and spend twenty-six days on a feeding tube. Life felt like a blur, life seemed to stand still for that month.
When I was discharged from the hospital, I felt empty leaving without my newborn. I blamed myself for her being premature. I hated the thought of not being next to her twenty-four hours a day. I survived. She taught me to be strong. She’s a fighter. She sticks to her guns and she doesn’t back down. Every day has been an adventure with her.
My pregnancy was anything but rainbows and butterflies. However, I would go through it all again. I would do it again because I know I can. The human body can do amazing things. Babies are resilient and without trying can teach us so much about ourselves.