It was NZ Father’s Day and I hadn’t been feeling well. Pregnancy didn’t even enter my mind. I’d come to peace with the no-kid life and was in the middle of planning a huge move. Well, my husband thought otherwise of my nausea and ran out to buy a pregnancy test. I remember it all so clearly. I was terrified. I was in the bathroom and I could hear Dale saying
“Hurry up, how long can it take to pee on a stick?”
and I sat there waiting as time stood still. Two lines. Nope. Impossible. Not my plan. Uh-uh. I walked out of the bathroom with my hands over my mouth and he knew by the look on my face. “You’re joking right?” he said laughing. He was laughing and I was weeping. Now, I’ll be brutally honest here. It took me years to come to terms that I wasn’t going to have kids and I had come to peace with it after such a long time. He held me while I cried and cried and all I could muster was F@#K. (Sorry Grandma). I was flabbergasted, shocked, in disbelief! I hesitantly downloaded the first pregnancy app that came up in the search, did some period math and found out I was due in May 2013 and the baby was the size of a mustard seed. It took me a good couple weeks to accept the news - I had to cancel our move and flights to China, postpone my month vacation between moves in Canada with all my family and stop selling all our stuff, then figure out how to renew a visa and keep my job, while pregnant. The task seemed to daunting.
The first trimester I was quite nauseous and lived off of rice crackers and potatoes and raw veggies. I was a nanny of two boys at the time so they kept me busy and distracted.
Along the way, at about 14 weeks I was picking up the boys in a rainstorm, as you do for school pick up. I was waiting with other parents, holding my umbrella when all of the sudden I felt a huge shock on my hands as the umbrella flew out of my hands.
I had just been struck by lightening at 14 weeks pregnant. I was terrified to move.
I grabbed my umbrella and stood in the rain with tingly hands and feet, suppressing tears while I waited for the kids. The minute I got home I called Tilly (my midwife) who thought I was joking but ordered an immediate ultrasound. The technician though I was joking until he saw the fear on my face. He proceeded and assured me all was good. Baby was fine, heartbeat strong and I should just take it easy for a few days and then check back.
After my Gestational Diabetes screening it came back positive which was a shock to me. I had to test my sugars daily and be monitored by a diabetic team on a regular basis. I was instantly put into the ‘High Risk’ category and my plans for a water birth at the birthing suite weren’t going to happen. Tilly also made me fearful of having a HUGE baby and I might have trouble birthing such a big baby. I continued to eat well and exercise and felt really good. I loved being pregnant. At 30 weeks I developed a really bad rash and was itchy head to toe in which she went on to tell me (no lie) that I had a liver disease related to pregnancy, would probably get very ill, possibly die and that things would be really difficult from then on. Well you can imagine my disbelief at her initial comment and I burst into tears and left the office feeling defeated. Upon some research, and discussion with her that she maybe should have suggested some other testing rather than put the fear of death in me….it went away within a few days and I was back to ‘normal’. At this point we were attending our prenatal classes full of expats from all over the world and we loved it!! The instructor mentioned that I could consider switching midwives if I really wanted to - if I felt like her comments were instilling fear (the opposite of what you want for birth) then I should interview a few others. I was already 34 weeks and nearing my due date. I decided to discuss with Tilly my fears and that I still wanted to have a vaginal, fear-free labour with her support. She agreed and we continued. It’s so important to trust your caregiver and feel ‘safe’ with them!
It seemed as if my fundal height (Fundal height, or McDonald's rule, is a measure of the size of the uterus used to assess fetal growth and development during pregnancy. It is measured from the top of the mother's uterus to the top of the mother's pubic bone. ) wasn’t measuring the size it should be….and was actually quite small so I was sent for an ultrasound to check in on my supposedly ‘big baby’. Turns out my ‘big baby’ was actually a really small baby and rather than Gestation Diabetes they suggested it was IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) and I would have to be monitored weekly.
So we continued on, creating a nursery and getting all the necessary things (which I’ve now learned you don’t need as much as you think you do!)
At 36 weeks my blood pressure was a bit high but they agreed to monitor it and let me go home to rest and see how it went. Then at 37 weeks I went in for another check and my blood pressure was through the roof and I was told I would have to stay, be admitted and induced in the morning. I burst into tears, wanting my husband at my side and fearful of induction. As I sit here and write this I’m overwhelmed with emotion as I reflect back. Each birth story is so unique and personal and a woman carries it with her for the rest of her life. The decisions and things doctors and midwives say can have a lasting effect. I went from being struck by lightening, to having a ‘big baby’ to dying of liver disease to having to small of a baby to being induced. Talk about roller coaster. My roller coaster. This may not seem like a lot to you and I can’t begin to fathom some of the things so many other women go through, but this is my birth story, that I carry with me and that I’ll remember forever.
I convinced them to let me go home to pack my things so they gave me two hours to do so. I called Dale and he got off work early, informed our parents back home so they wouldn’t worry and we’d keep them posted.
I sat in the nursery in the cozy rocking chair pulled out the journal I’d been keeping through the whole thing and started to write. Here’s and excerpt:
We packed up our things and went to get settled in at the hospital, ready to be induced the next day, April 25th 2013 - Anzac Day, a National day of remembrance.
…..to be continued……