I didn’t want to be told how strong I was during my first pregnancy when I was cracked to the very core on the inside yet smiling on the outside. And I didn’t want to be told how redeemed I must feel during this second, presumably much safer pregnancy, when I was terrified.
Pregnancy ultrasounds have never been an exciting thing for us. Our first experience was with a wheely-cart-toting-not-an-ultrasound-tech doctor we fled to when things turned south in pregnancy number one. Our first true experience was in an emergency room just shortly after that when we’d incorrectly assumed we’d lost that baby due to circumstances. Every ultrasound following those two – for our first pregnancy and this one – was set in an environment of held breaths, somber looks, and silent pleas to the Lord.
It was the end of a short era. On May 3, Oaklee was 22 months and 4 days old and I breastfed her for our very last time. She would go on to deplete what was once an overwhelming freezer stash via bottle/cup, but May 3 was the last time the two of us would sit down together and snuggle up for a feed.
For most women, 16 weeks is the sweet spot of a pregnancy. At 16 weeks, you’re usually past the morning sickness/exhaustion of the first trimester, but not quit into the phase where you feel like an injured whale. You’re excited to be out of the territory where so many miscarriages happen, and you get to start putting together a nursery. Your baby bump is just making its true appearance, but you can still wear a lot of your normal clothes. For most women, 16 weeks is beautiful.
I always knew I was a little bit of a hippie. When it came to my role as a mother, my hippie self wanted to love being pregnant and breastfeed my many babies for as long as I could.
And then I hated being pregnant.
And then I got pregnant again.
And I was still breastfeeding that first baby.
It’s the morning of Wednesday, February 6, just two days after I made my appointment to meet a new lady doctor, and my period is now three days late. I’ve been late before – it’s not the craziest thing to happen – but this time I’m feeling anxious because of all the conversations we’d been having about the prep work that needed to be done before considering getting pregnant again.
It’s Monday, February 4, 2019 and I’m laying in my bed next to my husband at the end of a long day. Our 19-month old daughter is sleeping in her bed in the room next to ours. I’m crying, because I don’t know if I can do it again…
On the 30th, the day after Oaklee was born, I spent most of my day trapped in my room on the OB Special Care Floor. In the morning, I asked my nurse to remove my IV. I was so excited to finally be rid of my shackle, but the nurse was shocked I had not yet been notified of my pending transfusion.
My hemoglobin was a 6. 12-15 is normal for women (10-14 during pregnancy), but between the pregnancy and the cesarean, I’d lost so much blood. They ordered two units of blood and asked me when I wanted to sit through the transfusion. Not realizing quite how long it was going to take, I suggested we start right away to get it over with. I wanted to be done focusing on my own medical needs so I could focus on my daughter one building away.
Dr. L made it very clear that our baby might not make it. There was nothing more they could do. Her lungs, the ones that had been constricted in her body that’d been shrink-wrapped in my waterless womb, were being put to the ultimate test 12.5 weeks short of the amount of time they needed to properly develop. They just weren’t ready.
Dr. L left us alone. We sat with the news like an elephant on our chests. It was 6:00 am. We hadn’t yet told our families we were going into delivery, let alone, that our baby had been born. We hadn’t even shared her name with a single person. And now we wondered if we were losing her.
Though these contractions were the worst I’d experienced yet, they were nothing a big dose of mag couldn’t take care of. So there I laid, contracting, fire-hot from the mag and doing the math over and over again – I’d last eaten at 6:00 pm on Tuesday. 12 hours turned into 18 turned into 24 and finally turned into 27.5 hours before I was stabilized enough to be allowed to eat dinner. I’d hoped this meant I had survived another L&D visit on contraband fruit snacks and slushies and I would be sent back up to my room in OB Special Care, but they wanted to keep me just a bit longer to confirm things were ok.
My mind at ease, having gotten past contractions, eaten and cooled after the rush of mag, I told my husband we should try to get some sleep. We’d cancelled our baby shower, all we needed to focus on was having a better tomorrow.