Thursday, October 30, 2008

The end of a chapter but the story goes on

My six week postnatal check-up was the very last step to closing the book on pregnancy for me. I'm back to my normal self after surviving the toll of pregnancy and delivery and as I look back, I have mixed emotions. On one hand, I'm grateful that I will never have to live so uncomfortably for so long ever again, but on the other hand, I'm sad that I will never again experience the feeling of a growing baby sharing my body or the miracle of birth.

After months and months of deep thought about whether or not to have another baby, I ultimately couldn't ignore that there was another somebody waiting to join our family - our little Carter. I had been talking to Bill about it constantly, telling him that we couldn't be finished and that there was one more baby we needed to have. He was very unsure, always thinking of the concrete issues; job security and financial stability. After much discussion, he said that once he had a good job, he would consider it. He did find that job and after more conversation, it took an unexpected pregnancy scare to kick us in the rear to get going.

I will never forget that day where I took the pregnancy test at playgroup. I was so scared because we were just getting settled into Bill's new job and we were without health insurance at the time. I was terrified that we could be expecting because it could have either ruined us financially with the cost of medication or I would have to suffer terribly while we waited for our coverage to kick in. I remember shaking while waiting for the results with tears streaming down my face. Finally, a negative. And my heart sank. Sometimes, a negative can be a sad occurrence when you know you want to eventually get a positive. Bill felt the same way. This was the moment we found ourselves on the same page. Now we were ready to start planning.

We made sure we had enough in our savings account to cover the medical costs, had our ducks in a row with our insurance coverage and I began preparing for another round of hyperemesis by gaining 10 extra pounds and making sure I had zofran readily available when I needed it. When we tried for Logan, it only took once, so naturally I thought Carter would be just as easy. He wasn't. It took a couple of months to finally get the positive test we were waiting for. But once I was pregnant, I didn't even really need a test. The nausea started at about 3 weeks into the pregnancy. The test was more of a formality. Regardless of how I was going to feel physically, we were thrilled to be expecting again.

I had hoped for the best and prepared for the worst and just as I had suspected, I would be living through another pregnancy with HG again. In the beginning I wasn't as sick as I had remembered being with Logan and I worried that something might have been wrong. That all changed soon enough. By 5 or 6 weeks into the pregnancy, I was very ill and beginning to lose weight. Overall, I ended up losing 20 pounds - again. I had been so sick, Logan asked me "sick?" all day long and eventually began to imitate me being sick while eating his dinner at the table. I had been spending so much time in the bathroom, that I declared one as my "sick bathroom" complete with a "NO POOPING" sign on the door to ensure it's cleanliness. My zofran prescription was at the highest recommended dosage of 32 mg a day (8mg every 3-4 hours) and unlike my pregnancy with Logan, this wasn't enough. I still needed an additional anti-emetic (compazine) at night, as well as unisom, to keep me alive. It's hard to believe that I've already forgotten how miserable I was.

Being sick like that for so long takes a toll on the whole family. I was a horrible person to be around (understandably). I felt awful for not being able to take care of Logan like I wanted and hated the fact that I relied heavily on Bill to pick up the slack. I don't like feeling helpless. I was so thankful for my friends who offered play dates, meals and support, as hard as it was to accept. As the pregnancy went on, I began to feel better but still needed the daily zofran to keep me from relapsing. When I could eat I was taking advantage of the situation, craving nothing but junk foods or fast foods. I lived on milkshakes and hot fudge sundaes. Thankfully, it didn't show in my hips too much.

The first two trimesters were an odd time for me. Not only was I feeling like I was on death's door, but I didn't have a baby belly to appreciate. It sometimes felt like I was suffering for no apparent reason. Not knowing if we were expecting a boy or a girl only made it worse, as I couldn't connect with an "it". At 15 weeks I felt the fist of many flutters that would become full on kicks and punches. At the 20 week ultrasound we easily discovered (before the technician declared the sex) that we were having another boy. Both Bill and I were so excited that Logan would have a little brother to play with. I began to feel more connected to Carter now that he wasn't just "the baby". I was getting sick for something, for him, not for an alien that seemed to have taken over my body. And by 22-24 weeks, I began to actually look a "little bit pregnant".

As Carter grew stronger, he kicked and punched and stretched me beyond belief. He actually spread my ribs out so much that a few of them had come out of socket and needed to be put back in place. Now that HG was in check, the regular pregnancy discomforts took over - severe rib and sternum burning sensations, heart burn, back aches, nightmares, the list went on. Then the contractions started.

At first they were just regular Braxton Hicks, but they were relentless. After a while and as my stress levels increased, the intensity and regularity of the contractions increased as well. Before I knew it, I was being admitted to Labor & Delivery for pre-term contractions. More than once. The first time was the worst, having to need a shot of terbutaline to stop them from progressing. The side effects were horrible, causing me to have almost full body convulsions - when they said I could expect to shake like I had too much caffeine. Right. This was more like I had hypothermia or severe Parkinson's. From there on out, I had to decrease my activity level and stress levels (as much as I could with Logan running around and Bill being a jerk). The second time I was admitted wasn't nearly as bad, but the information given to me by the OB on call would later result in Carter almost being born at home.

The final weeks of the pregnancy were uneventful as I waited on pins and needles for Carter's arrival. While I was sad that I wouldn't be able to feel him punch me from the inside, I was ready to get my body back. It was time to move on. When Carter finally decided to make his way out, it was an adventure that I will never forget, full of drama and excitement. It was a movie-like labor and delivery. It was so surreal.

Our life as a family of four has been incredible. The first week home were the best days of my entire life, even while being sleep deprived. I had never been so happy. Ever. All of my fears about not remembering how to take care of a newborn, how Logan would feel about Carter, how our family would adjust - they all were forgotten as life proved otherwise. It's been an amazing beginning and I cherish every memory, every high and low, every triumph and challenge. So far, our life story has been a good read and it will be interesting to see what the next chapters will have in store for us.

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