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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lessons :: Pregnancy Update / Week 34

DUE DATE: September 22, 2014

HOW FAR ALONG: 34 weeks

GENDER: Boy

WEIGHT GAIN: 50 lbs

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I wanted to stop with the basics there because a lot has happened over the last few weeks and it would be much easier for me to explain it in story format. First, let's recap...

When I initially found out I was pregnant, I was surprisingly not stressed. Instead, my heart was filled with a mix of gratitude, excitement and peace. I did have a few rough months, though. Every pregnancy is different, but the first trimester is tiring for most, and at the time I was still working long days. I did nothing but work, sleep, and try to eat easy foods. I threw up in my car multiple times and spent many nights crying simply because I felt so sick. I also dealt with insecurity about my body because it was in this weird transitional phase of looking soft but not pregnant, and I grew out of my clothes fairly quickly. I learned that all of these symptoms are pretty normal and I was not experiencing anything out of the ordinary, but that did not make me feel any less physically or emotionally exhausted, and alone.

Brandon and I celebrated our anniversary and soon after that, I started to feel better. I'd heard that the second trimester is usually the best point of pregnancy, and that ended up being true for me. During those easy months I focused on my business, traveled to Michigan, and started wearing super cute maternity clothes. I spent a lot of time inside, but even though I was alone, I no longer felt lonely. I could feel the baby moving a lot, so I knew he was healthy. Even though there was a scare about my blood sugar, it ended up being fine, and though the baby was breech at my 22 week ultrasound, he ended up turning properly.

Then the third trimester started, and I began to freak out a little. Besides the pregnancy itself, I've had a lot going on in my life this year, and I think it all started to hit me at once. I became more emotional and as the weeks continued, I realized just how much I had to do to get ready for the baby. Even though B has assured me that he's on my team in this, he will never understand what it's like to be in my shoes. At the same time, I'll never know what it's like to be a new father, and I know he feels a lot of pressure as well. I started to wonder if I was wasting my summer away, so I made a pre-baby bucket list for us to complete in order to spend some quality time together before our son arrives, but chances are slim that we'll complete anything that's on it...

Which brings us to why I'm on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. Around the time of my second baby shower (yes, I am that blessed that I've had two so far) I started feeling upper abdominal pain that became more excruciating each day. It started on the inside of my right rib cage, then followed it around to the back. I felt as if a part of me was swollen and being squeezed by everything else around it. I knew that something was wrong so when I went to the ER to get a Rhogam shot (normal) I mentioned my pain (not normal) to the Labor & Delivery nurse. She hooked me up to the monitor and I wasn't having contractions so she suggested it was probably a pulled muscle and had nothing to do with labor. She sent me on my way but I was still in so much pain that I couldn't sleep at night and felt as if someone was stabbing me in the side. Poor B kept waking up from my tossing and turning and moaning.

The appointment with my new OBGYN (yes, I had to switch again thanks to the state, but that's another story) wasn't for another week so I decided to spend another day at the ER. Normally if you're over 20 weeks they'll send you straight to L&D but I insisted that they keep me there and check out my other organs. I was admitted and after describing my symptoms I was given a series of tests besides the usual urine sample and blood draw: x-ray, cat scan, ultrasound (on my upper abdomen, not the baby), some kind of heart monitor and a few other things I can't pronounce. The doctors couldn't guarantee that the tests would be safe for the fetus or that they would be covered by my insurance, neither of which were comforting. I had to get an IV for the first time and be pushed around in a wheelchair.

After seven hours I was told that everything was fine and to get my clothes back on. I was so angry, confused, and upset that I couldn't even cry. I had run out of tears over the past month. These people that were supposed to be helping me couldn't give me any answers, and it was extremely disappointing. And the sad part is that every time something like this happens, my trust issues are heightened. I couldn't help but mutter to myself, "next time I'm doing a home birth!" The emotional pain was starting to outweigh the physical at that point.

I was going to see my OBGYN in five days so during that time I did lots of stretching including my usual pre-natal yoga classes. Being on all fours seemed to help because it took pressure off whatever was swollen. Besides that, the only position that felt comfortable was laying on my back with a heating pad. I'd learned recently that I wasn't supposed to be on my back during these last months but I decided to risk it. My Lamaze instructor suggested I put a pillow under one hip so I did that. Walking, standing, sitting, and laying on my side all hurt, but when I needed to do one of those things I sucked it up and did my best to ignore the pain. I also spoke with my aunt, uncle, and cousin who are all in the medical field, and they had a few more suggestions of what it could be but all I could do was wait. Best-case scenario was that I had simple, common rib pain but I still had an inkling that it was something more.

I finally saw the new doctor and though I had never met him before I instantly felt comfortable. I had done tons of research before choosing him and it paid off. After checking the baby's heartbeat, feeling my belly for his position, and a routine pelvic exam, he studied my medical records (including the test results from the ER) and said that I have hydronephrosis. Now, why the ER docs couldn't figure this out is beyond me, but maybe they didn't notice it in the results or had forgotten to tell me? Who knows.

Hydronephrosis is a fancy word for the uterus pushing on my ureter, which connects the bladder and kidney. This causes the kidney to blow up like a balloon and the pain is supposed to be comparable to a kidney stone. I was glad that I had finally gotten what I wanted -- an answer -- but unfortunately it wasn't the one I wanted to hear. There is no cure to what I have and can only be surgically treated if I absolutely cannot pee (which shouldn't happen as long as I continue to drink tons of fluids). I just have to wait until the baby comes and until then relax, a lot, which I am notoriously bad at. Reading this blog post (which I found while googling "should I do yoga while on bed rest") made me feel a little less left out.

Over the weekend while moving I think I worked myself a little too hard because after too much caffeine and packing on Saturday (followed by very little sleep) I had cramps all day Sunday. They were too low and not regular enough to be contractions but still crippling. It was a disappointing reality check and I know that for now I can't expel the same amount of energy that I've been able to before. The next day I took it easy and felt a lot better. I know that this is temporary and I'll be okay.

If you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, I'm not telling you this stuff to scare you. There are literally hundreds of things that can happen during pregnancy and labor and motherhood and everyone's experiences are different. But I have always wanted to share my life, and here it is. Hopefully when our little one arrives, I can look back and say it was all worth it.

*Photo by Megan Burke on July 25, 2014 in San Fernando, CA. More from this shoot coming soon to TLL!
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