Being pregnant is hard no matter how you look at it. You are growing an actual human being inside your body. That's some mad scientist sh*t right there, my friends. However, when you add medical problems to the equation, pregnancy can get intense, stressful, and downright scary. From gestational diabetes to preeclampsia to incompetent cervix to preterm labor; pregnancy complications produce the kind of struggles only a mom with a high-risk pregnancy can understand.
I have a history of incompetent cervix, meaning that my cervix lacks the structural integrity to stay closed past a certain point. Because of this complication, I've had highly medicalized, high-risk pregnancies. When I was pregnant with my now 4-year-old son, I had a cerclage placed (a stitch in my cervix to keep it closed) which had to be monitored every week via ultrasound. A transvaginal ultrasound, for the record. Yep. Every single week, from 17 weeks right up to the end of my pregnancy, a wand was placed inside me to make sure everything was OK with my incompetent cervix. Oh, and having the cerclage placed? Yeah, that's a surgical procedure, complete with anesthesia. In other words, I did not have a particularly pleasant time.
With my 18- month-old son, we decided not to place the cerclage and to go with weekly progesterone injections instead. Unfortunately, insurance wouldn't cover having someone else give the injections and I would've had to pay out of pocket for a full office visit once a week, so I had to give them myself. The needle was huge and the liquid was so thick, I had to exert major force on the plunger to actually get it to come out of the syringe. It was awful and, honestly, scary.
High-risk mamas, y'all are tough and amazing. It's hard but, for better or worse, you're not alone. Know that when you go through every single painstaking struggle, someone else has gone through them, too. You got this. #Solidarity
You Hold Onto Every Moment
When your pregnancy is high risk, you're constantly in "worst case scenario mode," or at least I was. I fully expected everything to go south at any minute. So every kick, every flutter, every round ligament pain resonated extra intensely. Every good part was extra special, too, and I held them close to my heart.
You Take So Many Trips To The OB-GYN
Most pregnant women go to the OB-GYN once per trimester then several times right at the end. That's not the case when your pregnancy is high risk, though. We can go as often as every week, sometimes even more frequently if you're seeing specialists (like maternal fetal medicine practitioners or reproductive endocrinologists).
You Constantly Second Guess Everything You're Doing
Should I be walking so much? Do I need to sit down? My ankles are a bit more swollen than usual, is that normal? Should I go ahead and stop working? Everything is a question and everything is a concern. Even if your doctor or midwife tells you not to worry, you still worry constantly.
You Have To Follow Additional Rules During Your Pregnancy
As if there weren't enough rules in a typical pregnancy, high-risk pregnancies come with a whole new level of rigor. From even more dietary restrictions to having to give yourself super painful progesterone injections to a seemingly endless amount of mandatory bed rest; there's a lot to remember, a lot to avoid, and a lot for your already-hormone-filled brain to remember.
You Call Your OB-GYN All The Time
I had my doctor on speed dial, you guys. Her personal cell, office number, FB messenger; all her contacts were right on my main screen. Her office staff recognized my voice and she responded to my texts with a quickness.
Your Normal Activities Are Restricted
The biggest pain in the ass when dealing with a high risk pregnancy, in my opinion? Heavy activity restrictions. Bed rest, home rest, restricted activity; they're all common when you don't have a "normal" pregnancy, and they all suck. You can either be stuck in bed or on the sofa for months, stuck at home for months, or not able to do anything at all even if you aren't officially house-bound.
You're Jealous Of Other Pregnant Women
Women with normal pregnancies just pissed me off. I assumed they were so clueless and oblivious to what could potentially go wrong, even if that wasn't the case at all. I felt like they were taking their "normal" pregnancies for granted, and I just wanted to, well, switch places.
Your Pregnancy Is Stressful, Not Joyful
I felt like I was missing out on a lot of the happiness I was supposed to feel because there was this black cloud of fear hanging over me. Instead of being excited at the little milestones, I just stressed more as time passed and as my pregnancy progressed. In my case, the farther along I was, the more risk there was for a potential problem. So, at 35 weeks, I was more nervous than I had even been before.
You Assume Something Bad Will Happen At Every Moment
High-risk can mean different things for different pregnant women, but usually it means you're at risk for delivering your baby early. Knowing and internalizing that risk means that you notice everything. Every twinge or cramp is followed by a foreboding, scary feeling. Everything is a contraction. Everything is your water breaking. Everything could mean rushing to the hospital to get checked out.
You Endure So Many Procedures
From daily blood glucose checks to weekly transvaginal ultrasounds to regularly stabbing yourself in the thigh with a huge needle for progesterone injections; high risk pregnancies come with a lot more invasive procedures than low-risk pregnancies. The things we have to do to keep our babies where they belong can be super unpleasant, to downright invasive or painful.
Pregnancy is no joke, but when it's a high-risk pregnancy, well, let's just say "May the odds be ever in your favor."