I never thought much about what my second pregnancy would be like after the birth of my daughter. Although I had some issues with hypertension (leading to bedrest and, ultimately, an induction), everything else was pretty standard. After two miscarriages and additional health problems, though, all that changed. Of the things I learned about myself when my pregnancy was labeled high-risk, the fact that I can get through anything tops the list.
When I went in for my first few doctors appointments with my son in utero, I was immediately thrown by the red label attached to my file. Upon further inspection, I realized it said, "Threatened Abortion." Immediately, I had flashbacks of the pregnancy losses I endured previously. I was already this baby wasn't going to make it, too, so those two words sent panic up and down my spine. Once the doctor located a heartbeat, and a strong one at that, I felt somewhat at ease.
Still, my doctor informed me that, because of my history of hypertension and loss, this pregnancy was considered a "high risk" pregnancy. It shouldn't have been news to me, I guess, but I wasn't prepared to hear those words. After all, those words meant I'd have to change my lifestyle in order to keep my baby, and myself, healthy and alive. In other words, whether I liked it or not, I had to learn to be OK with my diagnosis. With that, here are some things I learned about myself, and what I'm capable of, when my pregnancy was labeled "high risk."
I'm Not A Patient Woman
Even before my high risk pregnancy, I knew how impatient I can be at times. However, when you're reduced to limited tasks, rare outside appearances, and a long list of forbidden "no way in hell"s, the time you spend lying around feels infinite. My impatience quickly went from slightly annoyed to full-on rage, especially by the end of my pregnancy. As much as I wanted my son to enter the world when he was ready and healthy, I also wanted his arrival to happen sooner rather than later so my pregnancy could just be over with already.
I Don't Like Disruption
Because of my already present anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), I've always been a fan of routines and schedules. As a result, when my routines and schedules are changed or altered, my brain fights and rebels. Change doesn't come easily and often makes things worse, albeit temporarily. When I became "high risk," it meant all kinds of change. What I ate, how much I could move or stand, how often I could leave the house and how many doctor visits I'd need before an induction would happen. All of this proved how reliant I am on a solid list of tasks I'm used to, and how mentally dangerous it is when everything changes.
Along with needing routines to feel comfortable, I quickly realized just how much I resisted the doctor's orders. (OK, at least at first. Eventually I fell in line.) I'd clean the house, do the dishes and laundry, vacuum, or walk my daughter to the park and wouldn't notice the impact it had on my body until my feet swelled and I was in so much pain I had to lie down.
Looking back, defying my doctor's rules wasn't the smartest decision in the world. However, as I went through it, it was hard to let go of what I wanted to do. Eventually, I had no choice but to do as I was told (which wasn't easy), so my baby would be OK.
I'm Too Hard On Myself
During all that bedrest, I had a lot of time to think about the kind of mother I was to my (at the time) 3-year-old daughter, and who I'd be to our son, should he survive.
I carried a lot of guilt around with me during that pregnancy, too. The majority of my days were spent with my daughter playing next to me, while I lay immobile. She needed more from me and I couldn't give it to her. To be honest, I still feel bad about those days, but I've also tried to make up for it since. Thankfully, she doesn't remember most of it anyway.
I'm Not Good At Following Orders
Prop my feet up? I'll try. No more cleaning? I'll start that tomorrow, thank you very much. Take my medicine? Sorry but I forgot.
Even when I had the best intentions, giving up control of my body and my life was one of the more difficult aspects of my high risk pregnancy. It's not that I didn't want to do what was necessary, it was just a lot of changes to implement while also trying to be the best mom to my daughter and get all the other things, like work and errands, done on any given day. Even when my husband was home from work, he'd offer to do something and I'd insist I do it instead.
I'd Do Anything For My Kids To Survive
Despite my initial disobedience as I adjusted to life on bedrest, lengths I'd go to for my baby to take those first breaths outside of the womb are never-ending. When complications arose, and I was losing amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord was on the verge of snapping in utero, I'd have done anything necessary to save my son. Even now, as the mother of two, I'd trade my life for theirs if I had to. Whatever it takes. All of this made me realize the kind of love I had for my baby, and his sister. That love is deep and unwavering.
I'm A Fighter
Even though a high risk pregnancy is exhausting and frustrating, the end goal is to deliver a healthy baby (or babies). With everything my body went through before that pregnancy, and everything it went through during the pregnancy, by the time I held my son I was proud of myself.
There were so many days when I thought I simply couldn't do it anymore. When my body ached to the point I would spend entire nights crying, or when my legs could no longer carry me up that last step, it was difficult to focus on the end goal. However, now that I'm long past that pregnancy and my precious rainbow baby is a toddler, I see what I couldn't see then. I fought my way through a difficult situation, and I survived. More importantly, my son did, too.