Before I discovered my first pregnancy, I had all the typical dreams of what I thought it might be like. Wearing all the stretchy clothes, eating whatever, whenever, reveling in my growing baby bump. It never, ever occurred to me something might go wrong. I was prepared for a normal pregnancy, but one of the things I wasn't prepared for when my pregnancy was labeled high risk was the emotional toll it would take. It was difficult to accept the undeniable fact that my experience would be vastly different than the dream scenario I'd always hoped for.
Having Polycystic Syndrome (PCOS) meant enduring painful cysts often, but my OB-GYN assured me I'd still be able to carry a pregnancy to term (as long as I remained otherwise healthy and took good care of myself). He was right. I did become pregnant with my daughter in early 2006, and in the beginning, things were seemingly "normal." I had the awful morning/noon/night sickness, massive hormonal fluctuations, and, yes, weird food cravings (this vegetarian wanted a hamburger!). Pregnancy, am I right?!
Towards the end, things started to change. My blood pressure ran so high, my legs and feet swelled every time I stood up. I was diagnosed with severe hypertension, labeled "high risk," and ordered to bedrest until a planned induction. Labor and delivery weren't atypical and once I had a baby in my arms, my body slowly recovered. It was almost as if none of the complications ever happened.
Awhile later, when my partner and I decided to try for another, we thought it'd go about the same way as the first. Then I suffered through two miscarriages and everything — everything — changed. The next pregnancy thereafter, with my son, was immediately labeled a "threatened abortion" because they didn't think he'd survive. By the next visit, when his heartbeat was still going strong (thankfully), they downsized my label to "high risk" and ordered me to bedrest with a slew of other conditions (which I followed). It wasn't easy and being "high risk" meant missing out on a lot to make sure my baby stayed alive (and me, too). With that, here are some of the things I absolutely wasn't ready for when they told me this pregnancy was "high risk."
All The Resting
I knew I needed to rest but I was, in no way, prepared to rest that much. It was 24/7 during those last weeks when I leaked amniotic fluid (before they induced me already) and felt like infinity. I mean, how many episodes of Friends can I watch? Seriously?
While standing was exhausting, a girl can only lay around so much before she's over it, especially when I already had another child to look after while my partner worked. It was nearly impossible to lay around so much. Now that I'm way past that phase, two kids in tow, I'd really like to lay down for a few. The irony.
Along with all the laying and resting and avoiding life in motion, I didn't see many people. Like, ever. My family lives in another state and my partner's family didn't visit much , so it was mostly just my daughter's company that kept me semi-sane. She's cool and everything, but I could've used grown-up stimulation.
Plus, my emotions were all over the place and I was really lonely. I wanted to talk to other people and be heard by other people and, maybe, feel like I wasn't fading away within the bedsheets.
The Constant Fear Of Losing My Baby
Everything I did during pregnancy with my son scared the hell out of me. Gas, acid reflux, discomfort from him moving: I feared any part of it would kill him. After those two miscarriages, I had good reason to be paranoid. Even with doctor's false promised, my body had already betrayed me and I couldn't lose another baby. I just couldn't.
The Dread Of Doctor's Appointments
Appointments meant there was a chance they'd find something else wrong with my baby. Maybe he'd stopped growing or there was no longer a heartbeat or maybe something was wrong with me. I didn't want to go — I hated it — and never felt OK until it was over. Even then, every last movement put me in check.
Missing Out On Almost Everything
I cancelled a lot of plans which distanced the friends I had at the time. They understood my reasoning, I think, but while I was lonely at home (miserable in sickness), I couldn't help but think about how much fun everyone else was probably having. It's a fun way to torture yourself.
Changing My Diet Slightly
I thoroughly enjoyed my first pregnancy (until the end) because I ate mostly what I wanted to. After the losses though, pregnancy with my son meant I couldn't always have the cookie or second helping of dinner. It was a bummer to not indulge all the time and in the end, didn't matter anyway when other problems (leaking amniotic fluid) would be more of an issue than my diet. But at least I tried to do right by him.
Caring For My Daughter While Taking Care Of The Baby
Being pregnant while caring for a toddler is one thing but doing it with a high risk pregnancy is another level. It was hard for me to be everything to my daughter, maintain all doctor's orders, and feel somewhat rested. My daughter was great and allowed me the grace to do as I needed but I still feel guilty that she had to bend at all.
Carrying a baby when labeled "high risk" wasn't one of my favorite periods of time but in the end, I delivered two beautiful, healthy children. No matter what your pregnancy is like (or how terrible/miserable/self-sacrificing, that's the end goal, right?