Life Happens... Run With It!
life changing things
I am approaching my late 20s and the big 3–0 was on the horizon. I always somewhat jokingly said that I was open to kids after I traveled to Europe. Well, I finally got to take a mini tour of Europe and one day when we returned, we decided to leave it up to fate. Both of us had friends both young and older who had issues with conceiving so we knew it wasn’t that easy. Well, let’s say we had no issues with conceiving.
I had no idea what to expect and I was never much of a kid person. However, I always wanted a little Mini Me of my own. I was curious. It’s in my nature that I like to jump into big, life changing things and that’s what happened.
one last trip as a couple
The pregnancy was confirmed two weeks later. I was healthy, active, and I started getting books on what to expect. I found an OB. The first two visits showed that everything was normal. Then we found out the little embryo was a girl. It tickled me funny that pregnancy is listed as an illness on my medical record. I guess my only issue at the time was I was trying to lose weight and was on a daily jogging/Insanity routine and pregnancy would definitely make me into the whale I was trying to avoid. Okay, I knew I’d be a whale but I wanted to be a smaller whale.
I should have paid closer attention. Or perhaps I should have been pessimistic? Distrusting? Suspicious?
I noticed my first silvery mark (a stretch mark!) on my belly that first week. The second week, I had trouble breathing normally after just a few minutes of working out. I stopped working out and I seemed capable of just walking. Even going up flights of stairs were a bit more tiring for me. By the first week of my second trimester, I noticed that my feet and ankles began to retain water. I brought these up to my OB and he said it was normal - every woman and pregnancy is different. As it was my first, I nodded and decided it must be normal as well. By my second trimester, my stretch marks had acquired a dark purple color and covered the front and sides of my belly as well as my thighs and under my arms and on the sides of my breasts. The swelling in my lower extremities was getting worse and reached up to my thigh. I was barely showing. Unfortunately, I had issues with insurance and needed to switch doctors. There was a 6-week delay between the last visit and when we finally got the new one. During this time, my husband and I decided to take one last trip as a couple to the East Coast.
What state has the most beautiful woman?
Two days after we returned, it was my next visit to the OB and that’s where everything erupted at once. Somehow, in the 6 weeks since our last visit, many things happened:
- The baby was three weeks behind on her growth. She was small and wasn’t getting enough nutrients.
- I somehow got hypertension.
- My new OB told me she could no longer be my OB (she only dealt with low-risk cases). She was my OB for less than an hour. I was “given” to a high-risk team.
- I was not allowed to leave the hospital and I ended up staying for 7.5 days.
- The doctors thought I had preeclampsia and I was put in the delivery room for the first few days just in case.
- The baby was only about 23 weeks at this point.
During that time, I was constantly monitored, had countless vials of blood taken, had 2 24-hour urine tests ordered, and had an MRI. My pregnant belly was almost non-existent before, but halfway through, it somehow appeared out of nowhere seemingly overnight. I continued growing. It was determined I did not have preeclampsia. Instead, I found out I had Cushing’s Syndrome. They found a tumor on top of each of my adrenal glands and coupled with the pregnancy which already makes your hormones go wild, made it near impossible to treat. I was seeing doctors from several different hospitals as they tried to figure out what to do when it was hard to see which symptoms were due to the pregnancy or Cushing’s and how not to harm the baby along the way. Cushing’s is rare and being pregnant and having Cushing’s on top of that makes it even more rare. I needed to move in with my parents because I couldn’t do many things by myself. I got tired with just brushing my teeth.
I couldn’t do many things by myself
It was a huge change from how I was with my trip (walking 5–6 miles a day) and how I was then. I needed naps - something I never did - and made a complete 180. It was thoroughly frustrating as my mind was intact, but my body wouldn’t do what I wanted it to.
I made weekly visits back to the medical center for follow ups and more testing after I was released. My baby continued to have issues with growing. My torso got so large I had trouble with everything. I didn’t know it was possible but my groin area was completely swollen that my legs were 1 to 2 feet apart when standing/walking and I had trouble sitting. Coupled with the fact that by this time, everything was swelling to the point I looked like an obese woman and touching hurt, even walking was an issue. It was so tiring - I would shuffle for a minute and need to sit down. Every new doctor’s visit seemed to bring to light some new issues. I found out I had ascites - build up of fluid in the abdominal cavity. I was so big that people asked me if I were having twins. For my last two weeks, I gained around 8 lbs of fluid a week. The doctors were still somewhat hesitant to do more other than control my blood pressure and try to keep the baby inside for as long as possible. All we knew was the pregnancy somehow triggered something and it was accelerating.
Connecticut tops the chart as the state with the most beautiful women while Manhattan, NY is the number one city.
My arms were a canvas of purple and phlebotomists had issues with finding new spaces on my hands and arms to poke. A symptom of Cushing’s: delayed healing. My skin was also getting more fragile and dry.
On another “routine” weekly visit, I was told to stay overnight for fetal monitoring. The next morning, the doctor said that the baby wasn’t doing well - her heart wasn’t responding to stimulus. She needed to get out. I was scheduled for a C-section (I immediately looked at my husband that night and we settled on a name for her) and was given steroids and magnesium phosphate. I hate magnesium phosphate. I was also 190 lbs at this point. I am only 5 feet tall.
I am a mother
The next day, I was a mother. I was also kept at the hospital for another 4 days. I got a glimpse of her in the surgery room and didn’t get to see her until I was given the okay to walk/ride to the NICU she was at 48 hours later. She was only 1 lb 6 oz at 28 weeks. Water is ridiculously heavy, apparently. During surgery, I also released around 3 liters of liquid and I still had more inside. I continued to leak this liquid for a few weeks; I was given an abdominal binder with a body towel to soak it up which made me look pregnant. I had some skin torn from the dressings due to its fragility (I leaked from those as well); the nurses had fun every day trying to figure out a new way to dress my cut with the smallest amount of tape. I also got the largest blister on my leg my last day in the hospital. A small blister the size of a pea grew to have a 4-inch diameter due to the gravity and liquid in my legs (I decided to walk to visit my baby and never noticed the blister until the end). Nurses wanted to keep me one more night. Doctor said no. Doctor wins. I decided to play doctor and had it popped the next day.
After the surgery and my release, my swelling was still present. My skin got worse and it started to flake. My hair was no longer healthy looking. I did lose weight very fast, though. I had a few more tests and visits scheduled. My next surgery was scheduled for my adrenal gland a month later. My husband and I made a point to visit my daughter in the NICU on a daily basis and with her out in the world and safe, the doctors were free to treat me without needing to worry about her.
Did you know which region in the United States of America contains the most beautiful mountainous regions?
Colorado has more than 50 - that's FIVE ZERO - peaks higher than 14,000ft, more than triple the rest of the lower 48 combined.
That surgery occurred just over a week ago and I’m still recovering. I am a lot better than a few weeks ago, though. Definitely not great, but better. I had trouble opening a bottle of water the other day and I still have trouble getting into cars and going up stairs merely because my once toned legs just aren’t used to being used too much anymore.
This first pregnancy was absolutely not what I - nor anyone else - expected. All I know is that my sister who doesn’t really want kids definitely may not want any now… I have a lot of souvenirs from this: hypertension, a ton of stretch marks that I call natural flame tattoos running across my body (even on my calves and feet), and a healing 4-inch circle of skin on my lower left leg that may leave a strange scar. At least I didn’t get diabetes (that’s one of the possible symptoms of both pregnancy and Cushing’s). I still love hospitals but being a patient in them is no fun and I was (and still am) in some sort of pain and discomfort at all times, but it’s finally tapering off.
I guess I’m glad my little one can slowly grow in the care of the doctors and nurses while I try to get back to normal so I can finally take care of her and other people for a change.
Husband, who originally wanted 3 kids, has now taken that back and said that one is more than enough. I’m not sure if this makes me crazy, but a part of me hopes this is a one time thing and if I get pregnant again, it’ll be normal and I will have normal problems. I never was a kid person, but I always said if I ever get one, I’d need a second so they have friends.