Growing My Son – A High Risk Pregnancy Story
My son was my 5th pregnancy and my 2nd living child. My pregnancy with him was the hardest physically and mentally by far. I closed the doors on the idea of having more children after him. My experiences left my husband without a wife and my children without a mother once already, how could I put them all through it all, again?
I’ve shared my story about Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)– if you’re curious as to what that is or my story, please find the link for my journey below.
While enduring all of the effects of HG I also had weekly injections of the Makena shot from week 16. This is probably the most humorous part of my pregnancy by far. I remember bending over in front of my husband and nurse in the tiny little office so she could show my husband how to administer the shot for me. The first couple weeks went smooth while we were in the office being supervised by the nurse. He injected it and I had no pain. Then for some reason (probably being overwhelmed with everything else), my husband forgot how he was supposed to inject the shot once we started it at home.
Here’s the funny thing… he never brought it to my attention, he just simply went with it. The syringe came with a large needle (I’m talking a HUGE needle) already fastened on it that needed to be replaced with the smaller needle (a teeny tiny needle) the nurses so kindly placed in the bag. My husband in his state of temporary amnesia began week after week injecting the Makena medicine with the large needle. After weeks of yelps and a bruised, a hurt rump that lasted for days, the nurse had asked how the shots were going. It was not until then that the nurse showed my husband the correct way of doing things again, but by then I was almost done with the shots. I let it slide; he was keeping me alive after all.
The continuing of a difficult pregnancy
Now that my HG was finally manageable, I started to realize I had other problems. Every week that I went to the doctor for my regular appointments, I would complain that I had a sharp pain in my side. I would complain of irregular contractions that lasted all day. They would get frustrated with me and just say, “oh it’s just your ligaments stretching; it’s completely normal!” or “Those are Braxton Hicks, that happens around now.”
The pain eventually landed me in the Emergency Room. After more complaining and raising concern I received a sonogram and they finally took me serious. At this time I was not diagnosed but I left with the probability of having something called polyhydraminos. They offered me Procardia and Terbutaline while stating they were not the experts but they were referring us to some. My husband at that time researched the medications and we felt either the doctor’s answers to our questions weren’t answered to our satisfaction due to lack of knowledge or the fact they weren’t in the safe medicine category for pregnancies. The Procardia I did try gave me serious heart palpitations and I stopped it as soon as I began it.
After telling the experts my experience with the medication they enlightened me with the fact that I shouldn’t have even taken it in the first place. My trip out to the specialists gave me 3 new diagnoses: acute polyhydraminos, prodromal labor, and an irritable uterus. Yes- that’s a real thing.
Polyhydramnios is a medical condition of excess amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac. It is very rare, coming in at 1% of pregnancies. It is diagnosed if the amniotic fluid index (AFI) is greater than 24. My levels hung around 27.7. It is a very painful condition and very risky for the baby. It also put a lot of stress on my small frame, causing all of the irregular contractions. Thankfully, my son was born with no congenital abnormalities. They told me to stay off my feet as much as possible sent and me home.
It wasn’t even a week later that I back in the Emergency Room for sharp pains that seemed to never end. Since by then I had a diagnosis their course of action was for me to use a maternity belt and a TENS unit. I purchased a maternity cradle belt like this one and it took tons of pressure off my back, relieving my back pain and helping with my sciatic nerve. By wearing it everyday, even while sitting or laying down, it had helped tremendously.
I purchased a TENS unit as well, I had never even heard of this thing and it quickly became my best friend. They applied one to me while in the hospital and it instantly took a lot of stress off my back and hips and relieved pain. A TENS unit uses low voltage electric current to relieve pain. Sticky pads connect to electrodes and it delivers an electric shock to your body. It sounds scary, I know, but it brought me great relief from all of the strained muscles of my ever-growing belly. I used these methods instead of the offered medications that my husband and I felt were a risk for my unborn child.
SPD (Symphysis pubis dysfunction)
SPD (Symphysis pubis dysfunction) is a condition in which the pubic symphysis excessively moves creating misalignment and associated pain. It is diagnosed 1 in 300 pregnancies – lucky me. I developed this towards the end of my pregnancy as I was slowly becoming a part of the world again. I developed the SPD because of the polyhydraminos. It was crippling to the point that the pain would knock me to the ground as my leg would spasm and shoot right out from under me which was the result of my sciatic nerve working in conjunction with the SPD.
The medical staff at the hospital wanted to prescribe narcotics because of the severity of the pain. I refused and tried to manage it the best I could by avoiding different positions why lying down or shifting my weight often while sitting. I couldn’t even walk for a short distance; say from the parking lot to inside a store without needing a break. Once inside, I would drive one of those motorized shopping carts. I often got pointed at and whispered about. As if I needed any additional self-awareness; I now could add humiliation and ridicule to the list. I heard things like, “…she shouldn’t be using that. That’s there for people who need it.” Boy did I ever…
Prodromal Labor is a condition where you have contractions and various labor signs that carry on very much in the way that traditional labor presents itself except you aren’t actually in labor. No prize at the end of it- just lots of pain. It was months of insanely painful contractions, and unpleasant labor signs (you know what I mean) and multiple hospital visits. I either showed up to the Emergency Room because of the fear I was in labor or ushered there by my midwives to be monitored. This became the norm- once or twice a week for about a month I went through this.
When I was 39 weeks, I had my membranes stripped as my body was not preparing for delivery as it should have. I was no longer effacing- nor was I dilating. I was simply just going through the motions without any progress. My midwife felt stripping my membranes would help to get things moving (that and she felt bad for the miserable pregnancy I had endured thus far).
After weeks of contracting intensely every minute for about a half an hour or so with a small time frame for recovery I was ready to welcome my baby. I was constantly begging her to help me have our baby after we reached the 37th week because I was past my level of pain tolerance. After the procedure the midwives wanted me to “stay close by,” so my husband and I walked for about 5 hours while 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant in hopes of getting my water to break and by being a SPD sufferer it was no easy task. The midwives obviously had high hopes; The only thing that happened was constant pain.
A Tough Decision
After arriving at the hospital because my contractions became unbearable and I could no longer walk through them, things got very scary for us. Hours after being at the hospital with no new movement on my cervix despite the extremely close contractions, the doctors came in and told us they wanted me to be on morphine for the night- I was terrified. I had no experience with the drug but I knew the risks and I was beyond worried what damages it could do to our son.
My husband was my advocate as I was too weak and he argued for hours on my behalf and for the safety of our child. Eventually, we succumbed to the doctors and nurses requests because our son was showing great distress and a dropped heart rate on the fetal monitors. The morphine allowed my body to relax and I no longer had contractions. My baby’s heart rate stabilized and it felt like he was no longer in a panic. This was the most difficult decision that I was faced with in my pregnancy.
The next day, my labor progressed slowly as I labored into the evening time. I walked the 4th floor of the hospital with my IV pole yet again until my water broke, which took hours. Then I watched my husband eat his breakfast, lunch, and his snacks. I chewed on ice cubes and the much desired flavored popsicles that were given sparingly. The active labor part of my delivery was rather uneventful. The break that the morphine provided enabled me to labor in a way that was productive and did no harm to my son. Thankfully, there were no negative effects on my son and he was born a healthy little boy weighing just under 9 pounds. After my son was born I got to eat and actually keep down a meal for the first time since week 4 of my pregnancy.
In conclusion, my story of pregnancy with my son began with suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, receiving weekly Makena shots (to prevent another pre-term baby, polyhydramninos disorder that started in my 2nd trimester which led to SPD (Symphysis pubis dysfunction) – making my pregnancy very difficult. Failed medications and constant pain defined my pregnancy. Prodromal labor became the norm for the last several months resulting in even more bed rest.
It was a very depressing time. I was very isolated, and very miserably in pain. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely. My son completed our family and his smile and laughter brought a bright new light into our world.
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