I don’t enjoy being pregnant. None of my pregnancies would I describe as easy or smooth – with Genny, she had a cystic hygroma at 12 weeks gestation; with Nora, I suffered recurring UTI’s; and in between those two pregnancies, we lost a baby at 6 weeks. My pregnancy with Amelia was probably the easiest from the 2nd trimester to her due date, but it was far from an ideal experience. Here’s what happened from the time I got those two pink lines up to 9 months later!
Blog Post: How to Survive Your First Trimester with a Toddler
Finding Out I was Pregnant
One of the most inquisitive questions I’ve ever received was “Were you trying?” For real, why do people want or need to know that?? But by baby #3, this was one of the main questions that I heard. The answer? Yes, okay. We were trying. In fact, it only took 1 try. I almost didn’t believe it when I saw those two pink lines because it seemed too easy.
It was late April, and I had been doing a strict lifestyle plan prescribed by Dr. Ben Lynch in his book “Dirty Genes”, which I highly recommend. I was feeling better than I had in years, heart palpitations were under control, I had loads of energy, and the joint pain that was becoming debilitating earlier that year was all but a memory.
I’d used the Kindara app to track my cycle, and ovulation test strips from Amazon to pinpoint my days of ovulation. Everything was apparently all-systems-go because a few weeks later, I brought the positive pee-stick out the garage and showed Ryan that he was a Papa yet again!
Blog Post: How to Tell if You are Pregnant: How I Found Out
HCG Test, UTIs, and My First Visit with a Midwife
If you’ve been following me for awhile, you may know that in 2018 we had a miscarriage at about 6 weeks gestation. Since then, every positive pregnancy test has brought equal excitement and terror. You also might know that since my pregnancy with Nora, I’ve had off-and-on bouts with relentless UTIs.
Given these past two experiences, a few days after that positive test, I started feeling bladder cramps. For me, these cramps feel very similar to uterine cramps, reminding me of how it felt the day I had lost my other pregnancy. One night, they were so bad that I was sure I was having a miscarriage. I remember sobbing in bed to Ryan that something just didn’t feel right.
After Nora’s birth, when my OB quite arbitrarily decided I had to be induced, I had already decided not to return to her for prenatal care. My plan was to shop around a couple of birthing centers before landing on one, but instead I found myself in need of a health care provider pronto and none to go to.
At this time, I started texting a friend who had frequented a local birthing center in the past few years. She offered to ask her midwife a couple of questions for me, and ultimately I called and made an appointment for an HCG test. The next two days, I was an emotional wreck, but found comfort in the fact that I didn’t have any bleeding.
During my first visit with the midwife, I felt like I was skipping some steps. I was so nervous and worried, but the midwife told me that she thought it was likely my issues were only caused by the UTI. I was still so early in my pregnancy (about 5 weeks), so all they could do was the HCG test. She prescribed me an antibiotic that she said was met with positive results for her patients, and although I’d had bad experiences with antibiotics against UTIs, I wanted to keep the cramping from causing real uterine contractions, so I took it.
Two days later, I went back in for another blood draw (to compare the HCG results). Unfortunately I hadn’t had enough water that day, and she had to stick me 5 times before getting a vein, but I didn’t care – it was worth it if I could just have some answers.
Pregnancy Announcement Thwarted
The week of my birthday started out great – my HCG results were in, and my levels had more than doubled within 48 hours as they should. My UTI finally started to ebb, after another antibiotic and a rigorous regiment of d-mannose. We were planning to tell the family at brunch on Mother’s Day, so on my birthday I claimed I was still sticking to my “Dirty Genes Protocol” to keep suspicions away from “Are you pregnant??” when I wasn’t drinking.
That Thursday night, at our last MOPS meeting, I told my friends, making them all promise to keep it quiet until we told our families. I was so excited to tell Genny and Nora, but we were going to wait until the last minute so neither of them spilled the beans.
But then our plans changed that night when I started bleeding heavily.
It was like a bad dream… everything had seemed so perfect. I felt stupid for feeling like it would be okay, especially after the UTI, the antibiotics. Why had I thought that things would end differently?
It was 11:30PM when I texted the midwife what was happening. Being pregnant, I hadn’t kept stocked up on pads, so I tearfully asked Ryan to get me some. He asked one of my best friends to drop some by, and I put it on feeling robotic, like I couldn’t believe this was happening again.
To my surprise, the midwife called me soon after I’d texted her. Such a foreign concept to me having only dealt with obstetricians in the past! They would never have called back at nearly midnight. She calmly talked me through the situation and asked if I was having cramps. I told her I wasn’t, and felt a flicker of hope that I immediately tried to squelch. It was easier if I didn’t think about “what ifs”. She told me a couple of possible causes, mentioning that it was a good sign that I wasn’t having cramping. She also said that if it was a miscarriage, it would become evident that night.
I went to bed. Or rather, I laid in bed trying to calm down until morning came. I did notice that after about two hours, the bleeding had subsided. I didn’t have any of the bright red blood any more, and still no cramping. Still, I didn’t dare hope that everything would be alright. How could it after so much bleeding? And at only 5 weeks…
First Ultrasounds and Subchorionic Hemorrhage?
The next morning, I asked Ryan to go ahead and tell our parents. I found out later that a friend had accidentally spilled the beans to my mom earlier that week, and she told me that she was glad so she had so preparation for Ryan’s phone call. The next day was Mother’s Day, the day we would have surprised everyone. Another example of the plans of men being thwarted.
Explaining to Genny
After my restless night, we sat Genny down and tried to explain the situation. There was so obviously something wrong, we didn’t want to keep her in the dark, and we always try to be honest and open with her. However, I apparently didn’t choose my words carefully enough, for later on she ended up mentioning to several people that I had been “bleeding from my booty”. Facepalm.
We explained to Genny, our then four and a half-year old, that Mama had been pregnant but the baby may have gone to be with Jesus. Since my grandpa passed away, she had become familiar with the concept of death. She asked a couple more questions, then seemed satisfied, so we didn’t explain any further.
Later that day though, she told Ryan that she thought the baby would be okay. That of course brought more tears to my eyes as I realized how much I hoped that to be true.
First Ultrasound and Possible Cause
At the birthing center, the ultrasound technician only came in on Wednesdays, plus since I was still so early on there wouldn’t be much to see anyway. But the midwife offered to come in and do an ultrasound herself just to see if she could tell where the bleeding had come from. Again I was struck by the stark difference between the midwife and my OB’s in the past.
There wasn’t much to see on the ultrasound that day except that my uterus was the correct shape for pregnancy, which meant that I hadn’t had a miscarriage (yet at least) and there was a little shadow indicating that there was “something” growing there. She also suggested that the cause of the bleeding may have been attributed to a subchorionic hemorrhage, when the chorionic membranes (that surround the developing fetus) partially detach from the uterine wall. This typically occurs between 10-20 weeks gestation, though, so while I was encouraged, I still felt unsettled.
Second Ultrasound and First Trimester Symptoms
On Wednesday, Ryan took me back to the birthing center for my second ultrasound. My stomach was tied in knots as I wondered what we would see – would I leave feeling relieved and happy or heartbroken and dejected?
The first time I saw that little Bean on the screen, tears sprang to my eyes. I could see the little heart beating. I could see my little baby moving around. What a difference a few days made in gestational development!
The ultrasound technician, who is a real sweetheart, confirmed that the baby looked and sounded healthy, then she pointed out what looked like a pocket at the top of the screen. This, she explained, was the result of the subchorionic hemorrhage – a pocket of blood resulting from the detachment. She said this meant I might have more bleeding, but it should be dark in color and appear older, or it might dissipate back into my body. I told her I hoped for the latter.
First Trimester Symptoms
After this point, I started feeling the effects of the pregnancy. Thank God, I never had any more bleeding. The pocket of blood seemed to dissipate by my 20 week ultrasound. Just a couple days after my birthday, I began feeling nauseous. That’s when my clean eating streak promptly ended. As usual, despite my prenatal vitamins from Seeking Health that were chock-full of B vitamins, the morning sickness and fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks for the next 10 weeks or so. This time, my symptoms included:
- Excessive mouth-watering
- Slight congestion
- Gum inflammation (pregnancy gingivitis)
- Braxton Hicks contractions (starting around 12 weeks, maybe a couple of them earlier)
Couple that with taking care of a couple of energetic kiddos under the age of 5, and you can imagine how much fun those first three months were.
Anatomy Scan at 20 Weeks
By 16 weeks, I started feeling much better. I could swear that I felt tiny stirrings at 10 weeks, and by 20 weeks I had been feeling movements regularly for some time. We went to the anatomy scan with the usual excitement…and a couple of runny noses. The weather had been particularly allergy-unfriendly lately, and both girls woke up coughing and sniffing. Used to be this was a common occurrence for little kids, but of course with the hysteria of the past nearly THREE YEARS, you can’t leave the house with a runny nose without people treating you like you have the plague.
The ultrasound technician squirted the gel on my belly, and in a moment there was our sweet baby again. Much bigger than last time, but still looking beautifully healthy. We could hardly believe it after everything we’d gone through.
“Are we finding out the gender?” the tech asked us, and we said yes. “It’s a girl!” she told us.
A third girl. I felt that familiar twinge of joy as a piece of the puzzle that was our new child fell into place. Another comment we received throughout this pregnancy was an overall feeling of disappointment that our next baby was another girl. These sentiments never came from our close friends and family, but most often it was a stranger with lots of opinions. As if we felt anything less than joy at the idea of being blessed with another girl in our family.
The ultrasound technician processed with the scan, measuring her bones and head, checking her organs, counting fingers and toes, and listening to her heartbeat. Everything concluded that she was healthy and developing on schedule! She also told me that my placenta was posterior, meaning I might not feel her move until later. I laughed and told her that I’d been feeling her move a lot!
All this goes to show you how things don’t always go the way you think they will. The Lord’s plans aren’t always our plans. But everything that happens in our lives brings us closer to Him, as I can attest with each difficult moment of each pregnancy. Our babies have always belonged to Him first. And I would especially need to remember that fact in the days surrounding our Baby Girl’s due date as well…
How have you enjoyed your pregnancies? Share with me by commenting below!
Love, Emily XOXO
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