Pregnancy: 13 week + 3 day update
I am 13 weeks + 3 days pregnant, and it’s been nearly 4 weeks since my last update! This blog post includes a range of topics including our 11 week ultrasound, a recent trip to the emergency room, and an awesome book I recently finished.
Hello, beautiful unicorn community!
A lot has happened in the last four weeks since my last blog post!
Cory and I had our 11 week ultrasound.
I finished my progesterone injections and estrogen supplements.
I read an awesome book!
I had a severe bleeding episode that landed me in the emergency room.
I went on an online, maternity jeans shopping spree!
Pregnancy symptoms and cravings have changed.
My diet-culture healing journey continues as my nutrition needs and body evolve in pregnancy.
First things first, our…
11 week ultrasound update
A couple weeks ago at 11 weeks + 5 days, Cory and I had our first visit with our maternal fetal medicine (MFM) doctor (aka: high risk OB, aka: perinatologist). It was recommended that I am closely followed by an MFM instead of a standard OB because my pregnancy is considered “complicated” or “high risk.” Pregnancies with unicornuate uteruses may result in pre-term labor, cervical shortening, and/or need for C-section, so I feel relieved to be followed by a specialist with extra training for funky uterus ladies like me. Our fertility clinic highly recommended Obstetrix Medical Group of Colorado (OBX), so we went with them!
Our appointment was relatively uneventful (yay!). We had an ultrasound (shortened video below!) and saw our son move and groove! Everything looked good. Our doctor told us that she was planning to just follow me a little more closely than a normal pregnancy because of my higher risk for complications. She seemed like an informed critical-thinker, so we liked her. I then had an in-depth, unremarkable physical with a nurse practitioner. All-in-all, our first visit with our MFM was pretty mundane (minus an interesting interaction we had with the receptionist who completely misinterpreted something I said. I’ll just say that the word “trumpet” was misheard for “chocolate,” and the receptionist probably walked away thinking I was a racist bigot. I’ll tell you the full story next time I see you person!).
No more progesterone!
On April 17, I had my last intramuscular progesterone injection! Cory injected this 1.5 inch needle containing an oily progesterone substance into my hip for 70 days. 70 days! 70 days of not being able to sleep on my side. 70 days of wincing any time I bonked in against a chair or when Cory tried to touch me. 70 days of feeling grateful that this injection was keeping my pregnancy going. 70 days of pregnancy that I got to experience (and that so many women don’t get).
After this final injection, Cory and I would no longer have 7 AM, 20-minute injection fests every morning before work. No more tender hip/butt muscles. No more Disney princess band-aids (or Star Wars, or Minions, or Trolls - we received the best band-aid collect in our stockings this past Christmas). And hopefully soon, no more numb skin on my left hip. (We hit a nerve in the second week of injections, and I’ve lost feeling in a big chunk of my hip. The NP said this sensation will come back.)
We had been slowly tapering my estrogen and progesterone supplements over a 2-3 week period. It’s incredible to think that my body has finally taken over and is now producing the necessary hormones. I celebrate the moments in which my body does something it’s supposed to do.
Thank you, body, for supplying estrogen and progesterone to keep this pregnancy truckin’ along!
I read an awesome book!
Thanks to a recommendation from my Seattle-based friend, Stephanie, I recently read Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes. Angela initially gained famed when, back in 2015, she wrote an article in The Stranger called, “The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am.” This article went on to be one of the most read/shared article in The Stranger’s history.
So what’s this book all about? Author Meaghan O’Connell describes this book perfectly: “The pregnancy book that every smart, feminist woman has been waiting for has finally arrived! Garbes' natural curiosity and enthusiasm is infectious and never sacrificed as she navigates the culture of pregnancy and once-taboo subjects like miscarriage, placentas, and the pelvic floor with humor and delight. Garbes insists, rightly and beautifully, that women deserve more: more information, more compassion, more autonomy as well as more support. I read Like a Mother in one sitting, and read half of it out loud to my husband. I finished the book filled with hope and gratitude, convinced this book is both necessary and long overdue.”
The book was was refreshing - it read so differently than your standard pregnancy book or website. There was no shaming of the pregnant woman for doing (or not doing) exactly what she “should” be doing to have the most perfectly healthy pregnancy. She acknowledges a woman’s right to her own choice within an informed pregnancy.
“There is no right or wrong, there is just what we decide. What feels right - what is safe, enjoyable, and worth it - is what is best for a family. And we are all just doing the best we can. The standards we set for mothers, without real support, mean that very few women will ever meet them. And even then, we often still feel inadequate,” (Garbes, 2018, approx p. 159).
The book was eye-opening. One of the reason Garbes set out to write this book was because she was disappointed with the (lack of ) objective information about pregnancy. She wanted real answers to questions like, “What’s is the placenta?” and, “How do I heal after giving birth?”
The book was angering (at our society) for not providing women enough information, voice, and support before, during, and after pregnancy.
And the book was empowering…and slap-your-knee funny…and send-your-mom-screen-shots-of-excerpts moving. I highly recommend this to any human who has been birthed (read: everyone). I’m in awe of Angela. If you find yourself wanting more of her, check out Angela on this episode of Food Psych podcast with Christy Harrison: Food Psych #174: How to Make Peace with Your Body in Pregnancy & Beyond with Angela Garbes.
“If we’re telling women that they should breast-feed exclusively for six months, then we should give them - at minimum - the same amount of paid family leave. Seemingly everything about breast-feeding, which for the first few months easily takes up eight hours a day, is at odds with holding down fun-time work,” (Garbes, 2018, p. 156)
And now, onto the blood.
Trigger warning: blood, sex, blood, blood, lots of blood.
On Saturday, April 20, Cory and I rushed to the emergency room because I was bleeding…a lot.
Here are some of the questions I’ll be answering in this section. (If you would rather not read the honest details, feel free to skip ahead to the next, less bloody section!)
What caused the bleeding? Did it happen spontaneously? Was it a subchorionic hematoma/hemorrhage? How much blood was there? Did you fill a pad within an hour? What did they do in the ER? Are you and the baby okay?
Let’s start with the first question: What caused the bleeding?
Sex caused the bleeding. I started bleeding right after Cory and I had sex Saturday morning (there’s no such thing as T.M.I. on this blog). Apparently, we injured my highly vascular, tender, and very sensitive cervix.
The good news? The bleeding didn’t start spontaneously - which would have been more alarming and perhaps would have been more related to a possible miscarriage.
The bad news? Cory and I will never be doing that again during our pregnancy (well, maybe after some counseling and a healthy dose of healing time). I hate to throw around the term “trauma” loosely because I am super sensitive to and respect those who have histories of trauma, but I think this event was, at the very least, lower-case “t” trauma for Cory and me. We were really nervous about having sex after our frozen embryo transfer back in February. We didn’t want to “mess anything up” or hurt the process. After some in-depth reassurance from our doc that sex was a-okay, we moved forward and gave it a shot. (Thankfully this bleeding episode wasn’t our “first time back on the saddle.” That would have been extra traumatizing.)
Because of the bleeding, my anxiety sky-rocketed. Thankfully, I have an individual counseling appointment this week to work through my anxiety, shift my narratives, and hopefully identify some helpful strategies.
Next question: How much blood was there?
A lot, a lot.
It looked like we killed a small animal in our bedroom and bathroom. After we noticed I started bleeding, I ran to the toilet. I sat there, dripping into the toilet like someone had turned on a faucet inside me. I was in shock. I sat, staring at my reflection in the mirror as I bled, unable to cry or think or yell or process. Within a couple minutes, I had filled the toilet bowl with blood. Filled. I flushed the toilet, and started to wail. I was inconsolable. Sobbing and yelling. Bleeding and pleading. “This is so sad. This is so sad. It’s over. Please God don’t let it be over. This is so sad,” I said on a loop, like a devastated broken record while the toilet filled a second time.
Cory was rationale and steady. “Let me help you get dressed so we can go to the ER,” he said calmly. Without thinking, I darted into the shower to try to clean the murder scene off of me. I didn’t want to see any more blood. But the bleeding continued, and my shower was completely unsuccessful at ridding me of the red. I threw on two pairs of underwear with two huge pads, sweats, and a t-shirt. Cory helped me down the stairs and into the car.
On the way to the ER, a sudden wave of pragmatism washed over me. I called my MFM and talked to the NP on call. We texted my mom. She was going to meet us in the ER. I noticed the bad traffic on Hampden (why such bad traffic on a Saturday morning?). I flashed back to making this same drive to the ER the same time last year when I had ovarian cysts/torsion (read more about my ER visit and surgery here). I took a deep breath and said, “Everything’s going to be okay, right? Even if we lose the baby, I have to remember that all is well. All is well. I have you. Everything’s going to be okay. All is well.” Cory assured me that we have each other, no matter what, and everything is going to be okay.
We received THE BEST treatment in the ER. It was a much-needed corrective experience after our time in the same ER last spring - an experience that resulted in me consulting with attorneys and then writing a strongly worded letter of complaint to the hospital’s senior leadership team. This time, I was seen by a doctor and a nurse within 10 minutes of being admitted. The doc immediately did an ultrasound — and the baby was okay. His heart was beating, and he was squirming around. My uterine fluids were normal. Nothing seemed to be wrong with the baby or my uterus. Thank the Universe! After the ultrasound, the nurse hooked me up to some IVF fluids, I had a pelvic exam, and I was visited by my MFM’s hospitalist on-call doc (a 70+ year-old-man who talked to me more about the Avs game the previous night than my bleeding scare. I took that as a good sign). I was discharged home with the recommendation for “pelvic rest” for two weeks.
Later that day, my sister, Karli, gifted me this tank top. TOUGH AS A MOTHER.
After 1+ years of infertility, ovarian torsion surgery, two rounds of IVF, 70 progesterone shots, estrogen vaginal suppositories, and this bleeding episode, I’m starting to believe that yes, I am tough as a mother.
On a lighter (blood-free) note…
A couple of weeks ago, I went on an online maternity jeans shopping spree! I bought eight pairs of maternity pants in one fell swoop. (Online shopping is the best way to shop…the only way I can tolerate shopping, really.) I wanted to be an informed shopper, so I bought two pairs of jeans from four different stores. I’m going to keep two, and I’ll be returning my least favorite six pairs. I’m really excited to share my experience with maternity jeans shopping in a blog post later this week…with loads of pictures and comments about the jeans!
In my first trimester, I craved salt. Refried beans, chicken broth, tacos. I wanted so. much. sodium!
Literally as the clock struck 12, ringing in my second trimester, my pregnancy cravings shifted. Now I want orange juice. I want to chug orange juice, to take baths in orange juice, to have unlimited quantities in my fridge.
For most of my life, from the time I was 15-years-old, juice has been off limits. Evil diet culture taught me that juice was no more than empty calories, a no-no beverage that I must avoid if I wanted to maintain my toned, “healthy” body. So craving orange juice in pregnancy has further inspired my healing from disordered eating. I’ll be talking more about this in an upcoming blog post too.
Thank you for following our unicorn pregnancy story!
Kristen (and Cory!)