I truly had no idea that I had an issue with my self image or self esteem until I started to think up topics to write about for LAFMB. As I thought up topics and did my “Examination of Conscious,” if you will, I felt myself wanting to share my journey to self because I have run into so many of you who empathize with me through infertility, self-doubt, loss, and even an instant pot obsession.
Last year for Valentine’s Day, as we celebrated living through a year after Theo, I wrote a love letter to MYSELF — not to my husband or kids — TO MYSELF. And it was so healing. I felt healed as I wrote those words.
So, guess who’s back? Back again.
If you know me at all personally, you know that we struggled to get pregnant with our first, had a perfect pregnancy, had a decent delivery, but my postpartum journey was an ABSOLUTE sh*tshow. I ended up with an emergency C-section, 13 blood transfusions, 4 plasma infusions, an emergency surgery to correct internal bleeding and save my uterus, and wound dehiscence. In recovery after my C-section, my blood pressure would only rise above 60/30 if I was transfused. I spent two weeks in the hospital, 2 nights in ICU, and 3 months on home health. My husband packed my open C-section wound for 3 whole months. Yep, it was left open and my dear, precious husband had to clean it and pack it almost 3 times a day. I had a PICC line and have a gnarly scare to prove it all.
Bottom line — it was ROUGH. And only now can I admit that the wound dehiscence was HARD HARD HARD on my self esteem. Not only was it so incredibly super painful, but it was GROSS. SO INCREDIBLY GROSS. You can imagine that if an infection is brewing below the surface and then the wound opens … yeah. I cannot go on. It was gross. Thank God my mom was with me at the hospital and not my husband. I would rather him see my insides via C-section than see what went down in that ER when my wound burst open.
I pumped and dumped my breast milk for two weeks because I was on so many medications and unable to give the milk to my baby. After two weeks of pumping and dumping, I quit. I mentally could not hang. That decision to quit has been the biggest regret of my life thus far.
But the baby was fine and I was eventually fine. Truly. I was “fine.”
But then we lost Theo due to my incompetent cervix. My body failed me again — but this time — completely. And again, after Theo’s completely different vaginal delivery at just shy of 20 weeks, I needed two blood transfusions.
So at this point, my body had several cards stacked against it. Let me just list it out for you here:
PCOS, hypothyroid, overweight, infertile, blood loss issues on not 1 but 2 deliveries (but no clotting issue found by hematologists), massive infection following delivery, and now incompetent cervix.
Not to mention all of the bills that came along with all of those things. We were still receiving bills from my first complicated delivery a whole year later. Our son turned one, and I was still incurring expenses because my body could not hang.
When we saw a therapist for the first time after losing Theo, she said, “Wow, all of these medical terms are so degrading — infertile, incompetent, etc.”
Yeah. Tell. Me. About. It.
When I got pregnant in February, we knew that it would be an uphill battle. I did not eat anything, drink anything, watch anything, or think anything that could be detrimental to this pregnancy. I refused to give my body anything to use against me.
At 19 weeks, my cervix against started to shorten and I needed a cerclage. Again — INCOMPETENT CERVIX.
But I stayed home and sat down for 17 weeks.
We turned 36 weeks and had the cerclage removed. Still pregnant, despite being incompetent.
I went to Target and shopped ’til I dropped. Still pregnant.
37 … 38 … and 39 beautiful weeks. Guess what? STILL PREGNANT.
At 39 weeks, on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, I delivered the most perfect ALIVE baby boy. He is pink, and breathing, and alive. Take that infertility and incompetent cervix. We did it, in 100% spite of you.
After delivery, my blood levels remained stable. I only spent one hour in recovery. My blood pressure never faltered. I did not require any transfusions.
The next morning, my wound looked beautiful.
The baby spent that classic second night nursing around the clock. We spent just the requisite hours and nights in the hospital.
And here we are. I am 9 days postpartum, on minimal pain management, nursing, and even did a little trick-or-treating.
I still look pregnant, but I am so proud. My body did it. Against the odds — my body did it.
I feel beaten up and built up and STRONG.
I am sitting here typing hooked up to a breast pump and listening to my little tiny baby squeak in his sleep next to me. And it makes me teary because I just cannot believe that my body pulled through. My body pulled through for me, for my babies, and maybe even more importantly — MY HUSBAND.