Pregnancy is a Privilege

*Right after I got some negative test results

Dear Pregnant Woman or Baby Mama,

I am sorry because I have terribly misjudged you. 

When you have complained about having a “difficult pregnancy” or “hating pregnancy”, I secretly became annoyed.

I said some harsh words in my head about how lucky you were to “even get pregnant” and that if I were to ever get pregnant, I would never “complain because I would be so blessed.” 

Thank you for being so open and for sharing your feelings. A lot of people think that pregnancy is all sunshine and roses and you gave me a warning about pregnancy.  I just didn’t listen to your warning.

Love Sarah

The other day I was talking to a friend and I was explaining that my pregnancy was a “gong show” because I had lost full control of everything related to my pregnancy. I discussed some of the issues I went through in pregnancy and she listened and explained that she completely agreed. She then stated that “pregnancy was a privilege” but that even with this privilege, it didn’t make pregnancy any easier.

In fact, I find it really difficult to talk about my pregnancy because it has been tough but I am also so lucky. Whenever I say something that can be seen as negative, I am quick to then state that it is a total miracle (because it is the biggest miracle and privilege to even be able to conceive.) 

That’s when I realized that I could have both feelings – I could feel the luckiest I have ever been in my life while also physically feeling like garbage. 

So today, I want to talk about both feelings – privilege and difficulty. I am going to share the super happy moments and the most difficult moments of my pregnancy for the past 27 weeks.

  1. Privilege: Getting Pregnant

Difficulty: Health Concerns with Twins

*Taken minutes before I learned I had twins

This topic still brings many tears to my eyes when I talk about it. It’s so tough. 

The happiest moment of my life was when I found out I was pregnant (so cliche but so true). I wanted to have a baby so much (like a lot of other men and women). Even though I was not able to have a baby on my own, with the help of science, my fertility doctor, luck, and an amazing donor, I was able to conceive.

I am crying right now as I type this because I picture that girl in the session with her social worker stating that if there were twins or triplets, she would have them. She was so naive and such a beautiful person. 

When I was placed in the actual situation in having twins, things began to change.

Unfortunately, after speaking with several doctors, it was determined that because of health reasons, I had to say goodbye to one of my babies.

Some will say that “baby” is not the right word because the baby was not follow developed, but it felt like a baby to me. I’ll always wonder about him (I totally think it was a boy) and know that I have a lot of work to do throughout my life to forgive myself for this.

  1. Privilege: Having a job where I can take time off work

Difficulty: Feeling like absolute garbage

*Just some of my favourite products

Although I felt like absolute garbage for the entire summer, I still taught summer school. In between throwing up anywhere from 5-8 times a day, I would still teach online lessons to students. It was a lot but I made it through it. Work always gave me a sense of self-worth. I felt like I was able to help others and was doing something beneficial to society.

On the first day of teaching, I looked composed and put together. I remember smiling a lot and talking about how happy I was to be there at work.

When I threw up in the bathroom at work and started spotting, I knew I was in trouble. After discussing my health with my OB, he stated I needed to be off work until he felt I was healthy enough to go back.

What a lot of people don’t know is that I haven’t been able to work since September. 

It has been hard letting go of a job I love that makes me so happy. 

Could I be at work? I honestly couldn’t be working if someone paid me a million dollars each day. I am still throwing up and have a variety of other issues which only lets me have the energy for a couple of hours in the day.

I also think about other women who are working full-time and I feel so guilty. How is it that they can work so hard, and I can’t get out of bed a lot of days (especially during the first 5 months). I also talk to my work friends and feel like I am letting everyone down because of all the guilt I have with taking so much time off.

  1. Privilege: Seeing the baby on an ultrasound

Difficulty: Finding out I have a cyst

He looks precious but because of his movement my anatomy ultrasounds made up a combined time of about five hours.

We are so lucky to have such an amazing healthcare system in Canada. I have been to so many appointments (about once a week since I was officially pregnant). 

During my first anatomy ultrasound, the tech knew something was off and had to bring doctors into the room to investigate what was wrong.

At first, they thought my appendix burst, and then they recognized that it was a cyst which formed because of the fertility medication that I went on while trying to get pregnant. I took five pills and injected myself with one needle and sure enough, I will most likely be getting my cyst removed while having the baby.

I also had a tough time with the anatomy ultrasound. My little boy wouldn’t stay still and I had to go for three anatomy ultrasounds. Each ultrasound was over an hour in length and I just felt terrible for the nurses that had to stay so patient with me and my little one. Didn’t even how what an anatomy ultrasound was (a lengthy ultrasound done at 20 weeks to make sure the baby is growing in a healthy manner) and now I feel as though I am an expert.

  1. Privilege: Having coping mechanisms for anxiety

Difficulty: Having major anxiety during pregnancy

*Another day, another appointment

Before I had my first IUI (sperm inside the uterus), I had been off anxiety medication for a couple of months. My doctor had weaned me off the medication and I felt great. 

Just before my first IUI, my panic attacks (that I seldom had since having my first panic attack at aged 25) came back. It was really tough. I remember sitting in my doctor’s office and crying because I knew that I needed my anxiety medication while trying to conceive.

I thought she’d say “no” because the anxiety medication might harm the baby. She left the room and had me fill out a questionnaire about how I was feeling and I scored really high (on this test the lower you scored – the more healthy you were). The tears couldn’t stop coming down and I thought she would think I had depression.

When she came back in the room, she looked at my responses, talked to me a bit more about what was going on, and then determined that I did not have depression but that my generalized anxiety was back. She put me on 10mg of Cipralex.

For about five months I was doing pretty well on my medication. Sure I would get anxious, but I could use the coping mechanisms I had been taught in therapy to get me through the days.

Then the coping mechanisms stopped being enough. I found myself having panic attack after panic attack and didn’t know what to do. 

I sat down with my doctor about a month ago and talked to her about everything that was going on and she decided to increase my dose of Cipralex to 20mg. She said that it was okay to take the medication while pregnant because if I stayed in my panicked state, it would harm the baby more than taking the medication.

I know most men and women are anxious about having a baby, but when the anxiety makes it difficult to cope, it is so important to ask for help.

  1. Privilege: Being healthy

Difficulty: A vasovagal episode

*Mount Sinai Triage

A couple weeks ago, I finally decided to get out of the house and see my friends. We had finished our brunch and were just talking. We had probably been sitting for 3 hours, really enjoying our time together. During this time, I did not get up from the table once. As someone who constantly has FOMO (fear of missing out), I didn’t want to miss a moment. 

On hour 3, I finally decided that I should hit the washroom. When I stood up, everything felt great. When I came back after using the washroom, I immediately sat down in my chair and knew something was off.

My friends were speaking but I was no longer engaged in conversation. My body was heating up and everything was getting blurry. It felt so different from a panic attack, and I knew something was wrong.

“I am sorry ladies. I have to leave” I said as I rushed out of the restaurant.

I sat outside in the cold and debated calling an ambulance. Luckily, my friends all made sure I was okay and later said that I had turned so pale in just a matter of minutes.

I spent about five hours at Mount Sinai Hospital where they told me I had a vasovagal episode. It meant that I almost fainted because of an issue with blood flow. I was encouraged to use a prescription for compression socks and was encouraged to constantly get up and move instead of sitting for long periods of time.

They said that a lot of women experience this during pregnancy and that some have one of these episodes while others have many. I have been blessed to be one and done.

  1. Privilege: Having amazing friends

Difficulty: Being a “bad” friend

*My bed is my new BFF

Before I became pregnant, I was out almost every night with a friend. I would often be the first at a party and the last to leave.

People could count on me to show up at all events because I didn’t have to check with my partner and didn’t have a baby. 

As an extrovert, I get my energy from people so I loved teaching all day and going out for dinner, book club, a drink, etc., with friends.

When I am not around people, I become anxious. My anxiety causes me to start thinking too much and then I start questioning everything. Through therapy, we have worked on me just “being.” This includes being by myself and enjoying my company.

Well, let me just say that this pregnancy has forced me to become extremely isolated and I have way too much time on my own. I can’t get together with friends because I am still getting sick and have major issues with energy. I’ve also become that flaky friend who you can’t count on because one hour I am feeling okay, while the next hour I need to be in bed.

I have been so mad at myself because I want and expect more from myself and my body. Unfortunately, I just can’t be the person I once was.

I am learning so much in being by myself. Not all of it is negative because I am learning to be okay with me and to listen to my own voice instead of the voices of others around me.

I also think I have been burnt out for years constantly working and being out with friends. By being “on” all the time, it has really made me wonder who I really am.

I miss my friends though. Now I hear about times they have met and spent together and I have not been able to be there. It sounds so petty and ridiculous. I used to pride myself on being that person that would show up. Now I feel like friends are drifting because I physically can’t be there as much as I wish I could. I miss them so much.

  1. Privilege: Always having food on the table

Difficulty: Gestational Diabetes

*The first test I failed

This week I received the call that I had gestational diabetes. I had failed two tests by 0.1 on both tests. At first, my heart sank when I heard the word “fail” because I was trying so hard to have a healthy pregnancy. I have since been reminded that a failed glucose test (or two in my case) does not mean that you are a failure.

Gestational diabetes is where a woman develops high blood sugar during pregnancy. Pregnant women are screened in Canada between 24-28 weeks of their pregnancy. Having gestational diabetes increases the risk of preeclampsia, depression, and C-Section (Diabetes Canada).

About a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (no gluten) and now I also have to watch my food intake because of gestational diabetes. 

This Wednesday I am going to a three-hour workshop. From there, I will get a device to take my sugar and will have to go in every week for an additional appointment. I’ll also have to make a list of my sugar count each day for Mount Sinai so that my blood sugar levels can be monitored on a weekly basis. 

The fear with diabetes is that there may be a possible “birth injury” due to the baby’s size and difficulties during pregnancy (Diabetes Canada).

Dear Pregnant Woman or Mama,

I was wrong to judge you in the past. They say to never judge anyone unless they are “in your shoes” and that is so right.

I am pregnant and blessed. I honestly am the happiest I have ever been and really don’t want people to feel sorry for me.

I just want people to know the truth. Pregnancy is a lot of work. It’s a lot of learning and a total loss of control over your body.

Some women go on to have the most beautiful pregnancies and some struggle. 

Pregnancy can be the best feeling in the world and pregnancy can also mean spending months in the bathroom getting sick.

I am sorry pregnant woman or Mama. 

I really messed up. I get it now and I am learning.

And I promise to listen.

Love Sarah

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