November 18, 2016

A Third Pregnancy

Third time's a charm was the basic philosophy with which I entered this pregnancy. Being pregnant is always a miraculous honor, and setting aside all of the obvious discomforts, I have been so grateful and happy with each one. Yet, as a person who is naturally very anxious, and an expert worrier, I have also spent the majority of my pregnancies holding my breath... just hoping that nothing would go wrong. This time, I vowed to do things differently. I knew that I would have high blood pressure, and that it would start much earlier than it had with the last two babies (since it never really returned to normal after Roo), I knew I was older, and carrying a few extra pounds... but despite those greater risks, I felt surprisingly chill as I checked off the initial visits with my midwife. 

I bristled when I was flipped from midwifery to the doctors, owing to my elevated blood pressure. And I was similarly frustrated and indignant when I had a false scare at my first ultrasound. Never having had a fondness for anything medical, my general feeling was that all of this testing and these extra precautions were unnecessary. Childbirth is a natural process that need not be complicated, and I resented that I had been made to worry when there was little cause.

As I entered the second trimester, I finally shed the veil of nausea that had plagued me all summer, and started to find that familiar burst of pregnancy fueled energy. I began tackling household projects, ripping treads off the basement stairs and priming the cinder block walls white. I felt invincible, and made lists of projects and activities that would be checked off in the months ahead. I headed into my 'anatomy scan' ultrasound with little concern... and although I know it's irrational, I still can't help but feel that my easy breezy attitude somehow precipitated a complication. Punishment for allowing myself not to be worried, for once.

We were told that there was cluster of irregular tissue in one of the baby's lungs. It would have to be monitored closely to ensure it didn't grow, and cause heart failure (which happily it has not- it's been very stable!), and she would also need surgery after birth to remove the tissue. If we are lucky, she can come home normally and have the surgery when she is a few months old, but if her breathing is at all labored at birth, it will be removed immediately. We're grateful that after she gets surgery, the condition will be completely gone, normal lung tissue will regrow, and it won't even be visible on a chest x-ray. There is so so much to be grateful for... but it has definitely been months of fear and concern, and likely the final few months of this pregnancy will be similarly filled with worry, hope, and always gratitude. 

I imagine that before all of this, if you had told me that I would have a pregnancy with serious complications, weekly ultrasounds, visits at multiple hospitals, and that I would be so familiar with so many doctors... I would say that I could never handle all of that. I'm not cut out for it. I don't trust doctors. It would be too much for me. But as has been the case with so many of life's struggles, I have found that the strength to navigate new challenges just presents itself, magically. 

I have been much quieter than in my past pregnancies, less bursting with activity and instead reserving my energy to care for this baby and myself. I do worry, but feel more calm and confident than I ever would have predicted. In all my recent introspection, I keep considering how often I have longed to move my family to the country, how much I have resisted city life and yearned to give my children the open freedom that I enjoyed as a child... And yet now we find ourselves so fortunate to be a stone's throw from the top children's hospital in the country. All of the doctors that I so feared and mistrusted are proving to be our saving grace, and I feel so lucky that I am in their hands, and our baby is in their hands. 

This third pregnancy has certainly been humbling. I have learned and grown more than I ever thought possible, and we aren't done yet. I know there are a few more months of nervousness and endless doctor's visits, and I know that it will be a whole new roller coaster of emotions when the time comes for our little girl to actually have this surgery, but I am surprisingly confident that all will be well, and we'll have the best possible final chapter to this story. I feel so bonded to this baby, it's such a different experience getting to see her every week, moving and waving and curled up in my belly. The kids are collecting all the ultrasound photos like precious treasures. She is already so loved, this third baby of our's.