*Disclaimer: This post may be TMI, but it’s a fully transparent, somewhat condensed, look at the whirlwind of my “two month pregnancy.”*
A year ago today, I started working at TechTarget. It was also a year ago today I found out I was pregnant with my son. I had been having what I thought were stomach troubles for about a week and after leaving work that afternoon, I decided to go to the emergency room. I explained what had been going on and the doctor asked the standard question of women of childbearing age: “Do you think you might be pregnant?”
I told her no. In 2007, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and told that I may never have children. I was 18 going on 19 and had recently started dating my now-husband. While babies weren’t on my mind just yet, I knew that I did want a family of my own one day. Initially, aside from the erratic and eventually non-existent menstrual cycles, I didn’t think much of my diagnosis.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later, as my relationship with my husband started getting more serious, that it began to trouble me. He had a daughter from a previous relationship. He wanted more kids eventually. If we were to marry, would he be OK with the fact that it might take us years to conceive, or that it might not happen at all? When we got married in July 2013, we agreed that we’d wait a little while before trying to get pregnant. We wanted to enjoy being husband and wife first.
A couple of months before our first wedding anniversary, I started feeling strange. A little nausea. Some breast pain and swelling. Nothing super serious; I’d had some of these symptoms during my cycles. We joked that I was pregnant, but neither of us actually believed it. Instead of doing the logical thing and taking a pregnancy test, I ignored what I was feeling for awhile. The doctor who told me I had PCOS made the diagnosis sound so definitive that it legitimately never crossed my mind that he could be wrong. And logistically, it didn’t make sense to me. I hadn’t had a cycle in months and figured that no ovulation meant no pregnancy. When no cycle came and the nausea passed, I didn’t think much more of it.
But soon the stomach troubles started. It felt like popcorn popping at first. And then as a few days passed, it got a little stronger. I was worried and knew I had to get checked out.
So after work that first day, I laid in a hospital bed while a doctor poured cold gel on my stomach and ran a probe across my belly. Almost immediately, there he was: my son.
“That’s a baby,” the doctor said. “That’s a big baby, actually.”
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. As I began to process what I was looking at, I started to cry. I was pregnant! What I had been feeling wasn’t gas or any other internal issue, it was the baby kicking.
“You didn’t notice that your belly was getting a little distended?” The doctor asked.
“I just thought I was getting fat,” I said. My diet at the time wasn’t the greatest and consisted of a lot of junk food and enough steak to make the most red-blooded American proud. I had also been working from home for about a year and a half, so my lifestyle was pretty sedentary.
The doctor estimated that I was about 16 weeks pregnant. Prenatal and ultrasound appointments were scheduled, prenatal vitamins prescribed. If I was four months pregnant, I had five months to prepare for the baby’s arrival.
So I thought.
I went to my ultrasound appointment about a week later, my husband in tow. I was excited and nervous. I was already so far along. And then the bombshell.
“You’re 27 weeks and 1 day pregnant,” the technician said.
I’ve been a small girl my whole life. But I could not fathom that not only had I gone through the first two trimesters of my pregnancy without even knowing, but that I looked like the only thing I was gestating was a food baby. Almost seven months pregnant. That gave us a lot less time to prepare than we initially thought. We were given a due date of January 15, 2015.
“Do you want to know the sex?” The technician asked. We said sure. No point in having any more surprises at this point.
“It’s a boy. You can’t see it, but I can see the penis.”
After measuring the baby’s head, the technician said, “I can tell from his head size that he is going to be smart. Of course, it’s not such a big leap from smart to smart ass.”
Coming from a family that is predominately female, I was a bit shocked and a little disappointed. I always imagined my first child would be a daughter. I even had a name picked out. I guess I forgot there was a 50/50 chance it could be a son. But with less than three months to get ready, it was time to start planning. Names, baby shower, where the baby would sleep. I had to tell my job and hope they wouldn’t be upset that I would be going out on maternity leave so soon after starting. My supervisor was surprised, but understanding. We would deal with it as we got closer to my due date.
Again, so I thought.
There was a chance I could go into labor early. My cervix was slightly open, the baby was already head down. I was given betamethasone shots to speed up his lung maturation in case he was early. Everything was happening so quickly. And still, I barely felt pregnant. The only thing that had really changed was my sleeping position and a little back pain. I still walked up the three flights of stairs to get to my cubicle at work and only got a little winded by the time I reached the top. I was in pretty good shape, I thought.
About a month later, I turned 26. My husband and I went to dinner to celebrate. Toward the end of the meal, I went to the bathroom and… uh oh. There was a clear leakage. This couldn’t be happening. We got home and there was more.
“Babe, I think my water broke,” I told my husband.
“I doubt it,” he said. “You just have it stuck in your head that you’re going to be early. Don’t worry so much.”
“No, really. I noticed it at the restaurant, too. It’s not a lot, but I think I should call them and see what to do.”
I called the hospital around 11 pm. I told them I thought my water had broken, but I wasn’t due until January. They asked questions: Was the fluid clear, did it have a smell?
“It sounds like your water did break, but you should come in just to be sure. Go to L&D (labor and delivery unit); we’ll be waiting for you.”
I called my husband at work and told him they wanted me to come in. I took a cab to the hospital and went straight to L&D. The nurses looked at me, asked how far along I was supposed to be, and shook their heads.
“You’re so small,” they said. (This was a recurring theme at every appointment. “You’re so tiny!” or “This blood pressure cuff is too big for you, we might have to get you a large child’s size!” I was well aware I didn’t look seven months pregnant, which especially sucked when I wanted a seat on the T in the morning. Unashamedly, I had taken to opening my coat before I got on the train so that it was more obvious. No way was I standing up from Copley to Riverside.)
A test was run.
“Yup, your water broke. We’re going to have to keep you here until the baby comes.”
Great. I called my husband again and my mother, waking her up at about 3 or 4 in the morning. I emailed my job and let them know I was stuck in the hospital until the baby came. They were supportive — it probably didn’t hurt that I continued to work from the hospital. But it could be anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks before I delivered. Apparently I’d had a contraction when I first came in, which made them think I would go into labor sooner, but it was only one and I didn’t even feel it.
I spent two weeks in the hospital. I missed Thanksgiving, but my mother brought me food. I had visitors everyday, got friendly with the nurses. Two in particular were especially awesome and kept me from going crazy while I was on bedrest. My vitals were checked every couple of hours, I was woken up in the middle of the night to take medication. There was no sign the baby was coming anytime soon. The decision was made to induce me at 34 weeks if I didn’t go into labor on my own; because my water had broken, there was a risk of infection since there was no amniotic sac protecting the baby, so they didn’t want to keep him in there too long.
I hadn’t gotten to go to any childbirth education classes before I got hospitalized, so they had the childbirth educator come to my room on December 2. She taught me how to breath through my contractions, explained what would happen during the delivery. It ended up being serendipitous timing. A few hours after she left, I felt a contraction. Then another. They were small and not very painful, more like menstrual cramps. I was put on the fetal monitor and the contractions were close enough together that I was transferred back over to L&D. I called my husband and mother again and told them that I was going into labor. My husband was at the hospital less than an hour later at 4 in the morning. My mother and sister arrived around 6. My contractions weren’t too bad and I tried to breath through them using the technique the CE taught me. That helped for awhile. Around 1, the contractions got worse and I wanted an epidural. The doctors had to check to see how far dilated I was; at that point, I was about 5 or 6 cms. Everyone was kicked out of the room and I was given the epidural, which helped immensely.
A couple of hours later, the epidural started to wear off and I started feeling an intense pressure. They told me it wouldn’t help with that, but I kept pushing the button hoping to get some relief. I was checked again around 5:30; I was 12 cms dilated. It was time to deliver. My husband, mother and sister had just left to get food shortly before that, but only my sister and mother came back. I told the doctors we had to wait for my husband. He came back a few minutes later, and didn’t even have time to take off his hat and coat before they told him I was ready to push. My mother and sister left the room after I said I only wanted my husband in the room. The doctors assembled. I was still feeling the effects of the epidural, so I couldn’t tell when I was having contractions. The doctors told me, “You’re having a contraction, push,” so I did.
“I can see the head,” one said.
“You’re doing great, honey,” my husband said.
I felt nothing and kept pushing as instructed. Five or six pushes later and….
Just like that, it was over. Out came my son, the day before I was supposed to be induced, at 33 weeks and 6 days. Crying before anyone touched him. Breathing on his own. He was cleaned up, put under the heating lamp, examined. Again, I cried. I did it. I had a son. A doctor said it was one of the fastest deliveries they’d ever seen. My mom and sister were called back into the room. My mom put her hand over her mouth when she saw him (she did this at my wedding when she saw me for the first time, too). I laid back, not quite feeling like I had just given birth. Everyone milled about. A doctor picked up my son and brought him over to me.
“I have a present for you,” he said.
I held him. He was so small. Four pounds, 7 ounces. My husband and I took a picture with him before he was whisked off to the NICU. I sent texts to a couple of people to let them know the baby was here. I was transferred to the mother and baby unit to recover. My husband helped the nurse get me into bed since the epidural made it difficult to walk on my own. After he left and I could walk again, I went to the NICU to see my son. He was in an isolette, sleeping. I stayed with him for a little bit and then went back to my room. I was discharged two days later, but he didn’t come home with me. He stayed in the NICU for 15 days. His feeding tube came out quickly, but every time we thought he would come home, something happened. He couldn’t keep his temperature up outside of the isolette. The week before he finally came home, his heart rate dropped at rest and they needed to keep him to make sure it didn’t happen again. I went to the hospital every day, sometimes two or three times a day, while he was in the NICU. The nurses had to tell me to go home because I would stay for hours. I stayed overnight one day to work on nursing him. By 3 am, I was exhausted. A nurse told me to sleep through his next feeding and she would wake me up after that, and I was so grateful.
He came home a week before Christmas. That first night with him was long and hard because my husband had to work, so it was just us. But we survived.
Two days from today, he’ll be 10 months. He crawls, says “Mama” and babbles, tries to stand up in his playpen. He screams at vacuum cleaners, his reflection, tries to steal food and drinks. He seems to particularly like trying to eat my face — my dad said maybe he thinks it tastes like chicken. He can feed himself cereal puffs when he wants to and will probably (finally) get his first tooth within the next week or so. He makes faces when we give him anything to eat but only for a second, then he eats anything. He stares at people and flirts with girls and women. He’s kind of awesome. And one day, when he’s old enough, I’ll tell him this story.