How did you get pregnant?
The natural way. Good times! This pregnancy blog is very special to us because neither one of us thought we’d be able to have children together. For nine years, I struggled with infertility, endured many hormone treatments, and even a (possible) miscarriage. I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) in 1999 which is a condition that gave me male hormones, irregular periods (at one point, I didn’t have a single period for two years), and a whole bunch of side effects that reduced the chance of conceiving a child. I attended infertility support groups, chatted in forums online with other women who were trying to conceive, and after many years of doctors telling me it would be highly unlikely I’d get pregnant, I eventually gave up hope. And get this. My husband has dangerously low testosterone levels which lowered his sperm count to a bare minimum. He took many trips to the doctor to only be told he had low sperm count and low motility. For both of us, this was devastating news. We both wanted a child together but it looked as though it would be impossible. It was bad enough that I had PCOS, which makes conception very difficult. With your father’s condition, we assumed we were both sterile. Then one day - Thanksgiving night 2008 in Virginia - we had a beautiful night of passion where we connected on so many levels that somehow a miracle was given to us. We consider ourselves very fortunate and grateful - blessed beyond belief! When I received positive results from the pregnancy test, we knew we were carrying a true miracle! The odds of us getting pregnant were worse than trying to win the lottery… and now… wow!
How did you find out you were pregnant and what did you do?
A week before I found out I was pregnant, I was horribly sick from food poisoning. My husband and I both had it from eating moldy cheese. We’d break into hot sweats with sick stomachs for about 7 days. His condition went away, but mine seemed to get worse. One day I just started puking buckets. My sense of smell was overwhelming and every scent would provoke me to throw up. My husband suggested I take a pregnancy test and I brushed off the suggestion in the same way any person in my position would. My response was, “Are you kidding? It’s food poisoning.” Two hours later, I threw up again. He left the house to go buy a pregnancy test but forgot the credit card, so he drove back. When he arrived, I said, “I threw up again.” And even I was getting a sense that the vomiting wasn’t normal, considering we got sick at the same time and he wasn’t vomiting too. He said to me, “You could be pregnant. Let’s go take a test.” I laughed again but reluctantly agreed. At one point I even said, “Why waste 15 dollars? We both know I can’t get pregnant.” Anyway… I got off my comfortable chair and we drove to CVS Pharmacy to get some pregnany tests.
I peed into a cup and put the dipstick into it and waited for the results. After years of receiving hundreds of negative pregnancy test results, I didn’t even bother holding my breath. When I pulled it out, I noticed a tiny second pink line that was so faint I couldn’t really tell if it was positive or negative. It was the first time I had taken a test that actually left me confused on the results. I showed it to my husband and he grabbed the paperwork in the box and read it carefully and said, “It looks like you’re pregnant.” I said, “Yeah right. Let me take another test.” So I did. Same shady results. So I said, “Let’s go to Planned Parenthood and take a test there. I don’t trust this.” At this point I still didn’t quite know what was going on, but I remember my heart beating faster and faster and faster. We drove to Planned Parenthood and sat impatiently in the waiting room in what felt like the longest time in history. My name was called, I peed again, waited for results. The nurse held up the test and said, “Oh yes you are absolutely positively pregnant. You have a very distinct pink line!”
When I heard that, the chair fell underneath me. My heart stopped. I died. I went to heaven and came back and learned how to breathe again. I smiled and cried so hard I think I split my face. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t do anything really. At one point the woman had to convince me to breathe and relax. I felt like I was skydiving! I wiped my tears, walked back out to the waiting room, and saw my husband shaking his leg, looking down, waiting for the results. “Come on, let’s go.” I said to him, without telling him the news. He looked up at me, and I was secretly trying to keep a straight face to build the suspense. He looked at me. I looked at him. There was a moment of complete blankness. But my face completely broke. I couldn’t contain it. “I’m definitely pregnant.” He stood up and hugged me so lovingly and tightly… didn’t let go. He didn’t say a word. He just held me. I’ll never forget that as long as I live. I cried silently from the inside. We walked out to the parking lot and I leaned against the car to keep from falling over.
I pulled my phone out of my purse and the first person I had to call was my dad. “Dad, you’re going to be a grandpa.” His response, “I’m confused. What do you mean. What’s going on? Is everything ok?”…. I had to repeat myself. “Dad, you’re going to be a grandpa.” Then there was this silence and he said, “Wait, are you pregnant?” And I said yes. Then he said, “Oh wow. I never thought you could have kids.” And I said, “Me too.” Then I heard a longer silence before he said, “Wow I’m going to be a grandpa!!! What a miracle!” He was in as much shock as I was and I could hear him choking up. We talked a bit longer and then I called everyone else I knew to share the news.
It still hadn’t hit me that I was pregnant until the morning sickness got more intense. Every time I threw up, my husband would grab me a trash can and it would occur to me I was REALLY pregnant. Even today as I write this, 9 months pregnant, I still have to pinch myself to believe it.
What was it like being pregnant?
I’ll start with what it was like PHYSICALLY - and then I’ll get into the EMOTIONAL aspect. Secretly, I hoped to be glowing every day and have a perfectly round belly and have people opening doors, pulling out chairs, giving up their seats, etc. Let me just say for the record that my pregnancy was nothing like that. I had morning sickness every day for the first five months - and sometimes puked several times a day. Every smell made me want to throw up, even if something had been removed from the room from the day before. I sneezed constantly (which by itself isn’t so bad, but those who have been pregnant before know firsthand the whole leaking issue that occurs). Long before I could feel baby Julius moving in my stomach, I had random (loud) hiccups that would jump out of nowhere. Farts? You name it. Burps too. And heartburn. The heartburn was the pits. The heartburn was the worst in my life - and it felt like fire in my chest - and often all over my body where it felt hard to breathe. Turns out, baby Julius was 21 and 1/2 inches when he was born so he was quite long - practically underneath my tonsils! No wonder I had heartburn. My hands and feet swelled enormously to the point that I couldn’t wear normal shoes (forget high heels) - I could only fit in flip flops and even then by the ninth month, they left red welts on my feet. I couldn’t wear my wedding ring on the correct finger because my fingers were puffy and swollen for months. Doctors say the average pregnant woman gains approx. 30-35 pounds during gestation. Me? I gained 125 pounds during pregnancy. This caused great back pain and lots of bloaty heavy feelings making it difficult to walk and get around. Regardless of my massive weight gain, I was considered mostly healthy by doctors… with occasional high blood pressure (which would go down to normal if I were lying on my left side). Walking around in grocery stores was near impossible. I resorted to borrowing those electric wheelchairs when stores offered them. It sure helped my back!!! Most of my pregnancy was spent sitting or lying down due to pain or pressure. My lower back (sacrum) hurt so bad that sometimes I’d do everything in my power to keep from screaming. Every week, the chiropractor would adjust my back but after 20 minutes, it would hurt again. Doctors said it was probably because Julius was facing backwards which put his baby spine on my adult spine - pinning against my sacrum. It was near impossible to roll over in bed (not allowed to sleep on back and it’s impossible to sleep on stomach - so doctors suggest only sleeping on left or right side). It would take me nearly 5 minutes just to roll from one side to the other and get sleep. My back pain would wake me in the middle of the night, if not my bladder. One day I counted - I peed 21 times in one day. Seriously. All these physical things that happened - I’m really not even sharing everything. There was so much more - all of it either painful or ridiculously inconvenient.
Ok so that was the physical aspect, not so great. Now I get to talk about the awesome parts about being pregnant!!
Emotionally, the experience was one of the most beautiful and inspirational times of my life. I can’t recall how many times I’d rub my belly and talk to Julius. I’d swear he could intepret my words - or at the very least, hear me. When I’d meditate, I’d feel even more connected to him. Shopping for baby stuff and getting to pick out themes - very fun stuff. I cried (tears of joy) nearly my whole pregnancy. Something on tv or something from the stores would trigger a deep emotion and suddenly I’d be asking people for Kleenexes. It really felt as though Julius had filled a hole in my heart. For years I felt an emptiness and had just gotten to the point in my life where I would be content with or without a child (trying to make peace with infertility) - and then we were blessed with a plus sign! He really DID feel that hole. It’s hard to describe. All the physical challenges pregnancy threw at me - yes, they were worth it.
Some people say that once you have a kid, you’ll finally know what love truly is. For most people, I’m sure that’s true. However I’m lucky in that I discovered true real love long before Julius was ever conceived. The love I feel for my husband and the love I have for myself (and for the universe) is pure, curious, and unconditional. It has been (and will always be) my goal to share with Julius what it’s like to love himself and others.
What was labor like?
First I’d like to say that my intention was to experience an orgasmic hypno birth. I wanted it to feel like I was having an orgasm and spent months preparing myself mentally to be hypnotized to experience that. During the last two months of my pregnancy, I listened to Hypnobabies hypnosis sessions on cd (and even brought them in the delivery room with me). My doula, Cheryl (who I’d recommend any day), was the one who suggested Hypnobabies so I listened to them a lot. Whenever I experienced Braxton Hicks contractions at home (when not in real labor), the hypno sessions were FANTASTIC in getting rid of the pain (pressure waves). Most of the time I was able to get sleep when the cramping would begin. So I figured when labor began, I’d be able to easily turn pain into pleasure. Right? Not quite.
August 9th-10th, I started trying different methods to naturally induce labor since I was experiencing tremendous pregnancy pain (see above). The baby was already full term, so there was little risk. I tried eating spicy foods, drinking castor oil (which left me puking and with diarrhea for hours), exercising on the birth ball, taking a warm bath, back exercises, meditation… you name it. I even had sex, masturbated, or orgasmed a total of 12 times during this - including nipple stimulation (all suggested by doctors LOL)… all to try to induce labor.
August 11th very early in the morning, I experienced a bloody show and removal of my mucus plug. Around 10am, I went to the doctor to get a labor check since I was cramping and the doctor said I wasn’t in labor and my water hadn’t broken. She suggested it might be possible I go in labor within the next couple days. She was right! I spent most of the day sitting in a rocking chair watching past episodes of West Wing on dvd (watched nearly 12 episodes back to back). At midnight, I went to take a warm bath.
August 12th, after I got out of the bath, I lied in bed and looked at the clock. It was 1 am. That was when I felt my first contraction. It felt like a really heavy menstrual cramp. I had been having menstrual-type cramps for days up to this point, but this felt stronger. My stomach would hurt, I’d grab it in bed… and listen to those Hypnobabies cds. It helped me cope with the intensity of the situation. Three hours later, I was still experiencing this and the pain was only getting stronger and the contractions were about 8 minutes apart. So at 4am, I walked upstairs to the guest bedroom to wake up my husband (he snores and I was hormonal) and told him I was in labor. He was a total gentleman about it and asked if I needed anything or if there was anything he could do. It was clearly not time to go to the hospital, but I needed him to be awake. For about an hour, he massaged me. At 5am, he called Cheryl and told her I was in labor and she said she’d be over within an hour.
At 6am, Cheryl came over and helped me breathe and calm me down. I used the birthing ball. She rubbed my back while I napped. She rubbed my shoulders, helped me exercise when I tried. My husband was doing the same thing - both of them so helpful and nurturing. I don’t know what I’d do without them. For hours, I felt the contractions. At 7pm, I told Cheryl and Michael it was time to go to the hospital within the next half hour. I knew time was coming and I wanted to be able calm enough to enter the hospital without screaming and having strangers stare at me. We grabbed our bags, ate last minute food (since hospitals frown upon it and frankly, I was starving), and made sure the cat was inside. Cheryl drove separately and said she’d meet us there. Michael drove me as I leaned the passenger seat back with my feet on the dashboard. Up until this point, my water still hadn’t broken. However my contractions were less than 5 minutes apart - consistently. We drove to Bloomington Hospital and parked in the garage. My husband brought a wheelchair, brought my to the second floor maternity section, and I filled out the necessary forms. I was still talking, still laughing - even. Ten minutes after I signed the forms and had my own birthing room, I went into my private bathroom and felt my contractions becoming stronger and stronger. It was so strong I couldn’t even get up for nearly half an hour. Cheryl had arrived, knocking on the door, asking if I was all right. I couldn’t bear to let them see me like that even though that’s what they were there for. I always felt bathroom time was private time.
When I finally walked out of the bathroom, I collapsed on the couch cause I couldn’t walk all the way over to the birthing bed. Cheryl held a bucket for me as I puked. A nurse came in and asked me if I was really in labor since I wasn’t on the bed. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t breathe. My stomach hurt so bad. Cheryl and Michael helped me to the bed and I grabbed my stomach and curled in a fetal position. It hurt. It hurt. It hurt. Hypnosis was playing on a cd in the background and I tried my best to concentrate on it but the pain was unbearable. A nurse came in to take my blood pressure and check dilation - only 1 cm. All I could think about was… 1 cm? I’m in PAIN here. Why such slow progress?
Two hours and a lot of pain later (9pmish), the same nurse came in and, while taking my blood pressure, said, “Maybe you should go home and come back since you’re not very dilated.” And within 30 seconds of her saying that - my water broke. It gushed out of me really fast while my blood pressure was being taken. It felt like a balloon popping inside of me. I’m still convinced I heard it making a soft sound when it broke (the same similar sound to a zit being popped). In fact, it even broke while she was still talking. I said, “My water just broke.” And she dipped a stick in the fluid and said, “You’re right. You sure did!” From then on, no one suggested I go home.
The pain started getting worse right away (I thought it hurt before, but it was NOTHING like the pain after breaking water). I wanted to scream but didn’t cause I wanted to be brave and strong and let the hypnosis work. I wanted to have an orgasm, after all. But no. Forget orgasm. Forget hypnosis. I didn’t want to feel anything anymore. It was difficult to breathe. Sooo painful. I felt like I was dying. I told the nurse I wanted an epidural, but since I wasn’t very dilated, she said no. Plus she was having a difficult time monitoring my contractions cause it wasn’t fitting correctly on my belly above the baby monitor.
An hour went by. I wanted to kill someone. I can’t even describe the pain. All I can remember was gripping my stomach - crying, shaking, vomiting, and feeling like death. The nurse came back in to take my blood pressure and it had gotten to 180 which is dangerous and life-threatening both to me and the baby. The nurse said I wasn’t giving enough oxygen to the baby cause I was breathing too hard and too fast (hyperventilating) but I couldn’t control it. It was too painful. She told me to stop pushing (over and over) but I felt I was actually trying to NOT push. Ironically, by me not trying to push, I was pushing the baby and causing myself more pain. It was too early for me to push since I was only 1 cm and could resort to an emergency c-section. She checked my dilation which was now 1.5 cm. Slow progress. Normally epidurals aren’t given until 3-4 cm. I looked at the nurse with tears in my eyes and said, “Please tell the doctor I am BEGGING her to give me an epidural. Please I am BEGGING you.”
She said she’d be back in 45 minutes with an answer, although it would probably be no. She put an oxygen mask around my face and told me to give my baby more oxygen. When she left, I stared at the clock during every contraction waiting for her to come back. It was like watching water boil. It was the most excruciating HOUR of my life.I tried to take deeper breaths… I tried I tried I tried. She didn’t show up in 45 minutes, but in an hour - which to me, was an eternity. I felt like I was dying. She came in and said, “I talked to the doctor and convinced her you were really in labor so we’re going to get you an epidural. The anesthesiologist will be here in 30 minutes. We just hope you’re in active labor cause if you’re not, the contractions might stop when you get the epidural and it’ll take longer. You seem to be holding up all right.” I must have looked like I was napping since I wasn’t making much noise when she walked in (although when she wasn’t in, Cheryl and Michael were trying everything they could to keep me from screaming bloody murder). I looked at her dead on and said, “I’m in active labor.” For me to even get those words out took all the strength I had.
When the anesthesiologist came in, I wanted to cry. I felt like a guardian angel was coming in to save my life and protect me. He had me sit up on the side of the bed and lean forward over my belly so he could put the needle between the right vertebrae in my spine. I had 3 or 4 contractions during this time and while I was feeling extreme pain, the doctor said, “I need you to hold still and not move while you’re feeling that.” I had to hold perfectly still without tilting left or right… all the while, feeling the worst contraction pains of my life. Within 5 or 10 minutes after all the needlework was done and after the IV had been inserted in my wrist… the pain went away. And when I say the pain went away… I mean it was the best I ever felt in 10 months. No pain ANYWHERE. Not even in my back.
I thanked the doctor, the nurse, Cheryl, Michael… and the lights were turned off and I was told to take a nap. It was past midnight and I hadn’t slept in 24 hours and had been in labor the whole time up until this point. Two hours later, the nurse came in to check my dilation and I was 9.5 cm dilated. This shocked all of us in the room. Fast progress! She rolled me from my right side to my left side to help me accelerate the dilation to a full 10 cm. She called the doctor and told her I would be in labor soon. I was told to sleep for another hour and she’d be back to check on me.
An hour later, I was 10 cm dilated and ready to go. The nurse called Dr. Wood and told her I was prepped for delivery. Dr. Wood was officially on her way! About a half an hour later, a team of people entered the room including a baby nurse, my nurse, Dr. Wood - plus Michael, and Cheryl. My feet were put in stirrups (I couldn’t move my legs so the nurses had to do it). I was told to push and hold it for ten seconds. People in the room helped count to 10 for me. I pushed once… twice… three times… and Dr. Wood said, “Don’t push so hard. Maybe I should do a episiotomy. Let’s try this another time.” So I pushed a fourth time, this time I made an effort to do it more slowly. And the baby came fully out with that one push! Julius was born!!!
Michael cut the cord! The first thing I noticed was how much he looked like me when he was my age! The second thing I noticed is that I had feces all over my chest and it was all over his butt. He had gone to the bathroom in my uterus which causes meconium and risks of infection. The doctor said he had been turned backwards and had managed to turn himself around the right way while I was pushing.
She lifted the placenta and said, “He has a knot in his umbilical cord, see?” We were all very lucky he could even breathe.
He was weighed at 8 lbs. 8 oz. and was 21.5 inches long. A 28 hour labor. And what a beautiful baby boy!!!
And what’s it like now?
I am so blessed. I am so so so blessed. Thankful, grateful, appreciative - are just a few words that express how I feel. I’m still very sore in many places, but the blessings far outweight the rest. Every time Julius cries, I’m reminded that this is what I wanted, this is what I asked for, and I am so so grateful.
Here he is 3 days old being held by his grandma: