Now that I am 35 weeks pregnant and have a scheduled Cesarean section planned for my 36th week, I’m looking back at this journey and reflecting on all of the hurdles that we have encountered. Here’s what I’ve learned: our plans, our best efforts, our hopes, are all irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
As far as fertility stories go, ours could have been way more difficult but it was complicated. It was tough to realize that many decisions I’ve made in my life, like avoiding birth control pills for fear of how the artificial hormone control might negatively impact the ability to conceive in the future, did not matter. In quick summary, we endured three failed IUI attempts, one epically failed IVF attempt prior to conception with IVF. All worth it.
And as far as early pregnancy and sickness goes, sure I felt green, but mostly I have been ok. I experienced exhaustion that no words can ever adequately describe, but it could have been worse. Plus, I knew I was carrying our little miracle, and that made it all seem a bit more manageable.
The good news was, our little one (lovingly referred to as “Kiddo” in our house) is healthy and growing; what more could I ask for?
Through all of this, I never considered a birth plan, at least not consciously. I was just so excited to be pregnant. Realistically, conceiving in December would mean that most of my pregnancy would be during a pandemic; for my mental health I decided to focus on what I could control, and to find little silver linings to put my energy into so that I wouldn’t spiral into a depression. The pandemic would mean no baby shower, no hugs from my mother or sisters as we chronicled my ever growing abdomen and pregnancy. If you’re reading this, you know exactly what I mean. I worked hard at identifying the things that I could control and the things I could not, and attempted to put my energy only into what I could have some control over. I realize now, looking back, that at one point I thought that I would deliver “naturally,” and perhaps even without drug intervention - how badass?!
At about 20 weeks I learned that I had placenta previa (our placenta is blocking my cervix). The nurse gently explained that this could mean that I would need a c-section if the placenta did not migrate as Kiddo and my uterus grew. She explained that, statistically, there was a very good chance that it could/would move, but we should keep it in the back of our minds. I had to wait 8 weeks before my next appointment. In that time we remained hopeful that the previa would move, and learned that I had Gestational Diabetes.
I have cried to my husband numerous times about the hurdles we have faced. If I think about it, I know, that in the grand scheme of what we could face, these minor obstacles are just that, minor. But it does not change the emotional toll they have taken. Each new development we faced, we took together, in stride. Asking questions of the doctors, reading on our own, figuring out what we could conceivable control to help our baby grow and develop as healthy as possible.
I have adamantly refused to dwell on any of the inconveniences, because they’re just that, inconvenient.
Gestational diabetes is grueling, there is no doubt. Having to consider the macronutrient density of every meal and snack I consume is mentally draining. Failing a blood sugar test after a meal elicits feelings of neglect - it’s not fair for me to be doing this to Kiddo, his/her body can learn an inability to regulate based on my body’s poor blood sugar regulation. Losing my ability to work out the way that I want to due to the placenta previa was another difficult hurdle mentally and physically for me to deal with. The lack of exercise also made me feel like I was not doing enough to control my blood sugar or overall health for us.
Each doctor’s visit that followed the initial diagnosis of PP confirmed that the placenta was not moving. I have what they call a “complete previa,” so Kiddo’s exit strategy is completely blocked. The result is that we will need to have a planned c-section in our 36th week. All sounds a little scary. This will require steroid shots to help bolster kiddo’s lungs, and giving birth to what I recognize will be a smaller, more underdeveloped baby than if we had gone to term. However, the placenta is an organ composed of blood vessels, both mine and Kiddo’s, it would be incredibly dangerous for both of us if that were to exit before the baby.
Every time I discuss this with someone new, I am met with a similar response, an apology that I have to endure a c-section and sympathy over the disappointment of not being able to deliver “naturally.” I realize, the deeper into this I am, the more I know that I will do whatever is safest and best for this child. At some point in my life, trying to deliver “naturally” without the help of medications may have been something that was very important to me. But plans change. Our bodies are not mindful of what our wants are. It is our job to listen to what our bodies are telling us in this moment to take in the science, and adjust accordingly. I keep telling myself that this is preparation for when Kiddo has joined us on the outside - nothing will ever go according to plan!