WE’RE PREGNANT! NOW THE COUNTRY IS ON LOCKDOWN…

When we mention our daughter being born in 2020, everyone keeps saying, “Oh you had a pandemic baby!” No, we just got pregnant before Covid-19 came to the United States. My husband and I have been married for 4 years, and finally decided we were ready to expand our family. We both knew we always wanted kids one day but never happened to be on the same page of when we wanted children. When we first got married, my husband was ready to have kids right away and I was not. He wanted to grow the family right from the start, but I wanted to take our time to travel and see new things. Instead, a year later after visiting our niece, we decided to adopt a furry baby and got a 1 year old “puppy” who already looked full-grown. Then, a year after getting our dog, I decided that I was ready to start trying to have a baby. Flip-flopped, he was not. Something was always holding us back from being on the same page having children. Whether it was feeling like I was too young or still wanting to be able to pick up and travel anytime we wanted, or him feeling it wasn’t the right time in his career or for financial reasons, we always seemed to be out of sync.

Finally, after 3 years of marriage and a constant battering of questions from our family, we were both on the same page. We’ve all heard those questions. “So when are you going to have kids?” “Can we be expecting any babies in the future?” In November 2019, we began to start trying. After a few weeks, I kept having this feeling like I was pregnant and kept taking pregnancy tests, but they continued to come back negative! I began to get very frustrated because my menstrual cycle started and thought we would have to wait even longer. It was very light, spotted, and only lasted a day. I still believed I was pregnant. My breasts were enlarged, I was craving things I would not normally eat, like tofu, and I was exceptionally emotional. Yet elusive as always, the test were still coming back negative.  

I thought I would take one more test because at this point, my body was feeling so different to the point of being unrecognizable. The night after Christmas Eve, at exactly 9:10pm, I finally saw what we had been working so hard for. The test had finally come back positive! I was so relieved and ecstatic, not being able to stop staring down at the little pink plus sign that would change our lives forever. I called for my husband to tell him the good news. He couldn’t believe it! We were so overwhelmed with happiness that we both started to cry. We couldn’t wait to start this journey together and bring about a wonderful new addition to our growing family with the now growing bud inside my belly.

Little did we know that a monster would be rearing its ugly head and spread to the United States, causing not only our lives, but everyone’s to get a lot more complicated.

We decided to invite both our families over for a New Years Eve celebration to deliver the great news! After blessing was said and before dinner, my husband and I faced our loved ones, unable to keep down the emotion and suspense any longer, and finally informed everyone of the news: we were 7 weeks pregnant!! Every face was lit up with surprise and joy. Some let out a cry of happiness, while others were quick to say “I knew it!” While we shared the evening together in happiness and merriment, no one had any idea what was to come or the struggles we were going to have to go through while being pregnant through Covid-19. Things were about to get a whole lot worse.

My husband and mother had attended every doctor’s appointment with me up to this point. My mother was so thrilled! This was going to be her first grandchild, and she didn’t want to miss anything of it. My husband would race across town to every appointment after getting off work because he wanted to be there for everything as well. Neither of them was prepared to miss a moment of this little nugget’s growth. 

March came around and this is where everything started to take a turn for the worse. One day, I received a generic email from my gynecologist’s office stating no one would be allowed to go to any appointments with me anymore due to the Covid-19 pandemic now spreading across the country.  While this email looked like it went out to a lot of people, I didn’t think this pertained to pregnant women. How could it? I remember thinking ‘Why would they not let at least the husband go to the appointments? He’s just as much a part of this as I am.’ My appointment came around at the end of the month and I was told my husband could not go to the appointment, that he would have to wait out in the car. 

He was devastated with this being his firstborn child. He wanted to be able to participate in everything! He wanted to be by my side at every appointment and watching the growth of our little nugget, but he couldn’t. The doctor said he could only come to one appointment and that was our twenty-week sonogram where we found out the sex of our baby-to-be. Any other mid-point sonograms and appointments were restricted to the patient, and only the patient.

As our due date was starting to loom closer and closer, we started to feel extremely nervous because articles started popping up everywhere online about how families were unable to visit their loved ones in the hospital, especially the ones who had Covid-19. Even pregnant women had to face delivery alone, not being able to bring in their spouse, partner, or a family member. Fortunately, that remained up north in the country, because later we discovered that we were only allowed to have one person in the room during and after delivery. We had hopes that this would soon not be the case, because my mother desperately wanted to be there with my husband and I, and I wanted her there with me as well.

As time got closer, the visitor’s policy did not change for labor and delivery unit, so I would only be able to have one person there with me. While I was fortunate to have someone there with me, this broke my mother’s heart because she wanted to be there so bad for the birth of her first grandchild, but she also didn’t want my husband to miss out on the birth of our daughter. Her own mom was with her during the delivery of both my sister and I, and she wanted to be there for her own grandchildren. Not to mention, I also had extended family who wanted to be there on the day of delivery to at least wait in the waiting room, who were denied by the hospital staff due to concerns over the coronavirus. It was extremely disheartening that nobody could come with us to celebrate the birth of our little girl. 

Once at the hospital, we were informed that we would have to be tested for Covid-19. I was scared because if a pregnant mother had Covid-19, she could not only pass it down to her newborn child, but the hospital would have to keep the baby in quarantine for two entire weeks while the mother recovered, and I couldn’t bear the thought at being apart from my daughter for an hour, much less two weeks. My husband and I said quick prayers and crossed our fingers. To our relief, the tests came back negative, so we were given the green light. My mom drove to the hospital to attempt at getting in somehow, but to no avail. The doctors and nurses said that whoever went in with me had to be the one who stayed with me the whole time, so they couldn’t even tag each other in. Once inside, my husband had to stay with me, lest risk not being able to get back in and I deliver alone. 

During labor and delivery, I was asked to wear my mask throughout the entire time even though I had already been tested for Covid-19 and it came back negative. Since my mother knew she would most likely not be able to be present during my labor and delivery, she bought us a camera stand that could hold our phone so she could be there the whole time. Of course, I wouldn’t let it be anywhere but on my face! We had just finished getting the stand all set up when the nurse came in and said we would have to turn FaceTime off every time a staff member comes in the room because we would have to get a signed waiver of every worker if we have them on the screen. I told her we were not recording, and that it was just FaceTime. She said it did not matter, since it was for the privacy of the staff and hospital procedures. This was extremely depressing because we all thought we had found a way to overcome our family members not being present for the birth of our daughter!

Reluctantly, we agreed to shut it off every time someone came in the room. Not all hope was lost though, because after talking with my husband, when it came time to actually deliver, I had my husband call my mom and sister and instead of FaceTime, I told him to turn the phone upside down so none of the staff would know they were on the phone, so they were able to listen, but not see. My mother told me that this was scary for her because she couldn’t see my face or talk me through it. She joked later that she had to listen to my husband barking out orders like a football coach, which we all agreed on and laughed about. Hey, you have to find things to laugh at, especially during difficult times.

Being pregnant and having a baby during the Covid-19 pandemic was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. We overcame not only not being able to do some traditional events, such as a baby shower and a gender reveal party, but also not having the support team we thought we would have at the hospital on the day of delivery. I wanted to share my story with hope that anyone who went through something similar to this knows that you are not alone! I know that it seems like you’ll be all alone, but there is always light in the darkest darkness. Talk with your family and your spouse or partner. Figure out a plan, and then come up with a backup plan in case the original plan doesn’t work. Heck, come up with a third plan if necessary! This pandemic has thrown us all for curves and loops that we would never have expected, but with each other, our families, and the grace of God, we prevailed and are now the parents of a beautiful baby girl. Hold your head up high, keep smiling, and you can go farther than you ever thought possible!

THE TRUTH NOBODY TELLS YOU ABOUT PREGNANCY

The day after Christmas, two pink lines on a stick forever changed us. Our hearts soared and a jolt of excitement shot from head to toe! We couldn’t wait to expand our family with a baby. We got in touch with our families and brought them together at our home on New Year’s Eve to announce the great news! Everyone was elated and shared our excitement as we celebrated through the night.

            Then on January 2nd I came down with a cold and the morning sickness hit me like a truck. I was okay with the nausea and random bouts of vomiting, as I knew it would come with being pregnant and go away in the second trimester like everyone had told me. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case in the slightest.

            I am not one to miss work just because I’m sick. I always try to power through any illness I might have and save vacation days for just that, vacation. I started to miss so much work because I wasn’t sleeping well, due to the nausea waking me up throughout the entire night. I could not keep down any food or drinks. I would even throw up crushed ice! That’s how I knew it was really severe. I would go days without moving from my bed or keeping anything down. I was in so much pain from the dehydration, I kept feeling like I was going to die. I know you are probably thinking dramatic, right? Well I am not.

            Now in February, I was so pale with body pain, and powerful headaches made it nearly impossible to do anything. I was convinced by my husband and family members to go to the hospital after trying to push through the pain. We did not want to risk anything happening to our baby, so I went to the hospital and discovered I was severely dehydrated. I was then diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I had never heard of this until the doctor told us.

            For those of you who have never heard of this before either, it is a condition where you have consistent vomiting during pregnancy. It can lead to additional issues like weight loss and dehydration. My doctor informed me it was rare and only 2% of women have been diagnosed during their pregnancy. I was treated for dehydration that day and was told the condition should go away after 13 weeks, and to combat the nausea, she gave me a prescription for Reglan.

            The Reglan helped for about a week and a half before I was back to throwing up everything and feeling like I couldn’t get through my usual daily activities. I went to my OBGYN at the time and was given Unisom and B6 to help me sleep and take away the nausea. This medicine lasted less than the Reglan, and I was still throwing up consistently. It was starting to seem like nothing would help ease the condition.

            Still unable to keep down any food and now having lost 20 pounds, I was so miserable and didn’t think I could go anymore. The headaches and body pains from throwing up so much were awful. Once again, my family had convinced me to go to the hospital again to be treated.

            Off to the hospital for the second time. I was only 19 weeks pregnant and in so much pain! I felt envious of all the women who told me I would love being pregnant. I wanted the pregnancies they had and the glow I was told I would have in the second trimester. I was so worried about my baby getting the proper nutrients because I had not been able to keep food or water down for days. Fortunately, the doctor told us the baby can actually survive on less than 100 calories a day, and body fat can provide needed calories to the baby if necessary. The doctors treated me for dehydration once again. I advised the staff I was told that the Hyperemesis Gravidarum would be gone after weeks. They began to tell me that is usually true for some women, but there is a .5% chance you will have it your entire pregnancy. So not only did I fall into the 2% category of having HG, but also had the extremely rare situation of having to deal with it for 10 months. I felt like I should have gotten a lottery ticket by that point. I was given dissolvable Zofran for the days and a Promethazine suppository at night: two different medications that could not be thrown up.

            Being prescribed these medicines was the greatest thing that could have happened. I still continued to throw up and have nausea, but not nearly as much as I was before. I was able to eat again, and after not being able to keep anything down, this was definitely the best part! Unfortunately, HG decided to follow me like a shadow and I was throwing up to the point that I delivered my sweet baby girl. I was in active labor and still had nurses bringing me bags to throw up into. Definitely not fun.

            With all this being said and everything that I had been through, I had family saying they didn’t understand why I was still throwing up and I needed to control it. It was sad because they did not understand that this was sporadic and unpredictable, being a medical condition beyond my control. The doctors couldn’t even tell me what causes Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I was informed the reason could be different for every woman and is extremely rare. I was also told by family members that they were scared I wasn’t going to want anything to do with my baby because of the way I felt during pregnancy. This was all so disheartening to hear. I know I didn’t have a blissful pregnancy and was counting down the days for my baby girl to be here so I wouldn’t have to be in pain all the time, but all I wanted more than anything was to hold our little miracle in my arms.

             I hope anyone going through a difficult pregnancy will read this and know its okay to feel the way you do, because you are not alone. This doesn’t mean you will love your baby any less because you are not enjoying your pregnancy. It isn’t always “glowing” for everyone. Sometimes it’s difficult and you may seem like giving up hope, but just remember that your body is unique in its own way. Find a support person to check in on you, whether it be your spouse/partner, family member, or a close friend. Having that person to talk to and listen means the world. Just know that there are others like you out there. I’ve been where you are now, and this will only make you stronger. You will get through! Hang in there and always keep in mind what is coming your way soon!