Pregnancy. It’s likely been the most wild experience I’ve had yet in life. After my miscarriage last year, I wanted time to heal and allow myself to consider having children as something that would possibly happen in the future. I didn’t want to pressure myself, I chose not to have further fertility testing or treatments and just live life presently. Bryan and I got engaged in December of 2021, were making plans to elope during the Summer of 2022, and I was on track to graduate as a Spiritual Life Coach in May 2022. We were busy, but I’m always researching and learning more about overall well-being.
Having a miscarriage and PCOS, my hormones were very off balance and I didn’t want to turn to medication. Although there were days where I should have probably taken the medication that my PCP prescribed me for anxiety and depression, I chose not to. I always listen to my heart and intuition, even if that means putting more effort and patience into finding alternative approaches. Luckily, I have a friend that is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and she suggested a number of herbal supplements to try. I’ve been using Moon Juice products for several years and began incorporating other adaptogens into my daily routine. Specifically, the Sex Dust and Shatavari. I’ll link everything I mention in this post, too. I know this is all very delicate to discuss, but hormone balancing is something that I feel is a personal journey and important to your well-being as a female. Now, I’m not going to credit my conception solely to these products alone, but combined with eating a moderately balanced diet, juicing, limiting alcohol, consistent sleep, and creating a stress free mental approach of “either way I am grateful” towards pregnancy, I found myself pregnant.
I was in Florida celebrating my friend’s 30th birthday and knew something was off. I was supposed to start my period that Wednesday, flew to Florida on Thursday, wasn’t feeling great the entire trip, flew home Sunday, and tested positive on Monday. I immediately called my OB and they scheduled me to come in on Tuesday. Talk about a whirlwind! Their office testing came back positive as my home pregnancy test did, but because of my previous miscarriage they scheduled an ultrasound for that Thursday. For those that have had the unfortunate experience of miscarrying, you are ALWAYS nervous before and during the first few ultrasounds. I was trying to relax, but as the Sonographer turned the screen towards us, my heart sank. No heartbeat. According to the calculations at my previous appointment, I was supposed to be 7 weeks pregnant – there should be a fetal heartbeat. The ultrasound tech asked if I was sure my dates were calculated correctly and that maybe it was just too early. We were taken to another room to discuss with a Nurse Practitioner, only to be told that this is what they call a Blighted Ovum – where the gestational sac develops without an embryo. The room started to spin, I began to black out, and I really do not remember what happened from that moment forward. How could I be having another miscarriage? What’s wrong with my body? I was broken apart all over again. Immediate PTSD. It is something that is impossible to understand unless you’ve experienced it.
That evening, I received a call from the OB office that there was a change of plans and they were cancelling my follow up appointment scheduled for the next day. I had bloodwork done before leaving the office after receiving the news, which was a blur, and apparently my HCG levels had risen in those couple of days. They requested that I return to the office to have labs done every 48 hours and they scheduled a repeat ultrasound for that following week. Waiting is not my strong suit and this was absolute torture. Am I pregnant? Am I not pregnant? My levels continued to increase and finally at the next ultrasound there was our little baby with a beating heart. The NP was wrong. Having PCOS and irregular cycles, she should have known not to calculate a due date based off my last period or an average 4 week cycle. They determined that I was only 5 weeks during the first ultrasound and a heartbeat is typically not detected that early. This is another reason why I appreciate modern medicine, but I will never fully trust it and that it’s important to never settle for any Physician or Provider that you do not feel comfortable with.
I was extremely grateful to be pregnant, but extremely sick. My symptoms started right around 4 weeks, increased around 6 weeks, and I was prescribed medication as I had been with my last pregnancy. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of prescription medication, but I couldn’t have survived without the high dose of Zofran and Diclegis. I suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum which is NOT morning sickness. It requires self control to not want to slap someone when they suggest “crackers and sprite” because that helped them when they would throw up once or twice a week. Ha. HG is debilitating. It’s constant nausea and vomiting – all day, all night. I couldn’t drink water, I was lucky to drink one Ginger Ale a day. I would throw up every time I sipped water, every time I ate, every time I brushed my teeth, and in between all of the above. Food and smell aversions became so intense, I couldn’t even use my regular toothpaste, deodorant, or body wash. Hyperemesis Gravidarum, though completely lacking in support from most medical providers, is becoming more commonly discussed and I’m thankful to have found the HER Foundation. I was able to connect with other women who have had similar issues and it was tremendously beneficial to my mental health.
During the first trimester, your HCG levels are continuously rising and for some women this is a struggle to process and balance. There are days where EVERYTHING makes you nauseous and sick – walking, speaking, sitting down, standing up, watching TV, working on a laptop, the thought of meat, the thought of anything food related, simply sleeping… It is absolute misery. I threw up everything I ate, which consisted of only toast with peanut butter, saltines, the occasional banana, and ginger candy. At one point, I didn’t brush my teeth for 4 days because the second the toothbrush touched my lips I would throw up. Someone suggested switching to cinnamon toothpaste which did help, eventually. Even with medication this was still my experience. The next option would be to increase to the use of a Zofran pump, but I knew I wasn’t going to do that. You become so dehydrated and weak, it’s a job in itself to get out of bed in the morning. I was merely surviving and completely isolated because I could hardly function. Aside from my husband, my mom and sister were the only people I saw for weeks. Being in a vehicle was almost impossible. Depression became extremely real, I cried a lot which also made me sick and I felt so alone. I’ve never known anyone to have a pregnancy like this and I was struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I wish I had a dollar for each time someone would attempt to encourage me by saying “once you hold your baby it will all be worth it” but that is something that seemed so far in the distance and impossible to grasp.
Finally, right around 13 weeks, I began to consume bland, but solid food again. Bryan and I had planned to elope right around this time; I didn’t know how it was going to be possible, but with the routine I’d found, medication, lemonheads, and Unisom… I survived. We had the most beautiful day and most people would never know what I was battling behind closed doors. It was a much needed beach getaway that brought healing to my soul at the perfect time. The first trimester was mostly feeling sick and bloated and it was truly hard to find excitement about having a baby. I am blessed to have my cousin, who works for a medical device company and is a Sonographer so I’ve had many more ultrasounds than the average person. I had anxiety before each scan and would hold my breath until I saw the baby’s heart beating or some sort of movement. With each passing week, although the vomiting and nausea were still present it became less frequent. I was putting every ounce of hope and praying that once I entered the second trimester that I’d gain even the smallest amount of relief. This is when the HCG levels and hormones begin to balance out. Around weeks 15 and 16, I was able to brush my teeth and started drinking juice again. I had my first iced coffee during week 17 and I nearly cried from happiness. It’s like rediscovering food you love for the first time. There are so many things I have a newfound appreciation for and things I try not to take for granted. More to come about my second trimester.
Pregnancy is the hardest thing I’ve endured. A lot of women have much easier pregnancies, fewer symptoms, and seemingly more enjoyable, but that’s just not been my experience. I like to think of myself as a strong, resilient person and I’m very in tune with my physical body and soul. However, there are SO many things that are unpredictable with pregnancy and some things that you cannot prepare for or fathom until you’ve personally experienced it. I share this so that I can personally remember what I’ve encountered and accomplished, but to serve as a reminder that every woman and pregnancy can be unique. I’ve found such a mutual respect within this new community and want to offer support as best as I’m able to anyone that may experience HG or struggle during their pregnancy. I’ve said it so many times before, but women are warriors and should be celebrated for all that we are and capable of.
Thank you for being here.
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