Most of you probably have heard now, if you follow me on social media at all, but we will be welcoming a new member of our family in September! I am currently just about 8 weeks pregnant with an estimated due date of September 7th and aside from morning sickness (or rather, ALL DAY LONG SICKNESS. Blech. no vomiting yet, thank God, but still, very uncomfortable.), near-constant hunger, some mild acid reflux, and just general tiredness, things are going great!
We had our first prenatal visit yesterday at a local birth center that is run by a doctor and his wife (who happens to be a midwife, it’s really cool). Everything looks good and we should have our first ultrasound next weekend so I’m excited to get to see and hear the baby’s heartbeat.
I told the midwife interviewing us about my heart condition and some of the snags we hit during my pregnancy with Tavo and she jotted down notes and said she doesn’t see why I shouldn’t be able to have an out-of-hospital birth. I was SO relieved. I had been trying hard not to be too nervous about the meeting because I was afraid I would get sent for another echo on my heart and then end up in the same situation as last time. But now that they know I handled birth just fine once, I guess they aren’t worried.
Now I’m wondering what would have happened if I had gone to this clinic when I was pregnant with Tavo, but no sense in wondering about that because we can’t go backwards at all.
For those of you who haven’t heard about my pregnancy with my son, I was labeled high risk first for my heart condition which was discovered when I was very little as a bicuspid heart valve. When I was 18, I had my last cardiologist checkup with the pediatric cardiologist I had been seeing who was a very nice lady. So far, my experiences with cardiologists had been really great. She checked the scans and was puzzled because it seemed I no longer had a bicuspid heart valve. It looked like a fairly normal tri-leaflet valve with just a small leak. She had no idea what had changed, but I immediately thought of how the previous summer one of my younger sisters had had a bad dream about me having a heart attack and she was so worried and praying constantly about my condition that I started trying to eat better and started running routinely, for myself but also trying to ease my sister’s mind somewhat. So, it seemed like quite the miracle to get that diagnosis.
After that point, I just figured I had nothing to worry about then heart-wise.
However, in 2014 when I was pregnant with my son, I went to a midwifery clinic and as she asked me about my health history I told her about what happened with my heart condition and she wanted me to go for an echo to check and make sure things were okay. I figured everything would be just fine and I wasn’t worried.
Well, when I met with the cardiologist (the first cardiologist I had seen since my very warm and friendly pediatric cardiologist when I was younger) he immediately began with “well, the good news is you don’t have to terminate the pregnancy.”
I. Was. Floored.
I nearly began crying right there, what an awful thing to say to a first time mother. Even though, sure that’s GREAT news. But just the callous way he said it when I first walked in, without barely acknowledging me was downright rude.
I don’t remember the exact words that were said after that point. But I tried to remain calm and hear him out. Basically he told me I had aortic stenosis and made it seem like I would have to have heart surgery immediately after delivering my son. Which, this surgery would require me to take routine medications that are unsafe for pregnancy, meaning I would never be able to have another child, at least, not without a huge amount of medical help and interventions.
It took me about fifteen minutes of crying in my car before I could drive to my mom’s house and then burst into tears again.
At this point, I still thought I would be able to go to the midwife I had initially seen. But I got a phone call from her asking me to come in so she could discuss my results and when I got there she let me know that the cardiologist had written in my paperwork (without telling me) that I should go to a high risk doctor in a hospital to birth. Because of this, no midwife would be willing to risk her license to help me with an out-of-hospital birth. I researched like crazy to find some loophole but there was nothing I could do.
My whole pregnancy with my son was a roller coaster ride of stress, worry, relief, then stress again with another dollop of worry. I found out that the cardiologist I went to see was actually a fill-in for the cardiologist I was supposed to see. So, I went back for another check up and this one was shocked with what the other had written in my file. He didn’t understand why the other cardiologist, had thought my condition was so severe. He informed me that yes, I did in fact have aortic stenosis but it was more in the mild to moderate range and didn’t think I would need surgery or anything so intense for a long time.
After this point, I was still stuck in the high-risk-birthing-in-the-hospital category. I went to see a high risk doctor in Anchorage who checked to be sure my son didn’t have a heart condition or anything serious via ultrasound and then they were afraid he was growing too slowly and that he might have intrauterine growth restriction. So that was the second thing that had me pretty stressed out and required us to go for routine ultrasounds. Turns out, my son was growing just fine, and it was unnecessary worry.
Despite all of these hurdles, my son was born perfectly fine. It was a long birth, nearly 24hrs and he was sunny side up right up until the end, but even if we weren’t able to have an out-of-hospital birth, I still was able to have a natural birth, un-medicated and that’s what mattered to me. I should note that I don’t blame any woman for getting an epidural or anything because after going through that long of a labor, I 100% understand wanting pain relief. I believe in informed consent and 100% support any woman birthing however they want as long as they are informed on all the risks and benefits etc, and for me, a natural un-medicated birth was what I wanted so I’m very thankful that even being high risk, I was able to do it that way.
Thankfully, because I was able to avoid a c-section, that should make everything much easier for this birth, because now we all know that my heart (and just, myself in general) can handle it, assuming there aren’t any other complications along the way of course. Which is another reason why I’m very glad this clinic also has a doctor because it’s just another added layer of precaution.
I can’t put into words how excited I am to have had such a positive prenatal visit, I do still feel that there is part of me that is reserved about being excited because my last pregnancy was so full of false hopes and worry, then false hopes again, so I do feel like I’m still recovering from that.
But I am much healthier this go around. When I was pregnant with my son I hadn’t been very active at all in the year (at least) leading up to it. Plus I wasn’t really watching what I was eating very well. This time, I’m going into it around the same weight, but I spent this last summer running and hiking and my eating habits are much better, aside from the occasional slip up where I am desperately craving something not so great (so far the cravings have been sparse aside from orange juice which is definitely not the worst thing to crave and one night where I was literally dying for Chinese food).
I’ve been attempting to keep up the running, but it’s harder now that nausea has hit me more. Plus, this has been one of the coldest winters in awhile so getting myself motivated to run either means bundling up to run in the cold or running on the treadmill, which I really don’t like much. Running outside is my jam, but I’m trying to spend at least twenty minutes on the treadmill, whether I’m running or brisk walking because I know I need it. Especially since I still plan on hiking and adventuring this summer, even if I’m in my second and third trimesters. I REALLY can’t wait for summer, but I digress.
Anyway, that’s about it. I’ll give random updates throughout the pregnancy about how things are going and hopefully everything will continue wonderfully and we will be able to birth at the clinic. We got to see the birthing room yesterday and it is wonderful. Really nice laboring tub, a huge bed and really good size shower for laboring as well, they even have a kitchen where you can fix food if you like. I’m really excited.