“Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here an hour I knew I would do anything for you. Children are the miracle of life.” – Unknown
On 12 February 2019, my closest and dearest friend gave birth to a beautiful little girl. Born at 17:43pm, weighing 3.61kg. It was her first pregnancy and is her first child. The arrival of this beautiful little girl has made me think about my first pregnancy, and the emotionally difficult journey that accompanied it. But, even when there is discomfort and distress, it all is worth it when you hold your child in your arms for the very first time. I know many mothers out there have experienced difficult pregnancy journeys for a variety of reasons. This post is dedicated to you.
My first pregnancy was nothing but a rollercoaster of heartbreak. I found out I was pregnant at three weeks after experiencing severe pain in my abdomen. After being examined by a GP, he thought it might be an ectopic pregnancy. I was sent to hospital for the relevant scans and tests. The results proved it was a viable intrauterine pregnancy. Essentially just the medical term for a first trimester baby seen in the womb. I was very ill throughout the first trimester.
In my second trimester, we found out I was having a son. Then in the latter part of my second trimester, my doctor became concerned about my son’s long limbs. After many scans, and foetal assessments, performed by different medical professionals, I was eventually sent to a Foetal Geneticist at twenty-four weeks. All results, including that of the Foetal Geneticist proved the same. At twenty-four weeks my son’s femur and humerus were measuring four and three weeks behind, respectively. The report stated “all long bones well below the 5th centile”.
I was then provided with counselling for the possibility of my son having some form of skeletal dysplasia. I was referred to a Foetal Unit, and for further counselling with even more paediatricians and geneticists. Part of the further counselling included preparing to have a child with skeletal dysplasia, and also how to care for a child with skeletal dysplasia. I embraced it all, and in fact was even more determined to do whatever I needed to give my child the best life possible. What I didn’t appreciate about one particular session was a discussion around aborting the pregnancy. As much as I voiced not wanting to have the conversation, it was all about the process of aborting a pregnancy at twenty-four weeks. This might have been part of the process in my country or with my doctors – I still to this day don’t actually know. At that time, all I wanted was to be heard. To me, my unborn child was going to stay inside of me, and the only way he would come out sooner is if there was a risk, or if God took him from me. I said this over and over for the weeks that continued – to everyone.
As the weeks went on, the situation didn’t change much other than his head and torso continuing to grow normally in terms of gestation age. Another very difficult conversation was around the possibility of my son’s heart being impacted, and how if this happens, his lifespan at best could be five years. At least this is what I was told.
Weeks carried on, and scans continued to show the same picture. It was such a difficult time. I felt like it was me and my unborn child against the world most of the time. I had support from family, but my then husband was concerned for me and my son considering everything the doctors were saying. Especially during the counselling sessions. I can appreciate now how confusing this time must have been for him.
Going for my weekly doctor’s visits became more and more depressing. Nothing about my visits were comforting or positive. At thirty-three weeks I again experienced really bad abdominal pain. I was admitted to hospital, and whilst monitoring my unborn child’s heart rate, the doctor heard a murmur. A heart murmur may indicate nothing or may indicate a heart problem. I was urged to have an early caesarean, but I refused. I didn’t feel anything the doctors were saying justified taking my son out earlier. In fact, the risks of taking him out earlier concerned me more than anything. I was being given medication for my pain, and my son’s heartbeat continued to be monitored. After just more than a day, with no change, I was sent home. Again, I maintained to my family that if anyone was going to take my son from me, it would be God.
Two weeks later, at just over 35 weeks, I went in for yet another doctor’s visit. This time, the doctor immediately picked up my son’s heart rate was dropping. I was immediately sent for an emergency caesarean. All I felt at that moment was the bond I had built with my unborn son. All I could think about was that it was really happening. Its time. God is taking him away. I was in so much distress, I was put completely to sleep due to failed epidural attempts. After the caesarean I was in and out of consciousness for hours. I remember one thing only, and that was a man I had never met before telling me my son was fine and that he was perfect. This man I later found out was the paediatrician on duty called in for my emergency caesarean.
I continued drifting in and out of consciousness for nearly a day. My son’s first feed wasn’t even from me because I was unconscious. But when I finally awoke, I was in utter shock to see my son. All his limbs looked proportionate for his body, and he was breathing comfortably.
Throughout our stay at the hospital, my son was called the miracle baby. Doctors, nurses, and other new moms could not believe my little boy’s story going around. My doctor and other doctors who were part of my journey could not explain what they were seeing repeatedly, week after week, and then what they saw when they took my son out. The paediatrician on duty, who naturally became all my children’s doctor from that day on, could not believe what he was hearing. When he eventually looked at all the scans and documents, he too said it was an absolute miracle.
I believe that children are a blessing. A gift like no other. Every child is a miracle.
My son is already as tall as I am at 13 years old. He will forever more be my greatest accomplishment in life. All my children are my life. But my oldest son, I believe guided me in every decision I took despite what doctors feared or advised. My faith was strong, and my bond with my son was strong. I truly believe that had I not remained steadfast in my decision to have only God take my son away from me, I might not have him today.
So even in difficult pregnancies, trust your heart, and your gut. Believe in your values and beliefs if it is not going to cause harm. Trust in your decisions, and believe that miracles are real.
To my best friend who is just starting her journey as a mom, remember mothering is not easy. It is okay not to be okay. You are never meant to know it all.
“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bank balance smaller, home happier, clothes dirty, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for”. – Unknown
Until next time…
Yours in Adapting & Being