The Lonely, Dangerous Pregnancy

I don’t talk much about the twins’ pregnancy.

I’ve read about so many tragic pregnancies and mine has a happy ending.

But then I heard about the…

DOWNTON ABBEY SPOILERS!!!

…death of Lady Sybil from eclampsia and a lot of memories came flooding back.

Mainly I remember that I was not supported by anyone except my marvelous ObGyn and her staff. The twins and I were in danger and people were oblivious or they didn’t know or they didn’t want me to drag them down. Some people (like my parents and brother who don’t live close by) I kept in the dark. Others I told the dangers to and they shrugged, certain everything was going to be all right in the end. Which, to be fair, it was. Others dropped me as a friend because I was “a bummer.” Seriously, someone said that. Because who wants a friend with a complicated pregnancy? And mine was pretty complicated.

Here’s a partial list of my pregnancy’s complications:

– Hypermesis that lasted 28 weeks. Hypermesis is severe morning sickness. I eventually had to go on an anti-nausea medication (something I held out against for a long, long time) or face hospitalization until the hypermesis faded away because I was malnourished.
– Round ligament pains. They hurt and were scary but weren’t actually dangerous.
– A low-lying placenta and threatened placenta previa.
– Pre-term labor contractions at 31 weeks. After an ER stay, I was put on bedrest.
– Pre-term labor contractions again at 33 weeks. Another ER stay. More bedrest.

And the final hurrah: My blood pressure started to creep up at 35 weeks. The protein test was positive. Each day in my 35th week I had to have my blood pressure taken and I had to do the protein test. Every other day I got a blood test. Each day was an evaluation of where I was on the pre-eclampsia scale.

The day before my water broke at 35 weeks 5 days, my ankles and legs swelled dramatically. I called my fabulous ObGyn, who was concerned and told me to go to the ER immediately if my head hurt or the swelling continued in my hands or face or if I became nauseous. I was to come into her office the next morning, regardless. I’m going to be dramatic here and note that while luck played a large part in our ending, her careful and diligent care of me is probably also a factor in why we are all here today.

I delivered the next day.

After delivery, the nurses gave me an emergency call button and told me that if my head began to hurt at all or if I had vision changes, I was to push the button. Immediately.

I only now know what any of this meant, after reading about the serious dangers of eclampsia, which killed Lady Sybil.

What is my point? I don’t know that I really have one, other than to say: if you are pregnant and feel lonely, you are not alone. Pregnancy after infertility treatments and loss is fraught with anxiety but it’s also fraught with increased risk and complications (even without multiples) and those around you might not appreciate that. So please surround yourself with careful and kind medical professionals and friends and family who can support you. And please read this.

And so endeth my PSA for today.

Did you feel lonely during your pregnancy and/or afraid? Were people there for you?

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “The Lonely, Dangerous Pregnancy

  1. I am so, so glad you wrote this. First and foremost – for your healing process. Second and selfishly – it makes me feel a little better. Let me start by saying that so far this pregnancy has been perfect and for that I am extremely thankful. It does not, however, delete my concerns over later pregnancy and post pardum.

    I have ONE friend who supports my continued worries, who stands by me, who listens to my fretting and who tells me she loves me and that she is confident in my medical care should, God forbid, something go south. EVERYONE ELSE ( my wonderful husband included) tells me to enjoy this. To stop worrying. That things are perfect. Etc. This does not erase the past, nor does it ease my fears about pregnancy – and boy do I have fears and reason for concern. About my baby. About my autoimmune disease. About my ability to remain healthy after my baby is here. It is an agonizing struggle to continue pushing all of my worries aside since no one cares to listen.

    I’m so sorry you had to experience this loneliness, too. And I’m tremendously sorry your pregnancy was complicated and gave you good reason for your fears. I hope that by opening up you can continue healing and that you realize how much your honesty has helped others.

  2. I’m so so sorry that happened to you. It’s awful (but not surprising, sadly) that your friends weren’t more supportive.

  3. Shelley

    I was so deeply affected by Sybil’s death on Downton last week, as a pregnant person. It made me scared for my health, scared for my family, and just made me imagine what it would be like for them if anything happened to me in childbirth. Obviously they closely monitor for things now, but the risk is always there. I do feel like they’re already watching me very closely and will continue to do so, and that I have family (and some friends) I can talk to about my pregnancy symptoms and complications.

    I’m so sorry that you felt alone and so very sorry about what a rough pregnancy you had. I was sick through 18 weeks but did not have hypermesis. I can only imagine how hard that must have been, physically and emotionally. But I’m glad to know your story had a happy ending. ūüôā

  4. I love Downton Abby — but haven’t been watching this season — however I’m happy to have a spoiler because, being who I am, I prefer to be prepared for the news (seriously — sometimes I even read the ending of a book)– I often wonder if, as an infertile, my pregnancy was changed already because I was so immersed in all of the information — I do think we who share the experience of IF, if it happens for us, have the knowledge because we’ve been following people’s stories, reading articles etc.

    I read this this morning and had to get to my computer (I was reading on my phone) to comment and tell you how beautiful this post is. I can only imagine how frightening that must have been — I think those kinds of experiences changes us — and I’m so sorry that there were people in your life who couldn’t open their hearts and be with you in your fear — I think so many of us can’t live with our OWN fear/heartbreaks — and it’s as if — if we acknowledge they exist in other people then we have to acknowledge our own — I remember I was terrified of eclampsia.

    There wasn’t a moment of my pregnancy that I wasn’t terrified, but I have this disconnect sometimes — where there is this deep current of fear but even I don’t address it. I was able to have peaceful moments, beautiful moments and it was more or less without complication but it was still an intensely private experience for me — but I was okay with that. My mother showed up during Z’s birth, (and that part I was worried most about and had the most complications — induction, tried to labor naturally for a long time and then my mother’s arrival, I think, stopped my progress) and I ultimately had an emergency c-section. This is the point where I have to advocate endlessly for a doula– she probably was, other than G of course, my most steadfast support.

    XO

    P

    • I read the ending sometimes too – the suspense can make me too anxious.

      I remember when I read your birth story, it did seem like when your mother arrived you no longer felt safe. This breaks my heart to this day.

  5. Thank you for writing this. It’s something that I wish the ‘smoke blowers’ could/would read. So many people take it for granted that they will get pregnant easily, and that in nine months there will be a healthy baby. We need to be realistic about the dangers and the fears associated with pregnancy, and be honest with the fact that medical science, while it has come a very long way, can’t fix everything.

    Lady Sybil’s death gutted me. My Beloved, thinking that it was just my silly over-reaction to another fictional character dying, chuckled at me while I bawled my eyes out. What he didn’t understand, and likely never will, is how real my fear of pre-e was during our pregnancies (particularly with Pip). After two miscarriages, I didn’t trust my body to get it right. And with all the complications I had (high blood pressure, insulin dependant GD, and a partial placenta previa) I was terrified, right up until I held my babies that something was going to go very wrong.

    Thankfully, everything turned out well, but shadows of those fears have carried over into parenting.

  6. After seeing twitter blow up with news about eclampsia and pre-eclampsia, I was prepared for the results of the show. I wasn’t prepared for my reaction to it. I was induced at 37+1 weeks for pre-eclampsia. At 35 weeks, my BP was slightly elevated, but nothing to be concerned. 36 weeks, small amount of protein and BP slightly more elevated. 36+6 weeks, protein was elevated, and BP was elevated. I had zero other symptoms. I felt great and wasn’t even really swollen. 37+1 I gained 6 pounds, BP was up and protein was frank…off to the hospital with me. Except I didn’t go straight to the hospital. I went home and did laundry and cleaned. I checked into the hospital 5 hours later. My OB wasn’t in a rush, but he didn’t want me dawdling either. I only kind of dawdled. I ended up on a magnesium sulfate drip for 16 hours before delivery and 24 hours after delivery. I was on bed rest for the whole of my labor and delivery process and 24 hours after delivery. As a NICU nurse, I see what happens when things go wrong. I know how things happen. I know what could have happened to me and my daughter. It didn’t bother me, until I saw this show. And it sent me into a mini freak out. I don’t know if it’s because my daughter is here safe and sound and I know what could have happened or what, but it really had an effect on me.

    Pregnancy after IF is scary as all hell to me. And most definitely lonely. Thank you for sharing your story and helping those who are pregnant know they are not alone on this journey….

    PS sorry for the babbling…still kind of reeling

  7. Never having been pregnant, I can’t imagine the fear you experienced, but it makes me sad and angry to think that you had such little support. Everyone deserves someone to just hold their hand and just be there for them, even if they don’t understand. Platitudes don’t help; just empathy and understanding.

  8. Thanks for writing this. I had pre-e in both pregnancies; the first one was miserably hard because my husband left for a trip overseas te day after I was put on hospital bed rest, and I was still hoping for unmediated childbirth, but alas. The second one I was more prepared… And in both cases profoundly grateful for the good outcome. My sister’s childhood friend died from eclampsia after delivering a healthy baby, not 10 years ago. It happens. I’m so glad you and your babies all came out ok.

  9. Am I the only one not into downton? Seriously my bestie had pre e both times and was high risk – not fun. Who drops you for be on a downer? Ass hat.

  10. I was relatively calm about my twin pregnancy until last weekend when I started having many BH contractions. I went to the hospital to be monitored and was ok – cervix is still long and hard as of this past Monday. However, I am still getting about 30-35 BH contractions a day. They downright freak me out knowing the already added risks of twins with pre term labor. At not quite viaibility (23weeks 2 days), I feel like I’m almost going day by day.
    And, being one with pregnancy after infertility, feel like I shouldn’t be all that worried about it.
    Ugh.

  11. My pregnancy was a real rollercoaster ride… I loved being pregnant at last, but everything was so up in the air & uncertain and it seemed like nobody, including the “experts,” could give me a straight answer. I downplayed what was going on to others because I didn’t want to worry them, perhaps unnecessarily, & I didn’t want to deal with all sorts of questions that I didn’t have answers for. I did open up a bit to a few people — for example, asking if they had spotted during their pregnancy. Hearing that they had too didn’t necessarily make me feel any better.

    So yes, I did feel kind of alone, although some of it was self-induced.

  12. Stories like these are what my DH hangs onto when he’s feeling sucky about our infertility. A case of “given all the sh*t we’ve been through at least it wasn’t ” Not to say I’m fine with not getting pregnant (I’m not, as it turns out), but that’s where the infertile brain sometimes goes. Thank goodness you had a very aware OB. It sounds scary to be that alone in a potentially life-threatening situation.

  13. JHC. I can’t believe someone actually had the gall to tell you that you were a “bummer.” WTF? I haven’t experienced pregnancy, but I worried every second, every minute, every hour of our GS pregnancy. Close coworkers as work knew early on, but I didn’t announce it publicly until we were around 23 weeks. I exhaled after every milestone for about 4 seconds and then started to panic and dry heave over the next worry. And we had a very low-key pregnancy. I can’t imagine the basket case I would have been in a different circumstance.

    The only detail that made me fret one iota bit less was that our GS had a history of very normal, successful pregnancies, including surrogacy ones, with no complications. If I had been carrying, I can’t imagine the stress and worry I would have felt with my wonky, untested uterus.

    Poor Lady Sibyl. I wasn’t surprised but yet devastated by her loss.

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