Happy 8th anniversary blog. This blog’s purpose was to review and summarize all the fun outings I experience over the years. Honestly, 2020 does not lend itself to this kind of blog.
Quote 1: “How you spend your New Year is how you will spend your year.” –Old Wives Tale
I rang in 2020 sick as can be. I travelled to Michigan for Christmas and a little boy behind me on the plane open mouth coughed on my neck continuously. So I knew the ick was coming. My husband thought I was being a hypochondriac but sure enough, I was feeling awful by New Year’s Eve. Oddly, all I felt was exhausted, achy and with a cough. It didn’t feel like a real cold. A week later, I was scheduled to have outpatient surgery which required a physical. At my appointment, my doctor (who looks like she belongs in the cast of a Married to Medicine Maryland spinoff) declared that I looked terrible. I actually felt much better so I was thoroughly confused. She insisted on having chest x-rays which showed some kind of pneumonia / bronchitis issue in my lungs. Surgery was cancelled and turns out I got completely worse. I spent the next few weeks exhausted, breathless and nauseous. Just climbing the stairs in my house required 10 – 15 minutes of recovery.
Quote 2: “I think sex is designed to get you pregnant.” –Khadijah James
I was so consumed with being ill that I barely noticed that my period did not come in January. But I started having cramps and my breasts hurt. It dawned on me that I could be pregnant, which freaked me out! First, I was so sick and suffered through countless tests and medications in an attempt to get me well. Second, I attended two bottomless brunches and had terrible eating habits. Third, pregnancies at my big age are precarious and I really could not emotionally endure an unsuccessful pregnancy.
I went to the doctor to get an official test and something weird happened. They never called me with the results. They are usually so responsive. I didn’t want to tell my husband until I had definitive results. After about 2 days at Friday date night, I was extremely stressed and my husband knew something was off. I finally confessed my concern and there I was being asked to pee on a stick. And stick said: pregnant.
Meanwhile, my job quickly became a cluster as leadership was consumed with COVID preparations. My hours stretched and my stress grew all while being extremely sleepy and nauseous. I never mentioned my pregnancy to anyone. For months. I just needed to get through the first few months. I suffered through nausea greatly and was required to be in countless meetings. The only way to stave it off was through constantly drinking water. I had gastrointestinal sensitivities before the pregnancy and now it just went into hyper drive. There were times in work meetings where I had to steady myself to keep my food down. Then something else happened: COVID came to America (though I am not entirely convinced that it wasn’t here before). The country entered lockdown. My birthday vacation to Vegas was cancelled. My job studied social distancing options. My work became even more chaotic but I really never thought of COVID as a threat. This is actually very odd of me because I have a compromised immune system and catch everything. I had the swine flu as a key example. The first trimester caused added tension. You really only visit the doctor every 4-6 weeks but you really obsess over the question of if you are still pregnant all the time. I got the baby flutters earlier than expected which really gave me some relief.
I eventually made it out of the first trimester without issue but still couldn’t relax into the pregnancy. As a mother of advanced maternal age, the doctor tested me for any genetic disorders at 14 weeks. I decided once I got the results, I would let people know. Confirmed no issues but I still did not. Then I developed a terrible cough. Another freak out. Pregnancy prevented more in-depth testing and I was stuck in Urgent Care with Maryland closures fretting that I had the COVID. I did not. Once I could see a specialist months later, I discovered one of the medications I took due to pregnancy exacerbated my pneumonial bronchitis and hence another flare up. Not knowing that at the time as a result, my doctor determined I need to be away from all people. Worldwide studies showed COVID was particularly harsh for pregnant women and I had the unfortunate issue of unhealthy lungs. COVID could be debilitating. I applied to work from home and home I was.
Quote 3: “I’m just ready to have this baby because this has been a lot.” –fellow expectant mother in the doctor’s waiting room
I barely left the house or saw anyone. My singular focus became getting through this pregnancy with both me and the baby healthy. I finally announced I was pregnant even though I think hubby was telling people because he likes talking. That task overwhelmed a natural introvert who hates talking about herself. Over the next few months, I read blogs on pregnancy and manifested every single side effect. In addition to my terrible nausea, I got ligament pain and had to employ hip stretching exercises. As my womb grew, my fibroids were squeezed which caused such horrible pain that I was confined to my bed for an entire weekend while I awaited my doctor’s appointment. A short term prescription helped but could not be a permanent solution. My ob/gyn was amazed that I got restless leg syndrome, a new one for her but I saw it as a symptom on What to Expect. Thankfully, Facebook spies on me and ads stalked me for a topical cream that actually worked. Especially since, we have a tiny tub and most remedies recommended Epson salt baths. After finally being able to eat and gain some real weight in my 18th week, the third trimester gave me acid reflux. I was back to vomiting and an inability to lay down for long stretches. I learned to sleep sitting up and consumed so much Maalox. So much.
Amazingly despite manifesting all of these nitnoid body ailments, my pregnancy was going well despite my age and health history. No terrible complications even though I obsessed over my inability to eat almost everything for much of my pregnancy. There was some fun as baby was extremely active. She never settled down and kicked constantly. I was in line at the store and a stranger actually came over to me to remark on my moving belly. Ironically, all of this worrying about the pregnancy made me forget one important thing: getting the baby out. I needed to develop a birth plan. I decided to get a doula after reading all the negative stories about Black maternal delivery complications.
Quote 4: “There comes a point with mature pregnancies, where the pregnancy breaks the body down.” –my ob/gyn
That all changed my 37th week. I felt completely sluggish on Thursday. I had a doctor’s appointment the next day as I got to the point of weekly doctor visits. Apparently I looked so tired my husband insisted on driving me. I was already headed out the door and he had to do so in pajamas. I get to the appointment and my blood pressure had soared. I was told to go to the hospital to see my ob/gyn who was there delivering a baby. Once there, I was informed I needed to deliver that day as the only cure for my possible preeclampsia was no more pregnancy. The planner in me spiraled. I had a scheduled cesarean as my daughter was breech due to my issue with fibroids. But that wasn’t for 10 days. We weren’t fully packed and my husband was in pajamas. He had to dash home to get all our stuff before my surgery time 4 hours later during rush hour traffic in Maryland going ~40 miles one way. And he hates to speed. All of my intense planning with my doula was for nothing! Surgery time came and boy is it weird. It is extremely bright and clinical. I imagined some warm soothing room welcoming baby to the world. Dead silent. My doula made me create a playlist. I hate creating playlists but I had maybe between 15 -20 songs. Luckily the music lasted just enough to get me through delivery. I have problems with anesthesia (always have), so the procedure wasn’t always pleasant. However, my lovely anesthesiologist let me squeeze her hand (“let” be me a strong word) in conjunction with my husband’s. My smooth pregnancy actually transitioned into an uncomfortable recovery as some health issues finally materialized post-delivery. Happily, I had amazing doctors watching over me. We did it. Baby and I made it out okay!
To summarize, my 2020 included the biggest surprise of my life and my most beautiful experience yet.