Sunday, April 17, 2016

When Facing the Unexpected


  I'll be honest...this may be the most difficult post I've ever written. It involves sharing a whole lot of personal information, going waaaaaaay out of my blogging comfort zone, and going in to more details about my body than I ever would have imagined I would share online. (I should probably take this opportunity to inform you that I'll be discussing my cycles, natural family planning, and as I said, a whole lot of personal information. If you're prone to getting squicked out by discussion of periods, post partum hormones, etc, you may not want to continue reading). For a long time, I thought about  avoiding this post altogether, and just posting the standard happy announcement. But...that wouldn't be honest. I've been making an effort this past year to share everything; the good, the bad, the ugly, and not just gloss over the trials and tribulations we face as a family, simply because it's not a neat and tidy story. So, honesty it is.

  For those of you who haven't guessed by the picture or the first paragraph, I'm pregnant. Twelve weeks. And this pregnancy was very, VERY unplanned. Let me back up a bit.

  After Gianna was born, Will and I agreed to wait before even contemplating getting pregnant again. We had multiple reasons for this decision, but the most important reason had to do with my health. I made an appointment with my neurosurgeon when Gianna was a week old (I had a excruciating back pain during my pregnancy with her, and I knew something was seriously wrong). My neurosurgeon immediately scheduled me for an MRI, and when I got the results back, he said that without a doubt, I needed surgery. I had a microdiscectomy when Gianna was 4 1/2 months old, and the second-no joke-I woke up in recovery, my neurosurgeon was standing over me. He said that when he actually opened me up, my back was far worse than the MRI had shown, and I was going to need spinal fusion surgery. His exact words were, "I don't know how you were walking, let alone carrying a pregnancy." Since then, I've been in a lot of pain. I've been attempting to manage the pain through weekly PT appointments and pain medication, but it really isn't ideal. So, Will and I both agreed that we needed to get my back fixed once and for all before even considering another baby. 

  As far as birth control goes, we use NFP. I understand there are quite a few, shall we say, strong opinions on the matter, but we use it for both health and religious reasons. We have used NFP successfully in the past, both to avoid and achieve pregnancies. No, it's not always easy, but it worked for us. Until, obviously, now. 

  I've heard many people (health practitioners, NFP instructors, friends) talk up ecological breastfeeding-in other words, exclusively breastfeeding your baby for as long as possible, babywearing, co-sleeping, not using a pacifier-as a fantastic way to delay the return of your fertility. Now, I realize that EB works wonders for many women, and I myself have many friends who WILL NOT get a period until their babies or toddlers are completely weaned. I am...not one of those women. Despite exclusively breastfeeding, babywearing constantly, and co-sleeping, my period returned at two months postpartum. Not cool, nature. Not cool at all. It was especially difficult for me, as I now had to worry about charting my cycle with an infant who had, at best, unpredictable sleep patterns, not to mention I was taking pain medication daily for my disaster of a back. I tried to chart, I really did, but it seemed like the universe was working against me. In addition to getting my period at two months postpartum, I was getting two VERY heavy periods every month. I was exhausted beyond belief, getting migraines constantly, and having painful PMS back pain on top of my already excruciating back pain. Will and I were being obsessively careful about avoiding sex during what I thought was my fertile time each month, but again, my body was doing all sorts of screwy things.

  At the beginning of February, I was looking through my CycleGoPro app on my phone, and realizing, "ugh. Lovely. Time for my first period of the month to show up. No wonder I've been craving pizza and ice cream lately." Well, a few days went by, and no period. I started to feel cautiously hopeful; hey, maybe my body was finally starting to right itself! Could it be that I wouldn't have to suffer through this nonsense more than once a month? Well, twelve days went by. At that point, I was confused, and I was starting to get nervous. I pulled Will aside one day after he got home from work, and asked him if he thought I should buy a pregnancy test. Will laughed, and said, "There's just no way. That would seriously be a one in a million chance. Buy one if it will put your mind at ease, but I really don't think you have anything to worry about. If you're not-and I'm SURE you're not-I think you should give your midwives a call to see if they can figure out what's going on with your body." That made sense, and I agreed that the chances of me being pregnant were slim to none, so I ran to Walgreens, picked up a test, and came home just as Will was getting Gianna ready for bed. I told him I was going to take the test immediately just so I could sleep that night without worrying, and Will agreed. I went into the bathroom, peed on the stick, and prepared to wait a few minutes for the results to show up. 

  I didn't even need to wait 10 seconds. The second line appeared almost immediately, and I burst into hysterical sobs. I was crying so hard I couldn't even see. Will, naturally, was in a complete panic, and he was yelling, "What's wrong? Are you okay? Open the door!!" I opened the door, handed him the test, and collapsed on our bed, still sobbing. "WHAT? How is this possible? There's no way...is a false positive likely?" Nope. False negatives are fairly common, but false positives are almost unheard of. Will was doing everything he could to calm me down, I couldn't stop crying, Gianna started crying because she saw her mama was upset...it was chaos. 

  I cried all night long. I woke up every hour on the hour, remembering the positive pregnancy test a few  feet away from me on my nightstand, and I would just burst into tears. Will would wake up, hold me, tell me that he loved me and he would take care of me, and tell me everything was going to be okay, and he would rub my back until I fell asleep again. I just couldn't believe it. The thought of going through another pregnancy with chronic back pain made me want to vomit. Even if I didn't have chronic pain, the thought of two under two (especially with two older children) was absolutely terrifying to me. Our families were going to freak. My neurosurgeon was going to think I was dumber than a box of rocks. And last but not least, how was this going to affect Gianna? I already suspected that my milk supply was dwindling, and I was taking a bunch of lactation-boosting herbs to continue nursing her. None of which were safe to take during pregnancy, so I had to immediately discontinue using them. 

  It took me a long, LONG time to come to terms with this pregnancy. I cried at my first appointment with my midwife. I cried pretty much every single night for two weeks straight. I felt selfish and ungrateful, knowing how many friends I have who are struggling with fertility and would kill to be in my position. I cried when I finally admitted defeat, realizing my milk supply completely dried up, and I had to switch Gianna to formula. I didn't want to tell anyone. I avoided talking about it with Will, and every time he gently brought up announcing the news to family and friends, I talked him out of it. After I got over my initial sadness, I felt anger. At everything and everyone. I was angry at God, for clearly giving me more than I could handle. I was angry at society, for making me feel embarrassed and needing to defend having more than the "acceptable" number of children. I was angry at NFP for failing me. Most of all, I was angry at myself. For not making an appointment with my midwives as soon as I realized something was kind of screwy with my body, for not making the time to take a Creighton NFP class (with my friend, who is a certified instructor and had offered her services to us in the past), and for not being more careful. And most of all, for seeing this pregnancy as a huge burden. I was so ashamed of myself when I realized I had resentment towards an innocent baby, a baby whom I knew I would fall in love with the moment he or she is placed in my arms. 

  I ended up confiding in one of my close friends, and she gave me some great advice. "Don't show your fears or sadness to those you know won't understand, but with those who WILL, don't hold back. " We eventually told our families, a few more of our close friends, and shortly thereafter, we made the official announcement online. For the most part, people have been very supportive and happy. We've had to field a few of those "hilarious" questions such as "ya know what causes that, right?" (Har! Good one!). I've also become more comfortable admitting that while yes, a baby is always a blessing, that doesn't mean I can't be scared about the timing, or sad about the circumstances. I had this (irrational) fear that I would be kicked out of some kind of Catholic club for not being over the moon about another pregnancy, and that couldn't have been further from the truth. My Catholic sisters were supportive, understanding, and as patient as can be with me while I cried about my fears and grumbled about our hyperactive fertility. 

  Everything is going to be okay. I know it is. I will make it through this pregnancy, and at the end, we will have a beautiful, and, God-willing, healthy baby to show for it. Yes, our life will become slightly more chaotic, but that's certainly nothing new. I'm slowly allowing myself to feel excitement over the impending newborn stage again, and buying tiny little clothes and hats for our newest addition. I'm doing everything I can to try and manage my back pain, and get as much rest (as possible) during the exhausting first trimester. It wasn't easy, but letting go of my fears, anger, and anxiety has given me the peace of mind I so desperately needed. I'm slowly but surely getting back into a daily prayer routine, and in the midst of my worries, remembering that I have so, so much to be grateful for. 

11 comments:

  1. <3
    I was a year into my (hopefully 18mo-2 yr) apprenticeship and had just watched my husband almost die from a freak thing that we didn't even know he had. Looking at him being the only household income, knowing he barely lived and had another surgery still ahead I was terrified when we found out we were having a 4th baby. Our oldest was 5, then 3 and 10months. It is totally OK to feel hesitation and fear. That was the hardest year of our lives, no doubt, but God brought us through, despite everything. We grew individually closer to God and as a couple more than we ever had. Sometimes in the hardest times He shows His love the most and I knew that the moment Nadia was born. She helped heal our family tremendously, I am so grateful we have her.
    You have been on my heart since I saw your announcement, I am so excited for you both and I will keep you in my prayers!! For your back and your peace and your family <3

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  2. 2 months. With Every Baby. Exclusively breastfeeding. LOL :D
    Take care of yourself. If you need anything, anything at all, just call me. :) Lord bless you, Marisa! You sound like you need it.

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  3. This made me tear up. What a brave post and what a lucky baby to have such incredibly strong and loving parents. Hugs to you.

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  4. Lovie, know that least this particular friend struggling with fertility certainly would not kill to be in your position, nor does she think you are selfish or ungrateful. I was first pregnant at 17 and understand completely what it is to weather a difficult, unexpected pregnancy. And I understand now what it is like to deal with issues of pregnancy and chronic pain. It doesn't make you any less of a wonderful mother or a virtuous woman to be struggling with this news. Please trust that those of us who love you just want to support you... No matter WHAT our own fertility situations look like. I am right here for you always. Please know that and use that information however you need to.

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  5. Please forgive me if I laughed a little. I went through something similar (similar to Will, that is). I even uttered those same words, "There's no way. It must be a false positive." My girlfriend and I had not been as Catholic as we should. Her exact words were "I missed something I shouldn't have missed." We were both doctorate students at the time and I thought she was just stressed about an upcoming exam. Her first test came out with two lines, but if you squinted, you could almost not see the second line. We were both in denial. As scientists, one of us came up with the idea of doing a negative control, you know, someone who couldn't possibly be pregnant would have to take the test for comparison. I said vehemently, "I ain't peeing on no stick!" But when I got out of the bathroom, there was clearly only one line! Patrick is now a rowdy little first grader who loves to build things and ride horses. I show his picture on the sidewalk and I tell people the same thing I'm telling you and Will. If we can do it by the grace of God, then so can you! Take care Marisa and God bless!!

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  6. Please forgive me if I laughed a little. I went through something similar (similar to Will, that is). I even uttered those same words, "There's no way. It must be a false positive." My girlfriend and I had not been as Catholic as we should. Her exact words were "I missed something I shouldn't have missed." We were both doctorate students at the time and I thought she was just stressed about an upcoming exam. Her first test came out with two lines, but if you squinted, you could almost not see the second line. We were both in denial. As scientists, one of us came up with the idea of doing a negative control, you know, someone who couldn't possibly be pregnant would have to take the test for comparison. I said vehemently, "I ain't peeing on no stick!" But when I got out of the bathroom, there was clearly only one line! Patrick is now a rowdy little first grader who loves to build things and ride horses. I show his picture on the sidewalk and I tell people the same thing I'm telling you and Will. If we can do it by the grace of God, then so can you! Take care Marisa and God bless!!

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  7. I 100% can relate to this! While I don't suffer from the back trauma you have faced, I did have several problems throughout my second pregnancy, including heart and liver issues and then found out when my second was 11 months old that we were expecting again and I was not exactly thrilled. And then, to add insanity to surprise, we found out we were having twins. I went through every single one of these emotions you talked about. I didn't tell anyone for a long time because I was in a state of shock and just couldn't gush and be happy. And I just knew people would judge me for having 4 kids in 4 years. But my twins had their first birthday this week, and I have faced way more support and love than negativity, and, like you said, once they were here it made all the difference. I'm so glad Chris shared this!

    If you're curious, here's two links to my story:
    http://www.leelafish.com/?p=2156
    http://www.leelafish.com/?p=2158

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  8. First off, congratulations!

    And second...ugh. Been there. Got pregnant at 3 months post partum after #1. Found out I was less than 30 days after finding out that my job was likely being made redundant. My husband was still in grad school. We had no fixed address and were killing some time living in a moldy little flat in Berlin while waiting to see if we'd be returning to England, moving back home to Canada, or going somewhere new. I had no health coverage for the first four months, until I was able to return to the UK. It was so incredibly stressful. And as "bad Catholic" as it might make me, when I saw those two little lines on the pregnancy test my initial thought was "I'm going to have to get this taken care of. Except I can't. So now I'm completely & totally f*cked". I dreaded telling anyone, and because of the insecurity with my job and various contract negotiations, i had to keep it quiet until the moment I was legally required to spill the beans. I felt like the poster child for naive and stupid, which also pissed me off because I do truly believe in NFP as the best choice.

    It's tough. I'll pray for you, that you find a way to cope with the pain. You seem like such a strong woman, like such a strong family. And I pray that this little one is as big a miraculous blessing for you as my little surprise was for me. The gift I was afraid to accept turned out to be the greatest blessing for my family and every day I marvel that God could be so good to us.

    Good luck!

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  9. I’m so sorry about the circumstances but congratulations too! Prayers!

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  10. Yo llamada GIUSEPPINA Eleonora, me estoy una mujer bien casado al hogar en Cristo y con niños de nacionalidad Italiana y por mis acciones quiero gracias a lo que mi Dios me ofreció ayudar a las familias en menor gesto por un préstamo de 2000 a 50.000 € al 2%. Quiere contactarme si es referir sobre mi e-mail único principal y: giuseppina.eleonora01@gmail.com para su demanda gracias!

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