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When it doesn't go your way: the sacrifices of pregnancy

My first two pregnancies progressed without incident.  And, when considering another child, I would often think: it's not the pregnancy that's the hard part, it's the 18 years afterwards.  In my previous experiences, pregnancy was "easy".

Famous last words.  In January of this year, I started feeling odd, sensing symptoms of pregnancy.  Despite our best efforts to choose the best birth control method for us, we were pregnant with the Paraguard (copper) IUD.  The fact that we were pregnant was not something to cry home about, for we were open to a family expansion one day.  We just never knew it would be while the IUD was still inserted.  (And, by the way, the Paraguard IUD is over 99% effective.)  We couldn't take the thing out and ultrasounds showed the damn T floating pretty high up in the uterus.  We considered removing the IUD with ultrasound guidance, but that seemed not too possible, easy, or safe.  We agreed we should proceed with the pregnancy and just leave the IUD in.  We went through several weeks of research, visits, and consultations with experienced OBs, midwives, and high-risk fetal specialists.  There were fears of pre-term labor and uterine infection due to the foreign body that would gestate along with our fetus.  Because of our history of two full-term pregnancies, we were at a very low risk for pre-term labor, but we would be monitoring it closely.

At 20 weeks, our ultrasound technician stated noncholantly: "Oh, you have previa.  Yup, complete previa."  The OB - not our normal OB, but one of his associates - said: "We recomment complete pelvic rest and no physical activity."  My heart sank.  Up until this point, I was still running and biking to work, and I intended to continue as long as my body felt up for it.  I felt great, especially with the running, so I felt so disheartened by the command: "No physical activity."  Not to mention, my husband and I had just planned a babymoon to Miami for 4 kid-free days!  And, complete pelvic rest definitely interfered with our plans of frequent bouts of intimacy, not to mention it was incongruous with my raging second trimester lustful hormones.

In a follow-up conversation with my regular OB, he tld me he was comfortable with me continuing my physical activity so long as I was painfree, comfortable, and asymptomatic (no bleeding or cramping).  I felt relieved.  Even though we still had to follow the no-[penetrative]-sex rule, I was glad I could still get my running in.  He also mentioned that he believed the previa would shift.  He wasn't worried.

At 24 weeks, we checked the previa again.  Still there.  More pelvic rest.  He still thought it would shift.  At 30 weeks, we checked the previa again.  Still there.  He looked me in the eyes and said: "I don't think it will move anymore."  He recommended one final check at 34 weeks to confirm previa, then to schedule an amnio at 36 weeks to check lung development and schedule a c-section once we confirm the lungs are ready.

This is really when I lost it.  An early delivery?  An amnio?  At 36 weeks instead of 40?  While I know there are more horrific birth and pregnancy stories, I was still disappointed.  My two previous worry-free pregnancies were trumped by this one, for sure.  This pregnancy never afforded too many moments of feeling carefree.  People always ask, "How are you feeling?"  I always respond: "I feel GREAT," even though I'm pregnant with a non-shifting placenta previa and IUD.  My husband tries to assure me: "Don't worry.  It could be so much worse.  It will all be fine."  In the end, of course I know he's right.  Then again, I wish it had gone smoother.

Have you had easy-breezy pregnancies like I did the first two times?  Feeling wonderful, glowy and enthusiastic?  Have you had harder sacrificial pregnancies - maybe put on bedrest or even under constant medical monitoring?  How have you dealt with and accepted your more difficult pregnancies?  How do you ease those worries and convince yourself that everything will indeed be "OK"?


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I had a placenta previa with my 2nd child. Was put on pelvic rest at 20 weeks. At 24 weeks, I started bleeding. The bleeding stopped after a day. Ended up, my water broke at 37 weeks. They delivered her by c section. The baby was fine (and weighted almost 8 lbs!!)
In the end, everything worked out fine. My thought was what ever is the safest for me and babe!
Good luck with everything.

I am so sorry you have the worry but I think this is one of those situations where you can say "Yay for Western medicine."

I was diagnosed with raging high thyroid in the ninth month of my first pregnancy--thank god they figured it out in time. Apparently I had a high risk of having a stroke.

I also had a healthy, uneventful first pregnancy and fully expected the same situation when I got pregnant with #2. It ended up being no big deal in the end, but I was devastated to be diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes with my 2nd baby. Doc reminded me that I was older the 2nd time around, but for some reason I wasn't ok with such a simple explanation--could 3 years really make that big of a difference?!

I can definitely see more, and more serious bumps in the road for your situation, so I understand your frustration and disappointment, but keep your eye on the prize--a healthy baby and mama! You are doing an amazing job, I'm seriously impressed with how active you've remained, but some things are out of your control. This is temporary, and within the next few months you'll be back in the saddle (literally!) with your new little babe and this will all be worth it. Good Luck!

My first pregnancy went well too. I felt pretty good, no sickness, kept fairly active (though I ate like there was no tomorrow) and fully expected delivery to be easy (and drug free). Nothing about the delivery went smoothly, but in the end I had a healthy baby boy and eventually came to terms with the cesarean.

I'm now pregnant with #2, and I feel fine, but there was bleeding throughout the first trimester (I had a miscarriage in the fall) so I had to be put on prometrium (progesterone) and monitored closely. This pregnancy I feel a whole lot more anxious than I did with "thing 1". Also, I'm not sure how to approach delivery. I have given up planning for it till I have an exam to see if I even dilate or efface (I didn't the first time). Part of me wants to just schedule another cesarean (the control freak part of me) and the other part wants to just let it ride.

I guess my best advice is to follow someone else's. Keep your eye on the prize. I'm truly sorry it's not going as well (I would bow down at your jogging/biking feet if I could get back up again) especially given how healthy you feel. I do understand that part of it. In the end, we don't get a medal for how we deliver. As long as baby and mama are healthy, that's all that really matters.

I posted on the exchange page a while back, but this seems like a perfect thread to fish for recommendations. We were high risk the first time and would likely be if we get pregnant again. My perinatologist from our first has since retired, but we would still be going through the same office; the Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine out of Legacy Emanuel. Does anyone have any experience with the other docs there? Love em or hate em?

I am presently working with the Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine out of Legacy Emanuel for perinatal consultation *along* with the continual care of my mid-wife group, Providence Maternal Care clinic. I have to say, going the "share-care" route of having both a specialist and a regular midwife/OB for the rest of my pre-natal care has been so far, a fantastic and manageable way of dealing with a high risk pregnancy. So far I have been very happy with both groups and feel that they fulfill my different needs and desires perfectly. I didn't want to transfer care entirely to a Perinatologist (really wanted the midwife experience) but at the same time a midwife wasn't qualified to deal with my high-risk issues. When the nurse at Legacy suggested the "share care" route, I jumped on that concept immediately.

My issue that makes me high-risk is that the placenta has fused with a large fibroid tumor as well as the uterine wall... this can cause all sorts of complications, from growth restriction of the baby during the 3rd trimester to the placenta not separating completely during after-birth if I deliver vaginally. The chances of me needing a C-section are very high, either because the fibroid might end up blocking the birth canal or the placenta becoming even more fused with the fibroid as it grows, which is much more serious (could lead to an emergency hysterectomy during the c-section... worst case scenario). In addition, if the fibroid continues to grow larger and start to impede on the baby's growth, then I have a high chance of having to deliver pre-term for the safety of the baby.

Basically, the midwives group will be handling all my regular pre-natal care. The perinatologist group will do all my ultrasounds and bloodwork and then intrepret/forward those results with recommendations or plan-of-action to my midwife.

We'll know more between 30-36 weeks how things end up progressing. I'm preparing mentally now for both a natural vaginal birth with the midwife AND the possibility of needing a c-section with the group at Legacy Emmanuel.

Hoping for the best case scenario, preparing for the worst case scenario.... that's my take on it at least I hope that by preparing myself mentally for either situation to occur, I will be better off at handling the direction the delivery may take when that moment arrives without experiencing heightened fear or the downside of dealing with expectations not fulfilled.

My 9 year struggle with infertility sort of eclipses everything in your story, at least for me anyway. Being able to easily get pregnant (even when actively trying to prevent it!) and sustain the pregnancy are hurdles I have faced in the 9 years and 9 pregnancies (2 living children, 7 miscarriages). Everything is relative, your heartbreak and disappointment are understandable, but in the big picture, not as devastating as some outcomes.

I only want to say that my heart goes out to you. Knowing that your child (& yourself) might be/is in danger never easy, but then does seem to ease up when all becomes well again. You'll all be in my prayers.

Also, the staff at Legacy Emanuel is FABULOUS!!!!

When I was pregnant with my oldest son I received a phonecall at work from my OB. He told me that there was a slight concern with the baby having Down Syndrome. Apparently at that time there was a list of ten different things that they looked at as signs and they said he had a thick neck (you should see my husband's neck, he's 6'6" and wears a size 15 shoe) and then something else that I can't recall. I was so upset that after I got off the phone I ran out of my office into the ladies room and just cried and cried. My sweet boss at the time came in and told me go ahead and go home. My husband and I received some genetic counseling and we decided to go ahead with an amnio. It was a very scary and stressful time. The results came back negative and everything ended up fine. I remember praying alot and talking with close friends and family and their support meant so much to me. I completely empathize with the shock of unexpected news. Take care and I don't know if this helps or not but I always have to remind myself, One day at a time.

My little girl (first and only pregnancy so far) came unexpectedly early at 34 weeks for reasons we still don't know. She was itty-bitty at 4lbs 6ozs but she had absolutely no complications, just had to spend 2 weeks in the NICU to learn how to feed and regulate her temp on her own. I remember looking around the NICU at all the little souls with 20ish week gestations...crying for them and thanking whatever powers that be, that my little angel was healthy and strong.
She is now almost 2 and you would never know she was a preemie. Am curious to see how my next pregnancy will go - and also scared to go full term with the additional 6 weeks of massive preggo weight gain! All in all, early delivery was a little scary but given the big picture, not a big deal (for me at least).
Best wishes.

I had full previa with my one and only pregnancy. I was put on complete pelvic rest and I hated it! But, everything worked out and it was a blessing they found it early, because I did have bleeding and I knew exactly what to do because I was prepared. It was extremely hard for me to go through with the c-section. I was fully prepared for natural childbirth and that was not an option. I was able to convince the doctors to wait until 39 wks. It will all work out the way it is supposed to! Trust what is being givin to you it is supposed to be that way.

I have two healthy children and for that I am sincerely grateful everyday. The first was born at home with zero complications. The second I had planned on having at the hospital, picked an OB based on recommendations from urban mamas, but every screening turned out problematic from poor fetal kidney development on ultrasound to gestational diabetes to group B strep and I found the lack of support and consistent false negatives too much to bear. When my baby was 5 days past due I contacted my former midwife for acupuncture to get things going. It didn't work, but the week ahead she stood by my side offering me endless support and made a grand effort to help me go into labor. In the end, I was scheduled to be induced, but had a healthy baby at home 12 days after my due date. I am so thankful that everything turned out so beautifully despite all the indications.

Interesting to read this topic as I am in the midst of the decision regarding whether or not to go for the third...me too thinking only of the difficulty of the first 18 months after the baby!

I hate to admit that I actually started laughing at this topic at first, given that I have been so completely AMAZED at the seemingly endless energy and stamina of the mama to be starting the thread!

I personally think that you have been so fortunate to have been able to do all the things you have done up to now given the complications that you are dealing with! Having an early C section is nothing compared with the potential rupture of the placenta. Most everyone here knows my bias...but yes, this is a situation where you can be thankful for the advantages of Western medicine!

So excited for you and your family!!!

I also had complete previa, had a great experiene at Emmanual, healthy baby boy. What ever it took to have a healthy baby - whether delivering early, no sex, no exercise... these were small sacrifices if looking at the big picture. I was thankful to know what situation we were in. I wish you and your family the best.

"OK" is a moving target.

I feel very lucky to have had all myths of control blasted out of the water by my first pregnancy. I was really enjoying being pregnant, planning a home birth and very relaxed about the whole process, when I was diagnosed with mild pre-eclampsia in the 7th month. No more home birth, no more work, partial bed rest, lots of monitoring and a whole lot of worry. We were lucky enough to hook up with a great ob, and those last crazy weeks went as well as could be expected.

We flowed with the changes and just got ready to welcome a healthy baby into the world. One c-section and a tired mama later, we learned that our new perfect, tiny daughter has Down syndrome. Another wrinkle, but really a wonderful one.

Three years later, my daughter is a healthy and delightful mischief-maker, happily ensconced in a Montessori school and keeping us laughing. I am pregnant again, and thanks to the learning curve of the first pregnancy, feel prepared for whatever this pregnancy chooses to send my way. With my first I was taught to let go, and that release has been one of the most profoundly positive lessons of my life.

Parenting seems to be all about letting go, and I feel like the pregnancy complications are just an early warning of all that is to come over a lifetime of parenting.

Good luck to you, and know that whatever the birth process is like, whatever the complications that may come your way, you will make it through, you will thrive and be stronger for it, and you will enjoy a beautiful new baby. You can make it OK, and your kiddo will help you with that however h/she enters the world. sending wishes of peace....

I too had placenta previa and was on the verge of both pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes for my first pregancy. We also found out at 18 weeks gestation that our baby boy had UPJ obstruction (a congenital condition that is a blockage in the kidney renal tube that connects to the bladder) in the left kidney. There was a possibility he would need surgery right away and that is what scared me the most.

I wasn't put on bed-rest, but was told not to have penetrative sex or too much activity. Luckily, around 7-8 months the placent moved up to the side a bit and I was told I would be able to deliver vaginally. I never "officially" had pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes, but they monitored me closely. During my almost all natural birth (I had to have my water broken), my blood pressure shot up so high they brought in extra staff in case the baby was in distress and they needed to do an emergency c-section. Luckily, I was able to get him out on my own and he was healthy despite the UPJ obstruction.

I loved my OB from Everywoman's Health and I also thought the drs. at Legacy Emanuel's Materal-Fetal Medicine Clinic were great. I would recommend high-risk pregnant mamas to go there. We are also still seeing a urologist at the Urology Clinic for our son since the blockage has not gone away and his kidney is still enlarged. He is having more tests done in Aug., but he may eventually need surgery to correct the problem.

Bed-rest is nothing when you finally meet your beautiful baby! You are blessed to have had such successful pregnancies the first 2 times around. I'm hoping my next one goes better, but if not, I know I'll be okay. If it doesn't kill you, it only makes you stronger, right? :)

My first pregnancy went really crazy at the end with pre-eclampsia, the kid in breech position until the end, a failed induction, a really traumatic delivery, and then having the baby admitted to the NICU for severe jaundice. I kept saying, "It could be worse," too and then once we got home, it hit me how horrible the last few months had been. So while it's so important to stay positive, it's also good to give yourself plenty of time to process and even feel sorry for yourself every once in a while.

I am so grateful for my healthy little boy, but pregnancy and childbirth were really challenging and disappointing. Five years later I still feel a lot of grief (and no desire to do it again). We got pregnant via IVF so by that time we had already experienced a lot of intrusive intervention. At first there were twins but one didn't make it. We found out about two months in (and it took a couple months for my body to reabsorb the one that didn't make it). Partial previa and hospital bed rest for a month ended with an emergency C-section at 35 weeks. Our baby was in the NICU and we couldn't take him home until he could suckle his feedings, but I was having a lot of trouble with milk supply. Two or three weeks later when I went to my OB/gyn for a checkup, she did an ultrasound and determined that some of the placenta had been left behind when they did the surgery. It was messing with my hormones and keeping my milk supply low. Did a D&C with no anesthesia (didn't want to mess with my milk) and finally everything started to get normal.

During my first trimester, a good friend died in childbirth in Montana. Like me she was really healthy and fit and it was her first child. I think that grief and terror was present and palpable throughout my pregnancy and the birth experience (which was one of the most awful experiences of my life, sadly). Still, I'm so grateful that we made it through to tell the tale. For those of you who have read this far and wonder about the friend who died, her husband (one of my best friends from college) raised their little girl by himself until he remarried last year and had a new baby this year. They are doing great now and everyone is so relieved and happy for them.

I keep reading the title "sacrifices of pregnancy" and laugh because, for me, it's sacrifices of parenting in general, starting with those in-utero months. I certainly don't mean to take your struggles lightly by saying that, so please forgive me if you read it that way. I guess I agree with lots that has already been said about just having to let go and trust the process your body goes through and the doctors around you. Surely you haven't parented two children already and been in control of everything along the way, have you? If so, I'd like to know your secrets!

Neither of my pregnancies were ideal, so I can certainly understand your fears and disappointments. I spent most of my second pregnancy with alot of unknowns about the possibility of downs syndrome because I would not do an amnio (the risks were greater than the knowledge gained for me. For lung development as you describe, I probably would have a very different feeling). I spent alot of time not knowing how things were going to go, and that was very distracting, but there was still so much joy in it. I hope you can find a place for the sadness, fear, and disappointment, but still let that joy through.

I also had a difficult pregnancy, though I didn't know why until the last week of it. Through a series of coincidences, I was diagnosed with a rare liver-related pregnancy condition a week before our daughter was born. Throughout the pregnancy I was so tired and had no appetite, which seemed strange, but I just thought, "Well, pregnancy is tough." As it turns out, it probably was harder on me than most, so I was comforted to learn of my condition in that way. At the non-stress test, I discovered the baby had turned to the breach position. After 3 external versions and acupuncture, I ended up having a cesarean birth because there are almost no doctors or mid-wives in this country trained to safely deliver breech babies. I was grateful that my birth class (of the Birthing from Within variety) had prepared us well for what to expect and talked about it in a vary positive way. (The teacher never used the phrase c-section, for example, and talked about how you are still giving birth.)

Though my water broke the morning of the scheduled birth, I didn't experience labor pains and the birth itself was pain free thanks to all the drugs I was on during the surgery. Since I knew there would be a lot of pain later, I was sure to appreciate the lack of pain at the time. It was an amazing experience, if not the one I had hoped for all of us, and I was grateful to others who told me a cesarean birth could be an amazing birth experience. Best to all of you dealing with challenging pregnancies!

I was lucky to have an uneventful pregnancy physically, but my pregnancy was clouded over with what may have been depression. I dreaded caring for the baby and what I thought would be the drudgeries of motherhood. Yet I was expert at hiding this from almost everyone, and when I did share, I quickly realized it is a social taboo for a mother to be to not be excited. Fortunately, I fell in love with my daughter upon meeting her, and have never looked back! Best wishes to you on completing your pregnancy in health.

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