These poor babies- we wait on them for the better part of 10 months to enter the world and then we blame them for all of our shortcomings. Or maybe that’s just me. My writing has gotten rustier than a nail in a junkyard and try as I might, I can’t blame it on the baby.
It’s been a few years since my last blog post but that doesn’t mean I haven’t often thought about blogging again. The less you do something, the more difficult that thing becomes, and I don’t want to find myself full of things to say without the ability to say them! I decided that 2018 was going to be my year to stop “thinking” about doing things and actually do them. I am trying to embrace the “start by starting” mentality and I thought the blog would be a good place to begin.
My last post was in November of 2014. Wow. Between the interesting and mundane things I’ve done since then, the most important thing to note is that I had a baby! Paul John Tsahakis was born on September 17 and our world will never be the same. Life takes a lot more planning these days, but watching a newborn experience life for the first time is awe inspiring. A baby really changes your perspective on life and until you’re belting the ABC song in line at Harris Teeter, performing not only for your child but for all innocent bystanders, you can’t fully appreciate how or why. Anyway, last week, John Paul was working late, the baby was asleep and I just decided to start typing. Paul John’s birth was difficult at best and some little voice inside has been urging me to share the story.
My pregnancy was one that from the outside might have looked easy. I didn’t throw up once (victory!) and I barely showed until about 6 months. My pregnancy was by no means horrible, but there were a couple of hiccups along the way that added up to moderately stressful endeavor.
It all began with a quirky pain in my lower back at a Zumba class when I was about 8 weeks along. No one knew I was pregnant yet and I was already experiencing what I’d later discover was SI pain- that is two joints that are located at the dimples of the lower back. What began as a twinge here and there quickly escalated into a pain so great I could not get out of the bed without help. I cried in pain as I walked from the driveway to the front door and quickly sought a solution. All signs pointed to daily stretches and most importantly, a chiropractor. I was referred to a great doctor who helped realign my pelvis and he made a believer out of me! With a couple of adjustments over the next few months, I was able to keep that pain in check! Whew, I was out of the woods! Or so I thought…
Around the 25 week mark, I went in for my gestational diabetes screen. I had not been overly indulgent up to that point but to soothe my morning sickness aka 24-hour nausea, I had subsisted on peanut butter pretzels, Hot Pockets and Coca-Cola for more days that I care to admit. I was a little worried about my college student diet and how this would affect my result. I would go days without eating protein or a vegetable and could not even open the refrigerator without wanting to gag. The tasty meals I used to make became a figment of my husband’s imagination. I said I never threw up, but I had nausea that lasted all. day. long. I even developed an aversion to all things tomato. Pizza with sauce? Forget about it. The day came for my diabetes screen. I went in, drank the sugary drink, kind of liked it, and waited for the results. The good news was that my blood sugar was fantastic. I apparently make an excellent junk food eater. The bad news? Through the blood-work, they discovered that I not only had low iron, but more concerning was my abnormally low platelet count. I didn’t know anything about platelets at the time, but now I could probably teach a class. In a nutshell, platelets are what allow your blood to clot and for us to form scabs. Without platelets, you can die from blood loss. Ah platelets, can’t live without ’em. I had to have my blood counts closely monitored for the remainder of my pregnancy and unfortunately my platelet count continued to steadily drop. I was diagnosed with gestational thrombocytopenia. Sitting well below a healthy platelet range meant I would not be able to receive an epidural. My “birth plan of least resistance” went out the window. A natural delivery was nothing I had ever wanted or even considered. Somehow and someway, I psyched myself up for what would become the most grueling and rewarding 26 hours of my life. Women have been doing this for years, how hard could it be?
At 40 weeks I was SO ready to have the baby. I was tired of drinking liquid iron that tasted like I’d lost a tooth. I dreaded sleeping. Walking around was laughable. I was ready.
One day before my due date, John Paul and I went to see Good Time with Robert Pattinson (actually, a very good flick!) I got a steak sandwich from Panera and snuck it into the theater with me. Always keeping it classy. The contractions had begun but I was able to enjoy the movie and get in a full meal. I was smart to eat as much as I could. I knew I would need the energy.
That night, I didn’t sleep. The contractions continuously woke me up. It was happening.
By morning, the contractions had gotten stronger and I called my doula, Cady, around 11 a.m. In an attempt to take the focus away from the pain, we walked around the neighborhood, bounced on the medicine ball, John Paul rubbed my back and then when I couldn’t take the pain anymore, we checked into the hospital. You hear these horror stories of women being sent home, but at 3 cm dilated, the doctor let me stay. The contractions were coupled with back breaking pain which I’d later learn was back labor. The ebb and flow of pain, tears and delirium lasted for 26 hours. The clock kept ticking. I went through 3 shift changes, soaked through all of my clothes with sweat and had not slept in nearly two days. The pain was so intense and there was no end in sight. I could not have accomplished half of what I had done without the help of my incredible doula but I was stuck at 7 cm before the cord began to tighten around the baby’s neck with each contraction. Far past my breaking point, my doctor and I agreed that a C-Section would be our best bet. Due to the thrombocytopenia, I had to be put completely to sleep under general anesthesia for the procedure (my first ever surgery!) I trusted that God would protect my baby and me as I was wheeled under the fluorescent lights. In less than the amount time it takes me to get to work, I was united with my brand new baby boy. Almost instantly, I felt the pain of my incision which would hinder me in every way for the next couple of weeks, but I was surprised at how quickly I recovered. I was a cross between traumatized and elated which is a really crazy way to feel if you think about it. After three days in the hospital, I was so excited to go home and start our new life as a family of three. The first 2 months at home with a newborn are so, so difficult. Or at least they were for me. But with the help of family and friends, I feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of this mothering thing.
It was a wild ride but in the end, would I do it all again? In a heartbeat. Baby Paul’s story is one that will stick with me forever. He is the sweetest prize.
For days, I beat myself up with “what if” scenarios, wondering if I hindered a natural delivery with my own thoughts. I know, crazy stuff. We can’t torture ourselves like that. It took a while, but I have accepted that this is how he was meant to come into this world. I feel so blessed to have had such a healthy pregnancy and delivery overall. I am so grateful for all of the support from family and friends that helped me through my pregnancy, delivery and now with adjusting to life as a new mom. It takes a village and I am so grateful for mine.
If you know anyone dealing with gestational thrombocytopenia, I’d love to share my journey with them. I always love your emails, questions and comments! Thanks for reading my story and here’s to more blog posts in 2018!