I wish that I had kept a journal of my first pregnancy. I remember a lot about it – and about the months leading up to getting pregnant – but I never thought to write down my experiences at the time.
Ready for a baby
D and I were married in August 2007. In March 2009, we bought our first house in our dream neighbourhood. The house was a fixer upper, so we started some massive renovations – doing most of the work ourselves. At the same time, we decided that it was time to throw out the birth control. I was 31 and D was 33.
Logically, I knew there was a chance that it could take us some time to get pregnant, but I think I truly expected that it would happen right away. I mean, from the moment you start high school, people are warning you that it only takes one time!! Ya right.
It took about six months for my periods to settle down into a regular 30-32 day cycle. After that, I started temping and tracking my cycles more closely. My charts were beautiful. According to my (very untrained and unprofessional) eye, it looked like I was ovulating regularly and that we were timing things perfectly. Of couse I would get pregnant soon!
Each month, I would eagarly await the final days before my period was due. Annoyingly, I discovered that, without the pill, I would have 2-3 days of light spotting leading up to my period. The stupid spotting always let me know that I wasn’t pregnant and that month was a bust.
Another few months later, I figured I’d start using OPKs. By now I felt like I knew my body pretty well and that the OPKs would just be another way to prove that we could do this. Some months I got positives. Other months, not so much. I hated those stupid tests anyway. Trying to determine as dark as or darker than the control line can make a person crazy.
One year later
A year after I went off the pill, I saw my family doctor for my annual physical. I told her our current status and she told me she wasn’t concerned. She said that we had no reason to believe there was anything wrong and to keep trying. It was March 2010. She told me to come back in August if I still wasn’t pregnant and we’d take it from there.
On one hand, I felt a bit frustrated that she was brushing it off. On the other hand, I knew how stressful fertility testing could be (I have a few friends who went through it) and I didn’t want to go down that road unless we absolutely had to.
My period came as usual at the beginning of May. And, as usual, I did the same old temping, charting and OPKs. On day 28 of that cycle, the spotting hadn’t started yet and my breasts were feeling a bit different. Of couse, it’s amazing how you can convince yourself you have pregnancy symptoms when it’s really just PMS. But this time felt different.
It was a Saturday morning and I was wide awake. I crept out of bed, grabbed a test, and peed in a cup. I dipped the stick, closed my eyes and waited. I was kind of shaking when I looked but it was totally positive. Loud and clear! Woohooo! I was giggling and shaking and I snuck back into the bedroom to dig out my digital test, which I bought in the hopes that one day this would happen. I dipped the test and sure enough: Pregnant 2-3 weeks!
I showed D the tests when we he woke up and we were both so excited. We decided not to tell anyone until we passed the first trimester, so we each chose one close friend to confide in and left it at that. I was really hard not to talk about it – we were bursting with excitement.
It was also hard to hide it from people because I felt so bad. I never threw up, but I had severe nausea ALL THE TIME. D was disappointed because we had just bought a BBQ and I refused to eat any meat that he cooked. The only thing I could stomach for a lot of the first trimester was english muffins with cheese.
The fatigue was ridiculous. I was totally exhausted. It was summer, so all the kids in the neighbourhood would be playing outside after dinner. By 7:30 each evening, I was tucked into bed, listening to the sounds of hide and seek or tag.
The first trimester passed fairly uneventfully. Around 12 weeks, I saw my OB, Dr. P, for the first time. He was great. A really nice, kind, gentle man. We had our first ultrasound and NT test. Everything came back perfect. It was time to tell the world! We told our families and our friends, who were all thrilled for us.
At this point, I expected my miserable symptoms to pass. The nausea decided to hang on for another month or so, but by 5 months I started to feel much better. I remember that the fatigue never really went away and I definitely never got that “burst of energy” that you hear people talk about, but generally I felt ok.
Somewhere near the end of the second trimester I woke up one morning to get ready for work and had some brown spotting when I wiped. I was terrified! Things had been sailing along quite smoothly and I was pretty unprepared for any type of complication.
I called the OB’s office right away and they referred me for an ultrasound. Luckily, everything looked just fine with the baby (at this point we knew he was a boy) and there was no explanation for the spotting. It never happened again, though, so we were very relieved and moved on.
Right around the beginning of the third trimester (I can’t remember exactly how many weeks along I was) we had one of our routine appointments with Dr. P. He had a resident working with him that day, who checked me out and tried to find the heartbeat with the doppler. She couldn’t find it so she had Dr. P try when he came in. He found it right away but then had some concerns…. it sounded like the baby’s heart was skipping a beat.
To be safe, Dr. P referred us to another area of the hospital to get an ultrasound and to see one of the high risk OB’s right away. They did the ultrasound and, sure enough, the baby had an irregular heartbeat.
We were referred to a fetal cardiologist who we saw a few days later. She did a fetal echo to check what was going on. Amazingly, while she was doing the echo, the baby’s heart went into overdrive. The heart rate was 238 bpm! She told us the baby had something called SVT (supraventricular tachycardia). Basically, there were times when the baby’s heart rate was normal and then other times it would be extremely high. She told us that there was a good chance the condition would correct itself by birth. And, if not, most babies with SVT grow out of it by the first year.
We were terrified. I was put on medication to lower the baby’s heart rate and had to be monitored much more closely to make sure that my heart rate wasn’t getting to low. We had ultrasounds every two weeks and saw the fetal cardiologist for echos every month. We were told that the baby would be tested right away when he was born so we would know if (or how) we would need to manage the condition when we took him home.
Once I started taking the medication, things settled down. It was reassuring to be watched so closely by the specialists for the rest of the pregnancy. The rest of the third trimester passed without any further complications.