Introduction/History

This pregnancy journey started a long time before the 2 lines showed up on the stick; a lot of thought, planning, and even hesitation went into it. I'll start with some history from my first pregnancy. January 2010 my boyfriend (now husband) and I decided we wanted to start a family, so at first we went into it with the mind frame that we weren't trying, but we weren't trying to prevent it either, so whatever happens happens; I think we figured it would be a little more relaxed approach and we wouldn't stress about it. After a year of this we got a little impatient and started timing things better and "trying" a little harder. Another year went by and I ended up requiring surgery (unrelated), at which point I asked the OB about our troubles conceiving. She said after recovery from the surgery to try for another 6 months and come back to see her. After the surgery recovery, I ended up getting a new job so we decided to put the "trying" on hold, just until things were a little more permanent with the new job. Two weeks into the new job, low and behold, I find out I'm pregnant! I guess it's true what they say; when you stop stressing about trying to conceive, it just happens.

My first pregnancy was a model pregnancy; no morning sickness, no complications, besides some aches and pains and restless nights, it seemed everything was going great...until 38 weeks. I called in sick twice to work, something just wasn't right but I couldn't put my finger on it. I ended up going to the hospital to see what could've been the problem. After waiting an hour for the blood work to come back, they said, " your liver enzymes are too high, so we'd like to induce you." Obviously, I was shocked, but they explained that my liver was working too hard and the only way to stop it was to deliver the baby. So they asked me to come back in the morning to start the induction. Needless to say, I didn't get any sleep that night.

I was induced on a Friday morning and ended up having our sweet little girl, Lexi on Sunday night. It was a long 3 days, but well worth it when I saw her perfect little face and held her in my arms. I wish I could say that was it, and we all lived happily ever after, BUT... I ended up with a retained placenta, which required the doctor to manually remove it before it caused further complications. The removal resulted in massive blood loss, my body went into shock and started shivering uncontrollably. I ended up with 3 blood transfusions and stayed at the hospital a little longer than expected. A week after getting home I ended up back in the hospital for surgery because they didn't end up removing the whole placenta during the manual removal.

After a lot of thought and hesitation, we decided to start trying for baby #2 after we got married in August 2016. After all, my complications were "rare" so what were the chances they'd happen again? It was a tough decision for me, they say you "forget" all about childbirth which is why people are able to continue having more babies. Well an experience like mine you don't really forget, in fact I remember every single moment of it! But I convinced myself that I was more likely to have a normal childbirth than experience these "rare" complications again. I also thought I'd have more time to mentally prepare for getting pregnant again since it took us almost 2.5 years to conceive last time.

Turns out this time around it only took us 2 months to conceive, can you imagine the shock on my face when I saw those 2 lines show up on the stick? (Nov. 12, 2016). We had made a deal that if by some miracle we got pregnant before Christmas we would do a Christmas announcement, so we kept it a secret until then. My brother and his girlfriend were over when I took the pregnancy test, so it was a little hard hiding it from them that weekend. I drank Palm Bays that Gary filled with water for me so they wouldn't be suspicious of me not having a drink.

My first appointment with the doctor was when the anxiety and problems began. They asked about my previous pregnancy and delivery, so as I'm explaining things to her, she's giving me some funny looks and saying, "I'm so sorry you had to go through all that!" Once I mentioned that I was induced for high liver enzymes, she instantly said, "I'm just going to take a look at your delivery records." It was at that point I learned the severity of the elevated liver enzymes. I was beginning to show signs of HELLP Syndrome; a more severe form of pre-eclampsia, which doesn't quite have the same symptoms, making it harder to detect. The doctor and nurse agreed that I shouldn't deliver baby #2 in our small city because of my history; I needed closer monitoring by two different specialists in Edmonton throughout this pregnancy and I needed to deliver in a hospital that had all of the facilities and specialists I needed to deal with my situation.

When I got home I had to Google some of these things so I could better understand them myself. Well HELLP Syndrome is another "rare" pregnancy complication and now I was at a higher risk of getting it again! Why was I only finding out the severity of the high liver enzymes now? Four years after the fact. It might have been a factor in our decision to have another baby (I mean, of course we wanted another, but I wasn't ready for another risky pregnancy/delivery). I cried a lot that night, that's when the anxiety really kicked in, what had I gotten myself into? We have a decent hospital here, they deliver babies all the time, yet I'm being sent to the big city, this must be serious! I can't even describe the emotions going through me at this point (the pregnancy hormones didn't help either).

After meeting with my specialists, I was given specific dietary instructions and advised to take some medication that has been shown to delay or eliminate the pre-eclampsia or HELLP. So I started this new regimen immediately. At the halfway point (20 weeks) I also had to start monitoring my blood pressure at home 4 times a day. At this point, everyone seems very optimistic that things will be fine, so that's keeping my spirits up.

The second half of the pregnancy is what I was nervous about, after all, that's when the risk of pre-eclampsia and HELLP begin. But little did I know what was going to happen next. On March 14th, 2017 (at 22 weeks, 4 days), I woke up bleeding. Gary had already gone to work, so I had to wake up Lexi and get us both ready to go straight to the hospital. We rushed there where I was put on immediate and strict bed rest. I waited a few hours for an ultrasound to find out where the bleeding was coming from, then I was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Edmonton where I could have better monitoring and see my own specialist (OB). Turns out I now have full Placenta Previa, we knew the placenta was low lying from the 19 week ultrasound, however, she said it wasn't bad enough to limit activity or take time off work, she said to just "take it easy." So I did! She was also very optimistic that the placenta would "migrate" before delivery anyway and not cause any issues. Now that I've had a bleed though (sub-chorionic hemorrhage), the optimism of the placenta migrating is fading. Plus, not only do I have Placenta Previa, I have a bilobed placenta, which means it's in two pieces and the connecting piece is what's covering the cervix (online this is called Vasa Previa, although the doctors have never used this term to describe it to me). Here I am, yet ANOTHER "rare" condition!! Google says the bilobed placenta could be cause by existing scar tissue in the uterus, so maybe it's from when they ripped my placenta out the first time? Or maybe it's from my surgery (D&C) a week after that? Who really knows? All I know is that my body doesn't seem to like this pregnancy business!!

Good news, the bleeding has stopped, however, the doctors expect more bleeding throughout the pregnancy, and each time will be likely be worse they say. I'll never know when it will happen, it may not even be provoked by anything in particular, just the fact that the uterus is growing (oh and did I mention they took me off the meds to help delay the pre-eclampsia/HELLP because it can make the bleeding worse?). My risk for premature delivery is pretty high now, and there's a pretty high chance that I'll require a c-section. I'm also on modified bedrest and can no longer work. My mom is here to help me out (thankfully), and I can do some things, but I have to really take it easy now. The doctor says to "do as little as possible" (imagine that with an active 4 year old running around!) Physically I feel great, which is what I find hardest about the bedrest; I have to force myself NOT to do basic things. Emotionally, it's definitely taking its toll on me. I cry a lot, I worry about the rest of the pregnancy, and how the delivery will go. I mean, my biggest concern going into the pregnancy was having a retained placenta again, and now I have THREE rare conditions to deal with, plus sitting on bedrest gives me a lot of time to think about it and worry. I'm doing my best to keep busy though and stay positive; there's good days and bad and I just need to take it day by day.

One of the hardest parts of the bleed was that several of the doctors told me that the baby wasn't viable yet, so there was nothing they could do for her... I was their primary concern. We have just reached 25 weeks now, so each week is a blessing and is closer to viability for the baby. It will ease my mind a lot knowing that if anything happens, the baby will be viable and have a really good chance (with a lot of help of course). Hopefully we can keep her in as long as possible though, spending months in the NICU after delivery isn't the ideal outcome either.

This little girl is a fighter though, she kicks the crap out of me day and night; way more than I remember with Lexi. I don't mind it one bit though, every kick is a blessing. I feel like it's her way of letting me know she's doing great and it gives me hope that things will be ok.

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