Hopeful BULLSHIT

BY KATE HOVDESTAD

They’ll Probably Send Us Home – My Birth Story

They’ll Probably Send Us Home – My Birth Story

On the morning of Nov. 9, 2019, I was 38 weeks pregnant. I woke up to a small trickle of fluid and thought, “Nah, that can’t be my water breaking.” So I went about my day – showering, getting dressed – hanging out on your typical Saturday morning. My mom was getting on a plane to Denver later that day. Around lunch time when I discovered my pants were damp we decided to call the hospital, and they asked me to come in. I hadn’t packed my hospital bag or prepared anything for being in the hospital to give birth because the whole time we thought, “They’ll definitely send us home.”

When we arrived at the hospital they didn’t have a room immediately available, so I sat in a chair in the waiting room while the nurses looked at me quizzically because I clearly wasn’t in active labor. Once they got me into their staging room, they did a pH test which came back negative. My husband and I were preparing to head home when the nurse suggested we do a second test, “Just in case.” That one came back positive and I was admitted.

My husband had to leave the hospital to return to our apartment and pack my hospital bag. Thankfully we had made a list of all the necessary items the week prior, with plans to pack my bag the day we went to the hospital, so it wasn’t too difficult. Then he had to drive what should have been 30 minutes to the airport but because of construction it was more like an hour.  By the time he returned to the hospital with my mother in tow, I had been moved to my birthing room and hooked up to IV Pitocin and monitors.

The rest of that day was pretty uneventful. Nurses periodically checked my dilation, and I continued to not feel contractions as they happened. I was taken off the Pitocin in the evening for a break and went to sleep. At around 2:00 a.m. I woke up to a contraction I could actually feel.

By the afternoon my contractions had grown intense enough that I requested an epidural. I spent the day eating popsicles and drinking water until it was time to push. At this point, everything gets a bit hazy for me. I remember feeling pressure in my hips as the baby moved down. I remember getting a fourth dose of epidural and being taken off Pitocin for another break. I remember I finally felt the urge to push after my husband had left the room to get a snack, and at 6:32 p.m. on Nov. 10 our healthy daughter was born (don’t worry, my husband made it back in time). My mom cut the umbilical cord and I remember when the doctor told me there was no tearing I replied, “That’s great news.”

Overall my birthing experience was wonderful. Despite my fear of needing an emergency C-section after 36 hours of labor or having severe tearing, I had neither. We had a healthy baby and I recovered relatively quickly. We were even in IKEA 6 days after I gave birth. I often feel guilty for struggling so much after having such an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth, but I now know that this is one of the primary symptoms of PPD and I don’t have to feel that guilt.

They Said It’ll All Be Worth It…

They Said It’ll All Be Worth It…

My husband and I moved to Colorado in 2019. We were so excited to live near the mountains and spend time hiking, biking, kayaking; we had big plans for what our life would look like here.  A week after we arrived, we were still unpacking, I had started a new job, and everything seemed like it was going great.

A few weeks later, I started to feel very run down. I was constantly exhausted. I felt like I needed a nap every day. My body hurt, my eyes stung, and I felt like I had a flu without the fever. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so terrible. I remember talking to friends about it, who advised me to drink more water and get rest because it was “probably the altitude.”  

My period also ended up being late, so I took a pregnancy test. It was negative. I remember texting my mom to ask whether I should be concerned that I was 4 days late with a negative test and she assured me my period would come soon. I told my husband several times over the next few days I was pretty sure I was pregnant – and, when my period never came I took another test, and this time it was positive.   

Positive Pregnancy Test

I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. I was excited, nervous, scared, and anxious, and when I wasn’t feeling 100% positive about the whole experience, I felt guilty. Shortly after we found out I was pregnant, the morning sickness started.

I was never diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (a severe type of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy), but the morning sickness was intense. It was so bad that I called out sick from work several times. It got even worse and I ended up at an urgent care center to be given IV fluids because I couldn’t keep any food or drinks down for an entire day. I tried all the ‘tricks’ – ginger candies and teas, lemon teas, eating crackers before I got out of bed, more water, soup, bread, peppermint, B6, Unisom – and nothing worked. Eventually I was prescribed Zofran to help with the nausea. I was constantly afraid to leave the house because I didn’t want to be sick in public, especially after I was eventually physically ill outside at one point when we went to the local farmer’s market. I took Zofran nearly every day because the morning sickness never went away, including the morning we went to the hospital.  All the plans my husband and I made to be outdoors and enjoy our new city had passed us by, and I felt even more guilty because I blamed myself.

I tried really hard to be upbeat and positive about pregnancy, but I didn’t have an easy time. I never felt like I was glowing. I never got my energy back in the second trimester. I never felt good about being pregnant. I struggled a lot. When I tried to reach out for support I felt like my feelings were being minimized when people told me, “It will all be worth it when you hold your baby.” All I wanted was for someone to acknowledge that this was really hard! The worst was the comparisons and getting told, “At least it’s not as bad as [insert someone else’s situation].” Of course I was grateful that I didn’t have a miscarriage or major complications but the comments made me feel very lonely.  

I’ve learned through therapy that my loneliness, anxiety, and guilt through pregnancy were prenatal depression and anxiety. If your experience with pregnancy was, or is, traumatic or anxiety inducing, I hope that maybe seeing you’re not alone and having access to my perspective and additional resources here can help.