Just as they were starting to get the hang of the routine a surprise hit – my health started to deteriorate. Having PCOS, I began to wonder if things had gone awry, again. To start the process of ruling things out, I took a pregnancy test. This pretty routine for me to do; when you regularly skip anywhere up to 3 cycles you keep tests to hand “just in case”… but when you get told that between the two of you it’d be next to impossible to actually happen without intervention, you’re never disappointed or upset with the negative, it’s just a confirmation of facts.
So, to take the test I just kind of fit it around morning routine: pee in cup, dunk test, alarm set, go get dressed etc. The alarm went off “oh yes, better check test.
“WHAT THE ?????” WHY ARE THERE TWO LINES? HOW THE??? I DON’T EVEN!!!! NO?” I then promptly photographed the test, sent to a pro Mumma friend (she’s had 5, she knows how this stuff works…) “yes, definitely a positive, strong one at that”, “Nope! There must be a mistake. I’ll take another… What is going on? This can’t be happening! It showed up straight away… I guess I’m pregnant! What do I do? How do I tell Bruce?”
In the early days, before understanding our issues I had imagined how this moment would feel, and what the plan would be, on multiple occasions: a celebratory moment, overcome with joy… but a secret; I wouldn’t tell Bruce immediately, I’d wait, go and do day at work, me having hatched some elaborate announcement type plans to surprise him at dinner/after work.
The reality: I’d say there was some joy, but it was the elation I was expecting to feel, it only took up about 10% of my emotion; 30% of my feeling was “there’s a pandemic right now, this is NOT the time to be pregnant” but 60% of me was feeling “this is impossible, my PCOS must be acting up, my hormones must be shot to pieces, and this is actually a false positive… OR they’ve changed cause I’ve got ovarian cancer in something!” I desperately wanted to cling to the 10% joy, for it to be correct; we had always said we’d be happy if a third child appeared (I had wanted 3, Bruce 2, so when we adopted we decided that we would adopt 2 children and agreed that if by some miracle I became pregnant, or the birth family had another child, we would become a happy family of 5).
Other symptoms drew in quickly after that: morning sickness, food aversions etc. The extreme fatigue was already there; I had been falling asleep really early in the evening. But I still couldn’t shake this overwhelmingly strong feeling that it was just hormones acting out as a result of a medical problem. So I booked an early pregnancy scan. The external scan immediately showed the yolk sac, and an internal one allowed us to find the heartbeat, check the size etc. It was real… really, actually, very real. I just now had to enjoy it.
But then the facts hit; PCOS has increased pregnancy risks:
- higher chances of miscarriage throughout pregnancy, but particularly in first trimester
- Gestational diabetes
- Premature labour
- Higher risk of dying during childbirth
“It’s OK, all we need to do is relax and not get stressed” yes, with 2 children with special needs in the house and the risk factors mentioned above, that was an easy job!!! So we told family and friends early on: the chances it wouldn’t lead to a successful pregnancy were high, we might need them to support us if the worst happened… and we knew a good place for private scanning to keep me sane in between appointments.
It got very incapacitating during the first trimester – even moving made me feel like I was going to vomit, and I could vomit 8-10 times in one sitting, multiple times through the day. Particularly bad if I smelled something I was averse to. You know, like, pretty much everything given that I now had a nose with supersonic powers! 🙈 Particularly notable smells included: any kind of animal product smell (raw meat juices, cooing meat juices etc.), any kind of grease or fat, a neighbour smoking pot with the window open, oh yeah, and Caitlin’s hamster dying. I could smell that one, boy could I smell that one! It was questioned whether I was suffering with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, but anti sickness meds worked; though I was still occasionally sick on them and still felt nausea constantly, I was much better on them.
Once the nausea started to settle (around 24 weeks) heartburn took over; anti sickness meds were switched put for Gaviscon. I still couldn’t eat a great deal – my diet of plain rice and dry oven chips lived on but I could start to add some more bits in! But the heartburn didn’t really pass til about 35 weeks.
Around the 24 week marker I also started to get pelvic girdle pain – with a high tolerance for pain, I was coping but it wasn’t fun! My physio appointment finally came through at 35 weeks – I decided to give it a miss then! It felt pointless!!!
Then at my 38 week check (37+5) evidence I had pre eclampsia came back. Within 72 hours it had gone from discovery to full blown symptoms and was rapidly progressing so I was admitted to hospital to antenatal knowing I wouldn’t be leaving hospital without a baby.