Additionally, there have been questions lately about pregnancy on SMASpace about pregnancy when you have SMA, so I thought I would talk about my experience with pregnancy. Later, I will talk about being a mother with a disability, but that will take MUCH longer! Heheh.
So, lets begin shall we? My pregnancy was planned. My husband had always wanted to be a dad, and we both knew he would be amazing at it. I got the 'baby bug' a bit early, but I knew I wanted to be a mom. I knew also that it would probably be the most difficult thing I had ever attempted. I cannot communicate to you the monumental excitement and anxiety I had in equal amounts. The question on my mind was "How am I going to do this?" which, when you have a disability, is a question you ask yourself an awful lot.
It was uncharted territory for me. At the time, I knew no one else with a disability who had had children. I did look, but there seemed to be very little in the way of information out there for me. So, I asked my doctor. I expected that he would try to talk me out of it, but actually, he told me to go for it. He warned that I might get weaker from the combination of weight gain and hormones, but that there was really no reason I shouldn't be able to have a fairly normal pregnancy.
Thrilled, out next step (besides the obvious fun part) was to get my husband, Greg, tested for the SMA gene. Now that we know so much more about SMA, you can check to see if your partner is a carrier. If he was, we would be faced with a difficult decision, because there would be a good chance any child we had would also have SMA--luckily, Greg did not test positive for the gene and so we were able to proceed. Of course, my son is certainly a carrier, but growing up, he will know it. Maybe, hopefully, by the time my son wants to start a family there will be a treatment.
So the journey began. About three months after I stopped using birth control, I got pregnant. We were thrilled. Everything was looking great until I went in for my 12 week appointment and the doctor could not find a heartbeat. He sent me in for an ultrasound and it was discovered that I had a missed miscarriage--which means the pregnancy was no longer viable. Devistated, I had to go and have a D&C at the hospital.
After my miscarriage, I was crestfallen. I worried it wasn't meant to be.
Another three months later, we went on a camping trip with our friends on our anniversary, and it was then we conceived our son. The unrestrained joy wasn't there--we were more cautious now. The first trimester was the most difficult for me. Not only was I always worried I would miscarry, but hormones have always had a tremendous effect on me. I was tired so much of the time I feel like all I did for those first 12 weeks was sleep and eat. And that was really accurate! Moving around was do difficult just because my muscles felt so weak and tired all the time. It was the way I feel when I have PMS, but it didn't go away!
Second tri brought relief and a return to normalcy, as it does for many women. Finally, my baby bump appeared and I felt pregnant instead of just fat! And while I was gaining weight, most of my strength returned and I felt more like myself. I only had to take one nap a day, haha. It was during that time that something really began to change in me. As you know if you read my other entries, I struggled with body image for a long time. My body was always something that could never seem to do what I wanted it to be able to do. But watching my stomach grow hard and round with my son, watching my body nurture a whole other life? I began to love my body. It was an amazing thing. I even liked to look at it! I loved the firmness of my bump. I was one of those pregnant women who was always touching their bellies.
Third trimester came and I was tested for gestational diabetes. Knowing I had a family history of it, I was unsurprised that I had it. I was pretty upset! No more huge bowls of mashed potatoes and gravy for me....but, I was able to manage it with diet. AND, I only gained 20lbs for my entire pregnancy, which is just awesome. I was huge though. All in the belly. My son was almost 9lbs when he was born!
I only suffered one fall during my pregnancy, and that was bad enough! I fell in the bathroom, and while I didn't hurt myself falling, I hurt myself getting up. My husband usually lifts me around the middle, but as I was almost 38 weeks pregnant at the time, that was a lot more difficult! Ended up bruising some ribs, but the baby and I were alright. We were lucky.
Now, my OB was excellent and extremely encouraging and supportive. He didn't think I would need a c-section, but we would be prepared for one just in case. I worried, and worried, and worried, wondering if my body could handle the rigors of labor. What if I didn't have the strength to push?
In the end, I did. I had a natural, vaginal birth and it was amazing. I felt one with the universe. The worst part is when you can't push. Once the doctor gives you the okay to start pushing, your body and your mind become indestinguishable. The whole essence of my being was focused on birthing. After a 14 hour labor and no sleep, I was exhausted. I was so tired I was drifting to sleep between pushes! I was pushing for an hour, then...my son was born.
I had never, ever been so exhausted or so proud of myself. It was the beginning of a new appreciation of my body, and my life.
There we are, the family!
There's my little boy, awake and peaceful on mommy. His eyes were open right away.
So, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'd be happy to answer!