How pregnancy helped my recovery: the sequel

How pregnancy helped my recovery and then scrunched it into a ball and threw it in a fire! I’m not dramatic.

When I wrote my previous post, I was in my second trimester (“the good one”). I had about a four-week window of feeling myself, finally awake, I could eat again and doing any activity did not require a pep talk to myself before hand. I had this lovely round belly and I still fit all of my regular clothes.

My short-lived love for my pregnancy and body turned sour when I noticeably started to become a little bit swollen. One day I went into work and one of my colleagues noticed my fingers and said “good god girl, your fingers are swollen, you need to sit down and we need to check your urine and your blood pressure”; lucky I work in a facility that allows me to check both of these things promptly, so I did a dip stick urine test and we checked my blood pressure and both were completely normal and there were no issues. My colleague was checking to see if I had early signs of preeclampsia. What followed was something out of Willy Wonka, when Violet eats the gum and turns into a giant blueberry; minus being blue. I blew up full of fluid EVERYWHERE! My hands, my feet, my face! Most of my mother friends and nurse friends questioned whether or not I was okay or if I had preeclampsia, because I looked like a walking, oh sorry, waddling medical emergency. I was so puffy; my legs were like giant sausages and you would only be able to tell what you were looking at was a foot, because of the little toes that popped out of the stump. I tired everything to relieve it, exercise, not exercising, foot spas, compression socks, getting my husband to rub my feet (he said he could feel the fluid moving around), elevation, osmosis and smaller shoes; nothing worked. Every fortnight when I had my scans for baby’s lung, I had to be weighed and for someone who does not weigh myself, seeing the number increase 5 kilograms each fortnight was my worst nightmare. By the end of my pregnancy I was limited to staying home on the lounge with my feet up as being on my feet for more than 2 minutes caused me to swell even further. I couldn’t fit into pants and if I did manage to squeeze into anything, my poor feet would cop all of the swelling and I looked like I had elephantitis of the feet. I was forced onto maternity leave early due to my high risk and the unknown effect of COVID and pregnant people. Every time I saw a medical professional they weren’t worried at all and all of my blood levels kept coming back normal. “Please call the ward if anything changes or your legs get any bigger” they would say and within two days I was on the phone to them saying my legs had gotten bigger. I ended up in hospital every fortnight, getting tests, tests and more tests. I was high risk for preeclampsia and showing almost every symptom except for my liver levels being perfectly normal. Even after googling multiple times, I still don’t exactly know what preeclampsia is, all I know is it can be deadly to mummy and baby if not treated and is a medical emergency.

One week in particular my right leg was bigger than my left leg and one night at around 10pm I started to develop a pain in the right leg. I called the hospital and they told me to go to my nearest emergency department because they thought I might have a DVT (blood clot in my leg). It was in the middle of COVID and my husband had to stay outside of the hospital in his car. I had more blood tests, an ultrasound and a blood thinning injection in my tummy that wasn’t pleasant and after all of that, everything was negative and I was discharged. I waddled my way to where my husband was in the car park and he had bad news. The car battery had died because he was playing the radio in his car for four hours and we didn’t have roadside assistance. After signing up with a new insurance company and getting a jumpstart, we finally made our way home by 5am. After weeks of back and forth. Soon my blood pressure started to increase and eventually I was in hospital every second day getting hooked up to machines, monitoring my blood pressure and getting blood tests. To top it off, I only have one good vein, so it was beginning to look like I had track marks with the amount of times they stabbed me or put cannulas in.

One day in particular I was feeling really run down and my gut feeling was that something wasn’t right. I checked my blood pressure and it was really high, so after calling the hospital and going in they decided to keep me over night and start me on blood pressure medication. My blood pressure stayed elevated and one night turned into 5. My high-risk team came in to see me everyday and they were so shocked at the size of my legs, the swelling was all the way up to my hips and when you pushed your finger in, the finger imprint stayed there. I could no longer wear compression stockings as they didn’t make the stockings large enough and all they did was push all the fluid up further, rather than improving the circulation. On the last day of my being in hospital, they decided it was probably a good idea to induce my labour in a few days and to go home and sort everything at home out in the meantime.

I felt relieved at the thought of giving birth and finally being able to move and live like a normal human being again and not like a Labrador, but what I didn’t take into account was the sudden deadline to sort my life out while being a Labrador and the anxiety that came with it.  

My mental health was almost the worst it has ever been in terms of anxiety and the uncontrollable thoughts I had towards my body. Everything around me was out of my control and I wasn’t in a position to start controlling my weight. Trying to stay level headed about my body image felt like an impossible task. I couldn’t partake in any healthy habits to help myself because I was limited to my couch. I was awake every morning at 4am and unable to go back to sleep because of the horrible thoughts coming into my head. I was catastrophising the most ridiculous scenarios for hours and my husband would wake up for work and I would be lying there hysterical because I thought he was going to take my baby away from me once she was born. I was the biggest I had ever been and had gained over 30 kilograms, but it wasn’t on my pregnant belly, it was everywhere. I could hardly walk, my shoes did not fit and I had 1 pair of pants that only just fit and because I was forced onto maternity leave early, I did not have the money to buy any new clothes. During my hospital stay, the midwives used a questionnaire to determine your risk for postnatal depression or anxiety, and because I already had perinatal anxiety, I scored extremely high risk for postnatal depression and anxiety. I was put under the mental health team and was seen by a psychiatrist (via Zoom as this was the peak of COVID). The plan was to commence anti anxiety medication once my daughter was born because they thought sleep deprivation and a life adjustment would almost certainly affect my anxiety more.

Pregnancy for me wasn’t the greatest. It was hard and took such a toll on my mental and physical health and I find I still am coming to terms with it all almost 8 months later. I am still so grateful for the ability to fall pregnant and grow a little person inside of me. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be able to go on leave early, as I know it wouldn’t have been feasible for some. I am grateful for having an able body and although I struggled in the end, I know there are others out there that are debilitated. I am grateful for the support I had during my pregnancy and the people who made me feel so normal despite everything going on with me and what was going on inside my head, I have no idea how I could have got through it all without my circle.

This was my pregnancy journey and each pregnant person will have a different story to tell and despite all of this, I would be happy to do it all again.

I hope there are some people reading this who have a foot fetish.

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