Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Paralyzed & Pregnancy: how we conceived and 5-8 weeks update

As you may have read in my special announcement, Hubby and I are expecting baby number 2! We're so excited for this new journey in our lives! I'm also looking forward to sharing this experience with you guys. 

Paralysis and Pregnancy: How we conceived & 5-8 Week pregnancy update by Welcome to Mommyhood #paralysis, #paraplegic, #pregnancy

Because of my paralysis, pregnancy and raising children is different of course. I've been doing research and searching the internet for ideas, stories, and really inspiration and support, but I haven't found so much out there. So, I'm sharing our story here with you guys! 

How did we conceive?


The short answer? The good old fashioned way. Really, it was almost exactly the same as with my previous pregnancy with Y. 

There were a few differences/tips but those were not related per se to my injury. Here's the longer answer: 

When the husband and I decided to start trying for a baby, I have to admit that I was very, very scared. I was worried I wouldn't be able to conceive, that it would take years to conceive. My fears weren't really grounded in reality, but even before my spinal cord injury, I was already concerned about whether or not we would be able to conceive another baby as easily as we had been able to with Y. 

As for my injury and the realistic influence of that on conceiving a child, before I left the rehabilitation centre, I was very clear with my doctor that my husband and I wanted to have more children soon and I wanted to know the dangers, risks, and impact of my injury specifically on a pregnancy/conception. We met with a gynecologist, as well. 

All of the specialists that we had spoken to all said the same thing - a spinal cord injury, especially in my particular case, should not have significant impact upon the conception and future pregnancy for the baby. 

In my case, I have a T10 incomplete injury (I can feel my body lower than the injury, but have zero ability to move my legs). I also had zero medications that I was taking regularly. I do have a prescription for a few pain medicines that I could take as needed, but my doctor and I had discussed that if/when we start trying to conceive that I would no longer be able to take them. I didn't like the side effects of those anyway and hadn't been using them regardless so it wasn't a problem. 

When my husband and I decided to start trying, I bought an ovulation predictor kit. The reason for this is because my cycles had always been irregular and I wanted to know exactly when I was going to be ovulating. For those of you that don't know, an ovulation predictor kit is just a test you can pee on. If the result is positive, that means your body is releasing a certain hormone that is present when you are ovulating. The test itself cannot say whether or not you have/are ovulating for certain, only the presence of said hormone. 

So we did that and knew exactly when we should be doing the 'baby dance'. After I purchased the tests, I simply used one a day to make sure that I was/was not ovulating. I'm really, really glad that I did because we conceived on the first try! However, I also learned that I ovulate later than the general two weeks after the first day of your menstrual cycle that I saw all over the internet. Had we done that, we wouldn't have conceived as easily. It was just very nice to know exactly when I was ovulating. 10 days later, we got a positive pregnancy test! 

How's the pregnancy going? 


Paralysis and Pregnancy: How we conceived & 5-8 Week pregnancy update by Welcome to Mommyhood #paralysis, #paraplegic, #pregnancy

Fine. Pretty normal. Today, I am exactly 8 weeks and 1 day along and I am so nauseous. Seriously, the nausea and exhaustion are leaving me a wreck. A happy wreck, but still. I'm really looking forward to the second trimester and hopefully liking food again. 

I'm really struggling to figure out what to eat and nothing really sounds appealing except watermelon and McDonalds. Clearly, we aren't eating McDonalds all the time, so food is quite a struggle. But all in all, the pregnancy so far is pretty normal and baby is growing well! 

Even though I feel really sick, I'm still so happy to be expecting again, and am trying to use the little bit of energy I do have on spending time with Y. 

Interestingly, Y has been my biggest 'challenge' so to say. He's a pretty sensitive little boy, and he's really catching on to me being sick and throwing up. He'll sometimes follow me to the bathroom and will ask if I'm okay. I feel pretty bad about him seeing me so ill like that and of course that I'm lacking the energy to play with him as much. I hope that once I transition into the second trimester that I'll feel more like myself and will be able to spend a lot of quality time with him before the new little munchkin arrives! 


What's different about the pregnancy? 


Typically in the Netherlands, normal pregnancies are put in the care of midwives. My pregnancy is considered high risk and I have to be in the care of a team consisting of a gynecologist and midwife and will have to have a hospital delivery as opposed to a home birth (also common here). I realised this before conceiving, but really wanted a home birth before my injury. Of course, now there's just more likelihood of medical intervention being necessary so that is no longer a safe option. 

So far, I have appointments every 2-3 weeks with the gynecologist to make sure everything is going how we want it to. At this point, the appointments will continue like this for a little while, and then we will spread them out a bit more. I have been able to get extra ultrasounds and we heard the heartbeat when I was exactly 8 weeks along! 

As far as pregnancy and risks from my injury - there are a few concerns or things to look out for as far as my own health goes, but the pregnancy and baby itself should not really be impacted. When you use a wheelchair, there are generally speaking risks of pressure sores and wounds on your skin. During pregnancy, these risks can increase as your body changes. The other risk for me is more likelihood of UTIs. A UTI can be treated relatively easily (medicine), but a pressure sore could end up getting annoying as it could result in bed rest. Basically, I just need to be careful and watch out for both. 


Labour and delivery? 


At this point, it's still very early. All of my doctors (pre-pregnancy) have assured me that a natural, vaginal delivery is possible and likely. Of course, realistically, all of it depends on how things go because even without a spinal cord injury, labour and delivery can go very differently than planned! 

What is a concern is that I may not be able to get an epidural due to the placement of metal in my back, I think. If this is the case, it would mean if there is a need for a c-section, I would need to be under general anesthetic which terrifies me. An epidural terrifies me, as well honestly. I really don't want anything going into my back now. It's all very scary to think about and still very early to think about. 

At this point, my gynecologist and I are simply discussing all of the options as she wants a good plan put in place. We need to know what the risks are, consequences etc of each type of delivery and what my husband and I can expect. She's also working with the specialists from the rehabilitation centre I was at following my injury. 

I'm still pretty hopeful for a vaginal, more or less natural birth although I wouldn't be surprised if an intervention of some sort was necessary. It's still really early and I am also trying not to give it too much thought right now. After all, the most important thing is to have a healthy baby and mom!

For now, that's really all there is! Aside from morning sickness and typical pregnancy symptoms, there really isn't that much to tell. We really look forward to sharing more of this journey as the pregnancy progresses! 

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