My blog has sat, neglected and semi-forgotten, for what feels like eons now. Lacking in motivation, inspiration, and energy, I can’t even begin to estimate how many times I’ve opened up a new post, stared at the flickering screen, then clicked out again without typing a word.
This hasn’t been an easy pregnancy. With Shane, I was one of those annoying pregnant women, one who would smile serenely and blissfully rub her tummy as other women complained about how miserable they were during their own pregnancies. I loved being pregnant. Cherished every moment, marveled over every change, and felt more like a woman than I ever had before in my life as I protected and nourished that growing life within me.
This has been an entirely different experience. I’ve spent the past several months utterly exhausted and in a state of constant, unrelenting nausea. Several weeks back I started spotting, and called my OB’s office in a panic. They rushed me in for an emergency ultrasound that same day, where we thankfully discovered that the baby was just fine…and that I was actually at least two weeks further along than we had initially thought! Since then I’ve been feeling sensations that can only be described as feeling as though I’ve swallowed a goldfish, periodic flutters that provide a welcome reassurance that all is well.
Last Wednesday I had a scare that has left me completely shaken. After spending three days and nights at the hospital, I was discharged this past Saturday morning. My husband had brought me in to the ER Wednesday afternoon after I suffered an episode of double vision while driving home on the highway. It was terrifyingly surreal, suddenly I was seeing two of everything — highway signs, cars whizzing past, my steering wheel, my sleepy son in the rear-view mirror.
I remember trying desperately to force my eyes to focus, while frantically trying to merge through traffic in order to pull over on the side of the highway. It only lasted about 15 to 20 seconds, but it was the most horrifyingly frightening experience. As soon as my vision returned to normal I started weeping and shaking and sweating, fighting against the nausea that was bubbling up and the hysterical pounding of my heart. I was told in the ER that those were more than likely symptoms of a panic attack, which was understandable considering the fear that had overwhelmed me.
In the ER they immediately suspected a stroke, and I was hooked up to an IV with a continuous Heparin drip in order to thin my blood to a therapeutic level and quickly admitted to the hospital for observation overnight. Over the following three days I saw a steady stream of specialists, including a hematologist, perinatologist (high-risk OB), and a neurologist, and they ran a battery of tests — an electrocardiogram, ultrasounds of the arteries in my neck, and an MRI. During my stay I remained tethered to both the IV and a heart monitor. The eventual diagnosis: I had what they called a Transient Ischemic Attack or “Mini-stroke.”
Interestingly…and worryingly (is even that a word, because it should be), the MRI actually showed evidence of old mini-strokes as well — apparently I must have had them in the past, spanning back ten or more years. I’ve been dealing with migraines for quite some time now, and according to the neurologist this isn’t all that uncommon to be seen in the MRIs of migraine sufferers. The fact that I’m pregnant, already suffer from migraines, and have a genetic blood clotting disorder all upped my risk for developing these mini-strokes.
Thankfully, we know that the baby’s doing fine — they did an ultrasound and would check fetal heart tones periodically. I’ve been feeling flutters and subtle thumps, and each sensation has been a such a blessing. One of this week’s ultrasound photos never fails to lighten my heart — can you see how the Little Peanut is already sticking his or her tongue out at us?!?
I was finally able to leave the hospital on Saturday morning. My dose of Lovenox (the blood thinner I’m on while pregnant) has been doubled, and I need to do follow-up appointments with both my primary care doctor and OB this week, and with the high-risk OB, neurologist, and a hematologist within the next month.
I’m doing relatively well right now — just unexpectedly exhausted, and in all honestly, incredibly shaken up. This has been an incredibly nerve-wracking experience. While I was in the hospital I was just praying that they’d find out what was going on, and praying that I’d be okay. I’m so grateful to be home, so thankful for answers, and so very hopeful that I’ve come through the worst of it…but I won’t deny that I’m still feeling anxious, and completely and utterly drained.