No mother-to-be wants to receive the news that, after multiple trips to the ER, 12 ultrasounds, 3 major hemorrhaging episodes, 2 monitored stays in the hospital and a month of modified bed rest, the reason for all the pregnancy complications is in fact a formerly undiagnosed “… large blood clot inside the uterine wall” (otherwise know as a subchorionic hematoma). No mother-to-be wants to be told her pregnancy is “high risk” or hear the words “some babies make it and some babies don’t”. Yet here I am, passed the 24 week mark of my pregnancy and these are some of the realities and challenges I have faced during its course.
I have never intended for this blog to be about anything other than creative personal projects, but I have been quietly embarking upon a very special project that is near and dear to my heart and have decided to share it (and the story behind it) here in the hope that it might help someone else.
At the very start of my pregnancy journey I was hospitalised with internal bleeding complications. Two weeks later (literally the day after announcing the pregnancy to family at dinner) I ended up in the ER and was told point-blank that I was losing the baby. I came home and cried in bed for days. After coming to accept my sad loss (but still grieving), the blood tests I’d continued to have after doctors suspected an ectopic pregnancy revealed something amazing, something miraculous. My HCG levels were continuing to rise… normally! Another ultrasound revealed a normal, viable pregnancy. Hope turned to fear when I had another bleeding episode in the middle of the night after waking up from a dream I was losing my baby. The hospital staff said that it could indeed be a miscarriage and that there was nothing they could do for the baby if so. Further ultrasounds thankfully revealed baby Cupcake was doing great. At 13 weeks pregnant I thought Cupcake and I had made it to the “safe zone”, but during the middle of a dinner party I experienced painful major hemorrhaging of crime scene-esque proportions (absolutely terrifying for both me and my parent’s dinner guests!) and was rushed back to the ER, my favourite dress soaked in blood, my heart in my throat yet again. It was so bad this time that I had to stay in hospital to be monitored until the worst had passed. I was given anti-hemorrhaging medication, pain killers to stop the cramps and contractions (yes, contractions!) and told “We’ll do another ultrasound to see if your baby is still alive in the morning” (tactful, huh?). I was informed the next day that my Cupcake was a “fighter”, but that I needed to go on sick leave. My boss and colleagues were all amazing and I had ample support offered by family and friends, but every day crawled by at a seemingly week-long pace.
At 16 weeks I was still cramping a great deal when I moved around too much, so put myself instinctively on full bed rest. I had already been on modified bed rest since being in hospital (which was again instinctive and surprisingly/worryingly nothing any doctor had suggested). I asked that my anatomy scan be pushed up a week as I really wanted to know where I stood and have some peace of mind before heading back to work. I imagined finding out whether I was having a boy or a girl. I imagined being told that I was “safe” now and had nothing to worry about moving forward. We were to go straight from the hospital to a concert and took the tickets with us. We were going to celebrate! Instead, at 17 weeks pregnant, I finally discovered the truth that although Cupcake was doing well, I had a large blood clot in my uterus and that in some cases SCH’s lead to spontaneous abortion and a host of other very nasty complications. I was told to expect further bleeding/spotting (which did happen), but that as long as it wasn’t fresh blood, it was ok and could even mean the hematoma was resolving. I was told that sick leave would continue and, other than taking it easy, there was nothing I could do… nor was there anything the hospital could do to save my baby at that point should the worst happen. I was too devastated as I lay there on the examination table to bring myself to ask the baby’s gender. I came home shell-shocked, the concert tickets sat on the kitchen table unused. I crawled back into bed, imagining my bedroom was my whole sad, isolated world and I felt myself slipping into a state of depression and anxiety. I found myself screaming inside “WHY ME? WHY NOW? WHY CAN THE MOST MESSED UP PEOPLE HAVE EASY PREGNANCIES AND KIDS THEY DON’T EVEN WANT?”, but after four days of spiraling downward I realised I was just adding negativity to the facts and doing nothing to help my healing process. My Cupcake was fighting to be with me… who was I not to fight too? And so I began a turn-around whilst still on bed rest; meditating, visualising my own healing, watching inspirational shows and so on. I realised that it would be much more helpful to ask the questions “What can I learn from this situation? What can I do about it? What are my priorities? What can I give back to the world? How can I honour my baby’s life (regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy)?”
And so I did.
Among the many realisations I had as a result of going through this process was the thought that this little life can make an impact on the world before it is even in my arms. And that is where my Cupcake for Charity project comes in! I decided to honour Cupcake (and my family) by donating money to a different charity every week. We already support a few charities (including WWF & Amnesty International) on a monthly basis and sponsor a child, but as I am not working due to sick leave, I am not buying anything; no lunches, no office clothes, etc. I don’t miss the extra money that we donate now. The fact that I am getting less in my bank account each month by being on sick leave doesn’t bother me either. I know my family is provided for and we have everything we need. In the event of the very worst case scenario, I wanted to know that my pregnancy and my baby’s life meant something positive… and not just to me. And now that the prognosis is looking good and I have reached “viability”, I feel so happy to think that my little unborn baby has already made a positive impact on the world!
Here is the list of charities and causes that we have donated to on Cupcake’s behalf thus far:
March of Dimes
Doctors Without Borders
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
We have also made a contribution to a film project being undertaken by an old friend of ours to promote awareness in the fight to save the Giant Australian Cuttlefish.
It has been exciting to research/give to various causes and, of course, it puts my issues into perspective. I was heartbroken to think that one day I might have a sad and scary tale to tell Cupcake… one of hospitals, doctors, bad news, pain, isolation, months of bed rest, sorrow and anxiety. Instead the tale I’ll be able to tell is one of hope, of overcoming challenges, of us fighting to be together and of how my pregnancy experience and my tiny baby inspired me to become a better person and make the world a better place in some small way. I will be able to say to my child “Before you were even born, you were a blessing to me… and to the world!” And that in itself is a blessing!
*** For an update on Cupcake for Charity, please see: https://missmarzipan.com/2012/10/30/cupcake-for-charity-part-2-aka-changing-the-world-diy-style/