I found out I was pregnant with Mason while I was sitting on an exam table, waiting for a steroid shot for my eczema. My doctor wouldn’t give it to me until I took a pregnancy test…and I was totally annoyed. Yes, my period was a few days late, but my cycles had never been super regular. Yes, we had been trying for a baby, but we were taking a break over the holidays. I thought, if I hadn’t gotten pregnant after deliberately having sex during my most fertile days, how could I possibly get pregnant having sex at random times? (Of course, this kind of logic is exactly why “Teen Mom” exists.)
I knew my doctor was just being cautious (and actually doing exactly what she should have done), but I didn’t want to hear what I was sure I already knew — that I wasn’t pregnant. I even rehearsed saying “Oh well, we haven’t been trying for that long!” nonchalantly in my head so that I wouldn’t burst into tears when she delivered the bad news. That’s how badly I wanted a baby. Instead, she shocked me by telling me something unbelievably amazing: I was pregnant. Pregnant!
I left her office elated, dazed, and, OK, itching (steroids are a no-no when you’re pregnant). But who cared about a little eczema? I was having a baby! I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I spent the next two days on a baby high. I was bursting with happiness, holding my special secret close. I couldn’t think about anything but that precious little bean growing in my belly; I shopped for maternity clothes online and made a list of baby names I loved. We were traveling to my hometown for Christmas and I couldn’t wait to share our thrilling news.
But then, three days after finding out I was pregnant, I was vomiting in a toilet in a public bathroom at the airport. I had never felt so sick (I had felt queasy all day but had convinced myself it would pass). I couldn’t even board our flight. The airline agent took one look at me and gave us vouchers for a future flight; I imagine he was relieved I wasn’t getting on that plane.
Chris and I took a taxi back home and I spent the entire night throwing up. I become so weak I couldn’t even make it to the bathroom; I got sick in plastic bags by the bed. My ob-gyn sent me to the hospital the next morning, and I was treated with anti-nausea medication and fluids by IV. We kept our fingers crossed that it was just a virus with maybe a touch of morning sickness. We returned home…and an hour or so later I was sicker than ever. We went back to the hospital the next morning and stayed there all of Christmas Day.
“Welcome to nine months of hell!” the ER doctor joked. I was only five-weeks-pregnant, but unfortunately that doctor had just accurately described the next eight months of my life (fortunately I didn’t know that at the time).
In the months that followed, I vomited frequently and dealt with acid reflux so severe I had to sleep sitting up. It even hurt to drink water. On top of that I developed severe anxiety and depression and became someone I didn’t even recognize (it’s impossible to be happy when you’re hellishly sick for nine months). When I delivered Mason at 39 weeks, I was only 7 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight.
It was an absolute miracle that my boy was born perfectly healthy after all that; I loved him with all my heart and I loved being a mom. But I swore that I’d never go through another pregnancy. I even contemplated having my tubes tied (my mom talked me out of it).
Then a surprising thing happened a few years later. I became a pregnancy editor for a national parenting magazine/website, and I began to think of pregnancy in a more positive light. Yes, it was hell for me…but the actual process of growing a baby was pretty damn amazing. I could finally separate my ordeal from the beautiful reality of what my body had accomplished. I was enamored with my boy and I longed to give him a brother or a sister, as well as parent another child. Those feelings grew until I was willing to jump off a cliff (yes, that’s what going through with another pregnancy felt like to me) and go through it again. So, I took the leap.
In August 2014, I gave birth to my daughter, Poppy Belle. Shockingly, blessedly, my pregnancy with her was a total breeze compared to my pregnancy with Mason. I experienced only moderate morning sickness during my first trimester. When the all-day queasiness ended suddenly at 13 weeks I was positive I had miscarried again, but nope, all was well. I felt amazed every time I enjoyed my dinner (I’m pregnant…and I can eat without horrible pain and vomiting!). I slept lying down (Miraculous!). And I felt unbelievably happy.
I was lucky. Incredibly lucky. Some women, like Kate Middleton, aren’t so lucky. (The Duchess experienced severe morning sickness, known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, during both of her pregnancies.) I admire her — and all the other moms out there who have had HG — for being brave enough to get pregnant again. It’s not an easy decision at all, but I imagine that everyone who has taken that leap is grateful that they did. I know I sure am.
©Heather Morgan Shott, as first published on Momtastic