A Story of Motherhood: Part I
|Lisa Hodack Photography|
I rolled out of bed, and immediately knew that something
was, well, different. The first clue I had was this
overwhelming feeling that my face was on the verge of spontaneous combustion. I felt
like I was radiating heat from my head, & only my head. That this heat
was lifting my head from my body, just as I imagine a hot air balloon rises
with each fiery pull. My face was on fire. As I seemingly floated my way into
the kitchen to prepare my dinner before going into work, a second clue became
painfully apparent. My breasts were excruciatingly tender, & hold up!
Where they bigger?!
we were in the midst of purchasing our home at the time), watching water boil
for my mac 'n cheese, feeling myself up when this thought came zipping through
my floating head...could I be pregnant? My jaw
tightened, my stomach twisted, this warm sensation overcame me & I
smiled. My husband came into the kitchen & wrapped his arms around me,
asking how I slept & how I was doing. I looked at him with wild eyes,
"Love, I think I'm pregnant." He half giggled in disbelief and anxious unknowing.
asked me if I was okay, as I seemed to have something on my mind. I explained
the weird floating, burning sensations I was experiencing, along with the
breast tenderness. She smiled at me & told me to hold on. She walked to
the locker room and returned with a tiny dollar store pregnancy test.
"Let me know how it goes."
that damn stick. Thoughts racing through my mind, could I be carrying my first
child? A child I've dreamed of, wished for, for longer than I could remember? I
waited for the test to develop. Was that what I think it was?! Two faint, tiny
blue lines appeared like magic. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief... no, way! I am pregnant!
room. I whipped out my phone & called my husband. Then my mother, my
best friend... I think everybody in that Emergency room was aware that I was
pregnant that night. I couldn't resist smiling, giggling, glowing with glee! I
was going to be a mama!
most part without a hitch, I was dealing with "morning sickness,"
exhaustion, and some pretty awful dreams, which is pretty typical, I guess. We
got to see our peanut with our first ultrasound and hear that sweet little
swoosh of his heartbeat. It felt like pure bliss to me, but for my husband who
had witnessed me vomiting and feeling ill, this pregnancy wasn't an exciting
time, yet. It was in fact
the opposite. "Why can't this baby be nice to you, I hate to see you so
miserable." The words that came from his mouth while we sat across from
each other at a diner. I could read the frustration in his eyes, he just wanted
his wife to be happy.
ended. In fact it got worse. I eventually would be diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I
would vomit every morning, every afternoon, every night. I vomited when I ate.
I vomited when I didn't eat. I vomited after taking anti-nausea medications. I
was vomiting with sea-bands on. I was vomiting while working. I tried
everything I could think of to calm this urge to purge. But nothing would take
it away. This was probably the most frustrating thing I dealt with my entire
|m'elise photographie || 3 months|
I remember specifically the feeling that
would overcome me, it was this sudden drop in
my gut. It felt like a large rock had dropped into my stomach, it was my
warning sign that I better run, and run fast. I
would hover over the toilet, garbage can, the sink, whatever I could find the
quickest! It felt like nobody understood what I was going through. I was miserable.
I was working with 5 other pregnant women at the time (we all drank the same
water apparently) and I was the only one with affliction. My mother in law had
never had a day of nausea during both of her pregnancies, not one. My mother would
remind me daily that, "It'll all be worth it honey, just you wait and
see..I was sick just like you for both of my pregnancies." Great, first
off, I was not looking forward to vomiting this pregnancy, not to mention the next! Secondly, I didn't want to
wait and see! I wanted this shit to be done, and done yesterday!
rice. Fruits were too acidic and made me vomit immediately after, same with
juices, water, and popsicles. Sometimes I would get through a meal, famished
and feeling content, only to be running to the bathroom 10 minutes later in a
fury. This was ridiculous.
Emergency Department, not to work, but to be treated. I had vomited for five
days, unable to keep down much of anything. I remember sitting on the gurney
with an IV hooked up, looking, well rough. My director knocked and walked
into the room, the first words she said to me were "Oh honey, you look pregnant." Apparently looking
pregnant was equivalent to exhausted, pale & full of acne. After they
hydrated me, an ultrasound was done to see how my sweet little one was
doing in their torturing mama. I could see this magical being dancing and
wiggling on the screen and although I felt like garbage, those blurry images brought
the biggest smile to my face! Soon after they sent me home, telling me that the
end of my vomiting was coming. Their crystal ball was incorrect.
hope you picked up on that sarcasm...). I had been prescribed medication after
medication to relieve the nausea without avail. No matter what medications I
was taking, it continued. It became so bad that I could no longer go to yoga,
as downward dog would most certainly cause a sprint to the restroom. Work felt
impossible. Running around as an Emergency Nurse with nausea and vomiting was
no joke. I had to leave work sick, or call in, frequently. Feeling that ill all the time made my
job very difficult. I used up almost all of my vacation hours that I had hoped
to utilize for my maternity leave. This was no bueno. Never the less, I
continued to push myself to go to work when I was able to.
|m'elise photographie || 6 months|
After our 20 week ultrasound to find out the sex, we had a
wonderful gender reveal party, thrown by our family and friends at our new
house! It was such an awesome day. We had a beautiful cake; that we assumed
held the news of pink or blue, and lots of family and friends to support us. As
we circled our dining room table that held said cake, the anticipation of
knowing the color of the cake’s innards was too much to handle! I dove into the
cake and cut out a fat piece…umm…there was pink and blue frosting in the center? Eric and I looked around at our family
perplexed when we heard a surprise knock on the front door. Eric walked over to
see who it was, only to find a pretty little basket wrapped in purple tissue
paper. He brought it over to me at the table and set it next to our ambiguous
cake. I quickly tore the purple tissue paper from the basket, and there, all
perky and happy, were daisies. Yellow and blue daisies with a card that had the
ultrasound of our sons “bits.” I immediately began crying, the pink party favor
that I had clipped to my shirt was no longer relevant. I was carrying a
precious little boy. My heart was so full, that moment seemed to verify that
indeed, this pregnancy was real! We drifted on cloud nine for the next few
weeks (don’t worry… I was still
vomiting) bouncing names back and forth off each other.
|m'elise photographie || 6 months|
Another few weeks went by and I found myself at work, struggling
through a very busy shift. One of those dreaded nights where everyone is trying to die (yep you heard
me, nights like this do exist). A fellow pregnant nurse and I were busily
running around the Emergency Department juggling critically ill patients when I
began noticing a tightening sensation. Rhythmic tightening every 5 minutes or
so. I ignored them for the most part, as I was dealing with people's lives on a
hellish night in our department. It was 0430, we had just stabilized a patient and
I knew I had to sit down and put my feet up. These tightening sensations were
pretty consistent, but how
consistent? My pregnant coworker was on her fourth baby, so I asked her opinion
about the sensations, she told me to guzzle some water and try to take it easy.
None of this seemed to be helping, the tightening continued. After my shift had
finally ended, I proceeded to the car with continued tightening and pressure.
My mind was racing, anxiety was climbing. I was imagining this, right?
home. Exhausted, achy, nauseated and still with the tightening. I was trying to
count between each episode, they weren’t slowing down, not at all. I arrived
home to see my husband's best friend, Aaron laying on the couch. I was teary
eyed and beyond terrified, something
dining room table. Eric was up getting ready to take my mother to the airport.
I took out a piece of paper and began writing down every time a tightening
would come on. After 20 minutes of continued rounds of tightening, without any
suggestion that it was going to slow down, I decided to call the on call
physician. I explained to the doctor the sensations I was feeling. At first he
seemed to brush it all off, I explained that for the past 20 minutes I had
written down each time a tightening had started, how long it would last, and
that I was currently staring at a very full piece of paper. My voice was
shaking, this baby was nowhere near ready to come. The on call physician
decided that I better go back to the very hospital I had just left that
morning. I needed to be seen to ensure I wasn't in preterm labor.
|Lisa Hodack Photography || 8 months
The fact that he wanted me to be examined set me into perpetual
tears. At this point I was shaking with fear and hyperventilating. Not only was
I suffering from extreme exhaustion from running my prego ass off all night,
but I was now, so very worried that something awful was happening to my unborn
son. Aaron told Eric he would take my mother to the airport, so that Eric could
drive me back to the very hospital I had left an hour ago.
lay down on the very uncomfortable exam table. At this point I was so tired and
nervous it was difficult to speak. They hooked me up to the TOCO monitor,
strapping it around my swollen belly. They did a manual exam and told me that I
was not dilated at this time, they took a swab and instructed me to just lay
there and rest, that they would be monitoring me for a few hours. I tried with
all my might to slow my breathing and relax, I finally drifted off to sleep for
a couple hours. The tightening sensations continued at first, then finally
began slowing. To both of our relief after about four hours the fetal
monitoring came back relatively normal. I was not in preterm labor! WHOOP! Now
enough with the celebrating, what the hell was that? How do I make sure it doesn't happen again?
I was taken off work for that night and told to follow up with my doctor the following
|Lisa Hodack Photography || 8 months|
Monday I went to my doctor’s office and
was seen by the Physician’s Assistant. After I explained what happened, my
doctor suggested I decrease my hours at work, from 12 hours shifts to 8 hours
to see if I was capable of staying contraction free. She warned that if I was
to start having the tightening/contractions then I would need to sit down, put
my feet up and rest.
my test. A mere hour into my shift I began having contractions. I returned to
my doctor’s office for an ultrasound, to check nugget's progress later that
week. They found that he had been pushed deep down into my cervix, so far in
fact, they were incapable of accurately measuring him, estimating that my son was
only in the 18th percentile for growth. It was at that time that my doctor and
I decided that work just wasn't going to pan out for me. If I was unable to
take a shower without contracting, then working was out of the question.
Especially work that called for being on your feet for 12.5 hours on a short
staffed unit! Needless to say, I ended up taking short term disability at five
months pregnant. I was placed on "bed rest" with strict instructions
to refrain from anything that would cause me to contract.
|Lisa Hodack Photography || 8 months|
my home and laying on the couch. Some days if it was really nice out, I would
walk outside in my yard, looking at the trees and collecting flowers. My mother
snuck me out to the movies to cool off, as by this time it was summer here in
Michigan, and a scorcher at that. Oh and did I mention we have no air conditioning
in our home? 8 months pregnant, 90+ degree weather and no air conditioning was
pure torture! Thankfully, at about 36 weeks I caught a much needed break, the
vomiting slowed from every day, multiple times a day, to the occasional sickness
throughout the week.
was so very excited that I had made it to "full term," and so was I!
The next topic of conversation was a little unexpected. They wanted to start
augmenting my labor. “We can strip your membranes to get things moving along.”
I was about 1-2 cm at this time and about 70% effaced. Why in the hell would I
need my membranes stripped!? My eyes about popped out of my head in
disbelief.... you mean, after we worked this
hard to keep my baby safe
and snug in my womb, you want to "jump start" labor? As you guessed I
declined the offer and went waddling out of the office. How was it that my
previous conversations about wanting a natural hypnobirth were totally
Birthing (when I wasn't
puking my brains out) and knew without a doubt that I wanted to have the most
natural labor that was possible. Augmenting was not an option unless there was
a detrimental necessity for it. Every week that I returned to the office for my
weekly check, suggestions for augmenting and induction were thrown at me.
|Lisa Hodack Photography || 8 months|
perfectly aware of the risks and benefits of carrying a fetus past 40 weeks. I
was given all the warnings about shoulder dystocia, decreased amniotic fluid,
etc. I fought off another week of her request to manually sweep my membranes. I
was surprisingly met with great resistance, didn’t she know that babies come
when they are ready? Why was this so difficult to beat into her brain?
membranes without my permission or warning for that matter! I laid on the exam
table preparing for my exam, when I felt a twinge I had never felt before. The
exam seemed a tad more painful than my previous ones. She removed her hand and then informed me that I may see some
spotting and may have cramping, but that was all normal for having my membranes
swept. What in the actual f*ck!? I
didn’t even know how to respond to her. She augmented my labor without my
permission or any warning for that matter. She continued to push
for a scheduled induction, I continued to decline, I reminded her, again that my labor would be as natural
as my baby and I could tolerate. I left the office angry and confused. I
would not let her bully me into evicting my son before he was ready. There
would be no induction.
uncomfortable, and ready, as all
mothers are at this point to have my baby boy in my arms. I had read many tips
on helping kick start labor, and I
tried just about every one of them! I walked and walked, I bounced on my
birthing ball, we had sex and lots of it (sorry for the TMI), I did nipple
stimulation, squats, ate pineapple and spicy foods. I even took down two doses
of orange juice and castor oil. I woke up the next morning, August 17th at 8 am
with intense tightening, far worse than anything I had felt in the previous
months. It, was, time!
|Lisa Hodack Photography || 8 months|
rubbed his eyes and looked up at me, I warned him that today was the day, “…we
are going to have a baby.”