Preface: If you get annoyed with all my baby posts then you can leave. This blog is primarily for myself to have something to look back on. It’s a way for me to keep track of all the ups and downs and shifts of this pregnancy adventure.
This pregnancy has revealed so much about my body that I never knew and because of that I can actively work to improve my life, physically and otherwise, after the baby exits my womb.
Thing One: Kidney failure!
Back in the first trimester, at one of my prenatal appointments with my midwife, she was tapping on various areas of my back to check for any soreness (which can reveals any organ issues). When she tapped on my right lower rib area (mid back) I jumped in pain. I told her that area has been hurting me for a few years and I never let Jonathan rub there when he gives me massages. I told her I assumed it was because of my gallbladder because I’d been dealing with gallstones off and on for about 5 years but didn’t believe I needed to have it surgically removed if I just altered my eating habits to a gallbladder friendly diet. She expressed concern that it was actually in the kidney area and ordered a kidney ultrasound. The ultrasound found that my right kidney had shrunk and didn’t seem to be functioning. I was then referred to a kidney specialist in Albuquerque who confirmed that, indeed, my right kidney wasn’t functioning and all the work was having to be done by my left kidney. He said the reason for my kidney failure was a combination of a congenital defect I have where one of the urinary valves was back-washing urine into my kidney since I was born coupled with 4 years of heavy recreational painkiller use (an addiction that spanned from age 20-24). These two things caused the kidney to shrink so much it couldn’t be of any use. However, he said the pain I felt on my right side was not related to the kidney and was likely just a muscular strain from an accident or something. Pretty cool that something unrelated to the kidney is what alerted me to get the kidney looked at! The good news: my left kidney will function just fine as long as I keep my blood pressure low, and the non-functioning kidney will never cause me any pain and is fine to just continue on sitting there doing nothing. The bad news: my dad died of a stroke cause by high blood pressure, and my grandparents had several strokes when they were alive so clearly high BP runs in the family. But, low BP runs on my mom’s side of the family so fingers crossed I inherited that. Also, because pregnancy puts the kidney through a lot of extra work he said I can’t have another child because it could tip my one kidney over the edge. So, that answers that: this will be my one and only pregnancy, hence my slight obsession with every little pregnancy related thing I’m experiencing. I’m trying to soak it all up.
Thing Two: Gallstones!
The pain in my side continued to get worse as I neared the end of trimester two and entered into tri-three. It was throbbing and so nauseating it caused me to vomit a couple times, once while at work. I was losing sleep from it and literally crying at work because of the pain. Finally after a couple weeks of trying to “suck it up” I asked my midwife what she thought. She suggested I see a doctor, concerned it could be the liver (considering the kidney had been ruled out a couple months earlier). The doctor ordered another ultrasound of the area which revealed that my liver was perfectly healthy but my gallbladder had stones. They said likely my enlarged uterus coupled with the baby’s position was putting pressure on the gallbladder causing the constant discomfort. Sure enough I started having 3-4 hour long gallstone attacks in the afternoons at work and again in the middle of the night. So, although my gallbladder hadn’t caused me any internal pain in nearly a year, leaving me to think I had finally figured out this whole “heal the gallbladder naturally thing” after 5 years of back and forth “pain-no pain-pain-no pain”, the pregnancy seems to be too much for it. At this point I am OVER it and fully intend to just get the damn thing cut out postpartum. In the meantime, there is nothing I can do for the pain other than keep a heat pad on it…and cry. The big fat downside is my midwives say that women with any kind of organ pain find labor/delivery to be twice as painful as women with healthy organs, this is because of the contractions squeezing the infected organ during labor. So, there’s a chance my labor will cause a gallstone attack that will last the duration. If you’ve never had a gallstone attack let me explain that it feels like a heart attacks coupled with a breaking rib cage and trouble breathing. The first time I had one I actually thought it was heart attack and called 911. My attacks used to last about 30-40 mins but since they started again this pregnancy they have been lasting 3-4 hours. Imagine: a heart attack that lasts 3-4 hours. That’s why my midwives, doula, and I came up with a Plan B which includes moving to the hospital and administering an Epidural. I’m hoping I’m as baller as I think I am, though, and will be able to push through the pain at home, in the birthing tub, without meds.
Thing Three: Scoliosis!
Due to increased pelvic pain, sciatica pain, and sternum pain I finally buckled and booked an appointment with a physical therapist. The first appointment was EYE OPENING. Turns out I have bad scoliosis twisting my spine and causing all sorts of joint and bone disfigurement. To start, my right rib case sticks out further in the front than my left – something I always noticed but never thought much of. Also, my left shoulder-blade sticks out further – again, something I noticed and didn’t think much of. Furthermore, my right hip and leg is tilted a whole centimeter higher than my left causing my left leg to be 1 cm longer than the right. Oh, and my tailbone is tilted as a result. All of this proves to be the cause of a lifetime of lower back pain, sciatica pain, muscle knots in my shoulders, and subsequent bad headaches and pinched nerves. This is also why yoga has been something I’ve always struggled immensely with. While I understand the benefits and have a great desire to do yoga I can never stick with it throughout the years because of days upon days of joint pain, pinched nerves, and headaches. On the plus side, thanks to seeing my physical therapist twice a week for the past month and continuing on for the duration of my pregnancy she feels confident that she can entirely repair my distorted hip/tailbone/leg placement making them sit totally even and normal and says it should stay put forever by the time she’s done. On the downside, she can’t do anything for the upper rib-cage/shoulder-blade distortion. But as they say: “knowing is half the battle.”
What gets me through the struggles of this pregnancy are reminders that I don’t have it as bad as some of my friends. I know a lady who’s pregnancy revealed a heart disease that required open heart surgery while pregnant. Holy crap! And another friend who had awful and severe hyperemesis gravidarum for the duration of BOTH of her pregnancies! I can basically tell you – right – now – that I would not survive HG considering the amount of weight loss that accompanies it, among other things, and likely my baby wouldn’t either.
And in spite of all my aches and pains my baby is happy and healthy and growing at the perfect rate. Ultimately, that is all that matters to me.