My pregnancy was something feared by my family before it ever came into fruition. For those that don’t know, I have a chronic disease. I’ve battled with it since 3 months old. So pregnancy was automatically high risk. (One in three Sicklers can die during childbirth.)
Knowing the stigma around being pregnant while having Sickle Cell, I chose to only tell my man, two good friends and my doctors until I was almost 5 months and couldn’t hide it any longer. I’m a joker so when people asked prematurely, I would answer with “Sure. Why not” or “Yup!” With a big grin. So they didn’t know what to believe.
I didn’t share because it was my journey and I didn’t want people to project their fears or experiences unto me. I also didn’t care for people’s speculations and inquiries into my relationship status. As if whether I’m married, single or happily in a relationship had anything to do with ensuring a healthy pregnancy!
Pregnancy details… Because my illness is a blood disorder, a hematologist (blood specialist) consulted on my case. He immediately said I should terminate the pregnancy because there was a 50% chance “the fetus” would inherit my chronic illness. I tried not to take offense, as he was basically saying I should have been aborted. On top of that, my man agreed with the doctor and this took a toll on our relationship. My stance was that there was also a 50% chance the baby would not have Sickle Cell as well.
Secretly, I felt I had racked up enough good will points with the Source of Power, by enduring all my obstacles/tests with grace, that I would be blessed. I also contemplated on whether my mother made the right choice in not terminating me. And damn, my life was rough, but it was also enjoyable. I also knew that if the baby had Sickle Cell, she’ll have the best mother to help her through. I chose not to do the test while pregnant to see if she had Sickle Cell because I was going to keep her regardless of the results. So why do a risky procedure? (The doctor was pushing me to get it done because he still held firm I should terminate, even at 5 months!)
Along with daily prenatal vitamins, I took an extra folic acid pill. I received a blood transfusion (two units of blood) each month. I had to be admitted in the hospital three times throughout my pregnancy for painful episodes from the Sickle Cell. The pregnancy was taking a toll on my body. Baby girl went unaffected and that was all that mattered to me. I was concerned she would be addicted to morphine (my pain medication), but (after obsessive research and being told by the doctor multiple times) she would barely even encounter it.
I carried all the weight in my belly area. Which was obvious from the “You must be having twins!” and “You must be dropping any day.” comments. “Nope!” and “Nope, 3 more months” I’d reply as I walked away. I did not have any cravings, but my hormones were wilder than a recently uncaged animal.
Labor details… I felt no way about being specific about how I wanted to bring my baby into the world. I did not want to be induced. I must have shared my birth plan with him every visit to ensure he agreed. I wanted to aim for a vaginal birth, delayed clamping, immediate skin to skin uninterrupted contact and I wanted to keep my placenta. Doctor agreed to my request, but his request was that if things deviated from a “normal vaginal delivery” then we’d go straight to a cesarean to avoid further complications or loss of life.
After a weird night of uncomfortable broken sleep, I awoke in the morning with pain in my lower belly. It made it difficult to walk to the bathroom, but then it would disappear. I have a high pain tolerance and a calm spirit so I wasn’t stressing it. Plus, I prayed and begged for a Gemini baby and we were still in Taurus season. So there was no way the baby was coming.
I had my weekly stress test at the hospital (as most high risk pregnancies do) scheduled for that morning so I figured I’d just let them know when I got there. Experience told me I should prepare to stay at the hospital until I gave birth because they wouldn’t release me even though the pain wasn’t that bad.
After the third time telling them I was having pain (*smh*), they told me I was having contractions. Baby’s numbers were a little odd. So they called my doctor in. They did some things to try and slow down the contractions, but they kept persisting. Early labor he said. Only half a centimeter dilated.
He gave me the option of letting things play out. Advising that we still have a long way to go or opting to get a cesarean now. My response was “I experienced the contractions. I’m over this already. I’ll get the cesarean now. Doesn’t make sense ‘letting things play out’ if I’m going to have to get a cesarean anyway.”
Little did I know my cesarean would be 40 minutes from the time I agreed to it. I immediately started to panic a bit because no one knew I was in labor yet. So I sent multiple messages out. Hoping that someone would make it in time to be there with me. The nurse tried to comfort me saying they will be my family for the day. While that’s sweet, I just couldn’t shake how wack I felt about going through this solo. With only minutes to spare, my mother made it just as they were laying me down after giving me the epidural. They knew I really wanted her there. So, they didn’t lock up shop just yet, but they were not about to wait for her. I’m so thankful she made it.
I did not get the immediate skin to skin contact with baby, my placenta saved or delayed clamping as I had asked, but I totally did not care because I was healthy and she was healthy. When she was born, she immediately opened her eyes and was alert the whole time while getting her cleaning. I couldn’t believe it. She was super white and still hasn’t darkened up much. She gets that from my dad. She’s absolutely perfect. She weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces. She had a full head of thick jet black straight hair. Her dad said she must be Jet Li’s baby.
She never lost weight while in the hospital only gained. She did have jaundice of her skin but that went away the first week. Her blood test came back a week later to reveal whether she had Sickle Cell Disease or not (she had a 50% chance). The blood work revealed that she ………….. did NOT have Sickle Cell! I am so overjoyed for her and thankful that my prayers were heard. Time to take my butt back to church as one would say.
It’s great to have a vision for what we want, but sometimes it’s better to be thankful you achieve the desired outcome even if you have to take a different path. As long as we keep a positive mindset and take positive actions, we are sure to be rewarded.
Satya (meaning Truth) at 3 Months
Invest in yourself and Make it Happen!