I didn’t know I was pregnant. A TLC show, or my life?
It’s true. I didn’t know I was pregnant.
I thought that it only happened on a highly produced and tacky TV show (no judgment, though!) not a 28 year old who has their life relatively together. But yet, there I was, lying on a bed in the emergency room with doctors standing over me telling me that I was in fact pregnant. Oh, and by the way, in labor and going have a baby that same day.
Let me start at the beginning….
A little backstory: My fiancé, Ruben, and I weren’t going to have kids. It just wasn’t in the plan we had for ourselves. We love sleeping in on the weekends when we can, going out whenever we wanted (“going out” really translates to binge watching House of Cards on Netflix) and generally just living our lives the way we wanted to without toting a toddler, stroller and 18 bags of baby stuff around. I had already sentenced my parents to life of having animals as grandkids. Our cat, Zissou, is an upstanding grandkitty, by the way. Even when I was younger, I didn’t want kids. I didn’t play with dolls much as a child, and the only “nurturing” instincts I had were always directed to my animals. Going into adulthood and my early twenties, friends were running off and getting married and having kids. Though they’re cute, I wasn’t drawn to babies in the same way most of my friends were. Kids also didn’t really seem to like me. Maybe they sensed my disinterest in having any of my own? Babies always seem to smile at Ruben when we are out together. They giggle and shyly bury their heads into their parent’s shoulders whenever he smiles and says hello to them. They turn to me and the smile fades. Ruben got smiles. I got baby judgment.
Nine Months of Not Having a Clue: Based on how far along I was, I probably got pregnant at the beginning of June 2016. Just a few weeks later I went to Atlanta for work. I was working a week of 14-16 hour days and only sleeping a few hours a night due to the time change. I also have a hard time getting to bed on time when I travel. It’s a terrible and exhausting habit. I came back from the trip tired, but not nothing out of the ordinary for working the hours I did in Atlanta.
About six months along (again, unknowingly) I opened up a new location for work. It was about two weeks of 12-16 hour days as well as two hours commuting back and forth since the location was relatively local. Again, I was just tired, but chalked it up to the long days. I had also taken on the work load of three other people due to their departures at my company. I would leave the house at 6am, work from 7am-4pm, get home around 6pm and then work another hour or two from home just to keep on top of my growing responsibly. Needless to say, my mind was preoccupied.
Around the 8 month mark, I opened another location in Austin. It was the same opening day routine consisting of two weeks’ worth of 14-16 hour days. This one felt different, though. I was SO tired after only a few days. My feet hurt more than usual and I was just overall exhausted. To be fair, my company had just undergone a major change leadership and the location was having construction issues. It was a tense opening.
Coming into my 9th month, I went to Paris! Yep. That’s right. I took an eleven hour flight, across the Atlantic nearly nine months pregnant. I don’t recommend it. I mean, I was fine…remember, I had no idea I was even pregnant. I was tired during the trip. Ruben and I went with five of our closest and dearest friends and we had an action packed day, every day we were there. Everyone was tired at the end of each day. One of our friends, Mari, was around 16 weeks pregnant, and was sad that she couldn’t partake in the same indulgences that everyone else was. I drank wine (out of a baby bottle, ironically, at a fun fondue place), ate foie gras and steak tartare, hiked to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (284 steps up a spiral staircase) and definitely rode Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris.
Again, all things highly frowned upon when you’re pregnant. Not to mention, flying any sort of distance in your third trimester is absolutely a no-no.
I don’t mention all this to brag about my thorough and cautioned pre-baby planning (I kid…) but more so to highlight how I was completely oblivious to the fact that there was a little munchkin growing inside of me. Aside from being tired, which I attributed to all the fun stuff I was doing in the paragraphs above, I never had one symptom. I never had morning sickness, heartburn, back aches or any of the other not-so-fun stuff that comes along with pregnancy. Even stranger, I didn’t move up a size in my clothes. I wore the same jeans throughout the entire pregnancy that I had purchased more than a year before. They buttoned the entire time too. I didn’t show at all. I worked the entire time, literally until the day before I went into labor. I would’ve hoped if I was obviously nine months pregnant SOMEONE would have told me! Oh, I might as well mention, I had my period the entire time. That would’ve been a pretty obvious sign. I think I was so adamant about not having kids that my body was basically in denial. That’s the only thing I can think of.
Causal Labor and Delivery: Fast forward to March. I woke up around 1am on the second day of March because I got sick. I thought the Hawaiian BBQ I had the night before just wasn’t agreeing with me. I couldn’t fall back asleep though. I was having the worst stomach cramps and back pain. Ruben got up for work around 430 and I decided I would stay home from work. Ruben made me some toast to eat, and I only took a few nibbles of it. The pain was getting worse as the day went on. By 10am I no longer could lie down, I was curled up in a ball from the pain that was starting at my lower back and moving around my side. I ran a bath that was a hot as I could stand and finally felt some ease in the pain. As soon as I got out, the pain came back. I text Ruben and asked him to hurry up at work because I was confident that my appendix had burst and I was going to die at any moment. That was the only explanation for this crazy pain. Right? As I was waiting for him to get home, I took another bath and started googling symptoms. Bad idea. Normally when you start researching symptoms, WebMd quickly convinces you that you’re a sneeze away from your grave. Mine was worse. I typed in, “lower back pain that moves to the front,” and “terrible stomach cramps” and Google’s auto fill kept adding fun things to them like, “late pregnancy” and “third trimester.” Uh oh. That can’t be right. Ruben finally got home and found me crying in the bath because I was “pretty sure I might be pregnant but Google thinks I’m far along and I can’t be far along and, and, and (insert unintelligible sobbing here).” I tried convincing Ruben I could drive, as I dragged my body out of the bath and across the floor trying to put on sweat pants between the sharp pains that were getting worse by the second. Yeah, he wasn’t convinced.
We whisked away to the emergency room and I was quickly admitted. A urine test revealed that I was indeed pregnant, but Ruben and I didn’t have much time to process. A doctor was soon at my side with an ultrasound machine trying to find out why I was in so much pain. He squinted at the screen for what felt like an eternity and then squinted at my stomach. Then back at the screen. Then back at my stomach. His brow furrowed and I asked if there was something wrong. He squinted at my stomach one last time before asking when my last period was. “The beginning of February? The fifth I want to say,” I grunted in between painful spasms. This prompted more squinting at the screen. He finally looked up and said that I was definitely far along, somewhere in the 38 week zone and that I was in labor and going to have a baby. Today.
The next few hours are kind of a blur. I was taken away on a bed to the L&D ward. Well intentioned, but judgmental, nurses tried to get more ultrasounds to check on the babies health since I had zero pre-natal care, unless you can count the occasional multi-vitamin as pre-natal care. The pain was so bad that I couldn’t lie down properly and this was frustrating the nurses. I kept apologizing profusely in between sobs of pain. It was bad. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but this was the worst pain I had ever felt. Another nurse had problems finding a vein, and after much digging around inside my hand, I was finally hooked up to some lovely drug that dulled the pain enough for me to form clear sentences. By this time, my parents and brother were on their way. The important parties were notified (work, cause I’m definitely not coming in tomorrow, and my best friend Alex). I was also charged to a wonderful, sweet angel of a L&D nurse, Bethany. Honestly, she was the best. Bethany’s bosses, if you’re reading this, get that woman a raise!
I’ll spare you the long, contraction filled details, but after an epidural, three hours of pushing and some swearing to the high heavens, the baby did not want to come out and had made her home in the birth canal. By this time the epidural had worn off and I could feel everything. EVERY. THING. Not fun. The nice doctor who came to deliver decided that he would try forceps to get the baby out and if they did not have any success, it would have to be a C-Section. Thankfully, after the biggest push in the world and some strategic forceps work by the doctor, the baby made its debut to the world!
Elizabeth Grace: It was a girl! A beautiful, 6.9lb, 20 inch girl. The amazing pediatric doctor (HIGHLY recommend his practice if you are in the San Gabriel Valley area) checked her over and declared her perfectly healthy. As someone who had zero pre-natal care, this was SUCH a relief! Ruben and I decided on the name Elizabeth Grace. Elizabeth came from my grandma on my dad’s side, and it is also my middle name. Grace just kind of rolled off my tongue when I decided on Elizabeth. Grace also sort of fits because she’s a pretty miraculous baby, given the circumstances.
So, here we are, parents of the cutest, healthiest four month old. Though we had zero planning or awareness, I’d like to think we slipped into parenthood pretty gracefully. We’re taking things in stride and a day at a time, but, we lucked out. Elizabeth is a super happy baby. She’s hardly fussy and has slept through the night since she was about a month old (#blessed). She’s is also super healthy. Like, ridiculously healthy. I’m convinced she’s an X-Men or something.
Though I never imagined I would be a parent, especially under the circumstances that I became one in, I am so thankful for this little nugget. She has taught me so much in such a short time, and I love her more and more each day.
If you made it to the end of my saga, thank you. It’s a fun story to tell, and will definitely be something to pass on to Elizabeth when she gets older.