A few weeks back my blogging pal CJ (Hi CJ!) posted about her youngest daughter’s birth, describing the trials and tribulations of her pregnancy. Not for the faint of heart but well worth reading. Ultimately there was a happy ending!
CJ’s post reminded me of my youngest daughter’s arrival on the planet and inspired me to share. So blame CJ if you don’t like this post. Kidding! I take full responsibility (she says with her fingers crossed behind her back).
A long time ago (oh alright, 1984 wasn’t all that long ago), in a galaxy far, far away…um…in…uh…California…I discovered I was with child. Since this was my third pregnancy this shouldn’t have been a big deal, right? Ha! Stay tuned.
By 1983, my first husband and I had three daughters: his daughter from his first marriage and the two we’d had together. Because we struggled financially even with both of us working, we decided it would be wise to stop at three. So in early December of that year I had a laparoscopic procedure known as a tubal ligation. Briefly, the surgeon seals the fallopian tubes to keep the eggs from being fertilized. If you want more information, you’ll find a LOT more at the link.
The procedure itself wasn’t a big deal except for the gas and the general anesthesia. (If you were here when I was preparing for my knee surgery you know GA and I don’t get along!) As for the gas – I do not recommend it. Since they go in via tiny incisions they have to pump in gas to elevate the organs which hide the tubes. Unfortunately, the gas doesn’t dissipate quickly. It lingers. Painfully.
There were multiple pre-surgery meetings with the doctor to discuss what we were doing. They wanted me to be absolutely certain I had made the right decision. One of the questions I was asked was something along the lines of, “What would you do if you lost one of your children?” I wanted to channel Homer Simpson: “Doh!” So Homer wasn’t around in 1983. What’s your point? I’m sure I was going to want to run right out and get pregnant to replace that child! Puhleeze. But I guess they had to be extremely careful in covering their hindquarters. The surgery is considered permanent after all; or it was in 1983 anyway. Googling “reversing a tubal ligation” these days results in 30,000-ish hits!
So…back to the surgery. When I checked in and they had called me back, they did a pregnancy test. General anesthesia can damage a baby or abort the pregnancy. With a negative result in hand, we proceeded. Like I said earlier, the surgery itself was a piece of cake; heck I slept through the whole thing (see what I did there ;)). GA kicked my ass in recovery though. I was so sick I laid there for hours unable to move without getting the dry heaves. The recovery room filled and emptied several times before I was able to get up and go home.
After recovering for a few days, I was back to work and life went on. I ended up really sick in January; some kind of bug that required antibiotics and all kinds of cold medicine. Time passed. The only real problem was that it seemed like everywhere I looked there were pregnant women. And I lost my mind. Don’t want to forget that part.
One of the things the doctor gave me to read while I was preparing for the surgery mentioned that a percentage of women regretted their decision afterward. There were documented cases of unhappy women who believed they were pregnant, even to the point they gained weight and claimed to feel baby movement.
When I began to feel the butterfly tickles I knew I was going crazy. And hell, I’m the first one to stick my head in the sand so I ignored it. But it didn’t stop. I hadn’t thought I regretted my decision; it had been so freeing to take control that way. So why was my imagination going wild?
Then it occurred to me that my Aunt Flo had not visited recently. Mentally, I counted back trying to remember when I’d last had a visit. And I pulled out the calendar because that just couldn’t be right! When Auntie didn’t visit in December, I attributed it to the trauma of the surgery and recovery, not unusual. In January I was so ill I just assumed the illness and medication were messing with my cycle. Ditto for February, you know, the lingering after effects of the illness and medication – any excuse to obscure the obvious. By March I was so enjoying not having Auntie visit, I just plain forgot. No really! What woman actually enjoys that time of the month? I didn’t miss it!
With my brain completely scrambled, I finally told my husband what was going on and I had him try to feel what I was feeling. With his hand pressed to my belly, he looked up at me and grinned as the butterfly tickled again. I was so relieved! I wasn’t going nuts! To be certain, I used a home pregnancy test with positive results.
We presumed the tubal ligation had been unsuccessful. How else could I be pregnant? But at our first OB appointment when we tried to figure out how far along I was, it seemed that based on the baby’s size I was somewhere between five and six months. Counting back that put conception right around the time of the surgery. But they’d done a pregnancy test then! Turns out, in the very early stages of a pregnancy, false negatives are common. Go figure. (I’d heard that but who in their right mind thinks they’re going to be a statistic?)
So there I am, almost six months pregnant having had no prenatal care to that point. Not to mention that I’d been on heavy meds in the first trimester. The doctor didn’t say it outright but it was implied that the baby could have problems. That is, if I didn’t miscarry down the line. At first I was terrified and felt so guilty. I should have known! How can a mother not know she’s pregnant?
Eventually, knowing the fear and worry wouldn’t change whatever was going to happen, I made peace with myself, and I trusted God to care for my unborn child. Twenty-nine years ago today I delivered my beautiful daughter K, who had all her toes and fingers, and was as healthy as could be. Hallelujah!
Happy Birthday my lovely! You totally rock!