My crazy pregnancy…

So many of my friends THINK about getting pregnant and next thing you know, they are.  My story is not quite that simple, so grab a cup of coffee, tea or beverage of your choice and enjoy my crazy pregnancy adventure!

I grew up in a small Texas town where I thought I would graduate college at 21, be married by 23 and hopefully be through with having children by the age of 26…because kids after 30, I DON’T THINK SO!!  Ahhh, the best laid plans!  So college took a few more years than intended, graduated by 23 and things just went crazy from there!

So at 26 I entered the Army…WHAT?  Army?  I thought the guy said AMWAY!  Oh well, I look good in green regardless, went through Officer Candidate School at 30 and was still single.  Oh, I’m sure some folks back home were talking about why I was single at 30 AND in the military.  Luckily for me, my mother had my brother at 19 and me at the ripe old age of 20, so she was happy that my brother and I were still single and doing our own thing.  She decided we were having a competition on who could stay single the longest.

I met my practice husband at 32, and we decided to keep that practice game short…met my lifelong husband at 35, but wanted to ensure that it wasn’t the hot accent that was swaying me since he was born in Scotland and all…so we didn’t tie the knot until I was 39.  WHAT?  I’m 39?  Ummmm…think we should have kids honey?  I know you’re 42 and I’m 39 but better late than never?

So finally the towns folk could stop talking, I mean my brother now had 2 little boys and a third on the way.  I would quickly get pregnant and be done having kids by 42.  Come on Mother Nature…really?  I’m not old, I just THOUGHT 30 was old, it was nothing, I’m still in great shape, life is good, let’s do this!

We finally ventured into the Reproductive clinic to prove that we didn’t have a problem, we were just set in our ways and apparently our egg and sperm were the same.  We could just picture them stopping inches from each other saying “No…you come here!” and both stubbornly waiting until they each died off.  We were set in our ways, why shouldn’t they be?  No explanations to be found, it just wasn’t working.

Our first round of IUI was rather humorous for us, as are most things.  My husband had a conference he had to be at that day, so he went in and donated for the cause that morning.  I then went in on my own for the procedure, no biggie.  The Nurse asked me to confirm the name on the vial of my husband’s donation.  Poor nurse, she didn’t know me so looked shocked when I stated “No…That’s not my vial.”  After a moment of stunned silence, “Mine is supposed to say Brad Pitt, but my husband is hot too, so yes, that’s mine.”  Sorry Brad, it didn’t work anyways.

On to IVF and pumping me full of hormone shots, which I gave myself in the stomach four shots daily…joy.  I feel for you diabetics now, I had no idea.  Did I mention the weight gain that my then svelte, athletic body endured as I looked like I hijacked the Krispy Kreme truck?  The big day finally arrives and they tell me that only four eggs survived and they are putting in all four.  I see the new TLC program with my name and realize I may have to be creative with children’s names, but two weeks later discover no TLC deal for me.

In between round one and two of IVF, I’ve now turned 41 and my chances have dropped dramatically that this will work.  But, um, er, last week was better?  Crap…here comes the Krispy Kreme truck again.  Its Memorial Day 2009 and I’m thinking it must be meant to be, 15yrs later I’m still wearing green and a retired Army doc is performing the IVF.  They want to put in the FIVE surviving eggs.  NO WAY, John and Kate don’t look happy and I don’t want to go there, that’s WAY too many eggs, four is plenty I say.  Looking back I think the hormones were affecting my thought process.

Well, it worked!  I’m 41 and pregnant with my first!  Being classified as “Advanced Maternal Age” has its advantages (although I’d like to sue whoever coined that term) and I had LOTS of ultrasounds and my baby was doing great, although until the day he was born (I promise…I’ll get there eventually) I was terrified of losing him. 

Week 16 we are having an ultrasound with Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) and the doc tells us that his cerebellum is smaller than normal, but it might not be an issue.  She is concerned that his head is large and his limbs are short (pssst Doc…have you looked at me?)  She decides that she is pretty certain this baby will have Down ’s syndrome.  Also, the ventricles in his brain are larger than normal and he is diagnosed with something called Ventriculomegaly, we’ll have to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t turn into Hydrocephalus.  At this point my vocabulary is definitely expanding on the medical terminology.

Week 18 back at MFM, same Doc (henceforth known as Dr. Doom & Gloom) again is POSITIVE that my baby is going to have Down’s, stresses us out so we have an amnio right then and there because his ventricles are also getting bigger.  The next 48 hours are at the time, the longest of my life.  Guess what, he’s going to be like his mom, big head, short limbs, no Down’s.  Her response “I would have bet money that this baby was going to have Down’s.”  Wow, she skipped the week of medical school in bedside manner.

Now we are concerned with the enlarged ventricles and sent to Seattle Children’s to have a fetal MRI and discuss with Dr. Dan Doherty (henceforth known as the Brain God) a genetic neurologist what he thinks will happen.  Dr. Doom & Gloom calls us after the MRI (before Brain God’s consult) and tells us that it looks bad, he probably won’t live past two months and we should abort.  Yep, she left that on a VOICEMAIL, (confirmed my bedside manner notion).  I called the clinic back, requested the manager and told them I wanted a new doc IMMEDIATELY and that Dr. Doom & Gloom is to never step foot in a room with me in it again.

On to meeting with Brain God…looks like our little precious son is going to have Hydrocephalus and more than likely need a brain shunt.  Also informed me that soccer is probably not going to be his sport of choice and I may have to pick up tennis.  I hate tennis.

This is where the “I HATE THE INTERNET” portion of my pregnancy comes into play because you’re learning all of these horrible things, then of course, you Google/Bing, whatever it, and you only find the worst scenarios possible and my perfect image of a baby is for a brief second shattered…I realize it could be worse, I am pregnant, he’s our child and we’ll love him no matter what.  STOPPED reading all the online materials I could find and went back to being the glowing pregnant woman, remember, the one hit by the Krispy Kreme truck.

The military sends me on a work trip to DC where in my perfect pregnancy; contract the swine flu on the plane.  I joke…what could be next?  Wish I hadn’t said that… 3 weeks later I’m finally at 28 weeks and it’s time for my gestational diabetes test, drink the sugar water and Spencer is quiet and still…he may have to play tennis on the outside, but he was still my soccer star on the inside…nothing.  Love my OBGYN, she listens to my worries and gets me hooked up to monitors, takes blood, runs a bunch of tests, sends me home on bed rest for the rest of the day.

Did I mention this is the week of Thanksgiving 2009?  Supposed to be getting ready for the holiday, but alas, My OBGYN calls me the next morning, go check into the hospital, I have Pre-Eclampsia.  I get settled in, they said hopefully it will just be for a few days and then I’ll be home for Black Friday!  Go ahead; rain on my parade…blood pressure is still crazy so I’m in for the long haul they tell me.

Have you ever had hospital food on Thanksgiving?  What in the heck were they thinking when they put ORANGE gravy on my turkey?  I don’t think so!!  Sent my husband to some friends to get me some REAL food, Spencer’s short little limbs needed some real gravy!  Then sent my husband home for the night to get some sleep, feed the dogs and I awaited the arrival of a friend who was a nurse on duty that night.

I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and didn’t want to seem like a wimp to the nurses, so was completely being self sufficient, taking my IV equipment on my own to the bathroom, re-hooking up all my wires, I was good to go.  But when my friend Kelley arrived, I had to tell her that I was feeling a little off…like someone was shooting a nail gun down my right side.  Had I told my nurse on duty?  Nah, didn’t want to bother her, am sure there were more pressing issues in Antepartum that night!

She failed to agree with me and called in my nurse.  All hell broke loose at that point, and luckily Kelley handed me my phone and had me call Andre and tell him to get back to the hospital.  It seems my body was shutting down to die and the only way to save my life was to deliver my son.  Ok…so maybe I was a pressing issue. The Doc said if I had been an hour from the hospital we both would have died…but we didn’t!  Spencer arrived the day I turned 29 weeks, and I’m one of the lucky ones, they actually let me see him and give him a kiss before the rushed him off.  It was the morning of Black Friday, so I asked my OBGYN if she would do some lipo for free for the delivery cost…no such luck. 

We spent the next 64 days in the NICU.  This is my only pregnancy, so for me it had seemed fine…I guess it was somewhat of a crazy pregnancy.  I’m only 42 years old…I may try again, after all, there is one little frozen embryo left.

My little soldiers first salute! 😉

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16 Comments + Add Comment

  • Julie, YOU are an amazing woman!

    • It’s because I surround myself by amazing friends! <3

  • Amazing Story!

    • Thank you Kristina…so glad I met you along this path, so sad that we both ended up having preemies, but at the same time, was wonderful to have you to vent with. Love you and Princess Jaylie! <3

  • Great story! Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow – I loved reading that. All of us had it so different, but ended up having so much in common. After reading that, I realized that our stories were basically just filp-flopped with the stories before and after delivery. Though we both almost died – that’s the common “flipping” point, I think (if that makes any sense at all.) Thank you for blogging your story Julie! 🙂

    • Joanna, I couldn’t have made it through the NICU without you…so happy the day we met in the hallway. Was even happier when Natalie went home and we snuck wine in…lol. 😉 Love you guys! <3

  • Thank you for sharing your story! My daughter was born at 27 weeks and spent 3 months in the NICU. That was 6 years ago!!

  • Thanks for sharing your story, Julie. I have to say, though, that you kind of left us hanging. Did Spencer have hydrocephalus? Did he need a shunt? Did he simply have a big head? Or did he have some rare brain malformation, like rhombencephalosynapsis?

    I’m waiting for part II!

    • LOL Kristin! And you even spelled it right! Part II coming to a blog near you SOON! 😉

  • Thanks for sharing your story. It’s truly amazing, the miracles that happen with our preemie babies! You have such a great perspective about it all.


  • Great Story, you are very strong to have gone through all you did. I too had pre-e with my son and had to have an emergency c-section at 32weeks.

  • Wow ! I was 39, my first pregnancy and I delivered at 26 weeks. She weighed in at a whole pound and 12 ounces. She spent a little over 4 months in the NICU in two different states, she is tracheostomy dependent for the time being and it doesn’t stop her.. I marvel at the will of these little babies.. They teach us that anything is possible and DON’T EVER give up on them.. I will be turning 43 this year and two weeks after that she will be turning 4.. My how time flies when you are having fun !!! Enjoy that little boy and any other children you may decide to have..

  • Wow Julie…. Amazing story!! Thanks for sharing. I’ve known bits and pieces but there was still a lot more. Glad you and Spencer are okay; this world needs more people like you!! Thx for all you do for the preemie world 🙂

  • Julie, that’s an amazing story. While I didn’t have official advanced maternal age (I was 34) I had the high risk of twins. We had ultrasounds every two weeks. I felt like my little ones were the most watched kids on the inside EVER.

    If you haven’t read it, I’d recommend the book Half Baked, about pre-term labor and life in the NICU.

  • My goodness what we go through to have our little bundles of joy. I too had a Dr. Doom who told me at 17 weeks when my water broke that my son was going to die as I was watching his heartbeat on the ultrasound monitor. I will have you know Derek is now nearly 5 months old. Yes he had a rough start, he was born at 28 weeks and 6 days. He only weighed 1 lb 11 oz due to IUGR (talk about expanding vocabulary) Congratulations on your son and I hope you are enjoying him as much as I am enjoying mine 🙂

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