Mavens of Motherhood columnist, Rita Donohue-Simmons, introduces herself and gets personal. Not all journeys into parenthood are the same. Rita shares her inspirational story with us.
By Rita Donohue-Simmons
I always knew I wanted to be a mother. Even when I was little I would volunteer to be the mom when my friends and I would play games. I wanted to mother everything.
I was diagnosed with P.C.O.S. (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome for those who don’t know) at 14. I knew all too well all that came along with that diagnosis when my husband and I started trying to get pregnant on our honeymoon. For those of you unfamiliar with the syndrome, it is a hormonal disorder associated with a collection of cysts in the ovaries, obesity, excess hair growth, acne, and infrequent or prolonged menstrual cycles.
We sought the help of my OB GYN who gave me my first prescription for Clomid, and when that didn’t work she had her nurse call me and refer me to an RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt by the way all that went down, but it was truly the best thing that could’ve ever happened to us. The first RE we saw didn’t really seem to understand what it meant to be fat and how one ends up that way. She told me to go on Nutrisystem and workout every day and hopefully something would happen. I was a little insulted by her too so I took all the anger I was feeling at both of them and the fact that I couldn’t get pregnant and I designed my own diet and walking routine.
Ten months had gone by and I had lost 40 pounds. I felt ready to face the old RE and any criticisms that might come along with the visit but was pleasantly surprised to meet a new RE who was warm, compassionate, and had a good understanding of what I was going through. She prescribed me Metformin (1,000 mg. twice a day) and while my stomach was not so happy with it my ovaries certainly were. I began having regular periods on my own which meant I was finally ovulating. It was such a strange concept for me that here I was in my 30s and this was the first time I was able to relate to so many women who regularly had their periods. I had always taken progesterone to bring mine on or I was on birth control so I knew when to expect it. I felt a sense of pride and joy that is very hard to describe but I felt as though I had found a part of myself that I’d been searching for for so long and everything was finally starting to fall into place.
Two and a half years had passed since we started trying on the morning we went in to discuss an actual medicated cycle. I was very nervous because the Clomid side-effect made me feel angry and crazed. I worried I would be getting a higher dosage but instead I was prescribed Femara along with an Ovidrel shot. The only real side effects I got from Femara was my skin broke out. I was beyond relieved. My husband and I were able to have timed intercourse along with the medications. This was finally the cycle that worked for us! I was excited and terrified all at the same time, but the moment I saw that little heartbeat flicker on the screen I was instantly in love and elated.
First trimester was hard. I had low beta numbers at first so there was a lot of talk about chemical pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriage. Once we were sure my little one was sticking around and OK, I started bleeding. That scared the crap out me. Then heartburn and morning sickness started. All in all, between the morning sickness and the way HCG affected my body I lost about 20 pounds in my first trimester. My OBs were freaking out a little and I was put on a higher fat diet which seemed to help the morning sickness and stabilize the weight loss.
Second trimester was glorious. My blood pressure was at an all time low (I had high blood pressure before I got pregnant), I put on about 5 pounds, I started to feeling baby moving, all in all life was blissful!
Third trimester brought all kinds of craziness. Right off the bat (because I was considered high risk) I began having weekly ultrasounds. This was great when I got techs who knew us and knew what was going on. Several times, however, I had techs who would tell me terrifying things like I “didn’t have enough amniotic fluid” and I needed to go to Labor and Delivery immediately or they “couldn’t see if the baby was breathing anymore.” My blood pressure shot way up and I was put on bed rest. I was also diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. I was hospitalized around 35 weeks for high blood pressure and it all got to be too much, so after a lot of deliberation I was induced at 37 ½ weeks.
Labor was intense. I was sent to the hospital immediately after my doctor’s visit. If I had been thinking straight I would’ve gotten something to eat before I went in, but we were nervous and excited so we went over right away. It was just before 11 am when we checked in. I was given Cytotec and a Pitocin drip to get my labor started around 2 in the afternoon. I was hungry but my labor was progressing well and everyone thought if labor continued to progress our sweet little girl would arrive late evening/early morning. Hard labor started to set in around 11pm, shortly after my OB broke my water, and I was dialated to 7 cm. I’d like to say everything progressed but it didn’t. I was stuck. So finally after 23 ½ hours of labor I was offered an emergency c-section. I cried. It was not how I viewed this birth experience playing out, but in the end it was what saved me and my baby. I don’t remember all the details of getting to the OR or getting my spinal put in, but I remember clear as day, hearing the OBs call out all the details after Anabelle had been pulled out (and waiting for what seemed like an eternity to hear her cry).
And then there she was. This perfect little human all bundled up brought over to me by my smiling husband. Some kind soul, I’m told the anesthesiologist, snapped some precious pictures of when my husband brought her over to me. Then she was whisked away to the nursery and I passed out while they sewed me back up. Although I was in immense pain I was the happiest and most fulfilled I’d ever been in my life. I was finally living my dream.