On Being a Pregnant Zebra

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote, and I hope I find everyone well!

For those of you who don’t know by now… My eggo is preggo! Yep! I’m going to be a mommy and am due December 9th!

I just thought I would write a bit about what it’s like to be pregnant with two chronic conditions. Mostly, this is meant to be somewhat therapeutic for me, because I’ve been terribly frustrated lately.

Wanna talk about being tired? Let’s go there! 😉 So… I have two chronic conditions… One makes my blood pressure consistently very low, and therefore, wipes me out. The second causes enough pain during the day, that small actions are quite laborious and I am exhausted afterward. Combine the two and we have… FATIGUE! Yay… not.

Now… Add pregnancy, which already comes with its own variety of fatigue – really, it’s a category all in its own. Now, add a second job. No… Add a second job, which is a night job that involves driving slowly all night long.

This means two things: One, it’s mosquito season! Two, my hip is in for it!

Now… For those of you who may not remember, EDS is a connective tissue disorder. Meaning that the muscles and ligaments holding my bones and joints in place would lose just about any and every beauty contest out there. They just don’t do the job. So, this alone presents its own challenges. For example, my hips are probably no stronger than that of a 93 year old, and even starting at 8 weeks of pregnancy, my most troublesome hip (the right one) was yelling at me to stop that! Because a woman’s hips begin to widen and all of her muscles and joints begin to loosen during pregnancy, this puts my body in a precarious, and slightly fragile state. Needless to say, it’s incredibly frustrating. If I bend over too many times in a day, I end up with a very stylish limp. If I even walk too much in one day or too quickly, I can feel the bones shifting. Don’t even ask me to jog… I feel those bones beginning to pop and grind on their way to a place that they really have no business being!

This wonderful hip dysfunction has opened the door to all kinds of leg pain from my foot, all the way up into my hip bones and lower back. This has made sleeping difficult, as laying on my sides is uncomfortable, yet I’m not supposed to lay on my back, and tummy sleeping isn’t an option! Introduce: the body pillow. I’ll give the thing the credit that it’s due… It does help. It’s just NOT enough. Next stop: pregnancy pillow, here I come!

This has also made it pretty difficult to do my night job sometimes. I don’t know if you have ever really paid attention or thought much about it, but when driving, you use the muscles all the way up into your lower back when you hit the gas and then switch to the brake! I never really understood this until this summer. I mean… Sure, it makes sense, but wow! What work out, when those bones are also constantly on the move! To help ease the discomfort, I bring along a full sized pillow to put behind my back and sometimes, to sit on, but only on the right. This really, really helps, since I’ve begun to notice how crooked I feel when I’m driving.

Now, my hips do not suffer alone. Remember, all of the muscles and joints begin to loosen. This means that the shoulder I injured a while back, has reared it’s ugly, popping and clicking head. This is just another thing that I’m sure is not helped by driving, because it’s not always just a straight shot. No… A lot of times, I’m going into people’s driveways, or around this house, or that business. I don’t mind it, really. The work isn’t terribly difficult (aside from staying up late without any caffeine) and it’s nice to save some extra money for when the baby gets here, but it’s all definitely taking its toll. Of course, at this point, I’m not sure what to blame on pregnancy, and what to blame on 12+ hour work days.

And then we have the beautiful POTS… This guy… This guy is just a liar.

For some very lucky women, POTS symptoms will subside or disappear completely, though it’s sometimes not until later in pregnancy. So far, I’ve been such a yo-yo, that I think my string is getting completely tangled, and one day I might just unfurl, flop downwards and just spin around until someone untangles my string and reels me back up again. For the most part, my tachycardia has been worse. This definitely sucks. And with the hot weather and my body being so bad at regulating its temperature, my tachycardia has been even worse. Thank god for two AC units in the house! Also… For a work truck with AC, since I’m not home much anyway. In any case, hot weather means blood pooling. Blood pooling means swelling, and this means hands and feet that burn and sting. Also not fun, but not terrible to deal with. Fortunately, my blood volume has been wonderful and I am not anemic! Unfortunately, this means MORE blood pooling in my future. I have had a few “burning head, almost black out” episodes, but so far, I’m okay on that front. I’m crossing my fingers, toes, elbows and knees that I am one of the lucky POTS mommies! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

The only other complaint I have, as of late, is these dreadful headaches. I have been prone to intense complex migraines in normal life, and just last night, I found myself laid out in bed with a full blown migraine and my whole body just hurting. I’m sure this blessed congestion isn’t helping much, but from what I understand, this is a normal pregnancy problem! Yay, I’m normal! No? Well… I was being hopeful. So hush. 😉

Now, I’m sure some of you have wondered (or maybe I’m just full enough of myself, that I assume you have wondered) what exactly are the risks of being pregnant and giving birth with POTS and EDS?

I wondered the same thing, and after doing some of my own research, which mostly terrified me, I presented this question to my doctor (who must be an angel or a saint, I’m not sure which, yet). Basically, the scariest thing that I face, is preterm labor after 32 weeks (on average). Now, some not so lucky women face the risk of hemorrhage in delivery or rupture of an organ or two, but luckily for me, this would be unheard of with my TYPE of EDS. Other than that, I face the risk of severe hip and shoulder dislocation during delivery, as well as the possible need for a c-section or hysterectomy (which is a risk with c-section anyway). I will need medication throughout labor and delivery to help keep my blood pressure up, but that’s fine with me! I’ve heard that it can give you more energy!

After seeing a specialist and talking (in great detail) with a genetic counselor, the risk to the baby is zero. Basically, it all falls on momma! I take this as great news! The bottom line is that, (as my doctors have put it) as long as I’m okay, the baby is okay. So, although we are both going to be pretty over tired still for the next few weeks, we will both be fine! Don’t worry, though! I’m being careful! Trust me… Being a high risk pregnancy is scary enough, so every little pain, or cramp or twitch usually leads to a phone call with my nurse, Kathy. -she knows me well by now. 🙂

Speaking of my wonderful nurse… She is just as angelic as my doctor, who has set me up with a maternal fetal specialist, a genetics counselor, a geneticist, and next… A neurologist! She has also spoken with me in detail about how we can help my joints in delivery by putting me in different positions than normal, and having an OB surgeon on stand by for c-section. (though… I kinda thought they already were…???)

Anyway, that was a bit long winded, but I finally had a few minutes and I thought I would just share my unique perspective, as I find that of a “healthy” pregnant woman just as unique!

Love and Zebra hugs to all!

Advertisements