My husband Victor and I had spent the majority of our relationship and marriage actively avoiding getting pregnant. So when we both decided one night in February 2015 that we should start trying, we went for it. I found myself with a positive pregnancy test on April Fool’s Day. Yes, as others were posting fake pregnancy announcements, I was actually pregnant.
I have to admit; it was really awesome holding that pregnancy test, knowing that at that moment, I was the only person in the world who knew a secret. That lasted all of 5 minutes before I jumped on our bed, waking Victor up, waving a pee-soaked stick in his face. He was very excited. So excited that he fell back asleep 10 minutes later.
This Isn’t That Hard, Except for When It Is
From what I recall with my rose colored glasses, pregnancy was relatively easy for me. Although I did have pretty bad morning sickness (that lasted all day). So all day sickness. I also had pelvic girdle pain/groin strain that was bothersome, and then I got gestational diabetes and had to poke myself multiple times a day to test my sugars. But still, I would describe it as pretty easy and I enjoyed every minute of it. I still miss it some days.
On our last ultrasound, the technician told us that our daughter was breech, and that, coupled with gestational diabetes, sealed the deal on a scheduled birth. This worked out fantastically because my new insurance policy with a lower deductible kicked in on December 1st. So December 2nd would be the day that our daughter, who we named Lydia, would be born! Originally scheduled for noon, they ended up moving it up – and we didn’t tell anyone – because we wanted time to ourselves without the phone calls and the “When can we meet her?” obligations. It worked out so perfectly.
We went out to eat the night before at our favorite local diner and made awkward small talk trying to avoid the fact that the very next day our lives would completely change. We would become parents. Someone’s Mom. Someone’s Dad. What have we done?!
I’ve Got a Heartbeat; The Baby Is Ok
That morning we woke up. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink, but that didn’t stop my husband from having a delicious espresso coffee right in front me. Jerk. We got to the hospital and they got me hooked up to monitor Lydia’s heartbeat, and they started trying to get my IV in for fluids. The first nurse failed, and I started to get light headed. I announced “I don’t feel good, I think I might pass out.” and she replied with “I can’t find the baby’s heartbeat.” The next few minutes were a blur, at least three nurses ran in.
One was trying to find the baby’s heartbeat, one was trying to get the IV in, and I have no idea what the other one was doing. The second attempt at an IV also failed, more panic, more nurses, more searching for a heartbeat. I looked at my husband, and he was white as a ghost, he later confided in me that it was the only time he was scared the entire day.
He never considered we could go to the hospital and not come back with a baby. Luckily a 4th nurse sprinted into the room, looked at me, looked at my arm and got that fucking IV in. Five minutes later we heard “I’ve got a heartbeat; the baby is ok.”
The rest of the morning was spent getting me prepped. Other doctors popped in to explain what they would be doing, and I actively avoided listening so that my anxiety wouldn’t jump. I practiced avoidance this entire pregnancy, and I’d be damned if on the day of delivery, they were going to make me have a panic attack. Finally, the ultrasound technician came in and scanned my stomach.
You Can Cut Me Open; I Have Family Coming
It turns out Lydia flipped, like a fish. Ahh, so that explains that weird feeling at my coworker’s desk earlier in the week. They asked since I was already in labor (I was having steady contractions), did I want to deliver naturally or go ahead with the C-section. I asking what the time was and realizing my in-laws would be arriving at 5:00 p.m. If I opted for the C-Section versus laboring, I would likely end up with a C-section due to my daughter’s size. I told the nurse “You can cut me open; I have family coming soon.”
And just like that, it was game time. They got me ready, wheeled me down, and at the doors they let me say bye to Vic since he wouldn’t be allowed in until after I was prepped. Wheeling me through those doors into that cold room without my husband was the first of many terrifying moments that day. Anxiety hit me full force. I was shaking from the coldness of the room and a bit of fear, too. Once I was prepped they let Vic in.
He later confided in me that the look on my face was like that of someone who had just been shot, and they knew they were going to die. I thought I was going to die, so that seemed pretty accurate.
The Final Countdown – Here She Comes!
Victor watched the whole thing. Until the anesthesiologist told him he couldn’t and made him sit down. Then they yelled “Here she comes, stand up, Dad” and he was back up, watching them pull her out of me and into the real world crying and screaming. In 29 minutes we went from not parents to parents.
Everything was whirlwind after that – Vic and a very new Lydia left the room together, and I laid there getting sewn up and talking with the ladies about where they should eat dinner (Flying Iguana, duh).
I got back to the room, and I was shivering and itching from the anesthesia. About 3 minutes after I arrived Victor and Lydia (with a few nurses) waltzed in. Vic proclaimed “She was sucking on my finger the whole time – also I did skin to skin like you asked, I made the nurses take pictures because I know you wouldn’t believe me!” While the nurse quickly said “Oh she’s hungry, she needs to eat!” and I said “I can’t hold her, my arms feel like jello!” to which the scene of Victor holding Lydia and the nurse smashing my boob into Lydia’s mouth manifested. Ah, my first attempt at breastfeeding.
Her Blood Sugar is Really Low
Because I had gestational diabetes it was imperative that Lydia nurse and get food to raise her sugars. They would come in and prick her heel every few hours. It wasn’t working. She was becoming lethargic. The nurse pricked her foot and said “It’s 42, we don’t have to medically intervene with formula until it’s under 40.” Vic and I looked at each other and screamed at the nurse “GIVE HER FORMULA!” Pride be damned, we’d figure out how to nurse later, we needed to keep her healthy and alive and if formula was going to do it, then give her some formula!
After she had the formula her sugars started rising. That next day she was so alert.
My milk came in and I was also able to pump so from day 3 on she was back to breastmilk only. I’ll never knock someone who wants to give their child formula, it saved my daughter’s life when my body wasn’t able to provide for her.
“Why is Her Leg So Blue?”
On the evening before the day we were to be discharged my Dad came to visit and he was holding Lydia. When he passed her back her blanket fell off and her right leg was purple/blue. Vic and I didn’t notice it was my dad who said “Hey Linds, why is her leg so blue?”
At first, we thought maybe it had something to do with her birthmark. It was large. It covered her back, wrapped around her stomach, and ran down her right leg. But if that was the case, wouldn’t her back and stomach be purple too? We checked. They weren’t. The nurse assured us it was likely positional. That seemed like an okay answer.
The next morning a doctor came in and said he didn’t like the look of it – (Does this all sound familiar? If you read my post on Anxiety, it sure does. Skip along to get back to the good stuff if you’ve already read this.) – and Lydia was whisked off to the NICU in an ambulance with us following behind her.
Being a Parent, But at The NICU
We arrived at the NICU and waited. Waited for someone to tell us what was going on and why our daughter wasn’t with us at home right now. When we finally got back to see her she was so still. I asked what they gave her and the nurse said “Nothing. Sometimes they can become so stressed out that they shut down and it is like they took a sedative.”
Our 4-day old daughter had been so traumatized by all the poking and prodding that she physically shut down. I still can’t shake the feeling of guilt for not being there for her.
We would come and visit and I would pump and give them milk for her while tests were continuing to be ran. Then we’d go home, let the dogs out, eat, and come back. We did this for 2 days and then I got a call that she was getting her own room! While we were waiting in the actual NICU for her to be transferred we had an eye opening experience that a blue leg was nothing compared to what those other babies were going through.
The room beside us had bells and alarms going off and someone yelled to get the Chaplain while they pulled the privacy blinders closed. Vic and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes and then looked at Lydia.
We reached for each other’s hands, squeezed them, and in that moment knew how incredibly lucky we were. We would get through this, Lydia would be ok, and we would get to go home as a family.
One of the final tests they ran, which should have been one of the first tests they ran, was a Doppler scan. They needed to put an IV in to do so. I remember being so emotionally worn down that I told them I couldn’t stay in the room when they did it. I couldn’t bear to hear her cry anymore.
I hopped in the shower, plugged my ears and cried. I cried so hard. I was only a parent for 6 days and I wasn’t out there protecting my daughter. I was hiding in a shower and crying. I felt like a failure.
The next day we were released from the hospital and on our way home to start our lives as a family. It was the best day of our lives.
I Knew She was Special; I Didn’t Know She Was Rare
When it was all said and done, they never figured out a diagnosis at the NICU. It wasn’t until we saw a local pediatric dermatologist that Lydia received her diagnosis. CMTC or Cutis marmorata telangiectatica congenital.
She has a large vascular malformation on her back, stomach, and down her right leg, which also causes her right leg to have hemihypoplasia. Essentially, it’s underdeveloped and slightly smaller than her left.
That’s why it turned blue. It was underdeveloped, so the vascular system wasn’t working properly. Now we have our answer. It’s also a very mild case and the markings could fade as she gets older. The leg circumference discrepancy could also equal out so it’s not as noticeable.
Fewer than 100 cases of CMTC have been published worldwide, so it is considered a rare disease. That’s not to say that there are only 100. When they are mild, as in Lydia’s case, they can sometimes go undiagnosed.
We still have a few doctor’s appointments in our future and a trip to the geneticist, but overall, she’s happy, healthy, and has just started pulling up and standing. So I don’t think her leg will affect her mobility at all.
As of today, Lydia is nine months old. We could not ask for a happier, healthier, and more chill baby. She sleeps, she eats, she smiles, she laughs. I worry about her markings when she gets into school because kids are assholes, but I think everyone worries about their kids, so it’s nothing new.
All of a sudden our waiting for so long to have a child seemed worth it, Lydia is everything we’ve ever wanted and more. People ask us all the time if we want to have another but, honestly, I don’t know if I could love another person as much as I love her. But also I fear the CMTC is something we could pass on to our next child, but it wouldn’t be mild. I guess these are questions for the geneticist.
For now, we’re enjoying the firsts, the laughs, the giggles, and the love. I’ve become the best version of myself, and I promise Lydia every night before bed that I will continue to be better every day, for her and our family.
She’s my best friend, and I want nothing more than to give her the world.
Read another article by Lindsay: “The Anxious Mama Bear: My Struggle With Postpartum Anxiety.”
Featured Image: Unsplash
All Inpost Images Provided By Author and Used With Permission.