I was just 18 years old when I found out that I was expecting my first child. When the pregnancy test showed a positive sign, I literally went numb with fear. I could hear my own heart beat pounding in my ears. I was nothing short of terrified. I was also instantly in love. In that profoundly duplicitous moment of fear and love, I didn’t realize what that tiny, little creature growing inside of me would inspire me to do.
The pregnancy was incredibly difficult. I was sick around the clock for 14 weeks- from week 7-21. I was sick for about 12 hours a day for the duration of the pregnancy. I hardly ate a thing, and when I did, it came right back up. I was too nauseous to hold my head off the pillow. I was often too weak to walk to the bathroom so I crawled. Many times, I slept on the bathroom floor, or on the carpeted hallway just outside of the bathroom. Determined to give my baby a real chance at surviving, I forced a giant prenatal vitamin down everyday without fail – even if I had to take another vitamin 2, 3, 4 times a day after vomiting the previous back up. I eventually upgraded to washing the prenatal vitamin down with a cup of broth and a piece of bread. Between the lack of eating and violent cramping, there were quite a few times when I thought I had lost the baby. I begged God to spare my baby more times than I care to remember. I had several emergency check ups when I just knew that I had lost the fight. But that little flicker of life and hope would be alive and kicking away within me. I would stare at the sonogram screen in disbelief and great joy. This baby, although making me very weak in body, made me very strong in spirit. That resilient life within mine, gave me purpose and hope like I never had before. I wanted that baby. My heart was already so full of love for my child.
My doctor had me come in weekly from week 22-27 because I was so frail. Standing at 5’6″ I weighed only 116 pounds at 6 months along. I was an emaciated mess with a slight baby bump. Imagine a pencil that swallowed an olive. I could zip up my size 4 jeans up until 7 months.
Around 7.5 months, I began to be able to eat. I ate very healthy and restricted myself from any caffeine, anything diet, and had very little junk food. If I felt I could keep it down, I’d pack in as many healthy foods as possible.
On top of the difficult pregnancy, there were other extreme circumstances going on. My parents were in the middle of an ugly divorce. My oldest sister went missing for weeks. We finally found her in a crack house in Dallas. My Aunt died. I lived with my 91 year old Grandmother who didn’t even know I was pregnant until I was 6 months along. When she found out I was pregnant, she cried and cried and I feared I would be the cause of her having another heart attack. (I stayed with my middle sister most of the pregnancy.) I laid in bed every night crying. But I had my baby. I couldn’t wait to hold him or her. The sonograms never revealed the baby’s gender, and I endlessly wondered if I would be braiding and bowing my baby’s head or if I would be styling it into a hawk. I went through thousands of names – none of them being good enough for this darling in wait. I couldn’t wait to share all my love. To give this little person all the love that I always wished someone would have given to me. I continued to do what I could for the baby in spite of so many circumstances bearing down on me.
Finally, I weighed 120 pounds on the day the baby was due. But the baby didn’t come. I was approaching 42 weeks, and after a miserable pregnancy, I was desperate to meet this child. I wasn’t dilated. At all. None. I was hardly effaced. The baby that my body relentlessly fought to abort was now the baby that my body would not let go of. I wanted to have a natural labor and delivery. That was a joke. I went in on a Friday morning, and at 7am, after the nurses blew out veins and tried to get the I.V. hooked up in four other places on both arms, I was hooked up to Pitocin in the bend of my wrist, and was forbidden to get out of my bed. Very enjoyable. They bumped up the dosage every hour. By 11pm, I was at the maximum legal dosage of Pitocin – I believe it was at 42 ml. The nurses then gave me a vaginal suppository version of Pitocin. Lucky me, I was now dilated to… nothing. Still the same as when I walked in the door. For 25 hours I labored with no pain medication. Worse, I was discharged, told to come back Monday morning, and left with no baby. I cried as I was wheeled out the front doors of the hospital.