Thoughts from the ER

June 12, 2006 | Motherhood | 10 comments

I’ve hit a little rough patch in my pregnancy. I’m not sure if it’s typical third trimester issues or if my circulatory system just isn’t up to par, but I’ve had a little bit of a tough time lately. It’s all VERY minor in the grand scheme of things but, nevertheless, I’ve needed quite a bit of help from my family this past week.

Like with my last pregnancy, starting at about 30 weeks I’d get occasional bouts of extreme shortness of breath and the feeling like my heart was racing. When this happens I need to sit for a while and feel like I’m not getting enough air, even when I take slow, deep breaths (does anyone else experience this? is this normal?) It happens about three times a day. The other day when I was in the grocery store I was positive I was going to pass out. Luckily I didn’t but I barely made it back to the car before I collapsed into the seat, and I had to work up the strength to get my son into his carseat and drive.

The big problem, though, is that I have some varicose veins in my right leg that seem to have gone awry. At first they were just unsightly, but starting earlier this week the whole back of my leg was throbbing and swollen and the veins began hurting to the point that I couldn’t walk and couldn’t bear to even have my pants brush the skin on my legs. I’d cry out in agony any time I stood up or bent my leg.

On Friday my midwife was concerned about it so she sent me to my doctor, who was even more concerned and sent me to the emergency room at the Heart Hospital where I spent my entire afternoon. The good news is that the ultrasound didn’t show any clots; the bad news is that there’s nothing I can do for the pain until after I have the baby. Due to the pain I can’t walk much at all. My toddler, on the other hand, has no problem walking. Or running, climbing, jumping, and generally getting himself into a variety of harmful/house-destroying situations, which means I need a lot of help with him.

My mother has been picking up a lot of the slack, sometimes at the expense of her job and other commitments. My mother-in-law is going to make arrangements to come up for a while. Other family members and friends are concerned and frequently ask how I’m doing.

So this is all fine. For now. Maybe it’s third trimester hormones or general paranoia, but I’ve started to worry about what people’s reaction will be next time. As I approached hour number five in the ER and hour number seven since I’d left my son with my mother for a “quick trip to the doctor” (she had a big deadline at work that day that she ended up missing), I got increasingly paranoid about how this sort of thing will go over with future pregnancies. If the current trend continues and the shortness of breath, heart racing and vein issues get worse with additional pregnancies, it could get to the point that I really need a lot of help during the third trimester. The ER doc indicated that I can almost definitely expect to have big issues with my leg if I get pregnant again, and that I’m at a higher risk for the very dangerous Deep Vein Thrombosis or vascular infections.

Everyone is eager and willing to help now, but I’m still with in the society-approved range of children. I keep wondering what the reaction will be next time, or with pregnancy number four or five. All of this has seemed to confirm for everyone that pregnancy is (all together now:) SO HARD ON YOUR BODY and SUCH A SACRIFICE. I think people will be somewhat perplexed that I’d “subject myself” to future pregnancies (a couple people have said stuff like “at least you almost have this one over with and then you’re done since you’ll have a boy and a girl”). Of course my wonderful family and friends will offer me support whether it’s my third or tenth child, but I can’t help but think that they’ll start wondering, “This is hard on everyone — why don’t you stop having kids?!”

So anyway, these are my paranoid thoughts that raced through my mind in the hours I spent waiting in the ER. I think a lot of it might be in my head, and of course I know that should I be so blessed as to be able to have more children any grousing by friends are family will be insignificant in comparison. It will just be interesting to see how it goes, building a big family and experiencing what may turn out to be challenging pregnancies in the midst of a culture that thinks that children are a burden to begin with.

10 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    Jennifer,

    So sorry for your troubles, dear.

    Try not to worry about the future right now. You only have to build your family one baby at a time.

    Have you had a doctor look at your racing heart and shortness of breath? Have you talked to other women who can identify with the symptoms you are having?

    There can be other reasons, but it sounds like anxiety coupled with the pressure on the body brought on by the third trimester. All very normal stuff. There is less room for your lungs to expand—and if you start hyperventialting that can set your heart racing.

    Stopping to rest before you can start up your car is perfectly okay.

    Be less than your non-pregnant self so that you can be more for your baby.

    Ask for help and receive it and don’t worry about what people give up to give it to you. The most important thing is keeping you and your baby healthy.

    Everything else can literally fall away.

    I’m praying for you.

  2. Jennifer F.

    Thanks for the tips, Jennifer. I think the breath/heart thing probably is just because my lungs are out of room.

    I’m personally not troubled by these minor maladies, I just worry about other people getting frustrated with me/my family. And that’s probably the real issue here — I’m way too concerned about “burdening” other people. It’s something I inherited from my dad’s side of the family. I swear, if we had a coat of arms our motto would be “Death Before Inconveniencing Anyone”. 🙂

  3. Jennifer

    LOL on the coat of arms comment.

    To do great things we need a lot of help—but I think most of the discussion on this blog makes that really clear.

    Remember, you are giving a LOT in return for the help you receive.

  4. Barb, sfo

    Jennifer hit the nail on the head right there.

    And if you want to have future children but your “pregnancy health” is the limiting factor–what about adopting? There’s more than one way to build a big, loving family. It sounds like your health, outside pregnancy, is good–just that pregnancy complications are, well, a complication.

    With prayers that you’re feeling better soon, and you & baby are doing fine.

  5. GLouise

    Take care of yourself, dear Jennifer! And don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    Don’t forget that when you *don’t* ask for help, you’re taking away the opportunity for others to be a blessing. 😉 I am still learning that lesson myself, as I hate feeling like I am “bothering” someone. I much prefer to be the “helpful” one.

    You’re almost there with baby #2!! Congratulations!

  6. Anonymous

    Dear Jennifer,

    I’m sorry to hear of your trouble and hope it clears up. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

    Please take care of yourself and try not to stress out or worry.

    Hannah
    hana10134@yahoo.com

  7. knit_tgz

    I hope you are feeling a bit better…

  8. Melora

    Sorry about the health problems. I’m sure your parents don’t consider it a burden to help you out — after all, you are their child. I wouldn’t be surprised if they worried about your decision to have many more children when they are seeing this pregnancy being so difficult for you. You shouldn’t take that concern as a judgement against large families, but as a measure of their love for you.

    I have a personal and family history of blood clots, and, at the beginning of my second pregnancy, tested positive for something called “Factor V Leyden” (I think the spelling is right). This meant that I was at increased risk for a blood clot caused by pregnancy, which was a risk to both me and my unborn child. The doctor put me on daily Lovenox (blood thinner)injections. Aside from the hassle of daily injections, this took care of the problem. I did have to schedule my delivery, since the blood thinnners had to be discontinued the proper amount of time before delivery, but I didn’t mind that at all.

    I hope you are feeling better, and that your doctor can help with the light-headedness and painful veins. There is no shame in caring for yourself — you are taking care of two little ones, and your health is very important! (and don’t worry so much about what others may think about your family size! That is between you, your husband, and God!)
    Cordially,
    Melora

  9. majellamom

    Sorry you’ve been having trouble!!!

    Just wanted to give you a thought from a mom of 4 that I just saw at our local Catholic Homeschool conference…

    Her youngest is 4 months, and she had about 6 weeks of bedrest (I think she’s had bedrest with all of her kids!) and a family member said to her “it’s too bad your kids aren’t in school…it would be so much easier for you if they were!” To which she replyed that 1) only her oldest would be in all day school, the younger two would (maybe) be in half day preschool, and 2) that would mean that she would have had to coordinate people to pick up and drop off the younger ones from preschool AND have two preschool boys around all day…without their older sister who could actually be helpful and do things like make the boys sandwiches for lunch…

    I don’t know if you are considering homeschooling or not…but I guess my point is…as you have more kids, you will have older kids that can help you out to some extent when you have difficulties late in pregnancy…

    Other than that, don’t let guilt about needing help now with kid #2 affect you too much when discerning your family size! God won’t send you more than you can handle!!!

  10. Colleen

    I hope you are feeling better! What you are describing must have been frightening.

    Did they not ask you to wear a Holter monitor? If you don’t already know, that is a device that monitors your heart rate around the clock for some period of time, so then your doctor can see what it does over 24 or 48 hours. Very handy, if like mine, your symptoms finally go away the minute the doctor walks in the room.

    Did they measure how much oxygen was in your blood? That thing they put on your finger that closes sort of like a clothes pin does that. Then there are machines you blow into that measure your oxygen, if the little monitor isn’t accurate enough etc..

    In any case, what I am not hearing is that your doctor ran tests and is still trying to exclude real systemic causes of what you experienced.

    The fact that you are worrying is justification enough for insisting on further evaluation.

    Please nag him to do so! And if he won’t, see another doctor who will. Surely some of the young mothers in your church would give you good advice about supportive caring doctors.

    There are some, you know, and, as old age creeps up on me and everything starts breaking down, I seem to have met them all!

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