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My Personal Experience (Part I)
Some women dream for months, or years, about holding a positive pregnancy test in their hands. For others, getting pregnant is a total surprise. Learning that you’re pregnant is a life-changing moment; it’s emotional, it’s scary, and it’s confusing. I know, I’ve been on the pregnancy roller coaster twice and had two completely different experiences. Sometimes, I still can’t believe I had the guts to ride the coaster twice!
The journey of motherhood begins when you see those two lines on that pregnancy test and it never ends. The ride is daunting, nauseating at times, but so absolutely worth it. I’m proud to tell about my pregnancy journeys or more aptly, roller coaster rides, from start to finish and give the absolute truth to you, the reader. Get strapped in and make sure that shoulder harness is fully engaged because this ride is ready to go!
I’ll let you in on a small detail; I’m a registered nurse. I earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, passed my licensure exam, and practiced in both the hospital and in managed care before I got pregnant. I definitely have a slight leg up in my knowledge base simply because of my background, education, and experience. I did not choose to practice in women’s health in the beginning. But, my journey as a nurse did eventually lead me on a path toward newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Where there are tiny, fragile newborns, there are moms and dads. I knew I wanted kids eventually, but as I submersed myself fully into the depths of the NICU, I had a massive eye-opener. It’s not an environment for the faint of heart. It’s an environment where you learn that having a healthy baby truly is a miracle.
I can honestly say that I was not able to work to the best of my abilities in the NICU. My heartstrings were just not strong enough. I found myself in the special care nursery (SCN), the hospital’s step-down unit. A step-down unit is a lesser intensive care area for newborns who need extra nursing for issues such as apnea, cleft lip or palate repair, and the like. The SCN was challenging on a different level and required me to cross-train within the other areas of women’s health; labor and delivery, mother-baby, and the newborn nursery. Working in these special areas helped me to realize that yes, I did indeed want to be a mom! Yes, it’s going to be one intensely crazy ride from start to finish! Let the journey begin!
Putting Our Seatbelts On: Finding Out I Was Pregnant
Journey number one began with a routine gynecological appointment. I had an open and honest discussion with my nurse practitioner about plans to try to get pregnant. I was underweight at the time and I was on birth control. I had never had regular menstrual cycles so I really needed to get to know my body and understand the changes coming my way. After that appointment and its wealth of information, I ate, I read, and I observed. One day about three months after I stopped taking the birth control pill, my husband and I were out to lunch and we were talking about the fact that I had been feeling ‘off’ lately. We decided to stop into a drugstore for a pregnancy test. I waited until morning to take it, and it was negative. I was sure I was just fighting off some kind of virus. More time passed. My cycle was late. I had intensely sore breasts and I was cranky! My husband knows me well. He bought another pregnancy test and left it in the bathroom. Super sneaky guy! I took it the next morning and voila, it was positive!
The roller coaster was definitely in motion, and since I’m a planner, I was all a-twitter with preparations and to-do lists. We went to the first appointment together and we were seriously and intensely questioned about our lifestyles, habits, exercise regimens, backgrounds, and the foundation of our marriage. We then had to answer questions separately about domestic violence and safety. We proceeded to the ultrasound suite to check out our tiny bean of a being. I have to say, the vaginal ultrasound was not my favorite, but it did the trick. Our six week old baby was just that, a bean-looking blob with a heartbeat…pretty underwhelming. I was expecting more. I’m a rather impatient person; the waiting was not going to be fun! And yes, with my nursing background coupled with all the reading I had done, I really did know what would be in there at 6 weeks gestation, but I envisioned so much more! Next, I had an initial blood draw (for blood type, chemistry, etc.) and I got to pee in that tiny cup. We finished up with a giant folder crammed with paperwork and three more appointments scheduled to be sure I stayed on track and progressed properly. Whew! I think the roller coaster had definitely loop-de-looped for both of us!
Roller coasters are exhilarating, adrenaline-filled rides, aren’t they? The only patience required is the waiting in line to ride the thing! Pregnancy, for most, is just like this; the waiting to find out you’re pregnant; the surge of the positive pregnancy test; the mental overload of information; and the twists and turns of bodily changes and baby growth. The ride encompasses all the emotions from beginning to end. And I haven’t even started talking about the hormone fluctuations! Stay tuned for more candid descriptions of the awesome twists and turns in my pregnancy journey, I mean, roller coaster ride.
Kimberly Fisher, RN/BSN is the Healthcare Program Manager for JourneyLabs. A graduate of the University of Florida College of Nursing she brings nearly a decade of experience with a background in adult (ICU/CCU) and neonatal critical care (NICU), patient advocate work in the managed care space and in pharmacy tech.