*********** If you’ve struggled in pregnancy before or had a loss, please know that both are mentioned in this blog, so if you’d like, you can press close on this tab and there’s no need to read it.**********
Recently, my sweet husband, Jeffrey, and I have been reading a book on Prayer and how to form a daily prayer life. Prayer is something we’ve both felt called to do in the midst of my pregnancy, so it’s been wonderful to learn more and apply it in our lives. Last night’s chapter was on how sometimes we need to pray through something instead of praying it away. Both of us immediately realized that instead of praying away my more difficult pregnancy symptoms, we’d start to pray through it. We asked The Lord how we could use a difficult situation for good and for His glory. Immediately, I knew what I had to do — share my pregnancy experience.*********** If you’ve struggled in pregnancy before or had a loss, please know that both are mentioned in this blog, so if you’d like, you can press close on this tab and there’s no need to read it.********** But, if you have struggled in your pregnancy and have felt alone, let this be an affirmation that you are truly not alone — we all have our journeys and I believe it’s important to share them so we can connect and support one another. With that said, welcome to the deep truth about the first half of my pregnancy with our first.
In the middle of August last year (2022), I distinctly remember feeling nauseous two mornings in a row but not thinking much of it. We had a busy month and currently had guests at our home, so I assumed it was just my anxiety (yup, my anxiety shows up in nausea, so it was a quick and easy excuse). I moved on with my day both times until I had a doctor ask me if there was any chance I was pregnant. Of course, I answered “no” but then immediately drove to CVS to pick up a test. Within 30 minutes, my life changed when I saw the best thing ever — two strong lines indicating I was pregnant. PRAISE THE LORD! I told Jeffrey later that night in the most sentimental way (if you want to have a happy cry, here’s the video) and we quickly told his family and our closest friends.
Less than a week later, we flew up to Seattle to go on a two-week-long trip: the first week was a hiking/biking trip with my parents and the second week was a relaxing week on the Oregon coast. I remember feeling nauseous on the way to the airport, but again, thinking it was the anxiety and excitement of telling my parents I was pregnant. Not more than 10 minutes after we landed in SeaTac we told my parents the joyful news and after tears were shed, we headed down to baggage to wait for our shuttle. I remember still feeling nauseous but again, not overthinking it. It wasn’t until I had a delicious taco salad sitting in front of me, that I realized this was worse than nausea — this was a complete aversion to food.
Fast forward, and by the time day two of our trip hit, I was completely unable to eat anything. Sitting in my hotel room, I cried as I stared at a chicken nugget and couldn’t eat it. By day 5, I hadn’t had more than a saltine a day as every kind of food sounded and looked horrible. Let me just pause and say that I love food — tacos & chicken nuggets are essential in my life, so it was the strangest feeling to not be able to think about, look at, or eat food. At this point, we were trying different kinds of medication that my doctor was prescribing and nothing had been helping, not even in the slightest. I spent every day laying in bed snacking on one saltine cracker throughout the day. On the last day of the trip, Jeffrey and I made a quick but difficult decision to cut our trip short and fly home that same day — and thank God we did.
We landed back in California and I was hopeful that maybe my food aversions would subside now that I was home and in a familiar place. The first day started out with a bit of nausea but somehow, I was able to eat an apple. I don’t know if I’ve ever cried happy tears of joy over an apple, so that was definitely a first. Later that afternoon a new sensation hit me — I was hungry. Jeffrey’s mom and sister brought over dinner and I ate two tacos. “What?!” I thought to myself, “is this real? I can eat again!”
After clearing our plates, I sat down on our couch and within minutes I felt a familiar sensation; I thought I just got my period. I was confused but instantly ran to the bathroom to find blood everywhere in my underwear and shorts. My heart dropped as I knew immediately what this could have meant. But since Jeffrey’s mom and sister were over, I wanted to stay calm. I quickly went upstairs to get a pad and then proceeded to start telling them what had just happened. I somehow held back tears and went into my room to call the nurse line. Even though I knew what this could have meant, I wanted to stay strong.
The nurse quickly told me to go to the ER immediately so Jeffrey and I were quickly on our way. I cried a bit but felt a small sense of peace as we pulled into the parking lot. As we signed in to the emergency room, tears kept flooding down my face since I knew what the impending news would be. I calmed down as we sat in the waiting room and then, The Lord truly sent an angel. One of Jeffrey’s cousins rolled around the corner and I immediately started sobbing. I knew she had gone through a miscarriage too and ran over to her sobbing. Even in her illness, she held me as I cried. I pulled out the sonogram we had of our sweet babe and told her I thought I was miscarrying. I’ve never felt such pain and comfort at the same time. We were quickly called into a room, but her presence filled me with peace and love.
The next few hours were a blur as we waited for blood results and we texted our parents and closest friends who knew we were pregnant to ask them for prayer. A nurse came into our room and told me it was time for my ultrasound. They wheeled me away on my bed, by myself, and took me to the ultrasound room. The next 30 minutes were probably the slowest and hardest moments. I lay there alone, in silence (first picture below), as the nurse took an ultrasound. She said nothing. Her face was covered by a mask. The screen was pointed away from me. I knew absolutely nothing. I lay there praying, “Lord, please, please let there be a heartbeat. Tell me my baby is going to be okay.” And again, I felt an odd sense of peace. The nurse told me she was done and she’d be right back. As I cleaned up, I heard her laughing from another room. “She wouldn’t be laughing with her co-worker if she hadn’t found a heartbeat, would she?” I wasn’t too sure.
Jeffrey eagerly waited for me (and tried to make me laugh a bit as pictured above) as I was rolled back into our room. We sat there in silence as we waited for any kind of results. Years later (but more like minutes later), the doctor sprung in the door with an ultrasound printed out and exclaimed, “here’s your little nugget!” Confused, I said bluntly, “so, my baby is alive?!” She was shocked as she told me she thought the nurse had told me. The doctor left and I turned to see Jeffrey sobbing. He had stayed so, so strong but we were both sobbing as we knew our little baby was okay. Praise The Lord.
Later, it was explained that I had a subchorionic hematoma — when blood collects under the chorion membrane during pregnancy. The doctor explained that within the next 72 hours, I would miscarry the baby or everything would be okay. It was a 25% chance of miscarriage so for the next few days, I did nothing but pray and sit on the couch.
While this experience was extremely difficult, Jeffrey and I are so so so so (x 1000) thankful our sweet baby was okay. I called my mom right when we got back in the car and told her the good news. She said she was shocked and thought it was going to be a miscarriage — us too. The Lord is so good and we will never cease to sing His praises.
The next months after that were filled with fear but more so, food aversions and constant nausea and illness. Jeffrey and I navigated how to give me and the baby nourishment even though I could hardly eat. Within a few short months I lost 30 pounds and had to miss work multiple times due to extreme nausea and weakness, and ended up in the ER with dehydration. I’ve never felt so alone and weak, but at the same time, I’ve never felt as supported as I did in those months. My family and my closest friends were all so intentional about reaching out, bringing sparkling water, sitting with me, and doing anything they could to support us.
The days and months were slow and hard, to be real. But I don’t want to focus just on the negative — because while every day was extremely difficult, every day that my sweet baby was alive was a day for us to celebrate. One of my acquaintances turned friends told me that on her hardest days I needed to find little joys and things to look forward to. And one thing that I was so excited about? Finding out the gender of our sweet babe.
And let me tell you — finding out the gender and knowing it has been one of the things that has kept me going, even on the hardest days. I could look down at my belly, say hi, and call it by name (or multiple names as we rotated through several). Even on hard days now, I get to say hi to my baby and call it by name (now that we’ve decided), and for some reason, knowing the gender has been the sweetest gift and keeps me going.
The next exciting thing? Feeling the sweet little kicks. God’s sweetest gift. At first, they were little flutters and kind of felt like gas moving around my belly — and then they were little jolts. And every kick brought me so, so much joy. When Jeffrey got to feel them (which was a bit later since I have an anterior placenta), the joy on his face is a moment I’ll never forget. Actually, they are many, many moments because he still makes the cutest face when he feels our sweet little baby kick.
Things were on the up and up around 18 weeks until looooooong story short, I got the flu and started to experience some pre-term labor symptoms. It’s a long story and honestly, it’s not one I want to focus on (feel free to ask me privately about it) in this blog but it was very difficult as I was traveling when it happened. But everything ended up okay. After a week and a half of rest at my parent’s home in Minnesota, I was doing well enough to travel home and rest for another week or so.
Just before the flu, I was getting close to overcoming my food aversions, but those few weeks set me back quite a bit. BUT, God is good. The day before Thanksgiving I was driving home from a shoot and thought, “I NEED FOOD.” After nearly 20 weeks of not eating, I had my first normal-ish-sized meal — a chicken salad from Rubios. I cried. God is so, so good.
The last thing that I’ll touch on in the 1st half of pregnancy is our sweet 20-week ultrasound. For those who don’t know, it’s called an Anatomy Scan, and it’s where they spend a good long hour doing a sonogram on your baby and measuring everything about it (literally I think they measured the size of our baby’s liver, that’s how detailed it is). How cool is modern medicine?! And the best part? Everything looked great. PRAISE THE LORD. I could eat AND our baby was doing good?! Again, we give all glory to The Lord.
We’re a few short weeks away from meeting our baby and I’m sure I’ll share more on our 2nd half of pregnancy, but it’s been completely different — sure, it’s been difficult but it’s also been, so, so sweet. More to come on that later. 💛
Jeffrey and I both hope that reading our story can make some sort of an impact or help someone else feel less alone. Neither of us knew that SCH’s existed, food aversions could be so destructive, or the simple flu could have such a negative impact, so we hope that sharing our story can help at least one person feel less alone. If that’s you, please reach out to me! I’d love to hear from you. If you need prayer, please also DM me, I’d love to be praying for you ❤️