Unplanned Pregnancy: Lessons learned
Last night, it was a difficult night for me, I started to have those strong back pains and pressure down as if the baby wanted to be born. Rony helped me to stand from bed and I walked around the room. I was, having hard time sleeping. And as every night we had to bring Angela to our bed in order for her to sleep and also for us to get some restful night, which is impossible some days. My emotions were a complete jumble. I was inspired to write to you all about my experience because I feel God wants to send a message to all of you. When I was pregnant with Angela, I was emotionally a mess. But never experienced great physical pain, as I am experiencing with this new pregnancy.
This new pregnancy has been so difficult; let me briefly start when we unexpectedly learned we expecting our third child. I experienced an array wide of different emotions, including fear, disbelief, guilt and panic. I started to feel upset, as I was not ready for another child, not now. When Angela was only few months old, I told Rony several times that I wanted to get pregnant again, and every time he told me, that we were not ready as we were walking an unknown road with Angela. I was grieving the child that I dreamed to have. I was grieving the baby girl I have not lost. Not that I didn’t love Angela; it was just a way of coping with all the ordeal, and as a way of healing my broken heart. I had to put the dream of having more children in the back of my head, and never mentioned it to him again. But God saw my suffering, and that suffering was never meaningless. I witnessed how He was using Angela to heal my brokenness and He was molding my heart in a way that I never knew before. He was teaching me unconditional love, a kind of fierce love that burns every vibe of someone’s being. So I learned, not to grieve over the things and developmental milestones that she may never do but instead I learned to celebrate her life and the little feats she does well. And then, I learned that I was the broken one putting limits to myself, and that I need to heal before I could be open to love someone different in a way that I never knew before.
Rony and I continue to practice NFP (Natural Family Planning). NFP is fertility awareness, which is simply knowledge of a couple’s fertility. It honors our dignity as persons by respecting the natural rhythms and functions of the body. This method is beautiful because it builds joyful marriages. We learned to communicate more about the real needs of our family at that time. It leaves the conversation open, and then Rony asked me if I was ready to have another baby, I was not. There were times when I was ready and open to new life and Rony was not, and vise versa. We had complete confidence in the method but then all happen unplanned. We had to face this unplanned unexpected pregnancy. Although we were overjoyed, we were overwhelmed.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving Day 2016, Elizabeth told me “I think there is a baby inside your belly”, “No, Elizabeth I said” and she repeated, “yes, mommy you have a baby inside your belly”. A week passed since she told me that, I missed my period, I started to worry. I told Rony. And he said there is a pregnancy test in the car. He went to the car and brought it to me.
I went to the bathroom. I was standing there waiting impatiently, something in me had already told me the results. I knew very well what the pregnancy test would reveal. I felt anxious; I was stunned when the two pink lines appeared. Rony was filled of joy. Meanwhile, this new baby was unplanned but it was already so loved.
The same night when Elizabeth was sleeping, I sat next to Angela I held her hand and started to cry. Pregnant women shouldn’t cry, unless they’re crying tears of joy. Pregnant women are supposed to glow with happiness. There is a precious life growing in the darkness of the womb. My head started to play tricks on me. I felt guilt of bringing another baby to life when I have a severely disabled child who needs my support and care all the time. I pictured the worse scenarios in my mind. Is Angela going to die, and that’s why I am pregnant with another baby? How I will handle and meet all of her needs, when a newborn requires an incredible amount of care and attention, too? The night was difficult.
The next morning when Elizabeth woke up, she went to snuggled with me on my bed, she started to rub my belly and I asked her, “what and why are you doing that?” with a smile she said “rubbing your belly mommy, because you have a baby inside”, who told you that Elizabeth I asked, she responded, “my mind told me that”. I hugged her and didn’t tell her anything. Coping with an unplanned pregnancy requires time, space, and it isn’t something you wrap your head around overnight. There is no bigger bombshell than a baby on the way when you feel unprepared. I had no idea how I will handle two small children?
Then, the “morning sickness" started. And it just made my life infinitely more complicated. It was horrendous; I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). This is a severe form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that causes severe dehydration and malnutrition. I was sick from the moment I woke up until the last minute; it was time to go to sleep. It was like having morning sickness 24/7. It was not only nausea but also gut wrenching vomiting that made my stomach muscles ache in pain. It absolutely ruinned my pregnancy, I din't want to be pregnant anymore. I had this many trips to the hospital for IV fluids and medicine in order to make my life less miserable. It was debilitating and humiliating. My husband became my caregiver, as I was unable to get out of bed. He had to take me to the bathroom, had to take care of the house and the children.
I started to vomit 14-20 times during the day; I had a severe dehydration and malnutrition and I lost 26 pounds in 7 weeks. I was getting weaker and weaker. I had to be admitted to the hospital for 5 days to recover. This is very dangerous and if you or anyone you know are experiencing this please don’t wait, seek medical attention immediately. I had to see Elizabeth with a sheer look of terror etched in her face. She didn’t understand what was wrong with me, but did her best to give me comfort. She would lie down on my side to brush my hair.
HG is the worse pregnant women could experience. It steals the happiness of carrying a new life. I felt an overwhelming guilt because I was not able to be the mother and wife I was before. I felt guilt because at least I was pregnant. Guilt because I wished I was not. It was the suffocating guilt I felt that made me feel miserable. I was no longer able to care for myself neither care for my family especially my little Angela. I felt I failed as a woman.
I had to experience isolation and loneliness as many friends and family thought I was overreacting about this terrible condition. I had to fight with depression and anxiety attacks. I felt rejecting this new baby. In my third trip to ER, the nurse asked me if I want to continue the pregnancy. I was upset and angry; all I needed was a relief for my misery. I wished not to be pregnant but it never crossed my mind to abort in order to be comfortable. I had so much time to think and reflect while I was experiencing all this.
I was 12 week, the forth time I went to the ER looking for some relief, and the nurse couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat. I feel the worse mom now to write that at the moment I felt no sadness. But that was a wake up call for me, the doctors came to the room and did an ultrasound, there he was moving, I heard his heartbeat and my eyes opened. It was reassuring for me; I loved this child even when it was making me very ill. For the very first time I felt some hope. In that moment I realize that I had opened the door to devil, and he was stealing the enthusiasm for life.
The pregnancy was unplanned for us but it was not unplanned in God’s eyes. He knows what He is doing. If it were not for my faith I do not know where I would be. I started to feel some joy. It was difficult but we were able to go thought, focusing just on the moment one day in and day out. God will provide. Do not be afraid. Women have a heroic virtue; we are “beacon of life”. God creates the life inside of us and it is our sacred mission to protect the life entrusted to us. We are strong and choosing life for our unplanned pregnancies despite extraordinary circumstances is empowering to us.
All this experience has helped me to emphasize with other women, my first response, whenever I talked with a teen or any women carrying a child who was unplanned, is great appreciation. I know she could have taken the “quick and easy fix” without anyone knowing, but instead she choses to have and protect her child. Abortion fosters the attitude “my happiness and comfort comes first”. But now we have to think about sacrifices, think about the other person the unborn baby, it is not his/her fault. Mothers do sacrifice every day out of love, we have that powerful capacity of love inside of us that we don’t even know that exist. We should love and support these women thought the pregnancy, offering compassionate guidance as to whether to raise the child or choose adopción.
I now believe that this is why God allowed all this experience. I do work everyday with pregnant and post-partum women, all from different walks of life. With my life experiences, I now can offer them compassionate loving care. And I still in the process of learning and discovering the unknown, that God have planned for my family and me. The journey will be difficult and long, I know, but I am getting stronger.
I am a warrior, this is my battle and I’ll be victorious, by the grace and mercy of God. You are not alone. Reach to me if you need support. There are people who want to help you. Just embrace the life that you were given, I do understand that it is not easy. But all is worth it.