Emergency surgery at 34 weeks pregnant... why you haven't heard from me

I wanted to write this post this evening and share with you a little story that explains why you haven't heard from me in a little while. 

Two weeks ago, I started having really severe upper abdominal pain along with nausea that sent me running to the bathroom multiple times. I tried to relax, breath deeply and thought that maybe I had eaten something bad. At 2 am the pain became worse and I started to panic that maybe something was wrong with the little baby boy growing in my belly. 

I called my midwives and they told me to come into the hospital right away. 

After numerous tests and an ultrasound of my abdominal organs (which, by the way, are all up under my bra-line because at 34 weeks pregnant, my growing uterus has expanded so much that my organs were completely re-arranged), they still had no idea what was happening. At least, however, I knew my baby's heart rate was calm and strong and that he was very likely not in any immediate danger. 

Throughout the night, my pain moved from the top of my belly over to my right side and the next morning, the OB on call suspected that my appendix might be the reason for my pain. Another ultrasound proved his speculation to be correct.

What? My appendix? 
Never in a million years did I expect to have appendicitis during my pregnancy.
What does that even mean?
How does that affect the baby and the pregnancy?
Don't I have to take antibiotics and pain medication? I know that's not great for the baby. Can I opt out of surgery?
Can you have abdominal surgery while pregnant?
And even if it's possible, how will having an open incision surgery (I was too pregnant for laparoscopic surgery) affect my ability to give birth vaginally?
Will I have to have a cesarean birth?
What is going to happen with Felix, my 2-year old, while I am in the hospital?
Who will help me take care of him when I am recovering and cannot lift him in and out of his crib and highchair? 

My thoughts were racing at a million miles an hour with worries, fears and resistance that this was happening to me. And yet, at the same time, there was relief.

Relief that my pain had a reason.
Relief that the pain was "only" due to an organ I didn't actually need.
Relief that my baby was ok.
Relief that I have access to excellent medical care.
Relief that I was surrounded by kind nurses and midwives.
Relief that my husband is such an incredible partner and father that I knew Felix would be fine. 

Nevertheless, I was scared. When I was wheeled into the surgery room, I signed papers that stated it would be ok to perform a cesarean section in case the baby or I were in distress.

I remember waking up after the surgery not knowing if my baby was in the NICU or still in my belly. It was a strange, confusing experience and I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude when I was told that my baby was well and still in my belly.

Thankfully both the baby and I are fine and so far our little man has decided to stay put and give his mama a chance to heal a bit more before going into labor (also thanks to the hospital who administered fluids to reduce my contractions and make sure I don't go into preterm labor).

To be honest with you, the recovery hasn't been easy and I had a few good cries that gave relief to the overwhelm, confusion, and fear I felt inside even after leaving the hospital... sometimes these feelings come up later and I have learned over the years to honor them.

Yesterday was the first day I felt almost like myself again and with that also came some mental clarity and space for some initial reflections. 

This experience has and is serving as another, profound lesson in surrendering, letting go, asking for help, knowing your own limits, releasing resistance, and feeling deep gratitude for all the essential things I have in my life that so many people in this world do not have: access to medical care when I need it, a wonderful home, a warm bed, more food than I could ever eat, an incredible family, wonderful friends, a healthy son and another strong son growing in my belly. 

It has also once again shown me that motherhood is never, should never, and can never be a one-woman job, because unexpected, sudden, painful, challenging, shitty, heart-breaking things that bring us to our physical, emotional, or spiritual knees happen in all of our lives; not because we are unlucky or doomed, but simply because they are part of existing. Nobody should ever face these moments alone. Ever. 

So, if you are going through a tough phase right now, know that you are not alone, lean on those you love, ask for the help you need, and give yourself enough time to heal. Be kind and patient with yourself, love. 

In gratitude for holding space for my story this evening and I hope that in one way or another it reaches something in you that will remind you of the innate strength, perseverance, and healing power that is within all of us. 

with love,