Fearless. I'm sure this word means something different to just about every living person on the planet. When I chose that as my "word of the year" at the beginning of 2014, I didn't fully know my own definition of the word, I just sensed that I could use a little extra fearlessness this year. Do any of you do that? Instead of choosing a long and intimidating list of New Year's resolutions, just pick one word and try incorporate it into your life throughout the entire year. I've been doing it the last few years or so and am always surprised at how the word ends up fitting me well, before the year is through.

For me, it all started in February when we found out I was pregnant. I know, a joyous occasion for most people - and for us as well - but deep down, if I'm being perfectly honest, part of me was feeling a large portion of fear mixed in. For someone who likes control of her body, eating habits, exercise rhythms, and sleep patterns, finding out you won't have control over any of that for the next 9 months (and beyond!) is a pretty scary proposition. I've never been one to worry too much about change, but lack of control, that is terrifying.

Before becoming pregnant, I never understood why those who were, had to comment on it tirelessly. Every blog post from my favorite food blogger turned into pregnancy or baby commentary, coworkers who were expecting brought it up on a daily basis, and of course friends and family journeying down that road had a knack for keeping the entire Facebook world informed. But now I get it. When you're pregnant (or at least for me) it is all-consuming; there isn't a single part of me that doesn't feel fundamentally different. Maybe it's because I'm so sensitive or in-tune to my body, but it definitely causes me to pause and fully take in this life-changing experience.
Evan's pretty in-tune to his body too.
And it's a good thing I'm sensitive to my body because sometimes your own intuition is just as important (or more so) than your doctor's knowledge. Here's an example: it starts with a tightness in your side that feels like the standard pregnancy Round Ligament Pain, but as the week progresses it moves to your groin and upper thigh, and eventually you're limping around wondering how this can be normal.
The swelling begins ...
By Thursday your leg has swollen and turned a lovely shade of purple so you visit your OB office and the doctor orders an ultrasound of your leg to rule out blood clots. Ultrasound is complete and shows no sign of clots (whew!), so your doctor says to rest, ice and elevate over the weekend. "It will probably be better by the morning." Famous last words.
Baby Shower
After your wonderful baby shower Friday night that keeps you planted in a chair the entire evening, wincing in pain, you wake Saturday morning to find you can no longer walk. Extending your leg past a 45 degree angle is nearly impossible, and the pain in your groin is now reaching record highs. Of course the on-call doctor you speak with over the phone knows you've already been checked for blood clots, so he isn't concerned. Thankfully you have an excellent and intuitive midwife, who, upon seeing you at the clinic Monday, knows something serious is afoot and sends you off to have another ultrasound. This time the verdict is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) - blood clots in three veins originating in the groin with clotting extending down the entire leg. (You can look it up for more info, but in a nutshell: pregnancy is a risk factor for DVT since you have three times the amount of blood and your body simply clots easier in preparation for childbirth. The main concern is that a piece of the clot will break off and head to your heart or lungs - this can be fatal. Once you start taking blood thinner your risk goes down significantly, but it still takes a few weeks until the clot has dissolved and symptoms/pain subsides). 

Pain level 8-10 at this point!
I know I should have felt some sense of fear upon entering the ER and spending the night in the hospital hooked up to an IV, but in reality, I just felt a huge sense of relief. I had been right all along - this wasn't normal pregnancy pain, and it wasn't even a normal blood clot scenario (groin clots are much less common than ones in your calf - and three of them?!).

But it doesn't mean the recovery has been easy. In fact, this whole ordeal has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. It is not like recovering from a sports injury where I'm simply at home resting, icing and watching movies; it is draining both physically and emotionally and this blog post is the only productive thing I've managed to do all week (and that's saying a lot for an over-achiever like me). Since I'm pregnant on top of it all, it adds an extra layer of discomfort and complexity - I can't help Evan prepare the nursery, stockpile food for when baby comes, or keep up on my prenatal yoga or exercise. But I try not to wallow in my misery because in the big picture it could be a lot worse. And after all, this is just temporary and will soon pass.
Although I did manage to get out of helping with this sticky nursery-prep situation. Maybe not a bad thing!
(note: the walls are not nearly this harsh a yellow and the leaning tower is now appropriately assembled inside the closet)
Now, here's where my word "fearless" comes in again. I have to give myself shots. As in half-inch-long needle injections IN MY PREGNANT BELLY twice a day for the next ten weeks (until delivery). If I were to rewind to the beginning of 2014 when I chose the word Fearless and pose the question to myself, Jeopardy (or Apples-to-Apples?) style, I'd probably says "FEARLESS: what is, learning to administer my own injections." Seriously. Well, that would be right up there with spending a night in a haunted hotel. (Which one would you choose? It's a hard question.) If you're on team needle-phobia, maybe you are like me and have to lay down whenever your blood is drawn or you receive a shot because you fainted once in high school. (I can't be the only one who did that!) Fell to the ground and heard the nurse yell "She's gone down!" And they hadn't even pricked me yet. I can't say that shot-giving was ever something I put on my bucket list - whether administering to myself, someone else, or even a cow. But yet …

In order to stay in the half-glass-full club I'm trying to see the positives here. And really, overcoming my fear of needles has got to be one of the biggest challenges - and dare I say opportunities - I've ever been given. To know that within the next ten weeks I will become so accustomed to the routine of shot giving that it will become second nature, helps me want to do it again every day. Every time, I'm one step closer to overcoming that fear. So far it has gone pretty well and the nurse even complimented me on my steady hand. Who knows, maybe I'll switch professions yet! ; )

Of course there are other benefits to this entire ordeal, and for the sake of remaining upbeat, I will list them here:

  • We were actually scheduled to tour the Birth Center of the hospital the night we were there - I guess we opted for the behind-the-scenes tour instead! Our hospital "trial run" will help me pack my hospital bag: I now know to bring a sweatshirt to supplement the poor hospital pillows, ear plugs and an eye mask.
  • People make you food. Evan's mom is driving up tomorrow with some quiche, calico beans, bran muffins and peanut butter cookies. Needless to say I am quite excited. Evan has filled the fridge with fruit, yogurt, and a hot dish I've been enjoying every day. Lesson learned: when someone hurts, bring them food. Treats, baked goods, leftovers - whatever! No need to ask, just do it : )

Evan knows how to make me feel better: he brought me kale broccoli salad!
  • I gained perspective: Last time I was in the hospital I was experiencing very unnatural pain - next time I will also be in pain but it will be natural and serve a very clear purpose.
  • Now that part of my blood clot area is starting to clear I'm surprised at how much of my stomach pains I've had the past few months and assumed were just pregnancy symptoms are also clearing. After this, pregnancy will be easy! I don't know that much about blood clots but I suspect this one was a long time in the making.

 And apparently Germans get pregnant too, although we didn't see a single one during our visit in June!
  • We discovered that a hospital stay is not completely unlike riding first class (what?!). Of course there are no IVs on an airplane along with a zillion other differences, but we couldn't help but chuckle when we noticed that in both situations you have a bedside service/call button, you often slide down on the slippery inclined bed, and you're constantly woken up or stuck waiting for someone to tend to the next task, whether that be delivering a warm washcloth (happens in both situations), checking your vitals, or spreading a fancy napkin and silverware before you for your five course meal (I'll let you guess on those last two).

  • I realized, yet again, that I chose well. I have the best in-home nurse in the world: Evan! He's definitely gone above and beyond in taking care of my physical and emotional needs and has proved already that he's going to make a great dad.


Ten more weeks and counting!

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