This is both extremely exciting for Zeke and me and slightly terrifying, which I guess is probably typical! Since my injury I’ve often been asked about my ability to have children, so I thought I’d share a bit more about that.
I vividly remember the first couple weeks after my injury, while still in my hospital bed, having questions about my new life. One was, “How long am I going to live”? I remember hearing somewhere that the answer may be only a few years (which was obviously terrifying) but then learning that my life expectancy would be the same.
Another big question I had was, “Am I going to be able to have children”? The doctor’s answer was that my chances of conceiving were the same as they were before my injury, the reproductive system is generally unaffected by spinal cord injury for women (this is not necessarily the case for men). Basically, though fertility is never guaranteed, my chances shouldn’t be changed by my injury. While reassuring, over the last 10 years uncertainty lingered for me.
Zeke and I got married in August 2012. Like many young couples, we always talked about having a family but wanted to enjoy married life for a few years first. Over the last year we began to consider if it was the right time now and tried to predict the challenges for us and me in particular, but we didn’t really know what to expect.
I found out I was pregnant the day after the Kelly Brush Ride this past September. At first it seemed very surreal, a feeling that hasn’t totally worn off. But as my belly grows and we see the ultrasounds of the baby’s nose, hands, feet, etc., it’s beginning to feel more and more real.
The first trimester I was very nauseous. This should come as no surprise for those who know me well or who followed my story right after my injury. Luckily that has mostly improved at this point. I’ve also been dealing with the normal parts of pregnancy just like anyone else, like trying to find pants that fit my growing belly.
My pregnancy so far has felt pretty normal. Because of my spinal cord injury and lack of sensation below my level of injury, I’m being seen by a high risk OBGYN. My visits are more like every 2-3 weeks rather than 4 in the beginning, ramping up to nearly every week starting around 28-32 weeks. I’m told that while I’m at an increased risk for things like blood clots my pregnancy should be otherwise normal and I can delivery normally. They say that my body should be able to initiate and complete a labor and delivery process even if I don’t help at all – pretty amazing! I have no feeling below the bottom of my sternum which also means I have no use of my abdominal muscles. I don’t know if I’ll be able to feel the baby move, feel contractions, or help to push when the time comes. Since every person with a spinal cord injury is different, it’s hard to predict my experience based on experiences of others, even those with a similar level of injury. We just have to wait and see!
Currently I’m 19 weeks pregnant, due in May, and we’re having a girl! We’re both super excited and are now thinking more seriously about names!
I’m going to try to blog a bit throughout my pregnancy. I want to talk about the pregnancy in relation to my injury and how it is different – or not. With a medical background and a sister with an 18 month-old I have at least some knowledge of what is supposed to be “normal”. I will also be talking about how we’re approaching some of the challenges I’m going to face being a mother from a wheelchair, like getting the baby in and out of a crib or car seat.
Thank you everyone for your support. I’m looking forward to sharing the next phase with you all!