It was about this time of year last year that I first discovered that I was pregnant. Now if you know that my daughter was born on January 5th of this year, you might start questioning the math of that. You are right, I was already 7 weeks pregnant when I found out. That in itself was horrifying. The reason being that number 1, I had just had surgery a week prior. And number 2, I am a type one diabetic who knew absolutely nothing about being pregnant. The first feeling I felt when I saw those 2 lines was excitement but worry came in a close second. I am now beginning to realize that part of being a mom is that feeling of worry never goes away.
May 5th, 2016; Children’s Day here ironically enough, I had surgery on my arm. (A year and a half prior, I had broken my arm badly in a snowboarding accident and needed to have the metal pieces that once held my bones in place removed.) Since the holiday was a Thursday, I only had to take the Friday off work so I would only have to miss one day. Before undergoing surgery here they make you take some test about a week prior to being emitted into the hospital. The hospital I went to was in Seoul and I had planned to have the same surgeon who had put the metal in, take it out. Unfortunately that hospital was about an hour’s drive from where we lived at the time. I remember it being so inconvenient. With our two dogs and working with a new promotion, we were stretched thin. I also hate being in the hospital. If you spend enough time in any hospital, you will hate it. Regardless, I got the tests done, I booked the time off work and everything was ready to go. Except when we got a call a few days before my surgery was due to happen with news that I had failed the tests. I was a little crazy and emotional and very upset when hearing this. I think I even called back and ended up screaming at one of the doctors. Needless to say my husband (being my translator) was stressed by this and we fought.
I had never been pregnant before and I had only heard of the hormones making you emotional. Before being pregnant, I was often called a robot. I do not cry often and am known for my cool emotions during stressful situations. My husband and I didn’t fight often. That May I was a crazy person. I really was. There was even a point when I was fighting with my husband and he asked me, “Is this really the woman I married?” Even I didn’t know. I thought maybe it was me being afraid of my surgery after the experiences I had gone through before. At times I didn’t recognize myself and even thought if going on was worth it. Perhaps the lowest point was when I got into a dramatic argument over something trivial with my husband in a public park, in front of many of our friends and lots of strangers. I even took off my wedding ring, gave it to his friend and walked away crying. I can’t honestly remember what we were fighting over but it was something ridiculous like him wanting to stay at the park an extra hour to play basketball with his friends. Thankfully he is a reasonable and kind person and so we got over it but like I said, crazy person.
So we went back to the hospital to talk to yet more doctors and do more tests. The reason I “failed” the previous tests that deemed me unfit to undergo surgery was that there was some sort of irregular pattern on my EKG. I took another one, and the results were fine. I was convinced that the hospital was just trying to milk us for more money but we didn’t dig much into it. The doctor said it might be due to the fact that I was quite skinny at the time and a bit underweight. Eventually they cleared me for surgery. In all of those tests, never was it caught that I was pregnant.
In fact, we had thought that we might not be able to have kids. March 19th 2016 was our wedding day (yes we actually got married a year prior to the day but it took a long time to plan an international ceremony). March 20th, 2016 I had to go to the OBGYN. I was bleeding. A lot. The funny thing is that I was with my mom, aunt and cousin because they were out for our wedding and we had planned a day of touristy stuff. I refused to cancel our plans and just wanted to go for a quick check to make sure it was nothing serious. To this day we still get teased that our wedding night must have been a little too wild. They did some tests and found that I had 3 eggs released as opposed to the normal 1 that month. This made sense since I was already informed of my genetics to have a high chance of twins. The bad news was that they were not healthy. My uterus conditions were not healthy, hence the bleeding. We had both really wanted to start a family soon and when the doctor told us that this was a bad sign and we were most likely to struggle even getting pregnant, I was heart broken. She told us, try for 6 months and if you don’t have a miracle, we can start talking about fertility treatments and other options. From that day forth, we stopped being “careful.” Because of that, I bought a bunch of home pregnancy tests. Just in case.
Every time I came home from a stressful day at work and wanted to have some drinks with my husband. I first went to take a test. They were always negative. In fact, I took one just a week prior to my surgery (just to be sure). It too was negative, even though by then I was already about 5 weeks pregnant. This drove me crazy after I found out. I kept thinking about if I had drank alcohol or eaten raw beef and of course worrying that it would affect our baby. My doctor always laughed because I would come in with ridiculous questions like, ” I was drinking coffee every day for those first few weeks, is the baby ok?”
I had the surgery as planned. I never knew I was pregnant. My Korean is not that great and so in difficult medical situations, it can become quite humorous. I woke up in some kind of recovery room right outside of the OR and I remember trying to say that I couldn’t feel my feet and that my lady parts felt strange. Of course being lost in translation it was more like me yelling, “no feet and stranger in my underwear.” I had enough strength to lean over and vomit all over the floor. I think I might have also passed out because I don’t remember what happened after that. What my husband told me was that he freaked out because in the family waiting area there is a computer screen that shows you updates on the surgeries in progress. He saw my name go from in surgery to recover room and back to in surgery. He pressed on the intercom and demanded that they tell him what was going on. They said I was fine and was just having some unknown complications but was stable. This was another sign that I was pregnant that no one caught. Even after the surgery while recovering in the hospital I had such a difficult time. I kept blaming the incompetence of the doctors and nurses because my blood sugars were crazy and I kept having stomach pains. Since they were controlling all of my food and medications I was convinced that it was due to them not giving me the proper amounts of medication or accidentally feeding me gluten (there are no other Celiacs here. I mean doctors tell me I am the first person that they have even met with the disease). There is this song I like that the lyrics translate to a woman asking her love, “Did you forget?” and this particular expression is used only in that sort of situation but I didn’t know that. So once when my insulin was not administered on time I stormed up to the nurse’s desk and used this phrase to the nurse. She of course looked at me puzzled and being my stubborn self, I repeated the phrase, not knowing how ridiculous I sounded (language barriers are just one of the struggles I face in hospitals here – but I still prefer the care here over Canadian healthcare ;)) When my husband heard this later he laughed so hard, he still likes to tell people of the story to this day.
I have always had problems with pain killers and they often don’t work (we learned that the hard way when I had my first surgery and they wanted to just numb my arm). Immediately after my surgery I forced them to remove my pain medicine IV. I was certain that it was the reason for my nausea. Thank goodness for that. My poor baby had already been through so much including antibiotics and me undergoing anesthesia.
I was released on the Sunday and went back to work on the following Monday. I was pretty sick but kept thinking that it was due to my recovery from surgery. After a week of vomiting and feeling horrible, I decided to take another test. My morning sickness was in the the morning everyday and I had a sudden sensitivity to smells. Not to mention my emotional state of crazy. I thought, just maybe.
So there I was sitting on the toilet in our tiny apartment waiting to see how many lines showed up on a stick I had just peed on. I had gotten used to seeing just 1 and throwing it in the garbage. I can’t remember if I even told my husband I was taking that test, he was watching TV in the other room. And then everything changed. There were 2 lines. Everything started to make sense. I was so happy / excited / confused.
I came out of the bathroom holding the stick and my words were, “Babe, I think this means I am pregnant.” I will always remember the expression on his face. It literally lit up (ok grammarians not literally but there was an emotional glow). He didn’t seem worried or scared at all. Just happy. And for that moment we were just happy.
Immediately after, he started contacting what felt like everyone he knew. This surprised me, since in my culture, you wait until you are at the very least, checked by a doctor before you start telling people. But it was then that I became a pregnant lady. Just then I gained a new persona. I was a new person. Everything changed.
Our little Tera made it though so many obstacles before she was even born; surgery, stress, antibiotics. Maybe she was one of those 3 eggs and she was the only one strong enough to survive. This is why we started calling her super baby and why on the cover of the pregnancy scrapbook I made for her it says Our Little Miracle.