How Finding Out I Was Pregnant Saved My Life

I’ve been waiting three long months to write this post but for good reason. Recently, I got the most surprising and incredible news that has dramatically changed my life as I formerly knew it. Much like other first-time moms, I was overwhelmed with feelings of joy, excitement, confusion, and even anxiety. In many ways, I knew my body had been changing shortly before finding out leading me to “swing and miss” at self-diagnosing what it could possibly be. After testing positive and telling my partner, we both agreed that in retrospect all the signs pointed to exactly what it was…pregnancy! What I didn’t realize at the time was that had we not found out sooner, the situation could have been a lot scarier than either of us could have imagined. After visiting the doctor’s office and hearing our risk level, my partner and I both agreed to wait until after the first trimester to make our announcement. It was hard to keep it a secret, but after 13 long weeks, we were finally able to share our exciting news with the world beyond close family members. Now that we have that sweet relief, we are both ready to share our story with others because it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions ever since finding out… and not just because of the hormones!

How I Found Out

In a previous post, I had mentioned leaving my job back in December 2020 due to the stress and toll it was taking on my health. After making the move, I felt so much relief like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Although many of my symptoms of anxiety and depression had subsided from that, my body still felt “off”. I felt the need to clean everything in sight (already nesting apparently) and to be as productive as possible, even setting unrealistic expectations that I was going to publish blog posts daily in order to be successful contrary to the fact that I had just resolved to the fact that I was in need of some serious self-care after putting my career ahead of my personal needs. I had become unsettled for unexplained reasons…even feeling a little paranoid at times. I remember telling my boyfriend things like “I feel like my body is not my own” and “I feel like I’m missing something big“…

My hormones felt like they were raging, making me feel a little insecure (not like me), increasingly more tired, and just all around “weird”. I had even come home from visiting his parents to try and relax in the bath and felt my stomach actually move itself up in the weirdest way…almost looking like a little pouch! I told myself it was crazy and this kind of thinking had to stop because the tests were telling me “no”. My partner and I prayed on it and agreed that either way we would be happy, but didn’t think that was what it was so we reduced it to “stress”. As the week went on, I did more research and realized I could feel my aortic valve working overtime in my chest whenever I would lay down making me feel that I was definitely pregnant despite the negative tests. After going through a few boxes of them, I finally resigned to the fact that it was just a “scare” and that I would be fine. I let it go and tried to just focus on enjoying life because I felt like I was psyching myself out. I looked at the facts in front of me and I knew the form of birth control I had chosen was highly effective, so it would have been near impossible to conceive with the device present. All this went on for a couple of weeks before I totally dropped it.

Then, out of the blue one day I remembered that I had a few tests left in our bathroom cabinet and decided to take one “just because”… thinking it was going to be further validation that I was not pregnant but just felt like it was the right thing to do at the time. After a few minutes of waiting for it to process, I was in complete shock because it turned out to be positive. Initially, I was overcome with so many emotions but then came a full sense of calm and happiness… I was in bliss… I think mostly because my partner, Austin and I had prayed for marriage and kids to be in our future someday, so I knew everything would be okay at the end of the day. In fact, I was calm enough to keep my cool (and the secret) while spending the day catching up with a friend. It was almost like soaking up the last bit of time before telling my partner and both of our lives changing forever. After she left our apartment, I decided to take another test…you know, just to be sure. It was the same type as the first one… pretty old school with the two blue lines crossed on the indicator confirming a positive result. I think I only waited about a half hour before going back into the bathroom to dig out the final test I had which was actually a digital one, putting my anxiety about being wrong about it at ease because it clearly stated “pregnant”.

It was so hard not to tell him right away on the phone or via text, but I wanted the moment to be special. So shortly before my boyfriend came home from work, I set the bowl of freshly picked oranges wrapped along with Enjo soap, and a Christmas card that my friend gifted us while she was visiting on the counter. I strategically placed the three tests directly behind the bowl and set up a tripod with my phone ready to record for when I knew “A” was almost here. I waited anxiously as he walked through the door, trying not to give the big surprise away and said “look what Nicole got us”. At first, he was excited for our gift and read the card…then I said “look behind the bowl”. Almost immediately he said, “are you serious?” and it took him a few seconds to process before wrapping me up in his arms. He paced around a little before we both agreed we needed to sit down with that kind of news. We laughed and cried all at the same time because this was what we had both always wanted. Since we were both emotional, we got our favorite comfort fast vegan food Plant Power gushing over the thought of our sweet child to be…and the thought of us being parents! We spent the rest of the night in just relaxing and talking out our feelings about everything. We were both equally shocked and overjoyed…and agreed that my IUD needed to come out immediately.

The Surprise of Pregnancy While Using an IUD

In the past, I had tried several forms of contraception including the dreaded “pill”. In my 20s, I made the decision to switch to a non-hormonal option which was the Paragard Intrauterine Device (IUD). It took two attempts during my doctor’s visit to have it inserted properly…and ironically two attempts to have it removed after finding out about the pregnancy (more on that later)… In the first few years, it didn’t cause me much trouble other than heavier cramping and bleeding during menstrual cycles. However, as time went on I found it to be truly frustrating… causing unexpected stomach cramps on and off making me it difficult to even leave my bed some days. I visited the doctor a couple times after things felt unbearable and was told that “everything looked fine” during medical exams. I decided to leave it in based on their recommendations because at that time in my life, I didn’t feel like I was in a healthy place to have a child without a supportive partner. Looking back, I would not recommend an IUD (hormonal or not) as a method of contraception because of my own personal experiences. I had heard about the dangers and thought it was the “lesser of the evils” compared to hormonal options. However, any foreign object like that in your body has the ability to move and shift… even reject itself no matter what length of time you’ve had it. I have even heard some women’s devices shifting and puncturing lungs which is a horrific image in itself. My story is very different from theirs, but it has led me to choose not to use that even after birth because the risks do not outweigh the benefits at the end of the day.

When “A” and I went in to confirm the pregnancy, we were met with the harsh reality of the medical system during the pandemic. Neither of us had been sick enough to visit a hospital in over a year, so it was a major disappointment to learn that he wouldn’t be allowed to be in the room with me during the appointment. It was a hard pill to swallow considering how anxious I was about our situation and that I would have to make decisions on not only my behalf, but of Austin’s for the wellbeing of our unborn child. I knew that I had to try my best not to stress about it and go in with a positive mindset because that’s the best type of environment in the womb for the baby. Once they confirmed the pregnancy, I was taken to meet with a doctor to do bloodwork for a Beta test to determine my HCG, pregnancy hormone, levels and talk about next steps. I expressed my deep concern about the IUD and they mentioned that it is extremely common to have this type of contraception fail, so I wasn’t alone in the statistics. They even brought up the fact that they had even witnessed babies being born full-term without removal, actually grasping the IUD at birth…yikes!! They also mentioned a 50% risk of loss if the device was left in and gave me a 25% chance even with removal. This was extremely discouraging considering the fact that I had to process the information alone. My heart totally sank but I knew that all I could do was pray that when they did the scan, we would have a healthy pregnancy and that the dreaded device could be gone once and for all.

I had predicted that I was about 4 weeks along based on my last menstrual cycle so my only hope was that we had found out early enough to have the procedure done without harming our baby. During the first scan, they found a tiny egg sac and were even able to see the string of my IUD which had migrated upwards and become stuck to my cervix… explaining how I became pregnant and confirming that the device was nowhere near the pregnancy. The nurse practitioner let me know that if we waited, the risks included rupturing my cervix… not only compromising the pregnancy but potentially becoming fatal if not resolved. She also confirmed that it had caused an infection that would be resolved with antibiotic but that we were lucky to have found out about the pregnancy because the situation could have been much worse. I had a little bit of time between the scan and the procedure to tell my boyfriend about the quick decision (we had assumed it would be done during a follow-up appointment) leaving me full of emotions…mostly anxiety because of the pain and risks involved with removal. I have never been good at sitting through pap tests and remember the horrible experience of insertion making me afraid to remove the device in general…let alone with the risks I as faced with in present day. After a few minutes, of deep breathing and silent tears to myself, I was told that they were unable to remove the device at this time for fear of tearing and that it needed to be done by a doctor during another visit instead. This was even more devastating news because I left with the uncomfortable feeling of knowing I was walking around with something in my body that could harm my life or our precious baby’s.

The next appointment was scheduled just a few days later and I remember having moderate vaginal cramps the night before causing me to become even more worried and emotional. Austin did a great job of soothing me and keeping me calm so we could go into this situation stress free…because we were determined that this stupid device was coming out this time! During this visit, the doctor did a quick ultrasound to determine the placement of the device and validity of the pregnancy. She was unable to find the egg sac but let me know that was normal this early in the pregnancy and that my uterus was “fluffing up” quite nicely, labeling me as “super fertile”…yay! That excitement was short lived because she was unable to see the string and decided it would be best to get right into the procedure. As soon as she took a look, I heard her say “oh wow!” loudly, which caused me to sit up a little and nervously ask if everything was alright. She let me know that the device had migrated downward and it looked like my body had been trying to expel it on its own. She was thankful I had come in when I did and said it should be a much easier removal this time.

I’m so happy to say that after this attempt, with a short minute of deep breathing, she pulled the device out without any issue…even waving it in the air saying “look…no blood…still fully intact…that’s amazing!!”. I have never been so relieved and truly credit it to my body knowing just what to do in order to get the device where it needed to be for the procedure…and for the doctor’s amazingly positive attitude making me the most comfortable I could have been considering the situation. She said it would be wise to wait to let the whole world know, but telling close family members wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea. Afterall, we would need all the support we could get from an experience like this. She stated that I’d need to be on an antibiotic to reduce the risk of infection from removal (and to eliminate the one the device had created in the first place). She also warned me to keep the environment as clean as possible, watch for bleeding or severe cramping…and avoiding intercourse until I was through with the antibiotic. I Facetimed “A” to let him know the good news while I was still with her and all of us cheered. It felt so good to rejoice and finally “breathe” again because we had passed a major milestone for our child’s health and mine.

Telling Family and Close Friends

It was a huge relief to have that risk eliminated and couldn’t even bring ourselves to consider any other scares during this pregnancy so we decided we were ready to tell our closest family and a few longtime friends that we knew could keep a secret. We sat down and made nearly a dozen calls to people from California to Ohio. As the oldest child of my siblings and first to have a kid, I knew it was going to be a big deal for everyone. It was an emotional ride telling my parents that they were going to be grandparents for the first time…and grandparents that they were going to be promoted to “great”…telling my siblings they would be aunts and uncles… then closed the loop out with my cousin Samantha, both aunts, and my Godmother (plus Godsisters Staci & Jamie and Godbrother Isaac). We also called and told one of my oldest and first friends, Kiana a.k.a. “Keenz”. All of the women in my family were so excited to see me join the “mom tribe” and were so proud of both of us to be new parents. Since his family is local, Austin and I called a couple of his best friends before surprising his mom & dad in person with their very first baby sleeper (you know…to keep at their place for whenever they are watching grandbaby #6) as an early Christmas gift. Although, we did tell his brother Adam & wife Lindsey before them, knowing they could keep it a secret for us.

Everyone was so incredibly happy for us and there were a lot of tears of joy on both ends. I think my Grandpa Higbea was the first person to do the math and predict that the baby would be due around the end of August…hoping it would be a September baby like me & him. My dad had probably the funniest reaction saying he was going to post on Facebook…but not say who it was. Within minutes of hanging up the phone with him, Austin and I laughed at seeing his latest status of “I’m going to be a grandpa!” filled with loads of positive comments and reactions. My mom held back tears and played around with grandma nicknames like “glamour” and my youngest sister was still wrapping her head around the thought of becoming an aunt before she was even a teenager. It was so nice to have them share in our excitement and confidence in our future parenting skills, even if it was going to be our collective secret for a few more months. I have to say, I am truly glad to have been able to lean on the women in our family to ask all kinds of questions about everything from morning sickness, weird cravings, emotional bouts, and even dealing with headaches. There’s really nothing like the accumulated wisdom of experienced moms who have been through it from one baby to three… Austin got a lot of dad advice from the guys in his family including his brother and shared in the joy of becoming a first-time dad with one of his friends whose baby is due any day now. For a few weeks, I had at least one person checking in on me besides my partner every single day which was so incredibly sweet.

Our Public Pregnancy Reveal

I am so thrilled to finally be writing this post, because keeping things quiet was incredibly difficult! There were so many more people I thought to tell after we made our calls that day, but we decided to keep it narrow because once we started widening the circle, it would be really hard to stop…literally no self control! My body was changing quickly by the day causing constant nausea (only resulting in actual sickness once…can I get a heck yeah?!), fatigue, headaches, minor cramps & leg pain and increased appetite leading to my growing belly which was becoming harder to conceal by the day. FYI: Getting pregnant at 119lbs means you are likely to start showing a little earlier than expected! This resulted in me avoiding social contact with anyone outside our little “circle of trust” altogether and even neglecting to post to the blog or social media as much because all I really wanted to talk about was our growing baby! It was like my personal voice was stifled because I was holding back so much, so it feels good to finally let it all out!

We reached another milestone during our most recent appointment at 10 weeks and 5 days. This was the first time we could see our sweet babe on camera for the first time and it was honestly the most relieving moment of it all. We both were so glad to see that the ultrasound technician found our baby right away and that he/she was so active…literally dancing in the womb! With arms flailing and legs kicking, we laughed that it was probably due to the strawberries I had eaten just before our appointment (I had heard an old wives tale that Vitamin C helps babies be more active in the womb). Our baby had a strong heartbeat of 178 and was measuring right along with where they should be at that stage. We got a lot of great photos and even saw the baby turn his/her back to us towards the end, so we joked that their thoughts were “no more photos, please” making ourselves feel like the most eager paparazzi (just you wait, child!). I have actually read that babies do not like sonograms and am glad we are both committed to only doing the necessary scans to eliminate our baby’s exposure to radiation. Neither of us could stop from grinning on the way back to the car and burst out in tears at the same time because of the confirmation we had of a healthy baby…everything we had prayed for this whole time.

Is it just me…or does my womb look a little heart shaped??

Despite our excitement, Austin and I decided to keep our commitment to waiting until we were out of the first trimester to publicly announce the pregnancy. Since our anniversary is on the 8th, we decided that it would be even sweeter to tell everyone on Valentine’s Day. We both had a lot of ideas of what to do for it and decided to go with festive t-shirts, a custom onesie and lots of flowers for our special day. It was so fun to get everything together and play around with fun little sayings to put on our letterboard sign. Every announcement is special and I’m so glad we got to do ours in our own way. Thank you to everyone who kept their promise to let us share our news when the time was right. It felt good to be at a much more confident stage and to have the outpour of love & support from everyone. It truly means the world to both of us and we are beyond excited to be parents. I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else and if you take anything away from this… it’s that everything really does happen for a reason. My body was ready to be pregnant and wanted to let that be the thing that saved my life…it knew that my IUD was a threat and was trying to reject it on its own to save both of us… our latest scan came a week later because the nurse actually got exposed to COVID-19 and had to reschedule during the first week giving us a more developed image of our growing baby at nearly 11 weeks instead of almost 10… and best of all, we predicted the due date in August but were off only by a single day!

Our sweet “Lil’ Sprout” is coming August 21, 2021.

Check back for more “bumpdates” and stay tuned for more posts on healthy recipes, product recommendations and more to help you through your plant based pregnancy journey… or just to follow our growing family’s journey! You can find more frequent updates on my Instagram page, but if you’re expecting, you can also connect with me on the Glow pregnancy app…it’s seriously the best.

As always, thanks for your love & support.

‘Til next time!

Em 🌱

Emmy May, The Plant Based Bae
Emmy May, The Plant Based Bae

Hi! My name is Emmy May and I’m The Plant Based Bae. I was born and raised in the Midwest, and have called Southern California home for the past seven years. In 2018, I decided to switch to a vegan diet which led to me improving my overall quality of life and learning a lot about health & humanitarianism. Since then, I’ve had countless conversations with vigorous vegans and curious omnivores to share what I’ve learned along the way.

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