i’m still alive.

May 23, 2016

Okay, so I’m sure it seems somewhat like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. Not only has the blog been silent for over a month, but my social media accounts have been pretty quiet, too. Sorry. I’m still here. But as I briefly alluded to in my last post, this has been a rough pregnancy. I’ve been in basic survival mode this past month and a half or so. I know I said that in my last post, too, and I was telling the truth at the time. I was exhausted and nauseated and had some back pain going on. But now, I’m just like, “Oh, you silly, silly little person.”

I’ll write in more detail about all of this eventually (actually, I’ve started working on that post, but it’s maybe halfway done and is already well over 3,000 words, so get ready for that, if you dare), but right now, I just wanted to compose a quick update to say that yes, I’m okay, we’re okay, everything’s okay. It’s just a little rough (okay, really rough) for this momma right now.

See, when I was eight weeks along, it was discovered through an early ultrasound that I have what appears to be a large fibroid (basically, a benign–as far as we know, inshallah–tumor) in the left side of my abdomen. It’s not attached to my uterus or my ovary, which is good news for the pregnancy, but the doctors can’t tell exactly where it is–I could have undiagnosed endometriosis and the tumor may be in that endometrial tissue, or–and this is the doctors’ best guess–it could be in my broad ligament, which is the ligament that holds the ovaries and uterus together (and it’s also a body part I didn’t even know I had until this whole medical semi-crisis erupted. Gotta love learning something new, right?). There’s no way to know for sure until I have surgery to get it removed. All we know for sure right now is that it doesn’t show any markers of malignancy (alhamdulillah), it’s on the opposite side of the baby’s placenta, which means the chances of it causing problems for the little pumpkin baby are low (also alhamdulillah), it’s about the size of a tennis ball (according to one of the doctors I managed to see here in the States–the doctors in Riyadh laid out its measurements in centimeters for me, but I didn’t really get what I was dealing with here until that doctor made that size comparison), and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it until after the baby is born. Technically, it is possible to operate and take it out while I’m still pregnant, but the risk of hemorrhage is very high, so we can’t–and won’t–do that unless it somehow becomes a danger to the baby.

The issue is, as the baby grows, more and more pressure gets put on this stupid awful nasty ugly freakface fibroid, causing me intense pain in my back and sometimes in my abdomen. I anticipated that after I got out of the first trimester, the nausea would abate and things would get easier–the second trimester is supposed to be the honeymoon trimester, right? But…as it turns out, so far, the bigger baby gets, the more mommy hurts. I’ve heard that sometimes, with large fibroids, once the baby gets big enough so that there’s plenty of room in mama’s belly to comfortably accommodate both the baby and the fibroid, things can get better. I’m holding out hope, but so far, that isn’t happening in my case. The pain is constant and often excruciating. I take Tylenol every six hours so that I can function as a basic human being who isn’t writhing in bed (and I now get ragey at Facebook mothers who smugly proclaim that they never take or took medication in any of their pregnancies–trust me, you would, too, if you were in my shoes, sanctimommy); that takes a bit of the edge off, but I still hurt constantly. I try not to move much, because the more I move, the more I hurt. Picking up heavy things–including Lavender–makes it much worse, so not being currently able to be the same kind of hands-on, active mom all the time like I was before adds a layer of guilt. I can’t walk very far before I have to sit down due to pain and left leg numbness (one time, knowing this, my mom suggested I use one of those scooters in Walmart when we went shopping. I recoiled in horror).

I also don’t sleep well–because of the pain, I don’t get more than 45 minutes to an hour of sleep before I wake up hurting. Unisom is supposedly pregnancy-safe, but as you can probably guess, it doesn’t work for me (or maybe it would work if I weren’t in this particular situation where the pain just overpowers it…I don’t really know). The only thing that I can do to get back to sleep is take a hot shower, which relaxes the muscles enough that I have about a five minute window after I get out of the shower to get back in bed and get back to sleep. Otherwise, the pain comes raging back in full force, and I have no choice to get up and suffer for awhile while seeking some sort of distraction (this is usually when I start crying and then, so very selfishly, call Mr. Mostafa on FaceTime so he can comfort me…I always feel terrible about confessing to him just how awful I feel, because I know he feels helpless on the other side of the world. He can’t hug me or rub my back or take care of Lavender for me. But his emotional support means everything), then take another shower and try again. I take upwards of five showers a night.

Needless to say, I’m squeaky clean, but my poor hands and feet are pathetically dried out from all the showers. I’m literally cracking.

So, I don’t sleep much, and when I do, it isn’t very deep or recharging. I alternate between having an ice pack and a warm corn pillow (you know, the kind that you put in the microwave to heat up) on my back pretty much at all times. And just when I thought I was easing out of the first trimester nausea, it came back in full force. I’m nauseated almost constantly–I don’t know if this is fibroid-related (although I suspect it is, because when I do puke, I feel a bit of relief in my back, which is super weird, and also because my second trimester, which is what I’m in now, was basically easy sailing with Lavender–in fact, now, looking back, my entire pregnancy with Lavender was basically easy sailing), but it means that I can’t eat or drink very much. A few bites or a few sips of whatever I’m eating, and I just want to throw it all up. Even though I easily could, I (usually) don’t, because I want baby to get whatever nutrition I can hold down. But I just stop eating or drinking when I know I can’t handle any more. As a result, I’ve been losing weight consistently, well into my second trimester. Which isn’t good, but luckily (first time you’ll ever hear me concede this is lucky), I was overweight at the beginning of the pregnancy, so even though I don’t want to be losing weight while pregnant, I’m not as alarmed about it as I would have been if I had been at an ideal weight to begin with. I just try to eat reasonably healthy things when I do eat, so the baby can get good things.

I’m exhausted. I’m hurting. I’m sick. I’m scared. I’m depressed. I’m pale (well, more so than usual) and it looks like I drew dark circles under my eyes with that paint that football players use. I’m a bit heartbroken, because our trip to the Ozarks has been one difficulty after another (for the first few weeks, we couldn’t even find a doctor who would agree to see me, and I eventually ended up in the emergency room, terrified that there was no way I could be in this much pain and still be safely carrying a healthy little one…I sobbed when the emergency room doctor did a quick, silent ultrasound at my bedside and pointed out little hands waving, little feet kicking…and a little heart beating), and I haven’t been able to enjoy my time at home with my family and friends the way I had so excitedly anticipated and planned.

But I’m grateful. Really grateful. I’m grateful that I’m pregnant. I’m grateful that through everything, the pumpkin baby seems to be doing well (according to the ultrasound we had a few weeks ago) and has been kicking like a little champ lately…and even when I’m hurting the most, each tiny kick is a jolt of pain relief in itself, a physical reminder of why every single second is completely worth it. I’m grateful for my parents, who have been taking care of me like I’m still five years old–because I haven’t been able to eat or drink very much, my dad, concerned that I’m dehydrated, went to Walmart and cleared the shelf of Pedialyte and has been pushing me to drink it. My mom takes amazing care of Lavender without question (or sometimes, even suggestion) absolutely any time I need a nap or a shower or just a break, and for that alone I can never repay her. She has also been learning about essential oils for the sole purpose of creating pregnancy-safe concoctions to rub on my back for pain relief, as well as pregnancy-safe insect repellents for me (I think she’s more scared of the Zika virus than I am, and that’s saying something). I’m grateful for Mr. Mostafa, who, God love him, has been doing everything he can from Riyadh to make me feel safe, calm, and comforted. I’m grateful that I have hot showers and Tylenol and ice packs and corn pillows and hugs and soup and back rubs and comfort and love and safety. I’m grateful for dua, prayers, good vibes, and all other healing thoughts (and if you wouldn’t mind sparing a few for us, I can’t thank you enough).

And I’m also grateful that, again, according to our latest ultrasound, our little pumpkin baby is a strong little…

Girl.

We didn’t expect to find out the sex of the baby so early, but when I went in for an ultrasound at 15 weeks along (I have to get them monthly in order to monitor the stupid fibroid and make sure it’s not growing and/or causing issues), Saleh and I agreed that if they could see the sex, it was okay to go ahead and find out. So I told the ultrasonographer that if she could see clearly, she could tell me. So she did. And when I FaceTimed with him post-ultrasound to give him an update (he didn’t really care about finding out about the sex; he just wanted to know that both the baby and I were okay), I asked him if he wanted to know if we were having a boy or a girl.

“Really? You know?” he said.

“Yup,” I said. “What do you think?”

“Well,” he said timidly, “I’ve been thinking that it would be really nice to have another girl.”

“You got your wish!” I crowed.

“Really?! It’s a girl?!” His face broke into a joyful grin and he swiped away the tears plopping out of his eyes.

Look out, y’all. The Mostafa sisters are going to take over the world.

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