Week 38 of pregnancy – the storm before the calm

After a fairly textbook pregnancy, things changed pretty quickly during my 38th week. I had stopped work already and was trying to keep busy at home by cleaning EVERYTHING. I read somewhere that this is called ‘nesting’ but I think it was more likely my boredom or obsessive compulsiveness kicking in.

I had gone the entire pregnancy without getting sick until this 38th week. Go figure,  I get sick when I’ve been home, away from the many germs at work and the people who never cover their mouths when they cough. I spent two days trying to breathe mostly. With the weight of the baby pushing up on my lungs and my nose being completely congested, I struggled big time!

A few days later I woke up in the middle of the night with the most excruciating pain behind my left ear. The pain didn’t subside at all and in fact got worse as the hours passed. I noticed the left side of my tongue felt different too. I thought it must had been related to my cold and sinuses and I went on with my day as best as I could. Then that evening I noticed my upper lip was slightly pulling to one side. It was then that I decided to go to the hospital.

The doctor who saw me in the emergency room didn’t seem too concerned and after hours of waiting he gave me a referral to a neurologist. I went home that night feeling a bit uneasy as the doctor didn’t perform any tests and barely examined me. The pain continued and I tried to sleep through the night although that proved to be very difficult.  I woke up again in the middle of the night to see that the entire left side of my face was completely paralyzed. My left eye was wide open, I had no control over the left side of my mouth and my tongue felt numb. I panicked and woke up my husband. I was scared and sad and frustrated and I cried for hours.  I went back to the emergency room where another doctor examined me. He immediately diagnosed me with Bell’s Palsy, a temporary paralysis of one side of my face. I was prescribed prednisone and told that it could take 4 to 6 months to recover, possibly longer.

To say I was upset was an understatement.  I mean I was happy it wasn’t a stroke (which was the first thing that crossed my mind). And I was happy that my baby was OK of course. But this was the last thing I expected to happen. I felt like I looked deformed.

It was a challenge learning how to eat, brush my teeth and speak. I even had to buy a patch for my eye so that it wouldn’t dry up while I slept. Sound was amplified in my left ear, making me feel a it off balance. Going outside was tough too as the cold air dried up my eye.

Developing Bell’s Palsy is very difficult thing to deal with. However, at the time, I didn’t want to let this overshadow what was to come.  My baby would be arriving soon and I had to step up and be brave. So I coped with the pain behind my ear. I coped with the lack of movement in my face and how people looked at me funny. I guess you can say this was the first time I experienced what it was like being a parent even though my baby wasn’t even born yet. Putting my her needs before mine and focusing on preparations for her arrival were more important then what was going on with my face.

The delivery did not go as planned either, but that story is for my next blog.




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