True Story: I had appendicitis while 6 weeks pregnant

A couple of months ago on a Tuesday, I was visiting my Mom on her day off. I wanted to let her babysit Miriam while I ran to the grocery store, but I started to have really bad pain in my abdomen and just laid in her guest room thinking it would pass and I would be able to leave. An hour or so went by and I was worse, not better. My Mom offered to do my marketing for me, with my toddler (isn’t she a saint?) while I rested, but I didn’t even feel strong enough to safely stay home alone, or to speak to the maintenance people who were working at her house.

Flexible as she is, my Mom took inventory of what I needed at the store and found some essentials from her house to give to me to take home. But I was in too much pain to drive. She made dinner for us, waited for my Dad to get home so that they could drive me and my car back to my house. My Dad came home and they were ready to take me, but at this point my pain was so bad that I didn’t even think I could handle sitting in the car. I think at the time I  said it was as bad or worse than being in labor — it was like one constant contraction that didn’t go away.

Several hours had passed since the pain started, and I was 6 weeks pregnant. The first ultrasound I had showed that my baby had a slower heart rate than it should’ve, so we were already concerned about that. Oh did I mention my Mom is a doctor? She’s great. If you live nearby, I highly recommend her. Anyways Dr. Mom recommended that I call my actual doctor at this point, so I phoned my OB-GYN.

The on call OB didn’t really know what to make of my all-over abdominal pain, but considering all the factors she advised me to go to the emergency room. I didn’t think I could handle sitting in the car that long, but I knew I had to get to the hospital one way or another.

The drive there wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though I was still in a lot of pain. I knew the route. I had taken the same route the last time I checked into the hospital– when I was in labor with my first daughter. I survived that trip and I knew I could survive this one. We arrived at the ER and I was able to make my way inside.

They checked me in, gave me a hospital band, took my vitals. I was curled up in a chair with my knees to my chest because the pain was so bad. They brought me to a room right away, and I remember that my first nurse was very nice. Bodie, my Dad, and Miriam came to the hospital next. We didn’t want Miri on the ER ward because she was still under two, and we didn’t want to risk her catching something.

Bodie came in to see me and was really gentle and sweet. I remember he held my hand or rubbed my back or something comforting. We had a few visits with doctors and nurses, some blood drawn and a urine test. They wanted to do an ultrasound of my whole abdomen, to see what was going on, and to check on the baby.

We made our way to ultrasound and I was nauseous on the ride over. I remember asking the man wheeling me around to please slow down. The ultrasound tech was incredibly nice, and she was expecting her second baby too. She was kind enough to tell me what was going on and what she saw.

We had the early blessing of finding out that our baby was healthy and had a normal heart rate. We were so relieved. We also thought it might be a burst ovarian cyst due to my PCOS, but it wasn’t that. I didn’t have any cysts.

She checked my other internal organs, all normal, and finally my appendix. She couldn’t tell at first, it looked a little inflamed but not terribly so she left to consult a surgeon. At that point I got up to use the restroom and my pain was almost completely gone. Maybe just from pressing on me with the ultrasound wand, moving things around, but I wasn’t in that kind of excruciating pain anymore, and it didn’t come back.

After the ultrasound we went back to the E.R. and got a new nurse. She kept taking my blood pressure and then saying “that can’t be right” and looking at me as if I was doing something wrong, or somehow tricking the machine. I always have low blood pressure, but it was too low. At some point someone gave me an IV to hydrate me (hooray, I used to hate this part but ever since being in labor I know how much better it actually makes me feel). Someone told me that my white blood cell count was elevated.

The surgical students came in and recommended that I stay overnight and have an MRI in the morning to get a better look at my appendix. They thought it would be a great idea to take it out now, while I was in the first trimester, but my attending surgeon had other ideas. Bodie and I really didn’t want to stay overnight, especially now that my pain had gone away, but this blood count thing and the appendicitis sounded kind of serious so we called Dr. Mom who agreed that I should be admitted. Actually I think I was a little relieved to hear that I was staying; I felt sick enough to know that something was wrong with me and I needed to.

Bodie stayed overnight with me at the hospital, and Miriam had a sleepover at Grandma’s house. Her very first sleepover, which was made more complicated by the fact that I usually nursed her to sleep. None of us got much sleep that night — Bodie and I because they kept waking me to do more tests or take my blood pressure for the hundreth time, Miriam because she was away from her parents for the first night in her life, and my Mom because the only way she could get Miriam to go back to sleep was by letting Miri sleep on her chest.

The next day after a few annoying little hang ups that pushed back my MRI, I finally was taken down. I hadn’t been allowed to eat anything since I was admitted, so I was definitely cranky but trying to be patient and not afraid. Having the MRI was fine, I didn’t get claustrophobic (although I do in lots of other circumstances) but they covered my eyes and it went by pretty quickly. Miriam was at the hospital since my mom had to work that day and it was nice to have her and Bodie there with me. She was not at all afraid, and loved to touch my IV.

Our sweet hospital let Bodie and Miri stay in the room as much as we wanted.

After the MRI, the tech started saying very reassuring things like “But you’ll be fine even if you DO have appendicitis” and “They can still operate and not hurt the baby.” and when I called her on it and asked what she saw on the MRI she quickly said that she saw nothing and immediately left.  There was a little confusion within my family about whether I actually had it or not, and while that was happening, a priest came to visit me.

He prayed with us and anointed me with oil (anointing of the sick mind you, not the dying he made sure to tell me.) I asked Bodie and Miriam to leave so that he could hear my confession, and so they went to the family waiting area and I had my first confession in longer than I’d like to admit. I think it was my third or fourth confession ever, and I was baptized 3 years ago.

The surgeon came in just after that and so Bodie and Miriam were still out of the room. He told me that I DID have appendicitis, and that they had caught it early. The inflammation was mild, and I was pregnant, so he wanted to treat it with more antibiotics via IV… and another night in the hospital. I was shocked. I shouldn’t have been shocked, but I was shocked. I mumbled “excuse me do you mind if I get my family” or something like that and dragged my big IV pole with me to the family waiting room to find Bodie and make him come listen to what this surgeon was saying.

So I had appendicitis, and I had to stay another night. At least they didn’t want to operate, and at least they finally were going to let me eat. That evening Bodie took Miriam home and they spent their first night alone together. She did better than she had at my mom’s house, but still woke up a few times wishing she could nurse. I thought I’d be lonely at the hospital but I knew God would get me through all things, and to make it more enjoyable my Grandparents stopped by and ate some (surprisingly delicious) hospital food with me that evening.

I ate grilled chicken and potato chips for dinner, and it was a hundred times more delicious than this photo looks

I watched a little Netflix after they left, and did some texting, but I was really too exhausted to be lonely or worry about how Bodie and Miri were doing. In fact I was just about to doze off when Bodie called me to say goodnight, and the nurses didn’t wake me up quite as often as they had the night before.

They did start with the poking and proding and blood pressure taking at about 4:30 am, and I just stayed awake. Bodie and Miri were planning to come to the hospital that morning but as it turned out, I was getting sent home so they just showed up around 11 am to pick me up. Whenever I’m in the hospital, I feel like I can’t wait to go home, I don’t like being forced to stay, and then when they say “you can go!” I realize I can barely walk and am actually not quite as strong as I thought I was and doubt my ability to function well at home.

This time, I did have a few more days of recovery at home in bed before I could be out and about like usual. Bodie, my family, and my friends were very helpful and sent food, took care of everything so that I could just recover and heal up, regain my strength. I am pleased to say I am now just about in my second trimester, and haven’t had the appendicitis come back at all. The surgeon thinks there’s about a 70% chance I could keep my appendix forever, but he thought I might want to get it out between babies or before I travel internationally, just to be safe.

And that’s it! We survived, Miriam night-weaned, and I got to keep my appendix. For more pregnancy updates, keep checking back and make sure to sign up to receive posts in your e-mail!


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It