Erin Trafford


How I Learned to Carry Clean Underwear in My Purse

My last ‘rule’ for pregnancy should have been “I was not going to pee down my leg.”

In retrospect, my last ‘rule’ for pregnancy should have been “I was not going to pee down my leg.” | Health |

We go into this journey called ‘growing a human being’ with the best of intentions, don’t we? I’d like to think so.

When we finally ended up with a sticky baby, I set a few ‘rules’ for myself.

I was not going to Google. Nope. Not at all. Unless I suddenly turned into Linda Blair a la Exorcist and my head started spinning on my spine - I wasn’t going to Google. I wasn’t going to start shopping for the nursery until I was more than half way through the pregnancy. (I have started an inspiration board though! Check it out here!) I was going to take my prenatal vitamin, stretch every day, eat normally and do my absolute best to not take drugs. I don’t mean hard drugs. I mean any drugs. I didn’t want to take the Diclectin my OB prescribed for my nausea in my first trimester. I didn’t want to take the daily heartburn medication I was prescribed around 12 weeks either. When I had a headache, I’d medicate with a frozen bag of peas wrapped in a towel on my head even though there’s consensus that Tylenol is acceptable.

Those were my ‘rules’ for myself and my promises to my baby. In retrospect, my last ‘rule’ should have been “I was not going to pee down my leg.”

You can call me irrational now. It’s okay. I can handle it. Because I’ve broken basically every promise to myself and my baby in spectacular fashion.

In making those asinine pledges, I failed to account for my chronic underlying condition. I am what is called a ‘frequent kidney stone former’ - a totally lame disease description, I know.

Essentially, about once every three or four months, I’m thrown into the fiery depths of hell, thrashing and screaming and crying until I either pass a stone through my kidneys or I end up in the emergency room on fabulous drugs and then in surgery to have a stent implanted in my pee duct. Yes, my pee duct. 

Let’s just pause here. Can you see where this is going? Drugs? Pee? Google? Ugh.

Stupid, stupid me. Did not consider that all the pressure on my lower back area from growing my sweet baby was going to squish all those bits together and cause pressure that would create stones faster than normal. I mean, besides being monitored by my obstetrician, I’ve also been monitored by my urologist through this pregnancy. There were no red flags. Everything was fine; except the crippling sciatica, the Carpal Tunnel swelling, the limb numbness…

Google probably would have told me those symptoms also indicate kidney swelling and can happen in pregnancy. But I didn’t Google (see promise 1.) I just thought “I’m pregnant!” and waddled slowly on my way.


Last weekend, while enjoying a wonderful BBQ at a friend’s house, as people were admiring my maxi-dress clad 22-week bump, I felt a stone drop.

Over the years, my husband has learned to heed my frantic whispers if it happens in public. “Honey, something’s wrong. We need to leave now. I can’t pee. I’m swollen. There’s something wrong.” We ghosted out of that BBQ so quickly, I don’t think people realized we were gone until the next day. 

Within two hours, we were in the emergency room, my blood pressure had plummeted, I was incoherent, I had vomited up what felt like four days worth of stomach contents, and a nurse was pumping morphine into an IV hooked up to my vein. MORPHINE! I hadn’t even taken so much as a Tums for 22 weeks, and now I was being injected with MORPHINE? How was this even happening? I AM BREAKING MY RULE (see promise 3.)

“Don’t worry, I can feel baby moving!” I’d say to my husband between drug induced sleep and through gritted teeth.

Secretly, in my mind I was saying “Yeah, my baby is doing the running man and screaming ‘these drugs are DOPE, Mamma!’” I don’t know how he got glow sticks into my uterus, but I swear the baby had them.

Then, at about 4:30 in the morning, my husband was helping me sit up and inch my way to the bathroom. We looped my IV around my hand, disconnected my heart monitor - the ‘get to the bathroom’ drill is all too familiar to us now.

And the pain intensified. That never happens. This wasn’t normal.

“Why is it getting worse!?” I wailed. “I’m going to be sick!” I warned. “Google that shit!!” I demanded. (*cough* promise number 1 obliterated.)

He probably Googled it. But I mean “Intense pain while passing kidney stone” is a stupid thing to Google.

Miraculously, I made it to the bathroom.



As I was trying desperately to pee, I had an uncontrollable urge to vomit, and suddenly I was faced with an impossible choice: I wasn’t finished peeing. But I really, really needed to puke. Which end do I cover?!

I turned around. I retched. And I retched. And I coughed.

And then I peed. Down my leg.

You don’t consider that violent vomiting while passing a kidney stone while high on morphine in nothing but a backless hospital gown at 4:30 a.m., in the emergency room, while 22-weeks pregnant, will result in a complete lack of bladder control.

It does. It 100% does. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A RULE.

“Honey?” I said breathlessly through the door. “I peed.”

“That’s good news. I’m glad,” he said. (Having a kidney condition means you are treated like a potty training toddler. “I peed! I peed! Let’s celebrate!”)

“No. I peed down my leg.”

The bathroom door creaked open. He threw in a clean pair of underwear.


*Le sigh*

Nothing feels as good as clean undies after you’ve peed yourself.

Babies - I get it now.

When all was said and done, I was in and out of the emergency department in about a day and half, lighter by one massive kidney stone, less one blown kidney valve (that’s why I peed), and definitely feeling some injured pride.

I realized how short sighted my promises had been.

I needed the drugs. They say it’s important to take care of yourself first, right? I learned afterwards that low-dose morphine doesn’t even cross the blood barrier. So much for glow sticks and the running man. What I do know is I can’t let myself consider this a mothering fail. My baby is just fine. I am healing. 

I’ve now thrown out my rule book.

Okay. All except one rule: Always travel with an extra pair of panties in my purse.

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