Bell's Palsy: The Icing On The Infertility Cake

You’ll “glow" they said. Get pregnant and you’ll glow. No one said to me, get pregnant and your face will droop. Get pregnant and you will lose your hearing and lose all of your taste buds. Oh and one of your eyes will not close so you’ll have to wear an eye patch. WHY didn’t anyone tell me THAT would happen?

It happened one night while sitting at dinner with my husband and two year old son at the time. I was just entering into the 3rd trimester of pregnancy with our miracle baby (also referred to as our IVF baby, science project and frozen popsicle) when I noticed water falling out of the right side of my mouth. I ran into the bathroom to see what was happening and then I burst into tears. Half of my mouth was drooping down and I when I smiled, it did not smile back. It did not move. Things quickly went from bad to worse. I had lost all movement on the right side of my face and anything associated with the right side of my face. My smell was gone. My hearing was gone. My taste was gone. ALL GONE.

I ran back into the kitchen and said to my husband, “Something is wrong with my face!!!” He said, “Maybe you slept on it wrong?”. Slept on it wrong??? It was dinner time, I had been up for 12 hours. Terrified, I called my doctor. She immediately sent me to the Emergency Room. Her suspicion was that it was Bell’s Palsy but she wanted to rule out a stroke.

While in the ER, I learned that I was not having a stroke and that it was in fact, Bell’s Palsy. Would it ever go away? Was it permanent? No one knew the answers and the internet sure as hell was no help. Some cases of Bell’s Palsy clear up and some cases are permanent. Once I was released from the hospital, I did everything imaginable to get my face back to normal—massages, facials, acupuncture. If the internet suggested it, I tried it. Nothing worked. For being seven months pregnant, feeling huge and downright miserable, I felt like I was holding it together pretty well. Then, one day I was at our pediatrician’s office with our two year old when I heard three nurses at the front desk whispering. They were talking about my face. I immediately left, got in the car and called my sister sobbing. I couldn’t take it anymore. It took us eight years to get pregnant and now this was happening. All I could think about was how UNFAIR this was and how miserable I was.

I learned a lot about myself those last few months of pregnancy with Bell’s Palsy. I cared too much about what people thought of me. I put way too much stock in appearance. I took for granted being healthy. Who had I become? Plus, I was PREGNANT. Something that I had never thought was going to be possible. Could I not feel some joy in that alone? People stared at me, talked about me, gave me funny looks. I looked different on the outside but I was still the same person on the inside. By the end of that pregnancy, I had learned to live with Bell’s Palsy. It taught me that who I was as a person was much more important than my looks. It taught me not to stare or judge when I saw someone different. Most importantly, it taught me humility.

So while I was "glowing" on the inside because I was finally pregnant, it looked a little different on the outside. And that's okay because isn't that life? Things may look far different than they actually are. My face was drooping, people were staring, and I had to wear an eye patch at night because my eye wouldn't close (super sexy by the way.) My face wasn't quite right, but I was pregnant with my miracle baby! And while my face recovered the minute Beau was born, I'd take a droopy face any damn day to have my perfect baby Beau in my arms. It's not how we look that matters, it's how we feel. I felt so much love in my heart that day, who needed a sense of smell?!