Saturday, June 10, 2023
Home / Fight Like a Girl Magazine / Reflections / No, I’m Not Pregnant!

No, I’m Not Pregnant!

Yes, I know that “When are you due?” can be extremely painful for anyone who is not pregnant… But to a 30 year old woman who can’t have any more children, and has Ascites from a failing liver, it is heartbreaking. Of all of the symptoms I had, from constant bleeds, horrible itching, memory loss, daily vomiting… All of them, the ascites was the one that played with my emotions the most. One time, I sat in front of my mirror for almost an hour staring at my pregnant looking belly imagining “if only…”

But really it was something more serious, a symptom of cirrhosis… fluid collecting outside of my organs (in the peritoneal cavity). At first you really don’t notice, but after a little while the pressure builds, the fluid begins to press on your organs, it becomes hard to breathe (and walk) and you can just feel all that fluid sloshing around in there. Ascites is a symptom of an underlying problem, so the only way to truly get rid of it is to fix the cause. In a majority of the cases, it is advanced liver disease (cirrhosis) that causes ascites, but it can also be from congestive heart failure, kidney disease, pancreatitis, and some cancers as well.

Controlling ascites is an uphill battle for anyone, but for a gal on the transplant list with ESLD (end-stage-liver-disease) it would not go away until I got my new liver. It can be managed for quite a while with a proper diet of less then 2,000mg of sodium per day (I kept mine at about 1,000). I also ate foods that were natural diuretics (and just plain good for the liver) like green tea, artichoke, asparagus, lemons, cranberry juice, apple cider vinegar, cucumbers… Once diet alone stopped working I was placed on diuretics, Lasix and Aldactone (watch your potassium and blood-pressure on these folks) but I can not stress the importance of diet still, because these drugs can do some damage, especially to your kidneys, so please don’t depend on them alone! After a while, even stronger diuretics stopped  working, and I needed to have an occasional paracentesis. This is where they take a very large needle to tap and drain the fluid (they will also take a sample to test for infection). It relieves the pressure for a while but, unfortunately, fluid usually builds back up pretty quickly.

I took care of my ascites at home, adjusting my own diuretics, and only went in when I had a fever or needed a paracentesis. I weighed myself daily and was insanely strict with my diet. I believe that it kept my ascites under control with the least amount of diuretics, and spared my kidneys from damage while I waited for my new liver.  Please see a doctor if you think you may have ascites, and for God’s sake, don’t approach a woman about her belly unless she is rocking a “Bun in the oven” shirt. 😉


This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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  1. Stephanie

    Thank you for your post it broke my heart on Saturday when one person thought I was pregnant and another thought I was old. It is a terrible thing to make such assumptions when a person has been sick for so long

  2. Kim

    Ricki, I am dreading ascites and this is exactly why. Ok, one of the reasons! Such a mind game knowing you’re not pregnant but looking like you are. I know I will have a very hard time with it when I get there. Great post and it reminds me to take a look at what I’ve been eating. Need to be more strict. You rock!

  3. Beth

    I wish I knew this information about ascites 3 years ago. My mom had it ( a nurse). not only did her Liver doctor not explain this to us, that this could happen, he never mentioned it. I went to every appointment. We found out she had it after I got a call from her staff that they feared she had a stroke at work. She was dazed, couldn’t right her name, her whole personality changed. Turned out it was ascites. She was given a syrup to take. Alot of syrup. She hated it. Time went by, not sure how long. …months most likely. She felt like she had the flu. And it persisted. On Monday she drove herself to the emergency room. I soon arrived. They couldn’t find a problem, sent her home. By that evening we went back, she was admitted into the hospital. Three days, bunch of tests, no clue. She was in and out if it as time went on. She was air flighted to a better hospital. Couple of hours later they told us it was pretty much too late. Her stomach bile and such was leaking out. The damage had been done. Kidneys failing, renal failure, then gone within a week. DON’T EXCUSE THE SYMPTOMS!!! if she had been more informed, more diligent, and less stubborn she’d probably still be here.

  4. Kristin Marie Visbeck

    I am 26 years old with end stage liver chirrosis. I can totally relate, not only have I been asked WAY more than anyone should, I was actually accused of having an abortion, and had rumors that I had termenated a pregnancy after I had 10lbs of fluid taped from my stomch. It is EXTREMELY hurtful. I am a very proud and grateful mother of a 6 year old, thankfully, but people really need to think before they say or judge. I have developed a very thick skin because of this.

    • kristin visbevk

      It also contributes to ammonia build up in the brain and H.E.D., i have had no lie atleast a dozen of near death experiences from ammoinia build up. Its a terrible feeling boecause you can become a completely different person if not taking your medication. It takes a few days sometimes a week or more to get proper blood lab test or biobsiy done. I had slipped into a come at5’7 droppped from 145 to under87 lbs. Due to my ignancance of this disease, sympthoms, prevention, nutrition, warning signs, I am a walking miracle but others are not as fortunate. We need to spread the word about liver disease, when I went into the hospital er they said I had strept throat due to my glands swollen…I was so weak I didnt fight it but my Motther literally saved my life. She told the doctors to look at my eyes. I had been ill for so long I thought nothing of it but they were yellow like a banana. They finally did a bloood test and saw my liver kidney amonia conditions.

  5. Diana

    I had that ascites…went to hospital but the docs were looking the cause of it n they found nothng went hom n after that i decided never to go so i have tiz pains in my stomach im worried can i be pregnant again or wat?plis help

  6. Laura

    Great post ~ I too have ascites since Feb this year a couple of weeks after throwing up so much blood, and look about 7 or so months pregnant. .
    I was sent to hospital 4 weeks later as the doctor said that I could have died, they did loads of checks ~ wanted to give me a blood transfusion as they said I was so aneamic,wanted to drain my lungs & stomach as there was so much fluid & do a liver biopsy. They said I would be there for a few months at least.
    I decided that I wanted to try my way first with herbs so went home. My anemia is out of the danger zone, fluid on my lungs almost gone, just waiting for the ascites & swelling in my legs to start going down.
    I have not had alcohol, sweets, cakes, puddings prepacked foods etc since I was sick that night
    Not many people have seen me since this happened as I have not been able to walk without pain, or am asleep a lot, so am in all the time, so far the worst part for me is the pain in my ankles and swollen legs & feet which makes it sooooo difficult to walk.
    My aunt kept asking was I sure I wasn’t pregnant, my mums carer asked when the baby is due, so I am prepared now for the whens the baby due questions !
    I have decided to try a herbal approach , and the herbalist has given me 3 medicines, not too bad tasting after a few days of taking them ! I am hoping these will help.

  7. Michelle Clark

    Im scared a lil because my father has acites and he is a slim guy but his belly is bigger now ..and he has been eating too many sweets…i like that you listed some good foods to eat…because all i see is what not to there a full list that i can get for him…should i have him juice should i make him juices…i saw 3 years expectancy and that broke me down….with taking the water out sometimes does that help…I=we need him way more then 3 years how i can expand his life ?

  8. jerry

    I am 28 yrs old the doctors told me that i have acsites i eas a newly wed n i thought i was prg it trns out am not it was z acsites even my family belive that i was but am wandaring can anyone tall me a person wiz acsites can hv a baby

    • zainab adesina

      Hi I know this is a very old post but am reaching out to you because a had the same issue, as a newly wed in 2008 my belly was big thinking I was pregnant but I was told I have ascites, I got pregnant through ivf 2012,but unfortunately I still have the ascites till now 2020,wondering if they figured out what was causing your ascites

  9. Tangela

    Well put, sir, well put. I’ll ceinlrtay make note of that.

  10. Bunny Robertson

    Cut down salt, drink garlic juice, eat raw onion every day, also melon and take dandelion tablets, DO NOT DO ALCOHOL.

    All above are effective diuretics and will hopefully slow it down or at least take the appearance away a bit.

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