Archives for the month of: March, 2014

I meant to post this earlier, but then I had a whirlwind week of exhausting work travel and have basically been comatose since then. Here’s to no more travel until the second trimester!

We had our first prenatal appointment at the birthing center right before I hit ten weeks. Although I felt my normal anxiety about being in the presence of medical professionals (a lifelong phobia), I was immediately comforted by the different approach to my care. First, I got to weigh myself! According to their scale, I was up two pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I think that was mostly from the clothing and post-lunch timing. They also handed me a copy of the pregnancy edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves–awesome!

The midwife spent more than an hour with us, and for the first 45 minutes, I got to stay dressed. There’s nothing worse than meeting with a doctor for the first time and feeling the extra vulnerability of being naked under a thin paper gown with an opening down the front. The midwife wasn’t particularly warm in personality, but very knowledgable and thorough in her questions. I liked how they screened for things like having a support system and a safe living situation. The questions made me realize how privileged I am. From genetic testing to diet to birth plans, the information was overwhelming in terms of volume, but everything was written in a notebook that they gave us to look at later.

Once it came time for the pelvic exam, I felt sort of shy having my husband in the room and made him turn around when I got undressed. I don’t know why, but it was already such a vulnerable process that I needed some semblance of privacy, even from my husband. I mean, when else is there someone else in the room with you during something so exposing? I guess the obvious answer to that would be birth. Anyway, we got through the exam, and then came time to listen for the heartbeat. She did share that because I was not ten weeks, we might not be able to hear it. But as soon as she put the Doppler on my belly, within seconds we heard the sweet, miraculous “whoosh whoosh whoosh” sounds of our peanut’s heart beating away like a champ.

I wasn’t prepared for what a pivotal, emotional moment that would be. I guess for six weeks, I sort of knew that I was pregnant, but I didn’t have anything affirming that there really was a creature inside of me. In the back of my mind, I always knew that things wouldn’t work out. But as soon as we heard that noise, I had the simultaneous feelings of relief and panic–we are really going to be responsible for another human being’s survival and growth. But the overwhelming emotion was a the feeling of awe and wonder. That was the moment when everything became real.

 

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Caution: whiny post ahead.

There should be a law against weekend visitors in the first trimester. Unless they are the kind who are self-sufficient, love to clean up your house, and leave you the hell alone when you’re not feeling well. Unfortunately, we weren’t so lucky.

Oh, in-laws. Oh, in-laws where one of them happens to be your old boss. (Long story short: I married my former boss’s stepson. It was a lot less creepy than it sounds.) My husband and I have been married just under a year, so I’m still figuring out the whole new family dynamic. Even though I’ve known these people for awhile, they’ve only recently become “family” and I struggle with even considering them in that way. It doesn’t help that former boss/step-MIL is constantly pushing the family thing down my throat. She hates the delineation  of “step,” “half,” “ex,” “in-law,” etc. when those titles are precisely what make me comfortable. But, I digress.

The visit started out well because we were able to share our pregnancy news in person for the first time with family. Of course their reactions were lovely, albeit a bit awkward when my step-MIL declares that this will be their “fifth grandchild” when there are NO grandchildren on my husband’s side of the family; she was referring to her kids’ kids. They asked how I was feeling, and I shared that so far, the first trimester had me feeling dog tired nearly every single day. (My charming step-MIL just had to share how she LOVED being pregnant and never had any nausea, fatigue, or any other symptom. On behalf of every other pregnant woman I know, I say–screw  you, lady.) In other words, please don’t expect me to be feeling up to too much while you’re in town. 

But y’all, they didn’t get the hint. On Saturday I actually felt normal enough to drink coffee for the first time in weeks, eat vegetables, and go on not one but two hikes with them. Very much like getting over the flu, I felt just well enough to act normally, only to fall back into debilitating fatigue later that day and for the rest of their visit. On Sunday, the only time I got up was to pee and to eat whatever food my lovely husband had prepared. The rest of the time I was holed up in our bedroom, eating saltines and crying while watching The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Meanwhile, my poor husband is trying desperately to balance caring for his pitiful pregnant wife with “entertaining” the step MIL with trips to museums, farmers markets, and other things he would rather not be doing.

On top of that, both of them are pretty judgmental about food and eating. When preparing brunch, my husband was pulling out some biscuits to bake in addition to the pancakes he was making. My FIL was visibly appalled that more than one bread item would be served and made a huge ordeal about how he wouldn’t dare eat one in addition to the pancakes. Of course, the reason my husband was making them was because I wanted one, and I felt like a total idiot for consuming more than one bread product at a sitting. I mean, can you even imagine a worse food crime?! Later that day, the only thing that sounded good to me was potato chips  dipped in sour cream, but I was too embarrassed to get them myself. So I had my husband get them for me and ate in the privacy of our room. Later we had a good laugh when my FIL stated that he was “eaten out” from the weekend. I tried so hard not to crack up at that.

The thing is, I do understand that part of hosting is entertaining your guests and trying to please them as much as possible (and we generally LOVE having guests and showing them around our area), but as a houseguest, I also think that you have to go with the flow of the situation and not be overly demanding, especially when one of your hosts can’t get out of bed because she’s gestating your future grandchild. In the end, they decided to leave a day early which was probably for the best for all involved, as I could go back to eating my chips and dip in the living room again.

Lesson learned: no extended visits from anyone until I hit thirteen weeks!

The question of when to tell family about our pregnancy was one we struggled with. Unlike friends who could offer support in case of a miscarriage, we knew our families would immediately be emotionally invested and would feel a loss from miscarriage more intimately than our friends. But, waiting until the end of the first trimester felt like too long, especially with a visit from my in-laws on the horizon. We decided we’d tell once we passed past the eight week mark.

And we almost made it! My husband’s mom called last Thursday, and since those two don’t talk regularly, I waved at him, made a ridiculous pregnant belly gesture, and mouthed “baby?” So, that was when we started telling our parents and siblings. I’m really glad that we did because in the midst of a really difficult week  symptom-wise, it was the boost of love, excitement, and support that I needed. It’s given me permission to feel excited in the midst of the unknown.

My oldest brother, a real “tough guy,” nearly broke down in tears when I told him. My other brother, an anesthesiologist, wanted to know all about the birthing center and how I was feeling. But most special has been the reconnection I’ve felt with my mom. She and I were close when I was younger, but as I’ve grown up, we’ve drifted a bit. In some ways, I dreaded telling her about the pregnancy and her impending freak out. And did she ever freak out…but in the best kind of way. I’ve found more than I ever thought that the person I want to talk to most about my pregnancy is my mother.

I feel grateful for their perfect reactions, love, and excitement about our growing family. It’s helping me move into that space of feeling more gratitude and less fear.

After posting about my odd too big/not big enough body moment… someone passed along this fabulous site.

http://maternitygallery.com

It has images of people grouped by week of pregnancy. Wow, does it show that there is a wide range of normal! I think whenever we are going through body changes (ugh, remember puberty anyone?), there is this tendency to be afraid that you are different or something is wrong. Other people don’t help, as comments seem to highlight whatever insecurities are already there.

Somehow seeing how there isn’t one defined “normal” from which you are deviating, but instead wide range of bodies and shapes, helps me to find more peace with my body as it is. (And they are taking submissions, because I’m sure they’d like more!) I bet that I will be going back to the site as the pregnancy continues.

On Wednesday we visited the birthing center where I hope to get my prenatal care and deliver our baby. The idea of not having the option of an epidural does make me a little nervous, but I was so encouraged and inspired by the center’s focus on preparing women for labor and delivery that both my husband and I left feeling confident this was the right option for us. I called first thing the next day to make my first appointment. Unfortunately, I still haven’t gotten a call back! I suspect their lines were busy with calls from tour attendees, but I’m still a little annoyed.

There wasn’t much unusual about Wednesday evening other than an earlier dinner and no pre-bedtime snack. Around 2 in the morning, I woke up from a deep sleep completely overheated, hyperventilating, and like the room was spinning around as if I were drunk. I stumbled to the bathroom, stripped off my pajamas, and laid there crying as I broke into a full-on sweat. Of course my husband was completely freaked out and worried. There was nothing he could do for me. I managed to calm myself down enough to eat a few crackers and get back in bed.

Like clockwork, an hour later the same thing happened, but this time the dizziness was so bad that I started throwing up over and over again. Once the barfing stopped, I felt better. An hour later, the whole thing happened again–more spinning, more puking, more crying. Eventually I got myself back to sleep for a few hours, only to wake up feeling weak and pitiful. This was by far the lowest point of my pregnancy to date.

Just a few days earlier I’d felt pretty good and now I was experiencing full-on vertigo! I never even knew that could be a thing during pregnancy. After doing some web searches, I saw other women with similar episodes, which made me feel better and worse. Could this be my newest symptom? Was it going to be like this every night? No one really could say what causes it–low blood pressure, low blood sugar, inner ear issues, etc.

The following night I was exhausted but frightened to sleep, fearful that I’d have a bad night again. I propped myself up with extra pillows, had a snack before bed, and took a half unisom with a b6 vitamin. I also kept my seasickness wristbands on all night, and fortunately I made it through the night without any disruptions. I’m hoping it was just a fluke and not something I’ll have to deal with regularly.

I am now 14 weeks pregnant, and can’t quite figure out how to perceive my changing body. I present to you the facts:

  • I have gained all of one pound since getting pregnant.
  • All of my pants are profoundly uncomfortable. I have been wearing the BeBand nonstop–which has vastly improved the buttoning situation. But now it seems that my butt and thighs are large enough that sitting in my jeans or regular pants is no longer comfortable. Like after I take them off and sit in yoga pants, they still kinda hurt from being in the dumb jeans for any period of time.
  • I have a little belly that I find to be noticeable. Perhaps just noticeable to me when I put clothes on and see how they fit me.
  • My coworkers have been throwing in statements like “you’re not even showing yet.”

I will grant you that I am a rather petite person and I know my body much more intimately than others would. But it also leads my thoughts to fluctuate between “I-vow-to-never-wear-these-pants-again-take-me-shopping-now” to “who are you kidding, you aren’t even showing yet whiny-whiner.” The sensible answer is that I will notice smaller changes far before other people, and to wear clothes that don’t make you uncomfortable, and that there will be plenty of time for being visibly pregnant (like the next six months for example).

Or I can be insensible and just alternate lamenting that I’m so big/not big yet ;-). Anyone else with odd body image vacillation going on?

It’s been a nice few days in terms of pregnancy–mostly because I’m so relieved and so grateful to be out of nausea. Seriously, I hope to maintain my sense of empathy for any nausea sufferers in my midst for many years to come!

I even cooked food with meat tonight folks. Like actively stood over the stove and cooked something. Life is great.

Yes, I have had symptoms–still with fatigue and occasional dizziness. I have been having headaches for the last several days, which I’ve been trying to placate with tea, warm presses on the face, and the occasional tylenol. I’m hopeful that something changes in the next few days, but have I mentioned that without nausea, everything else seems more manageable?

One of my pregnancy books calls the second trimester “the calm” which seems pretty apt–I’m enjoying this newfound sense of peace about the pregnancy and the changes in my body.

Of course, I’ve realized something else: I seem to have filled that calm with huge amounts of other projects! My work runs on the program year–with the busy season and big projects running from September to May. And I love what I do and usually have more ideas for projects than I have time to work on. And somehow subconsciously I have moved all of the projects I was excited about for all of this year, into to the month of March. It’s not completely crazy, as regular work will be kicking up more in April, but it also is clearly because subconsciously I was making up for not being present in September. I love everything that I’m working on, but wowza, did I overbook myself for this month!

So this seems to be my season of busy calm–spending a lot of time outward on things that matter to me, while knowing that soon my focus will need to turn inward to my body and new baby family. I will be sad about it in some ways, when I won’t be able to devote as much of my time and mental energy to this work that I care about–I will need to readjust my life balance. So I guess my subconscious solution has been to tip the scales to work for the next month. I’ll try to appreciate the bustle for what it is, and begin learning what it will be like to let some things go.

I can’t get a sense of how my symptoms line up with other women in the first trimester, but I feel like I’ve lucked out.  I’ve been doing my best to prevent nausea by eating every two hours, sporting the not very fashionable seasickness bands all the time except for showering and sleeping, and continuing my vitamin B complex routine*.  All in all, I’ve been able to nip nausea mostly in the bud before it gets too bad, which probably means that my nausea is mild to begin with. Knowing that this could change at any time, I am counting my blessings.

My palate, however, has radically changed. My sweet tooth  has almost completely vanished, other than for the occasional popsicle or orange slice (the candy, not the fruit.) Making my own salads is out of the question for now because it sounds gross, though I’ve been able to eat lots of roasted vegetables, raw carrots, and (strangely) restaurant-prepared salads. I’ve been exchanging my morning coffee for herbal tea (mint and ginger mostly) and the occasional regular Coke to settle my stomach. Crackers are a staple, especially when I wake up at 5 am with a growling stomach.

Oh, but the fatigue. I was not prepared for how wiped out I would feel some mornings, and I usually fall victim to sleepiness in the early afternoon and end up taking a nap with the dog in front of an episode of Gilmore Girls. Again, I’m very grateful to work from home and have this opportunity to rest. But more than sleepiness, there are times when I can’t get myself out of bed. It feels like I’ve just gotten over a stomach flu and am completely depleted. These are the times when I ask a lot of my husband and feel guilty for doing so. He assures me that I’m the one doing the hard work of, you know, creating a new human, but I can’t help but worry I’ll wear him out before the baby gets here.

Feeling tired has been the biggest hurdle so far. I’m someone who is accustomed to being able to suck up and deal with not feeling great in order to be productive, but with the pregnancy, I’ve learned that there’s a limit to this. Which brings me to working out. I’ve been committed to not abandoning my exercise routine because I know how important it is for my health, especially after reading Exercising Through Your Pregnancy. But, I’ve had to lower my expectations. There are things I just can’t do right now, like high-intensity plyometrics. All of the bouncing makes me feel more nauseous and kills my boobs. And, I get winded much more quickly and with less exertion, which can be frustrating. It’s a tough balance of trying to challenge myself without overdoing it. I’ve exchanged my usual 6 am workout for late afternoon  sessions because that’s generally when I feel well enough to do it. Now a half hour session of lifting or low-impact cardio feels like a HUGE triumph. Funny how this pregnancy is affecting my life in ways I never anticipated.

All in all, I feel like I’m getting off easy so far, and I’m grateful for that. Tomorrow we go on a tour of the birthing center where I hope to get OB care and have my delivery. Here’s to seven weeks!

*I started this before I got pregnant. It’s supposed to help with lengthening the luteal phase (original reason for taking it), preventing morning sickness, and reducing chance of miscarriage.