Monday, December 19, 2011

What to expect in nine months of creating a human being

Baby boy clearly has not gotten the message that it's time to move out. He is very warm, comfy and continuously held & fed inside thank you very much and he would like to extend his stay beyond his estimated day of eviction.

In waiting for baby boy to decide he wants to come out, I've been trying to constantly monitor my own "symptoms" to see if labor is imminent. Apparently, sometimes you can feel sick beforehand with flu-like symptoms. You can have a "bloody show" when the mucus plug comes out. You can have increasing Braxton-Hicks (practice) contractions. But it is more likely that you will have none of these! Anecdotal evidence from friends suggests that sometimes you feel more tired the day before - or that your face and fingers swell more in the week before. But that doesn't seem like much to go on since fatigue and swelling is common in all of late pregnancy.

In a nice parallel symmetry, this symptom-checking reminds me very much of the very first two weeks of this pregnancy - that period commonly know as the "two-week wait," when you could possibly be pregnant but can't yet get a positive pregnancy test result and every little abnormality is questioned and re-questioned. The problem with the 2 week wait is that it happens to also be that period of time when you get PMS if you aren't pregnant... and early pregnancy symptoms and PMS are remarkably alike. Go figure.

Given that, I thought I'd take a look back on the past 9 months. In particular, comparing what was I expecting and what was I questioning at the beginning, and how things actually panned out.

Early pregnancy symptoms
I am one of these lucky ones who doesn't really get any PMS, no cramps or anything.  I do tend to get a tad weepy and crave sweet, chocolatey things more than normal. So OF COURSE my early pregnancy symptoms included feeling a tad weepy and craving sweet, chocolatey things. But three things that I did have which I normally don't have (but which - again - some women will count among normal PMS symptoms) is feeling very tired, sore & tender breasts, and slight pain & pressure in my lower abdomen. I also, all of a sudden, had a strong aversion to tea & coffee in the morning, and beer & wine tasted so... weird and bad! (You will be happy to know that said aversions disappeared entirely by the third trimester. I chalk this up to my body's incredible ability to steer me away from substances that would have harmed baby boy's developing organs in the first and second trimesters - but I don't think this is such a common aversion to develop, so it probably won't happen to you.)
Basically, my advice for the two week wait is to just try not to symptom-check while waiting, and avoid all alcohol and reduce your caffeine consumption - just in case. First trimester is the most important time to not drink! 

"Morning" sickness
First of all, forget about the name. This is ALL DAY sickness. Well, for me it was all day. For others it strikes at particular times. But in no way delude yourself into thinking that it only happens in the morning. I suffered from almost constant nausea, and occasional bouts of actually being sick, from week 6 to week 18. I was unable to stomach most foods and particularly revolted by vegetables (go figure) and meat products (especially chicken - I couldn't walk by a KFC without wanting to vomit). My nausea was worse in the morning, and the only thing that made it better was if I ate something (cereal, crackers, or dried fruit) before getting up out of bed. And I mean, the only way it worked was if I ate something while still lying down, no getting up at all. Which means you need a co-operative husband, or the foresight to stack your nightstand.
If you also happen to suffer from nausea and sickness during your first trimester you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that your chances of having a miscarriage are lower than those who don't. Apparently the nausea is from all those good pregnancy hormones, and the creation of the placenta and your little guy or gal's major internal organs.
Given that, I've spoken with many other women who never suffered from any nausea at all. And no food aversions. At all. All I can say to them is GO AWAY, DON'T TALK TO ME, I DISLIKE YOU. If you think that is an extreme response then you clearly haven't ever had constant all-day nausea for 12 weeks in a row.

Other fun symptoms
Extreme fatigue and exhaustion in the first trimester. Really. Sleeping 10 hours at night AND taking a 2 hour nap. And then at week 16 when you're like, oh the pregnancy books say I should be energized since I'm in the fun second trimester stage, but oh I still feel like I got hit by a train, I must be iron-deficient! You're not! (Or at least I wasn't.) Your body is just beat from creating all major internal organs of a human being from scratch.
SPD or PGP - I won't talk about this here because it is NOT that common. The funny thing about pregnancy symptoms is, other than fatigue and weight gain, everyone's symptoms and experiences are going to be completely different and you will end up suffering from things no one's told you about. For example, I know a woman who has this extreme pregnancy rash that is so painful she has to take steroids to block the pain. And another who had such bad swelling her entire pregnancy that she won't get pregnant again. These are not "normal" but then again, nothing really is! The truth is, you can't know what to expect from your body until you've done it once. Not even your own mother's experience is a good indicator of what to expect. Expect the unexpected. But read that pregnancy bible "what to expect when you're expecting" anyway. At least that will give you a barometer of what KIND OF to expect.

Weight Gain
They say not to expect almost any gain in the first trimester, and then 1-2 lbs a week in the second and third trimesters. I gained a lot in the sixth and seventh months because I was SO HUNGRY, all the time. And I was kind of paranoid about not giving my baby the nutrients he needed. So I probably ate too much. Hmmm, scratch that, I DID eat too much. Add to that the fact that I couldn't exercise because of my SPD, and hello! you get a 50-lb pregnancy weight gain! But my friend gained 45 lbs, she gave birth in August, and she's already lost all of it except 5 lbs. SO. I have FAITH.

Baby bump
When will I show?? I must have googled that a milion times. The fact of the matter is that you most certainly will think you are showing long before you actually are showing. I thought I was showing at 17 weeks. I was kind of showing. I thought I was HUGE at 20 weeks. I was not. I was for sure showing at that point though. Although, I think most first-time women are not. I think the combination of my very short and narrow torso and loose abdominal muscles made me show earlier. For subsequent pregnancies you show much earlier.

See weight gain. Don't over-buy. Don't buy anything at all in your first trimester. Trust me. Just take a hair tie and loop it through your jean button and wear them AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. You will miss them. Also what fits you in the second trimester almost certainly will NOT still fit you in the third. Your belly, the same one that is swimming in this "so huge!" maternity top at 24 weeks, will be busting out of it by 34. Trust me on this one. Luckily, by 34 weeks you kind of stop caring what you look like anyway. You also stop caring about the condition of those shirts that are not maternity but "I don't want to stretch them out so I'm going to not wear them". You wear them. And dream about what clothing you will buy to replace them once you no longer resemble a beached whale.

So as you can see, pregnancy is FUN! And totally different for everyone.

But I am so ready to not be pregnant anymore. Just for the record.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

all I want for christmas.....

is baby! 

I'm in my 39th week of pregnancy this week (technically that's called 38 weeks pregnant here.) Either way it means only a few more days till my due date! If I make it there? Don't want to jinx it, but I feel like baby boy must be ready to meet the world. I just can't get any bigger! At the midwife appointment today she said I'm 3/5 engaged - which means baby's head is nestled nicely in the pelvis. Not that that means anything - first babies can engage a few weeks before birth or a few days, or even hours. We'll just have to wait and see! Waiting...

Friday, December 2, 2011

A look back...

Since the end of this pregnancy is now well in sight, I thought I'd take a look back... here's something I wrote before I found out I was pregnant...

March 30th 2011

So I told my mom and my dad I thought I might be pregnant yesterday afternoon. I don’t know what got into me. Maybe it was because C was so late coming home, and I hadn’t spoken a single word to anybody all day long, but I called my mom and said “I think I might be pregnant.” I called my dad an hour later and basically said the same thing to him but in a much different way. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. My mom’s reaction was priceless.

Me: “I think I’m pregnant.”
Mom: “I know.”
Me: “What?!?”
Mom: “The psychic told me last week you were pregnant.”
Me: “But I didn’t know I was pregnant last week – and I still don’t actually know,  I just think!”
Mom: silence
Me: “Okay.”
Mom: “She said you’re having a boy.”
Me: “Cool.”

After hanging up with the psychic queen, I realized I hadn’t called my other parental half to inquire after his home-sale. I couldn’t really get too involved or exciting about the sale because I kept on thinking about how I might, might, might be pregnant. And then he started talking about coming to visit in September, and my mind starts working over-drive. < If he comes in September then he’ll have to come again in December when the baby would be due, and won’t  I be going home in August for a baby shower? > All these thoughts – mind you – predicated on a supposition that was and is far from proven fact! Needless to say, I blurted out, “Well, you know, there may be a reason for you to come over in December because I might be pregnant!” My dad followed this announcement with congratulations, which I quickly stemmed, reminding him that it was a big maybe!

Dad: “Well, are your checks rosy?”
Me: “That’s so funny because actually my checks have been really flushed the past few days.”
Dad: “I can always tell when a woman is pregnant because her checks are rosy.”
Me: “Really?”
Dad: “Sure I can!”

So, you see, my dad is a pregnancy seer! He lives in New Hampshire though, so fellow wanna-be-mums, you should be prepared for a long journey to undergo his rosy-cheek analysis. 

I ended up getting a very faint second line on a pregnancy test on the morning of April 8th (Day 27 of what is usually a 29 day cycle.) It was so faint that I took another test on the 10th just to be sure - a digital one, that clearly said 1-2 weeks pregnant! (Which really means 3-4 weeks because in crazy pregnancy math, you are "pregnant" while you are still having your last period; your pregnancy is dated starting from the first day of your last period.) My pre-positive test symptoms that led me to believe I was pregnant without proof of the test included: cramping (I normally don't get cramps ever); a sudden aversion to beer, wine, coffee and tea; feeling very sad and tired for no reason; and a stabby pain in my boobs. And then the nausea and extreme exhaustion started at week 6 and didn't fully let up until week 18. FUN. STUFF.

But now I'm 16 days from my due date - what a long journey its been, and what an incredible one is in store....