One of the benefits of keeping a family blog is that it can also serve as a kind of memory book or journal. Usually around our blog it involves changes around the house, new favorite recipes, crafting and quilting projects, etc. But we also look forward to having this forum for sharing future family/baby updates and photos with friends and family at a distance. Right now I’m at 25weeks of pregnancy and was kind of thinking I ought to jot a few things down to remember how my pregnancy was— hard to say how I’ll remember it after it’s all said and done? And I know if and when we do this all again, I won’t be able to think back and remember, when did I stop feeling nauseated? how much weight did I gain last time? when did I start feeling the baby move? So, warning, personal stuff ahead, probably too-much-information for many. Feel free to stop here 🙂
Memory note #1: First trimester feelings
Up until about 14 weeks, I spent little time thinking about a baby coming and more time thinking about ‘oh my goodness, my clothes don’t fit!’ And given my crummy reproductive system and our using fertility treatment, I was also always a bit tentative about whether my very early pregnancy would ‘stick.’ Around week 12 I was interviewing for a job within my current department, so I was super concerned about ‘showing’ at work, which was more an issue of ‘showing’ a new wardrobe which would be a giveaway, but got by with just unbuttoning the tops of my pants and being careful about what I wore on top to cover it up. By week 14-16, I revealed the big news to work and I was loving the belly band and soon after entered actual maternity clothes (tho even still I belly band regular pants pretty often). It really took until the 20 week ultrasound to feel internal relief and freedom to starting planning for an actual baby arriving.
Nausea: not pleasant, but overall not all that bad. For me, beginning around 4? weeks this felt like ramped up metabolism that was very vulnerable to blood sugar crashes, leading to nausea that would set in for the day if I didn’t get it under control during the morning. My method for managing: sip juice, eat some crackers while still in bed, sit and stand up slowly and drink instant breakfast on the way to work, if not before (Natalie’s tip!). The instant breakfast was great because with no appetite to prepare, chew and swallow actual food in the morning, the chocolate milk went down easy and gave me the start I needed. Somehow Twizzlers became my go-to sugar kick which, yes might sound like a weird junk food craving, but I think was actually a decent way for me to keep my blood sugar up and avoid the crashing. In other countries, they actually sell little sugar candies at the pharmacy for pregnant women. By week 12 this was all subsiding and mostly gone by week 14. By weeks 16-20 I was eating whatever normal foods I usually like, cooking again and feeling totally normal. Hooray! I feel lucky I was able to manage this particular rough spot of pregnancy that I know is often much worse for others.
Exhaustion: what in the world? Felt like I got hit by a truck every day. All I could do to get through a week of work and basically got nothing else done. Strategy- just accept it and rest up! This was also beginning to subside around 12 weeks and I was really feeling more myself by 14 weeks.
Memory note #2: Baby wiggling
When we first got pregnant, I was undergoing constant ultrasounds and blood samples because we utilized a fairly intensive ovulation induction protocol at a fertility clinic. Being handed off the OB who didn’t even ultrasound me was like wandering into an abyss of having no solid information on how things were going inside the uterus. They warned us we would have these withdrawals! Between the first trimester genetic screen ultrasound and the 20 week anatomy check ultrasound, I was really getting anxious to start feeling some activity because some women are feeling kicks at 16-18 weeks! Our little bean wasn’t really detectable until my 21st week. In retrospect, I think I was feeling things a little sooner, but it was hard to know what could be a baby kick and what was gas bubbles, so probably I was feeling it week 20, but was definitely confident about it by 21 weeks. The first time we visually could see little pops in my belly (reminiscent of the Aliens movie) happened at 22 weeks which I thought was kind of fun, but I think Chad was kind of weirded out at first 🙂 Must be hard for dads to just take in the sideshow that has become of their wife without directly experiencing any of this bizarre transition from personhood to parenthood directly themselves.
Memory note #3: Help! What is happening to me?
I have realized pregnancy is a time of learning to relinquish control, a tough one for me as I’m a bit of an anxious wreck when I feel out of control. First, doctors will just do stuff- test stuff, collect stuff, advise stuff, etc that you had no interest even asking for (or even as a perinatal researcher, knew to ask for). And ‘the system’ of prenatal care, labor and delivery I’m learning will take care of the rest of the things you never really wanted or knew you might need. Lesson 1- I tested positive for Group B streptococcus, a relatively inane strain of bacteria that is part of our typical microbiome and populates about 1 in 4 women, though it comes and goes. It’s not a disease or anything, just one of those microbes that hangs out in humans, some more than others apparently (too much time handling farm animals in grad school?). Problem comes in when you plan to delivery a baby because there’s a small chance they might contract and become infected by the strep which can cause major illness or even perinatal death in fragile newborns. So, the nurse simply advised me on the phone, oh you’re positive for GBS, no big deal, you’ll just have i.v. antibiotics 4 hours before your delivery. So of course I melt down and think, who are you to tell me what drugs they going to infuse into me for my delivery? Maybe I’m planning to give birth in the ocean with dolphins, lady! And the scientist in me is furious that based on some 1/1000 chance of complications, 25% of women have to be subjected to i.v. prophylactic antibiotics, interfering with the normal population of the infant’s microbial environment and contributing to antibiotic resistance, etc, etc, scientific blabbering. After a week of frustration, reading journal articles and even bawling my eyes out to Chad one night as I realized I have lost control of my own body, I finally learned the tough lesson, that having a baby is a big deal, this particular procedure is a relatively well informed one (more so than showering to the back because the baby “doesn’t like hot water,” a real gem I heard from one doc), and it doesn’t mean I have to rush to the hospital immediately because 4 hours is less than half the length of the time of the typical first timer’s labor. Anyway, as the days go by, I am learning to chill a bit and let some things go 🙂
I’m only now getting to the point of my skin getting dry (the furnace is no kicking on since it’s Nov, for one) and streeetched feeling. I’ve only had one person ask to feel my belly, but I do notice people “checking out” my bump. As someone having always had a pretty non-curvy body, I’ve never really been used to anyone having trouble keeping eye contact, but I guess pregnant bellies are something to notice! Speaking of pregnant bellies, here’s the latest on this girl’s bump… it is getting crazy big! Ah!
If you made it this far, thanks for listening and letting me document the path thus far. I’m curious to see how things will change over the course of the next trimester. Excited to be getting closer to actual baby countdown!