Friday, September 26, 2014

Wake Me Up, When September Ends... | What I Wish I had Known My First Pregnancy

September has not been my month. If you missed it, in my last post I made an announcement: I'm pregnant. Due April 15th of next year. I of course couldn't be more excited about this, and I feel extremely blessed to have a tiny life inside me. There is something profoundly beautiful about pregnancy and the gift of being able to create, carry, and nurture life within you--it's both amazing and completely mysterious. The miracle of it all is not lost on me.

That being said, pregnancy is also really trying for me, especially in the first trimester. It was with Klair, and so far this pregnancy has followed suit. My "morning" sickness is an all day affair. I constantly feel like I've spent the day at an amusement park with no lines... ride after ride after ride. And, at random and unpredictable times (making it impossible to plan much) I get sick enough to spend some time with my old porcelain friend. Luckily for me, taking Zofran usually helps me keep my food down. Usually. But it doesn't take away the constant sensation that everything is spinning. It's as if my body has tuned in to the fact that we're spinning incessantly and hurtling through space at 67,000 miles per hour. (Yeah, I looked that up.)

I tried to explain it to my husband, because accurately conveying my ailments somehow makes me feel better. I told him it's like getting the stomach flu, except it doesn't go away after 24 hours or so. Instead, when the morning sickness hit me around week 6 the reality that my flu-like symptoms would likely last at least 7 weeks or so (with Klair it ended around 13 weeks) hit me like a ton of bricks. 24 hour flu? No way. More like, 2 month flu with the added benefit of digestive issues, heartburn, exhaustion, and crazy hormones. And weight gain. And acne. Awesome.

So, in September I've had these things against me. Combine that with a traveling husband and a relentless cold I contracted that lasted for about 2 weeks... and it's safe to say that September and I aren't really getting along. (If you've noticed that my blog has been quieter than usual... this is why.) I have higher hopes for October. If this pregnancy is like the last, my symptoms will likely improve once I'm in the second trimester. Hence the Green Day reference. If I could sleep my way through the rest of September, I most certainly would.

...Unfortunately the demands of raising a toddler aren't conducive to sleeping all day. It was so much easier the first pregnancy. Every free moment was spent resting, something that's just not possible with a teething toddler who also came down with a cold.

September, we used to be friends. It's going to take some time for me to get over this one. I'll give you a chance to make it up to me next year...

Alright, enough complaining. I recently read a post that said how blogging is cheaper than therapy. How true. Now that I've sufficiently complained, I'm going to try and make something positive out of this collection of words and share my own ten cents on the first trimester. I've learned a thing or two in my pregnancies--things that I wish I would have known all along. So here you go, hopefully it will be helpful to someone.

1. Babycenter.com is awesome. Seriously. Both for pregnancy and questions related to actually raising babies. Their articles follow all of the latest research, and I've found that they're always in line with what my doctors tell me. That's not to say that you shouldn't also talk to your doctor, but it is a great at-home resource to educate yourself before discussing things further with your practitioner. They even have a free app for pregnancy and one for the first year of your baby's life! (I sound like an advertisement, but I promise this post isn't sponsored in any way. It's just my opinion.)

2. Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor about (a) particular ailment(s). Maybe you're like me, and week 6 comes along and suddenly you're throwing up constantly. You refer to Baby Center, What to Expect, or some other resource and see that this is textbook behavior for an average pregnancy. It's "normal," so you should just suffer through it like everyone else... right? Wrong. In my first pregnancy I was so hesitant to talk to my doctor or ask for medicine, that I let myself go about a week without keeping much of anything down. I chalked it up to normal "morning sickness" (which by the way is a misnomer, it's rarely just a morning thing) and feared any drugs or supplements because I didn't want to unnecessarily ingest anything but pure organic goodness from heaven. Only the best for my baby.

What I failed to realize in my thinking was that not keeping any food or drink down was not only bad for me, but it certainly wasn't conducive to... you know... growing a baby. We both needed the nutrients that I was starved for. Finally I caved in, and called my doctor. I expected her to grill me, to evaluate whether or not I really needed anti nausea medicine. Instead, I started to explain that I wasn't keeping anything down and she immediately called me in a prescription for Zofran. After that I wasn't nearly so hesitant to ask for help and advice. This go around, at the first sign of sickness I had her call me in Zofran, and Phenigrin, and I'm also on Prevacid for some serious heartburn. You may feel annoying calling with your questions and concerns... but it's their job, and they are happy to help. Your health, and the health of your baby comes first. You aren't doing anyone any favors by suffering through unnecessary pain and sickness.

3. Find someone you can confide in. Now I know that some may be hesitant to tell anyone that they're pregnant. You might want to wait until you are outside of the danger zone of miscarriage in the first trimester. Or, you might just be a very private person. But it's important to find someone that you can talk to about your pregnancy, especially if you're suffering through different ailments. I am really lucky in the husband department. He listens to and comforts me constantly. He is my go-to guy. Yet, there are some things that he, as a guy, just doesn't understand. He can't. So I turn to females in my life who have actually experienced pregnancy--My older sister, and one friend in particular who has been pregnant with me both times. Sometimes, it's just nice to talk to someone who is not only sympathetic, but can actually be empathetic due to experience. If you don't have a fellow mom-friend, there are message boards and online support communities. Find someone, it really does help.

4. Fiber, fiber and more fiber. I didn't even know what constipation was until my first pregnancy. I was educated really quickly. Do yourself a favor, and increase your fiber intake, even if it means turning to supplements... especially if you take an anti-nausea medicine like Zofran. Additionally, you'll need to drink water like it's going out of style. It can be difficult to drink when you're constantly nauseous and making frequent trips to the bathroom, but it is so imperative for feeling well. In my first pregnancy plain water suddenly seemed disgusting to me, so I would dress it up with lemon or lime and that helped me get it down.

5. Invest in some flowy shirts, yoga pants, and (cute) maternity jeans. The initial weight gain of pregnancy is hard. Even though you know you're creating life and that gaining weight is healthy, it's still unnerving to watch the scale go up and to find that your wardrobe is shrinking due to an ever expanding waistline. Furthermore, the weight you gain at first does not equate to a nice, round, obvious baby bump for... awhile. At first it just feels/looks like you're bloated and putting on weight. That's when the flowy shirts come in handy. Once your belly is obviously pregnant, you can embrace the form fitted tees again... but until then a shirt that doesn't cling to your stomach is a welcome relief. And yoga pants? They are a dream. I prefer to buy the skinny yoga pants to wearing leggings--they look like leggings, but they have that nice thick waistband that's essentially a maternity pant. Wonderful.

When it comes to maternity jeans, I remember trying to put them off for as long as possible the first time around. I tried to make my normal jeans last as long as possible--to the point of discomfort and utter silliness. It was like a contest with other girls that I knew who were pregnant. "Are you wearing maternity jeans yet? I'm still in my regular pants" or "I was able to wear my normal jeans with an elastic throughout my entire pregnancy." I felt pressure. Then, one day I caved and I (gasp) got some maternity jeans. Rather than defeat, I was elated. They were so comfortable! And there were plenty of styles, including skinny jeans that fit me like a glove. I was sad I had missed out for so long. Even though I can still fit into my regular pants, I'm already wearing my old maternity jeans because they're just so much more comfortable on my growing stomach. Why torture myself? Certainly not so I can compete with other women.

6. Which brings me to my next point. Don't fall into the trap of competing with other women. I don't mind that every woman who has ever been pregnant wants to offer their ten cents of advice. I mean, that would be pretty hypocritical of me considering this post, right? You don't have to take their advice, but sometimes you do get some good info that you appreciate. What bothers me is when the conversation turns into some sort of competition. "At what point did you start wearing maternity clothes?" or "How much weight have you gained" or "You're how many weeks? I never got that big when I was pregnant." An old lady actually said that to me last time. Your body is unique. Make good, healthy choices and forget what anyone else thinks or what their experience was. I'm short and I have a small torso. There is nowhere for my babies to go but out, and I married a tall guy. Klair was 22 inches long at birth... I'm going to look a lot bigger than some other pregnant girls. I wasn't okay with this for awhile, but now I am. You might have the opposite problem. People might accuse you of not taking care of yourself and your baby if you look "too small." Forget them. Everyone has an opinion, and some women just want to lift themselves up while tearing others down in the process. Frankly, they aren't worth your time.

7. And lastly, I'm going to quote Alcoholics Anonymous because I love these words and I think they're extremely applicable to pregnancy:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." 

There are so many variables in pregnancy and childbirth that you can't control. Don't get caught up in those. Don't get caught up in the "what ifs." In my first pregnancy I was constantly fretting over the unknown. "What if I miscarry," "What if my baby is diagnosed with [insert every possible disease]," or "what if I end up with this complication?" This time around I'm trying to be a lot more... calm in my approach. The fears of what could happen can drown you if you let them, especially when those raging pregnancy hormones get involved. Instead, take things one day at a time and control what you can. Take your prenatal vitamin, go to your doctor appointments, and take care of yourself. Leave the rest up to God. You'll be happier for it.
...

If you've been pregnant before, what are some things you wish you would have known the first time around? 

9 comments:

  1. I don't know who this woman is who keeps having babies at the same time as you but she sounds like a stalker.

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    Replies
    1. Or maybe I'm the stalker? I'm pretty sure I'm the prn always asking her questions... ;)

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  2. Looove this post! All your positive suggestions are right on. Yes, don't compare! Also, I can totally relate to the all day two month flu-like symptoms. My second first trimester was HARD: in the middle of winter, in a new place without any friends. I am so glad I never ever have to repeat those three months again.... until round three? Ha! Best of luck, my friend. This is hard, but you will survive and have a beautiful baby to show for it.

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  3. Hey, I didn't get a chance to say it earlier, but congrats to you!! Sorry you're feeling so awful, but at least you're better prepared for it the second time around!

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  4. Oh my word I must've missed that post! CONGRATS!!!!!! :) these are great tips.

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  5. Ooooo girl, I have felt your pain. I was sick from around week 8 until week 18. Around week 7 I stupidly said, "Maybe I'm one of those women that doesn't get morning sickness." Then, WHAM, a ton of bricks! I too was on Zofran and it was the only thing that got me out of bed some mornings. When I complained to my OB, he just casually asked me if I'd tried Saltine crackers and I wanted to throat punch him. There were days when I'd google things like, "What does dying feel like?" to see if I in fact was dying. I wish I found out some miracle along the way. I did hear something recently about prescription vitamins that you could look into. Best of luck and congratulations!

    Sarah
    www.thepolkfolk.blogspot.com

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  7. Hey! Love this post so much. I'm due in March of '15! I feel like the hardest thing I've had to adjust to with my first pregnancy right now is when the advice turns to competition. It's so frustrating and disheartening. I realized that's why I'm putting off maternity jeans too... but why? It's so stupid. And uncomfortable! Hope the nausea lets up soon. :-)

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