Pregnant Thoughts

I am 30 weeks pregnant right now, which is 3/4 of the way through this experience. I have quite a few thoughts about this ‘condition’ and I figured I’d share them here. Before I got pregnant, I tried to understand from a variety of books what being pregnant would feel like, but somehow the message didn’t quite get through. I’ll caveat this entire post with the fact that I think every pregnancy is different, people experience some/all/none of the same symptoms to differing degrees and what’s true for me, might be totally not true for you. I’ll also add that despite what sounds like a list of complaints, I’m grateful that I was easily able to get and stay pregnant. This baby is very much wanted, it’s just the pre-baby stuff I’d rather not have. Some of this can’t help but be TMI, so consider yourself warned. Here we go.

THE GOOD:

  • I like feeling the little bugger move around in there. It feels kind of like an involuntary muscle twitch, except it isn’t you who is moving. FREAKY.
  • Seeing the baby on ultrasound and watching its little heart flutter gracefully like a deep sea anemone was truly beautiful.
  • The relaxin hormone flowing through my body has loosened up hip and pelvis muscles that I’d previously had to go to physical therapy and yoga to fix. Now they feel fine!
  • As opposed to some people who have oilier skin during pregnancy, mine’s been drier. This has been great for my face (no acne) and hair (less shampooing).
  • No period for months is appreciated.
  • The anticipation is really fun. Planning for baby, reading about baby, imagining life with baby… and it’s brought the Fiasco and me much closer together. There’s a whole new level of tenderness in our relationship for which I am really grateful.
  • Perfect excuse to not do something if you don’t want to, play that preggo card!

THE BAD:

  • I basically feel like I’ve had the flu for months. So much mucus, everywhere, all the time. Enough that I gag on it almost daily while trying to brush my teeth. So much. Thanks, hormones.
  • Fatigue… epic fatigue. I’ve never been so tired. Naps are a survival necessity, and I hate wasting time in naps.
  • Digestive issues. Some women get constipation. Some have the opposite. Many get heartburn. Your digestive tract will basically feel completely foreign to you and mostly uncomfortable all the time. Make sure you like your bathroom.
  • Nausea and food aversions. I thankfully haven’t thrown up too many times, but I was queasy for at least 2 months straight, and still have to force down chicken. The food aversions make me super anxious and frustrated since I’ve spent a long time cultivating a healthy diet and now, when it’s arguably the most important time to eat healthfully, my body flat-out rejects many of the healthy staples I relied on. I literally hate eating. Every meal is a chore. WHERE ARE MY FUN CRAVINGS AND WEIRD BINGES AND EATING ALL THE THINGZ? That just doesn’t exist for me. I get one well-rounded meal in a day and the rest is snacks. This baby is probably 90% dairy products, peanut butter, and apples.
  • Really scary shit can go wrong, so it’s a nerve-wracking time, and everything feels unfamiliar. That is all amplified if you fall into a ‘high-risk’ category. I developed a blood clot and have had to inject myself twice a day with blood thinners for 4 months. I’ve made two unnecessary trips to the ER for normal pregnancy pains because doctors are unhelpful over the phone and it’s hard to know what’s serious and what’s not and WHAT IF IT’S SERIOUS?!?! Other people have gestational diabetes or preeclampsia or other things that land them in bed for the duration of their pregnancies. You just can’t know how it will go until you’re in it.
  • There are a lot of weird pains you wouldn’t necessarily expect: ligaments in the abdomen stretching, foot and calf cramps, sore boobs, headaches, backaches, etc. It’s a fun game of “oooh, what hurts today?” sometimes.
  • I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to go ahead and add labor and delivery in here. No matter how you experience it or what approach you take to manage the pain, I can’t imagine labor being a particularly ‘good’ experience… it’s hard, dangerous, unknowable, stressful, life-changing work.

THE STRANGE:

  • Hair grows everywhere! I had no idea! My belly looks like a giant peach. I am so much fuzzier than before.
  • Shortness of breath. I get this a lot, but especially in the beginning it was a weird panick-y CAN’T BREATHE feeling that is apparently due to your body tripling its blood volume and it taking a while for the number of red blood cells carrying oxygen to catch up. Weird, right?
  • I’m hot all the time. Prior to pregnancy, I ran cold, with a resting body temp usually around 96 deg F. Now I’m consistently 98-99 deg F and haven’t worn a jacket since February. The poor Fiasco froze his butt off this winter.
  • You really will pee constantly. It’s amazing, especially since you’ll also feel like you are constantly dehydrated. Where does all the liquid come from?
  • Bouts of itchiness, everywhere, but especially on the belly. I had to stop using normal soap because my skin became so sensitive. I use some sort of special cleanser for people with cancer. I also had to start using a super thick, petro-chemical-laden body moisturizer because the natural stuff wasn’t staying on long enough.
  • There are a boatload of ‘old wive’s tails’ that surround pregnancy, particularly with regards to guessing the sex of the baby and PEOPLE REALLY BELIEVE THAT SHIT.
  • You will not do nearly as much knitting as you expect!

TAKE-HOME TIPS:

  • Don’t be like me and think “ok, I will have 9 months left to finish a bunch of things before my life changes” when you get pregnant. Think, instead, “ok, I am dedicating the next year of my life to baby-making because everything changes from day one and there will be minimal time and energy for anything else from now on” because that’s more like it.
  • Be pregnant during the winter, it’ll save on your heating bill, and I can’t imagine doing this in the dead of summer.
  • Sleep when you have to. Just do it. You’ll be happier for it. Forget your to-do list. And when you’re really super duper cranky biting people’s heads off? Put yourself to bed.
  • A maternity support belt is worth it, especially if you’re heavier to begin with. It has helped my sciatica pain to wear the belt when I’m out walking around or exercising. You also need a birth ball. I sit on mine at work and it really helps keep my hips relaxed, the change of position is good, and by the third trimester sitting semi-reclined on the couch is super uncomfortable so it’s nice to have around the house. Finally, I wholeheartedly recommend a  snoogle body pillow for sleeping. That thing is heaven-sent.
  • Surround yourself with people who get it. If you have to listen to the media or well-meaning family talk to you about the ‘joys of pregnancy’ and how ‘it’s all so worth it’ while you’re in the thick of it, you’ll go nuts. Find a support group, a chat board, a friend, anything where you can vent to like-minded people and normalize your experience.
  • Take a birth class, I recommend the Bradley method for natural birth. Even if you end up with a medicated birth or a c-section, the class is longer than the typical hospital classes and it makes you stop and think about the birth on a weekly basis. Mental preparation is half the battle, and the techniques and tips we got from the doula who taught it are helping me feel like I can handle things, no matter how terrifying. Our class also had great tips for soothing the baby and breastfeeding. it wasn’t all birth-related.
  • Find a good, caring, supportive partner for this before you do it. That might seem obvious but I’m grateful every day that I’m doing this with the Fiasco by my side. You will have days where you just freak the fuck out and you need someone there to love and care for you. (And then try not to yell at him/her too much during the hormonal tantrum times. Those happen.)

Those are my thoughts! It’ll be fun to look back on this after the Hatchling is born and see if all of it becomes a distant memory like I’ve been told…

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Out Like A Lion

I know that title is butchering the ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’ phrase regarding March (which feels quite far away), but I think it’s fair to say that 2015 is going out like a lion. We’re having a whirlwind end of the year over here, featuring a rollercoaster of emotions and events.

The biggest news is that the Fiasco and I are expecting a little one at the end of June. We have named him/her the Hatchling. And while he/she is doing well, he/she has caused nothing but trouble for me thus far. It turns out, I don’t like pregnancy very much, and it doesn’t like me right back. I’ve just discovered that I am now in a high risk category due to a blood clot in my leg (a.k.a. deep vein thrombosis). I have to inject myself with blood thinners twice a day for the next six months, and likely after the birth as well. This, friends, is a very unpleasant side effect of pregnancy that I had no idea was a thing that could happen. Also, fatigue. I have thallasemia minor, which is a genetic trait that makes me bad at producing hemoglobin and thus permanently anemic (for which iron does nothing to help) so I’m extra super tired all the time because pregnancy ALSO makes you anemic and fatigued. And then there was the nausea for a while (thank goodness that’s mostly gone) and the general feeling like I don’t know what the hell is happening in my own body anymore.

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If you have to go to the ER, you might as well be wearing great socks.

Sorry to rant a bit, but all of that has been occupying a lot of my attention lately and has greatly reduced my available time and energy for knitting, spinning, and Sweet Sheep-ing. I also think it’s important to provide some Real Talk about pregnancy. Sometimes, pregnant women are painted as these beautiful, fecund goddesses of patience and serenity, when really… it’s hard and can be dangerous. And I think that’s good to acknowledge. Also, as a PSA for deep vein thrombosis, if you feel a strange persistent pain in your calf or thigh that seems like the worst part of a charlie horse cramp but doesn’t go away or feel better when you stretch, get checked out. My first cramp lasted 5 days but my doctor just said to drink more water. Then two weeks later I had a similar pain in my thigh, as well as swelling around my knee, and TA DA! Blood clots can break into pieces that travel to your heart/lungs and become pulmonary embolisms, so it’s important to get treated ASAP.

All that said, we are very excited, and I’m looking forward to knitting some adorable baby things in the near future. Here’s proof of how cute our Hatchling will be someday:

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Proof of tiny human, waving hello.

That was taken a couple of weeks ago, so the little tyke has likely doubled in size by now. And proof that I haven’t totally forgotten how to knit:

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BMFA Tigger Targhee in Gnome for the Holidays.

These are the beginnings of Katniss socks using the brand new Tigger Targhee from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I like it a lot, and will write more about it soon.

Later on I’ll take a hard look about what I made in 2015, but right now, I’d like to look forward. I typically choose a couple of words to represent my goals and intentions for the new year and this year, I think my words will have to be PATIENCE and ACCEPTANCE. In the year that I become a parent, I think they will be really, really important. Being patient with myself, slowing down as needed, patiently awaiting the big events to come. Accepting my limitations, doing just what I can, accepting the challenges thrown in my path with some amount of grace, these are my hopes for 2016. How about you?

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From a recent hike that I took, with a freaking blood clot in my leg. Glad I’m not dead!

Happy new year, folks. See you on the other side.