Friday, August 31, 2012

Unspoken Pregnancy Symptoms

I'm probably not alone in this. There are a lot of whacky changes that take place during pregnancy that produce a whole range of symptoms. Some of which you've undoubtedly heard about, such as:
  • breast tenderness
  • swollen ankles or feet
  • back pain
  • rashes
  • morning sickness
  • frequent urination
  • constipation
  • exhaustion
  • skin discoloration
  • cravings

Those are what you can pretty much expect anyone you've ever known who has had a baby (or their significant other) to tell you about. They're like, the staple of pregnancy for almost everyone, I guess. While I experienced a few of those, notably having to pee once an hour every hour, I skipped over most of them. No morning sickness, no constipation, no rashes, no change in my skin, very little tenderness, hardly any cravings, no foot swelling, etc., etc. Lucky me, I am told!

Instead, however, what I've experienced mostly is the following:
  • groin pain
  • swelling of the hands
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • hot flashes
  • excessive hunger
  • rib pain
  • food avoidance
  • insomnia

No one has ever mentioned any of those things to me as pregnancy symptoms, with the exception of late third trimester heartburn. I'm on prescription strength Prilosec due to a preexisting medical condition (cleared by my OBGYN) and cannot fathom a woman going through pregnancy without it. Even with the Prilosec I experience extreme heartburn (if I lay down without care, there's stomach acid in my throat) daily and Tums have become a staple of my pregnancy diet. A side note there, who decided citrus was the best flavor to make an antacid? Citrus is the last thing you want to consume when you've got heartburn! I know it isn't actual citrus, but still. Totally unappealing.

Excessive hunger and food avoidance seem contradictory, but they're really not. I am hungry all of the time. I do not get many cravings, I'm just always hungry. I can eat a bowl of oatmeal with a glass of orange juice and two pieces of multigrain toast with butter and jam and still be hungry enough for eggs and potatoes afterward. I don't (usually) eat two full meals back-to-back, but I could! It's not a nutrient requirement thing either. I take several varieties of supplements per day and have had my blood checked -- there's no deficiency present. I just want to eat like a fat kid.

Meanwhile the food avoidance is more like, certain foods just completely disinterest me or seem repulsive now. I haven't eaten a tamale in months and generally I really like tamales. It's just every time they are brought up as a food option, I'm like, "Ugh, no thanks." I have absolutely no desire for them anymore, even when I'm really, really hungry. I'm not a picky eater normally. I am willing to try anything once, sometimes even more than once just to be sure. So this is strange to me.

Hot flashes are particularly annoying because it's summer time and already hot. We've had a heat wave out here for several weeks now (temperatures of 100 degrees or more) which certainly has not helped either. Even with the AC blasting, I'm uncomfortably hot all the time. Sometimes so much so that my only relief is to either hop in the shower or lay down all sprawled out naked fanning myself. Or a combination of both.Which might sound kind of attractive, but at nine months pregnant probably isn't so much. And I'm not saying that in a moody pregnancy low self esteem sort of way. I know I'm a foxy mama, but when you take hot and stack it with more hot and wallowing, that's just not sexy at all.

Your baby will kick the shit out of you. I know most people talk about being kicked by baby as a fantastic thing, and usually it is! It is an amazing sensation to feel and even see a tiny human live inside of you. But sometimes you will either get kicked someplace really sensitive (like an organ), or just be kicked in one place repeatedly until it's sore. This is not so great.

I don't think I'd have much rib pain if the baby didn't continuously kick them. Which, by the way, feels a lot like when you bang your funny bone. Only inside your chest, completely beyond your control. I can't blame him. He has no idea what the hell he's doing in there. My bones probably seem fascinating in his world of juicy squishiness. It's woefully uncomfortable though, and on particularly bad days can leave you quite sore afterward. Sometimes I go to bed feeling like my ribcage is on fire. Not exactly conducive to sleep.

The headaches aren't frequent, thankfully, but I included them anyway. Mostly because when you are pregnant you're not allowed to take most headache expunging medications. Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Execrin, and any type of Aspirin are all taken off the table. You're allowed only very low amounts of Tylenol, which isn't typically enough to thwart a headache. At the very best it just takes the bite out of the pain. I'm the sort of person whose headaches always gradually progress into migraines if left untreated. So on the rare occasion a pregnancy headache crops up, it winds up restricting me to bed all day. My midwife says taking walks and drinking lots of water can help with pregnancy induced headaches, but in my experience this only helps a little and if the headache gets to migraine level walking will be the last thing on your to-do list. I've found laying down seems to help me more, if only because it usually changes the position of the baby and gets him off whatever he'd been sitting on that probably caused it.

Groin pain took me completely unawares and is probably the only symptom I'd wish out of existence if I had a magic lamp. For the last month or more it has felt like I've pulled my groin. I haven't, but the pain is there regardless of that fact. I cannot lift my feet more then two inches from the floor without sharp pain radiating through my pelvis. I have to sit down to put on pants and if I want to prop my feet up on the sofa, I need to pick up my legs with my hands in order to get into position without wincing. Mind boggling realization? This happens to a lot of pregnant women and will disappear after delivery. In the meanwhile, the only thing I can really do for relief is sleep with a body pillow. Which is kind of like having a third person in the bed. Or I guess, a fourth person if you include baby. I haven't gone to sleep without a body pillow tucked between my knees and under my giant belly in weeks. Because if I do the pain I described above is so intense I can't even walk without experiencing it. This is all caused by the weight and position of the baby as well as the muscle and joint loosening hormones being produced by your body and there is really nothing to be done about it medically. A long soak in the hot tub would probably help, but those are forbidden to pregnant ladies as well. Ho-hum.

Swollen fingers is a new one to me, something I woke up with for the first time yesterday. I've been waiting for my ankles and feet to swell but it just hasn't happened. Not even when I walked from one end of campus to the other and back again while hopelessly lost. So the fact that my fingers of all things have now taken to swelling is just bizarre to me. I get up in the morning and they're so puffy my grip is weak and my knuckles hurt (the ones I can feel anyway). I can only imagine how much worse this would be if I didn't have peripheral neuropathy. I find it a little funny that my preexisting medical conditions have thus far all been boons to my pregnancy experience.

Insomnia, for me as a narcoleptic, is just surreal. I've experienced it before, on rare occasions, but nothing so frequent as this. Sometimes I'll just lay awake in the dead of night, totally exhausted but unable to actually sleep. I imagine it's some primal motherly instinct to prevent my babies from being eaten by predators or something, but it's really annoying. There are no leopards in my house. We reside in a nice neighborhood, so there probably aren't even any burglars anywhere nearby. There's really no justification to be set to "can't let my baby be eaten" mode. Yet at least once a week, there we are. Four am, tired as a dog, staring at the clock, waiting for the moment when I need to fend off a pack of wolves with nothing but my hands and teeth.

And all of this? Completely normal! Just seldom mentioned by anyone, including doctors, until you yourself bring it up. Why? I have no idea. I certainly would've appreciated a heads up about feeling like I've been kicked in the snatch.

Don't let any of this deter you though. I know it might sound like a lot of complaining, but if you want to bring another human into the world -- it is absolutely worth it.

P.S. Adema is neat. I can leave hand prints on my skin, or draw pictures with pressure.

P.P.S. Someone just pointed out that I myself forgot one: leaky nipples! While you do not produce milk until days after delivery, for four or more weeks prior to delivery your breasts begin to produce and at times secrete pre-milk called Colostrum. A clear (sometimes cloudy) nutrient rich substance that will keep baby nourished until your actual milk comes in. It's usually only a small amount (a few drops worth), unlike actual lactation, but can be more at times. So you should invest in nursing pads ahead of time, just in case! It may be tempting, but you should avoid expressing before delivery as doing so may cause uterus contractions as well as leave less nutrients in the pre-milk for baby when he or she arrives. Expressing won't make you leak any less, anyway. So there's no point.

P.P.P.S. I've been told due to Ph changes you should avoid colored panties, mostly because you might find that you bleach them!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Clock Radio

What is it about happy songs that makes them so disturbing to wake up to in the morning? Maybe I'm a weirdo, but I'm more comfortable waking up to Mushroomhead than I am waking up to The Beatles, even though under normal circumstances I like both bands. When I awoke this morning, R.E.M.'s Shiny Happy People was on. I rolled over and glared in the general direction of the clock radio.

"Shiny happy people holding haaaaaaands!"
"Shiny happy people--"

It certainly doesn't help that our clock radio is set to both blare music at you first thing in the morning and buzz obnoxiously. Or that the reception on it is so poor that it generally picks up two or three songs from different stations simultaneously. So it's really just buzzing and NOISE. Which you would think would surely wake a person up for good, but no, not really. I get up and hit snooze at least five or six times. Every day.

Except today. That one song came through with crystal clarity and it alone was quite enough to make certain I'd not be falling back asleep. I tried, mind you. However ultimately I just laid there wondering why anyone would play that so early in the morning until the alarm went off again. Then I got up.

It was like in Groundhog Day when Bill Murray keeps waking up to Cher's I Got You Babe. You just have to make it stop. You can't turn it off fast enough. Even once it's gone you're left in a general state of, "Why did that just happen to me?" The sanctity of your morning has just been violated and there's really no fixing it. That song will be in the back of your mind for the remainder of the day.

There's no escape.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Comic Con, Cats, And Toast

I'm one of the rare few that can say, "I've never had a nightmare." I have, however, had bad dreams. Not in any sort of scary way, mostly in the aggravating way. Dreams where I actually wake up momentarily annoyed or angry. This does not happen very often, just on occasion.

It helps that I'm a lucid dreamer, so when things are going awry in dreamland, I simply say to myself, "I'm not dealing with this bullcrap," and wake myself up. But it's still obnoxious at times to have a bad dream, especially when you're not having a great deal of success sleeping in the first place. Waking up to end the annoyance means laying there for who knows how long to fall asleep again.

Take the other night, for example. Normally it takes me about three minutes to fall asleep. Hurray narcolepsy! I sleep straight on through until morning like a gd champ. Sometimes even longer if I'm not woken up by an outside source (Neelix, Aaron, alarm clock). On this night, for whatever reason, me and sleep were like pickles and whipped cream -- we just didn't go together very well. It took me more than an hour to finally fall asleep and then once I had, I was awake again just about once an hour, every hour all night.

It's not like I was just waking up out of the blue. No, it was just a bunch of little things that I'd normally either sleep through or recover from easily. Such as baby moving around like a hyperactive Olympian, having to pee, cat on my face, etc. Taking fifteen or more minutes every disturbance to fall back asleep. So when the bad dream happened, I tried really hard to just suffer through it.

Just what constitutes a bad dream? Comic con. I've never been to a convention before, so I was super stoked to be there with all my rad friends. Unfortunately, I was far too pregnant to keep up with them as they walked, so I fell behind until eventually I was wandering the convention floor all alone. This was the initial source of my discontent in the dream. Then, I had to talk to and deal with thousands of strangers (read: fan boys), making the aggravation expand exponentially.

I'm not sure which bothered me the most... the spoiled first experience at a con, being ditched by my friends, or having to talk to all those frothing fan boys, but the three combined served well to absolutely spoil my mood.

Eventually it got to the point where I had no choice but to wake myself up, because it was just too annoying. I didn't account for what time it was back in reality though, so I had no way of knowing that my difficulties were only going to get worse. Transforming my dream aggravation to real aggravation.

By then it was almost time to feed the cats, or more aptly, the cats thought it was almost time to feed them. They eat on a schedule, 8:00AM and 8:00PM. Otherwise Neelix will eat himself to death like a goldfish. For some reason, in the mornings especially, Neelix loses all concept of time and starts begging for food at 6:00AM. Typically I can roll over and ignore him long enough that he'll give up. Not the case this time, I wasn't asleep enough to ignore being poked in the face 1000x times by his giant paw. So I basically existed in a twilight state, being woken any time I neared actual sleep by pestering cats for two hours until it was actually time for them to eat.

Then, I got up to feed them and laid back down hoping to sneak in at least another hour or two before everyone else in the world was awake. Only by this point baby was convinced it was work-out time again, since I'd basically been up for two hours, and I couldn't fall asleep because he wouldn't hold still long enough for me to get comfy. Baby moving is always cool, even when it's uncomfortable, but it was goodbye to sleep for certain.

I wound up just getting out of bed and begrudgingly eating toast. Fortunately I wound up catching a nap at like 11:00AM.

Friday, August 10, 2012

There Is A Ninja Inside of Me II

Three weeks.
As you heard in the last installment of Ninja Baby 2012, we went from "maybe baby" to "5 months along" in a week, according to my primary care physician. Okay, halfway through, that's still plenty of time for preparation. Then from "five months along" to "more like seven months along" the week after that, according to our midwife. Alright, a little less time to prepare than we'd like, but we'll manage. And then from "seven months along" to "you're due next month" a week or so after that, according to the ultrasound technician. Holy crap.

I'm like a turtle on its back!

With gestation like that, I might be an alien of some kind. Not that that would make me any weirder, really.

So obviously, we've had our first ultrasound now, which was super amazing. Getting to see the baby for the first time, moving around and stuff. Really cool. Of course, being my offspring, it rolled over as soon as the technician started the ultrasound, making the woman's job more difficult for her. Not that I minded, since it also meant the whole process would take longer, letting Aaron and I see our baby longer! The baby was very active on film, making faces, kicking me, and then pulling his foot up to his face to use like a pillow.

We also found out what we'd be having! Are you ready? Just in case you're not, I'll put a picture here of the baby making adorable kissy faces. If you'd rather be surprised in September, then stop reading here (and probably avoid looking at our baby registry, it's got spoilers).


Are you still here?


Then that must mean you really want to know whether we are having a boy or a girl.

Then know you shall:

At the end of September, Aaron and I will be welcoming a baby boy into the world!

We met with the midwife again on the 8th, but she didn't have all of the results back yet so we won't meet with the actual MD until the 22nd. I really like our midwife though, she'd very warm and friendly. My bloodwork and such came back good. No gestational diabetes or anything, however I was a little anemic so they've added additional iron supplements to my prenatal vitamins. We've another ultrasound scheduled for the 15th!

Baby shower (for local friends and family) forthcoming, online registry (for those of you too far away) to come soon. I want to say thanks for all the support and assistance you guys have reached out with. Finding out you are pregnant and basically due any time is a lot to take in!