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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Pregnancy - Whitney Pt. II

There are two types of mothers in this world. Some women love being pregnant (love the way they feel/look/are perceived). Then there are the people who hate being pregnant (hate the way they look/feel/are perceived). If we can look at pregnancy in this "black and white" sort of way then I am in the second category - all the way. 

As my third trimester went by, I figured there had to be a lot of women in this second group. I thought like mze, a majority of women struggled with many of the parts of pregnancy. I thought this until I read a poll somewhere on Instagram where 70% of the people (who answered) loved being pregnant. 

Wait, what? 

I looked at that 30 percent number a bit shocked and certainly confused. Truthfully, I wanted to find that 70 percent and interview them, see what they were experiencing and what I was missing. I was a little depressed as I started to roll through the outcomes...Am I just being too glass half full? Is there something I'm missing? Is there some magic pill that will make me love my body and these changes so much to set aside insomnia, heartburn, my inability to do a lot of the things I loved and instead love my growing thighs? 

It may be at this point ,two paragraphs in, where you start to think I am ungrateful or insensitive and I don't want to come across as either. Let me stop to say I am so thankful that I was able to get pregnant right away and so grateful that I had a zero complication pregnancy that went to full term. I know this is nothing short of a miracle and I will never for an instant be anything more than amazed that my body created this perfect little healthy human I love so much. I have friends who haven't been as lucky and I can't imagine what couples go through trying to conceive or how partners go through pregnancies with complications. 

To be fair, I was pregnant during a global pandemic and it just all felt different. I couldn't get together with friends, I couldn't share in the moments with anyone. I was extra cautious, spending a lot of time home alone trying to keep this little babe and myself safe with so many unknowns. The pandemic added another element that is hard to relate to but truth be told, without a global health crisis, I still think pregnancy wouldn't be my favorite. I know I'm impatient but pregnancy was leading me to believe I'm a little more selfish than I thought. I knew it wasn't going to all be easy but I really had a hard time giving up my body to someone else. I struggled to sacrifice the things I loved and endure the limitations that pregnancy brought. I was so grateful to be able to carry our son for 39 weeks but at the same time, there was so much I hated about pregnancy, and that "I don't love pregnancy" feeling felt like a strange new burden. I have a "tell it like it is" personality and as I confessed my disdain to close friends, my quick conception and no-nonsense pregnancy made me feel so guilty for complaining. Every time I went on about my pregnancy experience to someone I felt the need to preface "I am so thankful and grateful BUT". 

I've read other people's experiences and now that he's here, I have a new understanding and appreciation for pregnancy. A lot of that guilt has since subsided because as it turns out, you can be grateful and miserable at the same time and these feelings are completely valid (pregnancy demands a lot out of a lady). You can be so grateful your body brought your son into the world and be so uncomfortable in this new form you are in - at the same exact time. 

So now that you know that pregnancy was not my finest hour, I promise to share exactly why. 

10 weeks pregnant - Bar Harbor, Maine 

First Trimester - Week 1 through 13

I know the first trimester is pretty rough for most women. It's tough in the sense that your body still looks like your own (minus a little bloating) but inside, you feel absolutely rotten most of the time. The first trimester taught me that morning sickness was a bogus term as I was nauseous 24 hours a day. By week 6, if I wasn't eating, I wanted insanely nauseous wondering if I was about to throw up. I was absolutely exhausted and my healthy eating habits and exercise routine were impossible to maintain with this new state of being. 

I was a few weeks out from my wedding and after getting in the best shape of my life, the only thing I could stomach was bagels and other varieties of carbs (all potato and bread products, really). Before baby, I was eating mostly vegetarian/pescatarian and was working out every day. I was meeting with my nutritionist and feeling amazing eating this way, I was running long distances again and doing great at the CrossFit gym, setting new personal records and making it a point to get there 3-4 days a week (and running on the off days). 

All of a sudden I was eating chicken nuggets and bagels as my vegetable aversion was in full force. If I wanted to try to attempt to eat some form of vegetable, I had to "prime the engine" with a heavy carb. One day, I actually went to Wendy's and nibbled on a dry baked potato before trying to enjoy one of my favorite salads. I stocked up on Gatorade as the idea of water was also repulsive. It felt like having a terrible hangover for four weeks straight, all while trying to hide your pregnancy and misery from family and friends as you renovated a house. I only threw up once the entire first trimester but I felt like I spent every hour of it feeling like I was about to. I wondered how anyone has more than one child and I spent many days in bed absolutely miserable and many nights awake with excruciating back pain and insomnia.

Week 8 brought the confirmation doctor's appointment where I saw the little "blob" on the monitor and heard his heartbeat for the first time. It was a bittersweet appointment because of COVID and Adam could only wait in the parking lot. I felt like a pregnant teenager at an appointment alone and my heart broke a bit knowing we weren't going to experience this first moment together. I facetimed him in the car and watched sweet Adam brought to tears as we told ourselves he was going to miss all the appointments but thankfully he would be there for the birth (or so we thought). 

Towards week 10, I started to feel like a human again, just in time for our wedding. I was terrified I would feel this miserable as I said "I do" but suddenly, I no longer despised water and vegetables were back on the table. I was definitely bloated and tired and stared at my insanely fitted wedding dress with extreme anxiety. Thankfully it all worked and just in time as two weeks later at week 12, my little bump started to appear. It wasn't noticeable to anyone but me, just enough where some elastic shorts were too tight and my hard-earned abs were fading fast. 

20 weeks pregnant -  Catskills, NY

Second Trimester - Week 14 through 26
They say the second trimester is the golden part and for me - this was exactly the case. Week 13 I was back to feeling 90% myself. I was working out 5 days a week again, committing to my runs and getting back into some weight training. Insomnia subsided a bit and I was sleeping without pills and eating normal/healthy foods again. There were some bumps along the way (like peeing constantly) but for the most part, I felt like myself again and I felt so good after the first-trimester nausea and exhaustion.

I remember feeling him kick for the first time at week 18 which was a special feeling I will always remember (a plus of pregnancy). The bump was officially starting to show in fitted clothes and some things were certainly starting to fit a bit differently. I was hesitant to buy ugly maternity clothes but eventually invested in some maternity bras and some different clothing that offered some relief to my growing stomach. By Week 25, the second-trimester glory was wearing thin. My belly grew fast and felt in the way already as Adam started giving me a push off the couch. I could still do the things I wanted but everything just started to become a little more inconvenient. I also noticed my energy levels plummeting and the smallest tasks seemed exhausting. Weeks 22 to 24 he was like a little boxer, kicking and wiggling all the time. It started to slow down a bit by week 25. 

With COVID, everything was much more backed off. Less appointments, all solo, and they were all fast. Doctor's appointments were a quick weigh in (tried not to look), urine test, heart rate check, and any questions. The 28 week includes blood work, vaccinations, and the dreaded glucose test. I felt lucky to have the stresses of work eliminated from my daily routine although the crazy year of 2020 was providing enough stress for a lifetime. Between the elections and the second wave of the pandemic, it was a hard hard year. Week 27 brought on awful heartburn and sciatica pain that lasted a few weeks. The heartburn resided a bit but whenever I bent over to clean or tidy up for too long, I could feel the acid bubbling up. Second trimester was all about stocking up on tums and enjoying the moment of myself before the pounds packed on. 

33 weeks pregnant - Virginia 

Third Trimester - Weeks 27 through 40

The third trimester brought the beginning of being uncomfortable. No more dancing around it, I was just entering the trimester of misery. Back pain was constant and anytime I tried to sit for more than 15 minutes I was in excruciating pain. I experienced the dreaded "peed myself when I sneezed" experience and the pressure on my bladder when running was unreal. Insomnia welcomed me back and hunger pains in the morning at about 3-5 am were on the rise. I started trail running instead of road running so I could use the bathroom when needed. I felt like less a runner and more like a polar bear running through the woods. Riding went from sort of uncomfortable to "how much longer can I keep this up for".

Week 30 to 34 brought a lot of heartburn and everyday struggles of having a big bump. It's hard to shave, it's hard to even lift your leg to put pants on, it's hard to put on your shoes and find coats that fit. I gave up running around this point and started to use my MyxFitness bike more and more. Week 33 and 34 he was moving A LOT - not just kicking, but what felt like full-body rotations in there that were painful. By 35.5 weeks, his movements were much more subtle and I started feeling a lot of hiccups (lower stomach) and hoping he has in fact turned head down. I started seeing a chiropractor around 32 weeks - 3 times a week to help with the back pain that was only getting worse. I couldn't sit for more than 10 minutes without my middle back searing in pain which was tough on my body but good for productivity. I also started having some hip pain while sleeping as all my weight is focused on the hips as you are forced to side sleep. 

By 35 weeks, I was down to hiking only for workouts (mixed with some weight training). The bike is a bit tough with my knees hitting the bump and running is too uncomfortable. I went on a 6-mile hike over the weekend and that humbled me a bit to slow down. My heartburn eased a bit, here and there instead of constant (most noticeable when I bend down or when I am active). Up until 36 weeks, all appointments were just a 5-minute check-in (blood pressure, urine, heartbeat) and I was surprised that the only ultrasounds to date were the 8-week confirmation and 18-week body scan. At 36 weeks, an ultrasound confirmed he was head down which was such a relief (one step to avoiding a c-section) and my strep test did not come back positive which was another relief.

During the next few weeks, from 36 to 39 weeks I was just in that huge pregnant uncomfortable phase. I couldn't sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time and I developed awful anxiety every evening knowing I was going to try to get through a night of torturous sleep. Everyone said how hard newborn sleep was but I was pretty positive it couldn't get any worse than the last few weeks of pregnancy and 2 hours of sleep straight sounded like a dream. I gave up riding around 37 weeks as getting on and off was just too hard. Once I hit 38 weeks, I tried it all to induce labor. I was already eating dates and drinking red raspberry leaf too, but now I was doing all the at-home trips to try and induce labor (google it). I heard stories of people going into labor by 37 and 38 weeks and I was so insanely jealous.

My 33rd birthday hit 10 days before my due date and a snowstorm blew in meaning we couldn't even do takeout as all the restaurants were closed. Nearly a year into the pandemic, I was feeling the pandemic fatigue hard, mixed with the end of pregnancy. The days passed with little fanfare as we anxiously awaited for the little guy's due date of February 28th to come. Each day felt like a challenge to do the basics and I tried to calm my anxious mind. The planner in me wanted to know when he was coming but the reality was that this was a situation I had no control over. I spent an entire day crying over the number on the scale and gave into Adam putting my shoes on for me and hauling me off the couch whenever needed.  I could barely touch my feet together and was upset that no one warned me that your ass and thighs grow as well, not just your stomach. 

People kept telling me how amazing I looked at this point in pregnancy, from family and friends to strangers walking down the street. I did what so many women are guilty of, I ignored the compliments of others and focused on the number on the scale. I let a number absolutely ruin our day. I spent the entire day crying and yes I know it sounds melodramatic. It was hard to see this number on a scale, trying to wrap my brain around how long it would take to lose that weight. I was so uncomfortable, so sick of wearing my husband's clothes as they were the only things that fit in my stubborn reluctance to buy proper maternity clothes. I was so sick of winter and the pandemic and the isolation that both were offering. I wanted this baby out, this pandemic over, and spring to show up. I was struggling and had to remind myself it was all over soon when I started to feel like I would be pregnant forever.

I finally went into labor at 39 weeks and 2 days, 5 days before his due date. Looking back, I know what to expect and I know that so many of those symptoms go away the second he was born. The majority of the weight comes off fast and you start to feel like yourself sooner than you think. 

All that aside, I can say I didn't love pregnancy and if I am being honest I hated a lot of it. I loved that it brought my son and the moments of him kicking were special in the beginning. But in the end, I have never felt so uncomfortable in my body mentally and physically. I had a hard time accepting the changes to my body and my routine. This extra weight and care to keep this precious cargo alive meant I was limited on what I could do (mountain bike, scuba dive, ski, horseback riding, you name it). 

It's all over now and I have a new appreciation for it all. I now know it in fact does end at some point and the weight does come off faster than you think. Your thighs do go back to normal size and your mountain bike will be there when you are ready. I am amazed my body created this tiny human and I appreciate it in its normal state even more after all of this. If you didn't love being pregnant, you aren't alone. You can appreciate it all and be thankful and acknowledge the hard parts too, I know I did. 

Next post we really get into it - Labor and Delivery in the time of COVID - in the time of COVID positive. It was a roller coaster as we both tested positive and I went into labor and into the hospital alone. 

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