Pregnancy: 2nd Trimester

All the blogs I read said the second trimester would be the best.  You would get a burst of energy, your morning sickness would subside and you wouldn’t be too big to get around and be active.  This was not the case for me.
This was when the morning sickness really started making me earn my mommy stripes.  Along with being nauseous 24/7 I was now vomiting after every meal and couldn’t even drink water.  In the first trimester I did well with veggies but in the second I was good with nothing.  I would manage to hydrate by drinking Gatorade and drinking cold tea.  Basically I would put hot water on a tea bag and slowly drink it so it would get to be room temp and then continually adding water as I drank.  Otherwise I couldn’t even keep water down.

I was diagnosed with hyperemesis and giving a prescription for Reglan.  I felt so guilty taking it, but took enough to survive.  After all I still had responsibilities – like going to work to afford my fancy new baby.  With the medication my symptoms improved but did not disappear completely.

The second trimester also brought increased pain. Increased fibromyalgia pain and new pelvic pain.  The pelvic pain would send me to the hospital twice. 

Sleep was a thing of the past. I couldn’t get comfy and with the pelvic pain I struggled to move.  I slept with 6 pillow and a body pillow.  I would threaten B that he would have to find elsewhere to sleep.  Lucky for him I never actually went through with forcing him out of bed.  He did master the amazing act of sleeping on his side at the exact edge of the mattress. If he took up more than 6 inches I would push him and complain.  Like dude… there are already two people in this bed.

Managing Work

Support system.

Ask for help.  Accept help.  Do not attempt to do this alone unless it is your only option. Even if you have  a smooth pregnancy low on pregnancy symptoms and illnesses you will be exhausted. My family would drive me around to wherever I needed to be.  Granted I had hyperemesis and severe pelvic pain but still they were there to make things are easy as possible for me.

Reasonable accommodations.
Legally employers are supposed to make reasonable accommodations for employees.  The level of accommodation will vary based on your specific company, but see what systems are in place to make sure you’re not suffering undue hardship.  This could be shifting your work hours or changing your duties.  Also review pregnancy rights for your state and federally.  There are certain provisions set around safety and even breastfeeding.  Know your rights and hold them to it.

Using days off wisely

I like to be preventative so I tend to take a day off before I’m at my worst thus preventing me from even getting there.  Prior to becoming pregnant and in the beginning of my pregnancy I worked a lot of overtime. I relied heavily on my accrued comp time to tide me over when I was low on sick time.  I wasn’t able to be preventative but I tried very hard to go to work even if it meat doing a half day.

If you decide to return to work the days off as chronically ill parent will require some more managing of the days off.  You will need to keep days in the bank for baby’s sick days.  Roberto and I take turns taking baby sick days.  More of them fall on him because I don’t have many days accrued.

Adjusting schedule
This is twofold.  I adjusted my actual work schedule and also my personal life schedule.  With the hyperemesis I would feel so poorly in the morning and it took me forever to get ready.  If I didn’t eat as soon as I woke up my symptoms were noticeably worse. I am fortunate to have flex time at work where I could arrive anytime between 8am-10am.  I usually arrived around 9am.  During pregnancy I would arrive around 10am.  I started taking a shower at night so in the morning i could just get brush my teeth and eat then get ready and go.

Being realistic.
Even if you have few pregnancy symptoms and are fortunate for pregnancy to decrease your chronic pain flare ups- you are still pregnant and it is rough on the body for all women. That is the reality. Do not set lofty goals for yourself that will only make you feel bad and add unnecessary stress to your day. Give yourself ample time to gather supplies for the baby.  Start off any exercise plans nice and slow.  Give yourself extra time to get to places. Do not take on too many projects- personally or professionally.  Only focus on staying well and keeping things low stress.

Acceptance
This is key.  Accept that your body is on a new journey and changes – many unpleasant- are happening to you. And you will mostly become aware of a change as it is happening.  Accept you can do even less than before.  Accept that others might not be able to accept these changes. Repeat to yourself – this too shall pass.  Accept that this is a difficult process. Accept it all and do not judge yourself or worry about who is judging you.  Accept that this process of growing a tiny human will forever change you. Accept yourself and your ever-changing reality. Inhale and acknowledge it – exhale and accept it.

Pregnancy: 1st Trimester 

I like to say that the first trimester is the worst because you have all these symptoms but are usually not ready to tell people about the pregnancy as yet.

 So you sit there and silently suffer and pray that you pull off hiding the need until you’re ready to share.

The morning sickness began after the first month for me. Definitely by the 8th week I was nauseous 100% of the time and barely able to have any meals.  It would worsen during my over an hour commute and had me carrying carsick bags everywhere I went.  It was all day sickness from the beginning.  Although it was worse in the morning.

I had to switch up my routine to accommodate my all day sickness.  I would take showers at night so I could have the morning to be sick and make time for the snails pace I had adopted.  Then I began to religiously eat  breakfast at home first thing every day. To skip that step would increase my nausea tenfold.

My ​abdominal pain continued and ended up lasting for around 9 weeks before it started being less severe but somehow more frequent. It would give way to excruciating pelvic pain in the second trimester.  Other than that I had the normal symptom of tiredness that most women feel in the 1st trimester.  So tired I would lay in the couch every chance I got.  Between the severe exhaustion and nausea/vomiting I as rarely seen off the couch unless I was at work.

Motherhood and Me

I always hoped I would have children.  I would picture having a girl and a boy.  I REALLY wanted a daughter but would never be disappointed in having a son.  With my diagnoses I pretty much gave up on marriage and kids but would talk about wanting marriage and kids anyhow…maybe trying to wish it into the universe.

I think something people have a hard time accepting is that they don’t really have control over their life.  Regardless if they believe in a higher power or not, most people know some things are left to chance. The reality is probably that everything is left to chance.  You can want marriage and kids all you want but that doesn’t mean you will have them.  I accepted that thought as a teenager.  I had to find something to do with my life that could keep me happy in my spinster lifestyle.  I chose philanthropy and the environment.

But of course God sent me a husband and a baby.  I am not sure more children are in store for us, but regardless I am happy.  There are plenty of times that I wonder if I can run off to Vanuatu whilst laughing maniacally leaving them behind screaming “I’m free!  I’m free!” never to return again.  But I know that I couldn’t even manage a weekend trip to a spa without missing C. And after a couple weeks without B I feel homesick even if I am in fact at home and he is the one who is away.   Truth is they are my home and wherever we are together is where I want to be.

So how do I feel…. exhausted, in excruciating pain and blissfully happy.  Even if I didn’t have them I would be tired and in pain… At least now I get to be deliriously happy.  At times B and I miss alone time to ourselves so we can watch our shows on Netflix but then C laughs or gives us a hug or kiss and we forget there was even a time when it was just two of us.

Getting Enough Sleep While Pregnant 

First do not discount non-sleeping rest.  It is often difficult to sleep throughout pregnancy but you can manage your day by allowing for rest periods and down time.


Find a new sleep location.

Many pregnant women find that they sleep better in a chair or sofa.  Especially in the later months.  Maybe you can’t sleep the whole night in the chair but let’s face it- you will be up a million times to pee in the night anyway.  Try switching to a new sleep location after a pee break if you can.  It will hopefully allow you to rest different parts of your body and wake up reasonably rested.
Some women need their whole bed and have their partners sleep elsewhere.  You do what you need to and don’t feel bad because you deserve rest.  After all you are resting for two.


Pillows, pillows and more pillows.

Get as many as you can and tuck them all around you.  A body pillow is nice too.  I used one I had prior to pregnancy quite heavily.  Roberto barely had space in the bed towards the end between the giant belly and six pillows.   I think I only left him with one, probably flat, pillow for his head.


Strategic eating and drinking.

Food was not my friend during pregnancy or drink for that matter.  I had hyperemesis before the end of my trimester that lasted until birth. I couldn’t even keep down water. On top of that I got heartburn from the few foods I ate.  Heartburn coupled with the near constant urge to pee can prevent you from ever getting settled at night.  Also factor in how long it takes to find a comfy position with the aforementioned belly and six pillows.
So yes think wisely about those last couple meals of the night and if you want to chug that gallon of water.  Try to spread out your water intake throughout the day.  It is healthier for the baby and the bladder squished under your baby’s butt with thank you.


Sleepytime tea. Chamomile.

Pregnancy anxiety keeping you up at night?  Wish you could throwback some Zquil?  Then try some celestial seasonings sleepytime tea!  In all seriousness though – try the sleepytime tea or some chamomile.  You don’t need a giant cup either.  Brew 3 oz very strong and toss it back.  Sleepytime tea has gotten me through many a night. Sometimes I wake up and can’t fall back asleep and I make myself a small, strong cup.


Extended sleep time. Go to bed earlier and wake up later.

This one takes some real schedule and life changes.  Personally I have flex time at my office where I can arrive anywhere between 8-10am.  I basically never arrived before 9:45am the entire pregnancy. Going to sleep was another story.  I have a long commute of over an hour -each way- so by the time I’d get home I was exhausted. So I would rest before doing anything else. So it would be 8pm and I’m trying to have dinner, shower and whatever else. I rarely made it to bed before 11pm.


Nap.

Yeah. I know.  If you work a typical 9-5 where are you doing these naps.  But for those who can -definitely do!  For you 9-5ers start blocking time to rest.  Long before I got pregnant I would block off times on my calendar and mark it as no appointments so people wouldn’t schedule with me during those times.  It is one of my time management tricks to make sure I am not distracted from making my deadlines.
Anyhow, block off time each day to rest and to manage your work pace.  For example, you can block off time before or after meetings if you need extra time to get to and from places or time to catch your breath. Make your schedule work for you.


Say no.

It is important not to put too much on your plate.  You do not know what effect pregnancy will have on you physically, mentally or otherwise.  Even if you have a super smooth pregnancy there will be lots of doctors appointments and baby prep situations that will make your day hectic both during and after the workday. And pregnancy is exhausting in itself.  So think twice before you decide to head up new projects.  Of course sometimes these things cannot be avoided but definitely ask for team support where you need it.  It is the law for your job to provide reasonable accommodations. 

The Journey Begins

On January 27th 2016 we found out, at urgent care, that I was pregnant. Rewind to about 3 days earlier. All of a sudden I began to feel a terrible, sharp cramping pain in my lower abdomen. I have a three day rule with any new pain.  I figure since I have chronic pain it would be a waste of time and money to run to the doctor every time I felt a new pain.  Anyhow the pain was so excruciating that I would have to pause when it came on.  It would last a couple minutes initially but began to increase in length and frequency. So on the third day I called in sick from work and B took me to urgent care.
I was convinced something was wrong with my intestines so that’s what I told them.  Small side note- since I had gone off my meds I had been having severe intestinal and rectal pain.  My doctors concluded that it was FM related and I was feeling it more often because of the weaning.  So yes… I tell them it’s getting worse and they proceed to do their standard procedure taking urine and checking vitals.  After a few minutes the doctor returns and announces that I’m pregnant and to follow up with my ob/gyn immediately. Turns out I was having pain because of implantation and I was to expect it to last 2-3 weeks according to my ob/gyn. 

We were quite surprised at the pregnancy as I had not yet missed a period.  But it was a pleasant surprise and we basically skipped out of the doctors down the sidewalk.  Blissfully unaware of what the pregnancy held in store for us.

The Surprise 

Hello everyone!

My name is A and I will be sharing the journey I began with my husband, B, over a year ago when I got pregnant with our daughter, C, and welcomed her lovely self into the world.

B and I have been together for 9.5 years and got married a year and a half ago.  We always knew we wanted kids but with my struggles with FM we didn’t know if we could manage.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.  You can learn more about Fibromyalgia here.

Fast-forward to a couple years ago… we decided to begin preparations to have a baby.   I weaned off all medications and relied on physical therapy, massage and otc pain and heat patches for pain relief.  I made myself a priority and rested when I needed to and said no to extra projects.  It was going well and I felt like I could cope until about 5 months into the weaning process when both my grandmothers passed away within a week of one another.  The stress caused a flare-up of FMS symptoms and I took a couple doses of meds for two days.

It was looking like later the next year we could move forward with trying to conceive.

SURPRISE!

As the whole world knows — It is pointless to make plans because life just happens.  And as it would happen we conceived many, many months ahead of schedule.