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Pregnancy: the good, the bad, the ugly and the unexpected.

2008-05-29 - 10:17 a.m.

There were things that surprised me during my first pregnancy, and then still more things that surprised me during my second because I either forgot about them or thought that, because Iíd been there, done that, that itíd be the same. I figure before this oneís over, Iíd compile some of these in one place.

Bear in mind that Iím writing this chiefly for female readers, or perhaps the odd man whose partner is pregnant or contemplating pregnancy. In other words, if youíre, say Uncle Bob or Jonathan, this will likely be entirely Too Much Information about me, and you probably donít want it seared into your brain. Iíd suggest skipping this one.

Also, Iím not sure why I feel that this does not go without saying, but I feel compelled to remind people that the following applies to my pregnancies only. Do not read this and think that yours will be exactly the same: just because I escaped morning sickness does not mean everyone is so lucky.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here we go:

As mentioned, I didnít get morning sickness. Not with my first, not with my second. The most I got was a little queasy, but I did not throw up once.

Nor did I get that bone-crushing fatigue that causes women to sneak to their cars at work and drool onto their headrests over lunchtime. I taught my fitness class right up to 7 months in both pregnancies and had no problem finding the energy.

And to get all the please-donít-hate-me stuff out in the open right up front, I got two tiny stretch marks in my first pregnancy, but theyíre actually hidden in my tattoo, where they turned a couple of single lines into double lines. This second pregnancy I havenít even had those and they only have a few days left to show up at this point.

(I mention the above so that women know that theyíre not automatically doomed to such things. They may still get them, but itís not 100% that they will.)

I got pre-eclampsia suddenly and unexpectedly about half-way through my seventh month the first time. It was upsetting for a number of reasons:
- I suddenly blew the nice steady weight-gain curve I had been on and been proud of. The fact that I knew it was water didnít really help much.
- I also blew the trend Iíd been on up to then of having a lovely, textbook-healthy pregnancy. Suddenly I needed to monitor my blood pressure daily and start going in for non-stress tests.
- My feet suddenly turned into big jelly beans with smaller jelly-bean-shaped toes on the ends. My face got round. My wedding ring didnít fit, and I had to have an extra link added to my watch. I could no longer easily wear most of my shoes and boots (and it was the middle of winter so I couldnít exactly switch to flip-flops), and when I had to jam my feet into some to get home they left deep indentations, which in no way rivalled the Ĺ inch indentations left in my cankles by my socks every day.
- Worst of all was the sense that, despite all my efforts to ensure a healthy pregnancy, I had failed in my role to be a safe incubator for my little girl. This was something which only I could provide, and yet my body had betrayed me and Iíd failed at it, endangering both her health and mine.

I didnít get pre-eclampsia in my second pregnancy. Once youíve been through a set of circumstances, if you start down the same path you expect it to follow the same route and canít imagine it being any different. (For the same reason, I know Iíll be subconsciously expecting Biscuit to be just like Grommet as a baby, and will be surprised when he turns out to be (gasp!) his own person with his own peculiarities.) All through the first 8 months of this second pregnancy I expected to hit that point of sudden swelling and nastiness, but it didnít happen! With 5 days to go, Iím wearing my wedding ring as I type this and my feet still have visible tendons under the skin. At my 37 week appointment my blood pressure was a mere 106 over 60. Yay! In fact, the reason Iíd booked my c-section as early as I did (a week and a half before my actual due date) was that I totally thought that itíd be pushing it to get that far, given that Grommet was induced a full two weeks before her due date. Had I known then what I know now, I would have been more relaxed about it and possibly let the doctor put off the procedure for another week.

I also didnít gain as much weight this pregnancy. While Iíd officially gained 30 pounds at my 36-week appointment, Iíd actually lost a pound a week later and weighed in at +29 lbs, so I donít expect my overall weight gain to top 32 pounds at the most by the time next week rolls around. This would be only 3 pounds less than I gained the first time, but it seemed like many people had tried to ďprepareĒ me for the inevitability of gaining at least as much, if not more. Take that, annoying nurse at my OBís office. In your face! Hah!

My first pregnancy I'd wake up lying flat on my back and it didn't bother me. I'm pretty sure this was the case right up until the end. This time? I can't do it because it's uncomfortable. And being propped slightly sideways by a pillow under my hip pulls the Belly off-kilter just enough to make the ligaments attached to it ache, so now, every night, it's on my side with a pillow wedged under the Belly for me. I'm wondering, does this mean I'm not carrying the same this time? I look like I am from the pictures, but I don't feel quite the same when angles and gravity come into play. Or maybe Biscuit is bigger than Grommet was? I'll find out next week!

The heartburn, dear God, the heartburn. I donít remember it getting this bad last time, though I know it bothered me near the end because my consumption of chocolate frozen yogurt Ė the best thing I found to quell the burning Ė really went up about that time. But I donít recall waking night after night to stagger to the bathroom for antacid and then building a huge pillow ramp to fall back asleep on in a propped-up position. I had to resort to Eno this time (my doctorís suggestion), whereas Tums sufficed last time.

The leakage of various sorts. Thank goodness this was less than the last time, when I was oozing tiny amounts of colostrum for almost the entire latter half of my pregnancy. It was the only time in my life that I stuffed my bra, if you can call putting half a tissue in each ďstuffingĒ. This time itís rare and only seems to happen when Iím not wearing a bra and something squishes meÖ like a toddler planting a hand on the side of my boob while trying to clamber over or onto me in bed in the morning, or, and this one kills me, when I blow my nose. Seriously, am I the only one whose boobs leak when I blow my nose? I think itís because when Iím blowing my arms kind of clamp down on my body and the breast tissue gets compressed, but I can never remember to try to keep my arms loose at the time. Also, as mentioned in a previous entry, my nose was prone to bleeding slightly this time when I blew it in the morning during the dry winter. I donít remember this happening last time. What I do remember from last time (TMI alert!) that thankfully hasnít been repeated this time, was that it was difficult to get my butt clean without an actual shower, no matter how OCD-ly I wiped, to the point that I bought some Tucks wipes, which are normally for hemorrhoids (something I mercifully did not experience). It was like my guts were being so squished that they kept oozing tiny, miniscule amounts for a short while once they got started. Gross, I know, but if this has happened to you, take heart in the knowledge that you arenít the only one.

My guts were moved around in different ways this time. The first time I could tell where my stomach had been relocated: upwards and forwards to just under the skin, close to where my ribs meet. I could tell this because when I drank something hot I felt a warm patch on my skin there, and, conversely, when I had something cold there was a cold patch. After Iíd eaten something temperature-neutral I could feel the churning sensation of my stomach mixing and squishing its contents as a sort of crawling sensation across my skin. It was actually kind of cool. This time I donít have that.

While the movement of Biscuit has become more and more like that of Grommet Ė to the point that, for awhile while he was in the exact same position as her favourite, I was getting the majority of pokes, stretches and thumps in the exact same place (the upper left quadrant) Ė initially I was worried because I didnít feel him move as early, or as often, or as vigourously as I felt her. As mentioned previously though, this turned out to be due to the fact that Biscuitís placenta is on the front of my uterus, while Grommetís was at the back. Another movement which was particular to Grommet and which I kind of missed this time was her tendency to stubbornly cling to one side of my abdomen for a couple of minutes when I rolled my other side, then slide downwards in a flurry of thrashing limbs. I still donít know what there was to hold onto to keep her up for that brief time, but I always found it funny to picture the ďwhoa, whoa, whooooaa!Ē as she slid downwards. Biscuit seems to just roll with it, readjusting to the new position almost immediately.

My belly button is more of an outie this time than last.

While I managed to go to the gym for a lot longer this time (up until the day before going to the hospital for monitoring a couple of weeks ago), Iíve still had to curtail such activity before the very end. Even swimming very slow laps last week with a flutter board (humming ďBaby Beluga in the Deep Blue SeaĒ, if you must know) has brought on more Braxton-Hicks contractions (named after the male doctors that ďdiscoveredĒ them, by the way, as if women hadnít been aware of them all along) than Iím comfortable with. I know, I know; why am I swimming laps at all? Because bobbing around like a bikini-ed fishing float (and hells yeah, I wear a bikini at 8 Ĺ months Ė first of all I look AWESOME with my big, smooth, roundly-fecund belly, and second of all, itís not like my one-piece bathing suits would fit me at this point) is kind of boring if you donít have someone there to talk to. I would, nevertheless, at least be a bit more active than I have been, but my husband is pretty adamant about not letting me cut the grass or anything at this point. Well, if he wants me to take it easy while he shleps the laundry to and from the basement, who am I to argue?

Despite the fact that I thought I had a very healthy pregnancy the first time (I was even in the middle of a comfortable, mid-winter 3 km walk home when I got the call on my cell that I had pre-eclampsia and needed to be induced that day), I'd have to say that this second has been more so, now that I've got a basis for comparison. Frankly, despite the occasional gripe and setback (and horrible first birth), I feel very lucky to have had such overall good experiences. And if I will never have the experience of a conventional birth? I can live with that.

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