Now What?!

A Grumpy Guide to Pregnancy

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Becoming unweildy

Week 31: Well, the belly is definitely becoming the defining aspect of my experience now. I struggle to roll over in bed at night, am awakened by discomfort in abdomen and hips, get out of breath doing simple things, find it increasingly difficult to work my shoes and socks. (And, you know, find my tiny line of belly fat, way down there almost out of sight, when insulin time rolls around.) Have also had a couple of bouts of nausea that kept me lying on a couch, and every time I stretch in bed I risk triggering a series of leg cramps (at any level of my leg!!)... Plus, Speck's little kicks and roiling have become pretty eye-opening all on their own at times.

At the same time, I find it faintly alarming that we're down to a two-month countdown! The bedroom may be ready, but there's still plenty on the To Do list!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Shoe-drop, part B

(Still Week 30) Looks like it's insulin for me, three times per day for the duration.

insulin and needle

Somewhat a relief, as I don't like the idea of following this for another week (we're already two past the test) without doing something to spare Speck the sugar overload and consequent risks (not to mention the prospect of delivering a linebacker). Will take some tweaking, based on my ongoing finger-pricks, to get the doses just right, and I could imagine a need to space my meals more evenly than the default, but still, I should be able to handle this -- am pretty capable with a needle, motivated, and already a high-compliance patient. (I once would have fretted about the possibility of needles, but some of my pre-pregnancy experience involved small injections with the same kind of syringes, so I know they're virtually painless.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

The other shoe drops

Weeks 29-30: Well. I knew that this eye-of-the-hurricane period couldn't last, that the transition into the final weeks' growth spurt and other physical changes would mean some kind of shift in my experience again. But I wasn't really expecting the big news to be this: gestational diabetes. My weight gain is in the target range, my belly is the right size, I'm active (in a lumbering but regular way) and eat mostly healthily, but none of that matters. The hormone surge makes your cells insulin-resistant, and either your pancreas can ramp up insulin production to compensate, or it can't. Apparently mine can't. And that brings all kinds of risks for the baby, from huge size to delivery complications, so we want to get it under control...

So, I got some equipment last week for testing my blood sugar, and then had home visits from an R.N. to explain the concerns and interventions, and from a dietician to lay out a new (and somewhat bizarre) mode of eating that I should follow, in hopes that that (and getting exercise) will be enough. Basically it involves making meals smaller and having more snacks, and also making sure that you never have carbs (bread, milk, fruit) at a time that you don't also have protein. Logical, but not how most people eat. Not least, my morning Cheerios should have eggs alongside, and I'll have cheese cubes or nuts as snacks between every meal, measure down lunch and dinner, blah blah. It's manageable, but means much more attention to food than one would prefer to need. And I'm aware of being hungry much more often, without knowing whether it's a symptom of the diabetes or just the next phase of pregnancy. (The same could be said of any number of belly sensations. meh.)

After a few days of this regulation, I'll report the results (from those many finger-pricks per day) to the nurse and my doctor, and either things will be ok or they'll decide I need insulin shots. I rather suspect the latter, given my early blood readings and the fact that I'm already active, etc., so may not gain much through the lifestyle recommendations. But who knows.

Initially I found this news/diagnosis very depressing. I think I've been rather proud of my general fitness and careful handling of the pregnancy, and this felt like all that had failed, somehow. Also, going from a near-normal period to a medically regimented lifestyle is about the worst transition that could come, short of late-stage morning sickness. But I'm feeling a bit calmer about it all just now, probably from the combination of Spouse's rising to the challenge of helping me figure out meals and snacks that will work with the regimen, plus my natural geeky/scientific tendencies that fit well with the careful blood sugar note-taking, spiffy gizmo involved, etc.

diabetes self-test kit

In other news, I've also been warned that the third trimester can bring a return of some first trimester symptoms, including nausea and progesterone-based mood-dampening, which should really dovetail nicely with my new hypochondria and related worries. Looking like a fun stretch ahead!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New theme II: The rumba

Week 28: Man, when I first felt Speck kicking, it was a faint flutter that I only gradually learned to distinguish from gas bubbles or other internal shenanigans. Well, no longer! It seems like any time I'm sitting down (i.e., most of the day), she's flipping around in there, sometimes giving me a two-foot rabbit kick, and generally constantly active. Much of this is mighty enough that you could feel it outside my clothes really moving my belly (although the vast majority of the action is still down in the bikini zone, so not really getting shared with the general public). Somewhere between amusing and distracting/annoying. I guess I can expect the motion to feel a bit less wild as the space in there gets tighter (Speck is currently estimated around 2.5 pounds), but of course there will be more muscle behind it too. Not sure whether this is something I look forward to or dread . . .

In other news, appetite remains "normal" by pre-pregnancy standards, indigestion a regular thing (but Tums and Zantac effective), energy generally good (although residual cough and holiday flurry mean I'm not at max, but who ever is?), foot swelling less of a problem, belly tight (almost muscle-achey). More updates as situation changes, heh.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New theme: The Belly

Week 27: Making an entry now with what I forecast will be the increasing theme of the months ahead: my belly taking over my life. It's not that it's so much bigger than a few weeks ago, but it's starting to be a tangible presence in ways that are a little hard to put a finger on. Yes, I'm losing a few more shirts from my repertoire, but a it's more a steady feeling of tightness at the muscle level (not just skin stretch) and a lack of forgiveness after larger meals. Speck is some two pounds now, and going to at least triple that over the next three months, so I suspect that the shifts in available space (for food, air, etc.) will become more noticeable, and there may be shifts in posture and new muscle aches to follow. More when I see how this pans out...

Fighting with myself

Weeks 25-26: Despite having a flu shot the month before, I have some kind of a bad cold or a mild flu that has me coughing incessantly. Sadly, I am Forbidden (again) from many familiar remedies, and Spouse spent some time stalking the obscure back corners of the pharmacy to find drugs from the Allowed list that might provide some relief. (It got bad enough that I had to sleep on the couch where I could prop myself nearly vertical and thus weather some of the phlegmy assaults and coughing fits. meh.) No fever or nausea, but I do have my usual sickness-related decline in appetite, so Speck had to make due with a trickle of bullion, juice, and tea for the worst of it while my feeble immune system tried to get the upper hand.

Pregnancy-specific aspects of this suffering period include not only concerns about my diet (although I've put on enough stores already that I'm sure there was no fetal starvation threatened) but the war between my need to minimize coughing and my desire to minimize heartburn: for example, milk helps with the latter but makes the former worse, and the reverse for, say, lemon tea... Also, night coughing means getting more and more tired, just when I could really use some reserves for the ongoing paint battle, etc., and sometimes I can't get quite a deep enough breath to really get the job done. The only good thing about the timing of all this was that my depleted sick days were somewhat spared because I had already taken off one day in the worst part (for Election Day, which I barely worked) and had planned to work at home a second day that same week, so a couple of low-function work days and one under a quilt got me through. Cough still not gone, after two weeks (and even 10 days of optimistic Amoxicillin use), but I think it's a combination of exhaustion and allergies at this point. Perhaps the Thanksgiving holiday will give me a respite. My rib muscles ache from all the coughing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The eye of the hurricane

Weeks 22-23: I'm starting to feel better on the hunger front (less urgency less often), ok on energy (although the joint arrival of a contractor and two houseguests threatens that). On the down side, I'm starting to develop more belly, with the result that it gets ever harder to bend over, tie my shoes, etc. On the wacky side, I feel my first kicks, which it takes me a little while to recognize, since they feel more like gas bubbles than anything else. (Or perhaps like a goldfish careening off the sides of the bowl.)

Week 24:
The snacking drive is almost entirely gone -- I can now eat meals at my usual (fairly long) intervals, and I don't need a late-night smackerel to make sure I don't wake up hungry in the wee hours. A welcome relief, although I expect a new onslaught of hunger when the big growth spurt hits in the next month or so. Also, I feel almost 95% myself now mentally (although that's a bit susceptible to the distance of memory, heh), taking on household tasks and updating web pages like a new person (probably slightly in excess of what's reasonable, but there's so much to paint!!). Sleep-wise, things are a bit better (with the introduction of Zantac into my evening routine) and also a bit worse (between stiff joints and the return of the nasal drip/cough) . . .

Monday, November 5, 2007

Shifting gears

an apt cardWeeks 18-20: This appears to be a transitional period. On the one hand, my reward-response structure is normalizing, with the return of my desire to play my online game, slight decrease in the frequency/urgency of snacking, return of more energy, etc. On the other hand, foot swelling continuing, and in week 19 I find I'm having trouble crossing my legs -- some combination of the larger stomach with changes in overall weight and joint stiffness. (I can make my legs cross, but it's no longer an alternate rest position. meh.) My in-laws made me laugh hard, and scored some major points, with the card at the right; seems a good summary.

I should also note, having somehow left this out, that I'm several (four?) bra sizes up from where I started (having started to grow around 6 or 8 weeks along), but the flurry of bra purchases seems to have stopped. Don't know whether there will be another burst of growth toward the end of pregnancy (and preparation for milk), or whether I'll be about this size. It's definitely a factor now in the determination of whether an item of my clothing still fits, but otherwise this seems manageable, and so far I haven't had to sleep in a bra (which a cousin counselled me to expect) or anything like that. For anybody else who is well-endowed to begin with and looking for something comfortable in these new sizes, I really recommend this bra, which gives good support, has the material characteristics (wicking, etc.) of a sports bra (designed for "that ultimate 9-5 sport"), and keeps the wires out where they don't press on breast tissue and give you problems. What maternity shops sell are nursing bras, which will be needed eventually but right now just mean limited selection and unnecessary padding...

Week 21: It got cool enough for my long maternity pants to come into play, and also some fall/leather shoes. Or rather, the latter might have, if anything fit. Looks like I'll be in sneakers and one pair of lace leather shoes for most of the cold months. (One hates to sink money into shoes for 3-4 months of wear ever!) My fingers are getting a bit of the puffiness that my ankles have suffered, making me wonder whether my wedding ring will eventually go the way of my engagement ring (which is to say, somewhere that won't involve cutting my finger off)...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Settling into this silliness

Weeks 15-16: Lots of the same from recent weeks -- eating a ton, have to take things slower, up several times per night to pee. Also, I've been walking like a sailor for several weeks (again, without really having any change in center of gravity to justify it, leading one to think this is about joint relaxation, etc.) -- can't remember precisely when that started.

my swollen ankleTwo new things:
  1. My feet have started to swell in the course of the day (although they're really always larger than they were) -- I can barely get into my tennis shoes and a couple of other pairs of shoes with laces. (I'd have thought loafers more forgiving, but nope: they don't expand enough across the arch.) For comparison with my normal ankle, see here.

  2. Am going to regular monthly OB checkups now, which are very unexciting. I give a urine sample (after elaborate use of an alcohol swab), have my weight and blood pressure measured by a nurse (with no comment on the results), and then the doctor stops in for two minutes to find the baby's heartbeat with Doppler. More time in the waiting room than in the exam room, and not much to take home from the experience...
Week 17: More fun side-effects of the hormone parade. The drippy nose has irritated my throat until I have a frequent dry cough, meh. Not allowed to take Flonase or anything else that might stave off my tendency to bronchial infections -- am becoming religious with an evening NETI pot to compensate. Also, major acne, beyond my ability to really do much about it. Double meh. More debilitating is that I'm now in constant threat of heartburn (battling with the recurrent hunger), which becomes a particular problem at night. Have to prop myself upright on pillows for at least half an hour before sliding down into a more comfy sleeping position, and Tums are always handy.

On the amusing front, both Spouse and I have ceased to be of interest to our parents/in-laws, who now ask after only doctor visits and baby news during calls.

Monday, October 22, 2007

From 40% to, um, 60%?

Week 12: I tried to put my hands on my hips, but I didn't have any hips! (Actually, I guess the hips are still there, but the waist has somehow disappeared.) I have correspondingly few pairs of pants I can still get into -- starting to rely on the first pair of maternity pants (although a couple of looser-waisted regular pants stil in rotation)...

Week 13: The feeling that I'm starting to get a little higher ratio of brain to stomach -- not a huge change, but a little bit more energy (very welcome) at least -- like I'm maybe approaching 60% of my usual "presence." Still a screwed up set of drives on other fronts, however.

Weeks 13-14: We went on a vacation in North Carolina (the wrong direction to head in August, but circumstances came together...). The heat is really terrible -- completely draining, so that I'm only good for short bursts of activity per day. We spend part of our time in the Smoky Mountains, with the unenviable task of tracking down hikes that have no or very little elevation gain -- even though I'm getting a little energy back, any kind of climb completely kicks my butt. And, of course, the car is packed tight with an array of snacks, from the healthful to the otherwise.

Starting to get the full array of other pregnancy side-effects now: have to piddle before and after every small outing (and snack in-between), and flip-flop through the campground at least a couple times in the night. I've also left my regular pants behind in favor of last-minute purchases of maternity shorts and cropped pants. In fact, I've had to replace my regular underwear with a maternity sort, which have very little waistband (which otherwise cuts) and are generally stretchy and forgiving. Who even knew there were such things?!

Realignment of reward structure

Weeks 8-9: Settling into a major eating routine -- probably 15 min out of every hour are spent snacking, and I'm already tired of all my initial snack foods, since the food aversion is ramping up. Sometimes the only way I can get myself to eat is to read something while I'm doing it . . .

At the same time, my lack of energy and general weekend listnessness continue, but now I note that I haven't played my online game (see week 5) even once in a week. It's partly a continuation of the feeling that even opening my computer is Hard, but really I just suddenly have no interest in logging in -- the compulsion (and/or allure) is completely gone. It makes me feel strange (and I was just made co-head of my social clan, so had to apologize for vanishing)...

Weeks 10-11: Things much the same as above, but I'm having some periods of extended nausea. Have tried "sea bands" (those wrist straps with an acupressure bead to prevent seasickness), which help, but mostly I just try to ride it out. No actual vomiting, but unpleasantly close sensations. Somehow managing to keep the (superimposed) hunger at bay, although I have to distract myself most of the time I'm eating.

On the up side, it's taking so much concentration to get through my day, what with eating and all, that I'm doing little web surfing or other time-frittering, and am probably posting record productivity at work. whee.

Feed me, Seymour!

Weeks 6-7: Ohmygoodness! the hunger! I've been hungry before, but this is an entirely different scale -- like when you put off a meal for long enough that you start to feel almost nauseated at the same time as you're desperately hungry. I started taking snacks to work -- a whole grocery bag full! In addition to my usual breakfast, a hearty lunch, and dinner, I easily polish off an apple, a yogurt or two, a fistful of pretzel rods with a square of cheddar cheese, maybe a granola bar on top of that. It's almost an hourly pang.

On the flip side, I have developed a general food aversion (all food seems unappealing) and a low-level nausea almost all the time. I suppose I had it lucky to avoid the morning sickness that plagued my sister-in-law (and many others), but it's hard to eat when everything seems unappealing when considered for very long. Eating seems like a chore, and if it weren't for Spouse's willingness to cook evening meals, I couldn't face the fridge long enough to put anything together -- somehow once I get eating, it seems ok (or maybe the tastiness trumps the drudgery or distaste). A weird mix, but I was somewhat reassured to find out on the Internet that others felt the same way. (In fact, some people have such problems with the combination of food aversion and nausea that they actually lose weight during the first trimester. I manage to eat enough to do ok.)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Still invisible, but getting very tangible

Weeks 4-5: Speck is barely pea-sized, but already commandeering much of my body, including all kinds of systems and side-effects that nobody tells you to expect (or that you think may track with being big and unweildy). For example, my nose now runs steadily, leaving me feeling stuffed in the night, irritating my throat, etc. (And most of my best hopes for decongestants are Forbidden!) Similarly, my finger and toe nails are growing faster, requiring me to cut them notably often (every ten days?), grunt.

Most surprising to me, given that my size hasn't changed at all, is that I get out of breath after a single flight of stairs -- and this in someone who regularly goes up and down 3-4 flights at home, commutes on a subway, etc. In fact, I sometimes find myself breathing heavily after I get into bed. Apparently there's already been a radical increase (20-30%!) in blood volume which makes everything a lot more work for your respiratory system, even this early. yay.

Unrelated to the physical changes, I continue to have what feels like a personality truncation. Not just that I've ceased to function at home (yay for Spouse and home-cooked meals!), but it seems like my usual reward wiring has been altered. For example, a goofy but addictive online computer game that I've played every day for the last year and a half -- sometimes even when away on vacation -- is suddenly too much, despite the introduction of a heap of intriguing new content. I fiddle around a little bit, and then stop playing entirely for several weeks. This was a game that I used to have to keep myself from playing (e.g., at work), and now I have no interest. This same strange rewiring of rewards will soon generalize to food issues . . .

Update: I forgot that my thermostat really went crazy around this time -- especially prone to feeling flushed and sweaty around bedtime, but periodic cycles of body temp just sitting in the living room in the evening.

The invisible weeks

Week 1: no really. No idea I was pregnant yet, but during our visit to the in-laws on the Cape, I could barely motivate myself to do anything other than flop on a comfortable couch with a book. (Tour? Beaches? whazzat?) Signs of things to come...

[On the flip side, I had cramps and even some spotting, so became convinced that we weren't pregnant.]

Weeks 2-3: positive test! holy moly! Really tired now -- coming home on the early side and just flopping on the couch. Even more notable on the weekend: lists of Things to Do lie on the counter as I sit glazed in the family room, capable only of reading a novel or watching stupid TV. This is in no way like me, but even turning on my computer seems too hard, as does making any sort of plans for the day, upcoming vacation, or anything else. (This is pretty much a description of mild depression, for me a clear effect of progesterone, which is ramping up now.) Everything is let slide, by necessity.

Update: I should clarify that the weeks listed on this first post are weeks post-fertilization, and thus are phase-shifted from the dating that OB's use (which is dated from your last period and thus adds two weeks to the total). I'm not exactly sure when I transitioned, but probably somewhere in the period between "two weeks" and "six weeks" I shifted to the more common method of dating pregnancy. Apologies for the uncertainty this introduces in the first month or so . . .