For all of my preggo friends and readers - this one's for you! The good, the bad, and the ugly of pregnancy through my eyes.
Let's start from the beginning - Before You Conceive.
First off - no one ever told me that when you don't want to become pregnant you are basically the most fertile person on earth. Then, when you're ultra ready to add another addition to your family, you can suffer from infertility. Who'd a thunk it, right? Yep.. it can happen. If it happens to you, take heart that you are not alone. There are so many women that have struggled and are struggling to become pregnant. Find those women via message boards, through friends of friends, through blogs... anyway you can. FIND THEM. Share your struggle with them, find people that truly understand the roller coaster ride of infertility because you will need them.
Then comes the question - Could I be pregnant? What are the symptoms?
Pregnancy symptoms vary so vastly from woman to woman... the typical symptoms books will list include things like tender breasts and menstrual type cramping. Of course, the missed period.
No book I ever read told me that the "menstrual type cramps" could be much, much worse than typical cramps. Before I was even expecting my period I would have horrid cramping, mainly in my lower back. Let's not forget the bloating... oh joy. Even before those symptoms, for me, was the super sore breasts. Yowzers! Tingles, stabbing pains, even sore armpits... this was always the first sign for me.
Finally, you pee on a stick and - BAM! You're pregnant! CONGRATULATIONS! Now what?
Well, again, this will vary from woman to woman. For THIS woman.. a timeline for the first trimester went something like this:
Week 4 - find out I'm pregnant - super excited, scared, in love, anxious... bloated, cramping, sore breasts.
Week 5 - Same symptoms but add in a bit of queesyness from time to time
Week 6 - Vomitting has hit. Throwing up at least twice a day - every day. Food is gross. I feel gross. "Why did I do this again?" - Also, psycho Mandy takes over. The hormones grip my brain and make me an irrational, angry, sad, or extremely happy person. Alternate these emotions over and over each day.
Week 7-12 - Throwing up so much that I'm blacking out from low blood sugar and dehydration. Getting put on meds to avoid going into the hospital. Meds work some... now only throwing up a few times a day again.
What a fun first trimester, right? Actually.. there were some pretty cool things that happened for me each time in those first three months. Namely - first doctor's appointment! First ultrasound to see that sweet little gummy bear, and best of all, seeing that beating heart. Instant love. For pregnancy #2 and #3, the first trimester also included outgrowing my pants from my ever expanding belly. Yes, you really do show much faster the second + time. (and you show faster with each pregnancy.. from my experience.)
Enter the Second Trimester
Week 13 - The first pregnancy I expected to wake up feeling like a miracle had happened over night. All of the books say that morning sickness typically leaves by this week. So, why am I still puking constantly?
Week 14-16 - Still sick.. seriously? Yep... it happens. (all three times for me) By week 16 I can swear that I feel little tickles of baby movements. Too early to tell.
Week 16-20 - Definitely begin to feel baby movements! This makes all of the throwing up worth it! Still throwing up.. just to keep you updated. Psycho Mandy still ever present... though not quite as bad as a few weeks back. Husband probably glad to not have his wife be so crazy quite as often. Oh, cool stuff around this time - maternity clothes finally fit! I look pregnant and not fat! Hooray! Also, week 20 I get to find out the sex! Time to buy the first blue or pink outfit! I cry when I get it home and reality hits... "Precious one, you will be here soon, God willing."
Week 21-24 - Feeling super cute with my little belly. Loving baby motions. Not puking nearly as often.. sometimes only a few times a week now. Ahh.. this is why I loved being pregnant! For this period of time! Others can feel baby kicks now and when you have older kids, they really begin to bond with the little tyke. The fight over baby names is probably still on-going.
Week 24-28 - Still feeling great! Getting larger, trying not to waddle "already." Baby movements are huge now. "I swear I saw a foot stick out by my rib cage!" Husband is amazed at the alien-type activity he can feel through my skin. "Does that hurt?!" - I don't think I've thrown up this month... wow! New aggrivation has arrived... enter: Sciatic Nerve Pain. Oh yes.. I'd rather be puking.
The Third Trimester
Week 28-32 - Still feeling sort of cute and very obviously pregnant. Getting uncomfortable and wondering how I'll make it until the end. Sciatic Nerve Pain makes walking, sitting, lying down, and sleeping impossible. Those expensive maternity pillows you buy do help.. some. No more than folding your own pillows between your knees. Husband is slowly being pushed out of the king-sized bed by the fluff surrounding me. Also, my 7-step flip over, eight times a night, makes sleep impossible for both of us. "Why did I do this again?" The good news is, all of the being awake gives us plenty of time to finally decide on a name. It also gives me ample amounts of time to empty my bladder, again. And again. And.. again.
Week 32-36 - Okay... why am I puking again? Why is his foot hitting me down "there" and why does his rear have to be jammed directly inside my ribs 24/7? Baby... please change position! On the flip side - baby moves regularly... super fun! Time for baby showers, organzing the nursery, cleaning the entire house like an insane person, and spending all of my time in baby-dreamland. All I can think of is the baby and the future.
Week 36-40 - I'm done. DONE. DONE! "Oh God, why did I do this?!!" I can't move. I can't breathe. I hurt from head to toe. I'm throwing up again which really makes that lovely sciatic nerve pain flare up. I love the baby more than ever and the anticipation to meet him or her is truly maddening. Due to this anticipation and pain - Psycho Mandy is in full swing. I will cry for any reason, I will yell for no reason, and I don't want to hear "It's just your hormones!" In my nine month pregnant brain, it is indeed 'you' that's causing the problem.. not the hormones. "I'm fine!"
Birth Day - With my first I went into labor a few days before my due date. No one told me that a first baby can take DAYS of labor to deliver. I never could have imagined such intense pain, for sooo many hours, with no relief. "This is crazy.. why am I doing this?" No one told me that you could go all natural for DAYS, dialate to 8cm, think you're soon to push, only to be told your baby's heartbeat is much too slow and you need an emergency csection. "That's just great..."
No one told me that having a csection is about 8 million times scarier than being in labor. Amazingly, once you accept the reality and just focus on your baby's birth, it's not so bad.
Not one of the books I had described what it was like to feel people inside of your belly, tugging, pulling, pushing... how it smells when they burn the skin to stop bleeding. What an experience. No friends of mine ever told me that my husband would be the amazing rock that stopped my fearful tears and got me through.
Finally, no one could have possibly warned me what I would feel when I first saw my baby. That first glimpse when they're still a weird shade of purplish-blue. Before the oxygen fills their lungs. When they're still all messy from the womb. Only a mother's eyes could see that little wet, messy, blue being and sob with love and joy. Only a mother could reach out anxious to touch, smell, kiss, and hold her baby - mess and all.
The most shocking thing about pregnancy to me has always been how the baby's birth makes many women ready to do it all over again. No matter how horrible you feel, or for how long, often times women MUST do it more than once. If this sounds insane to you, you're likely in your first or third trimester of pregnancy. Don't worry - you'll soon discover the same thing mothers before you have been discovering since the beginning of time.
Soon to come: Post Partum - What You Should REALLY Expect