Monday, February 21, 2011
This is in part for those of you that are first time mothers or considering becoming pregnant. I recently-3 weeks ago-had a beautiful baby boy-and like you, I read all the books, blogs, and forums I could get my hands on about pregnancy. Each pregnancy is different, or so I read, but many of the experiences I had nobody told me would happen. I had fairy tale expectations of what being pregnant would be like-get a nice baby bump, eat lots of ice cream, and then pop out a baby with some grunting and moaning. I discovered pregnancy was very different and I must write about it while it is fresh in my mind before I fall victim, like all the mothers before me, and forget about all the pain and obstacles and only remember my precious child.
The First Trimester
I found out I was pregnant about 3 weeks into it. I was excruciatingly tired, so tired that I was yawning about every five minutes and seriously considered crawling under my desk (I was teaching) and taking a nap. I also was poorly attempting to train for a marathon but could barely get myself out the door. These were the first signs I had of pregnancy. The other signs were a never ending ache in my lower back, an unbelievable desire to eat Subway sandwiches, and a yearning desire for fresh fruit. These cravings were about the only things I expected. About four weeks in I became nauseated for most of my waking hours-my only solace was sleep. I generally would try to eat something-and no, saltines, 7-up, and toast do not help queasiness-then I would either immediately throw it up or feel miserable for a few hours and then throw it up. This lasted until about 16 weeks-which after that point I could eat whatever I wanted but would suffer heartburn after every meal. I went through at least five bottles of Tums through the pregnancy.
The Second Trimester
As I mentioned above-terrible heartburn. I've never had heartburn before this pregnancy and my heart truly goes out to all sufferers of it. One upside of the second trimester was that I could start to feel little kicks and nudges from the baby. They initially just started feeling out like flutters or gas but eventually they increased so if I stared at my belly long enough-which was my favorite past time- I could see the pokes on the outside. Along with movements I also started gaining weight. Up through the first trimester I managed to only put on a few pounds, thanks to the not being able to eat part, but now the weight started piling on. I gained about fifteen pounds in three weeks and my body was revolting. I had shortness of breath, more fatigue, and pain in my joints and bones from the added weight. Once again, I have a better understanding of what overweight and obese people go through. With this additional weight gain I started to get a "fat complex". All through my life I have attempted to be fit, trim, and not fat-now I was ballooning up and could barely touch my toes let alone see them. It was truly hard to accept that my growing figure was part of a miracle and not just the result of eating far too much.
Once I managed to make it to the third trimester I was pretty riveted. It felt as if I had been pregnant for years and finally the end was in site, although I experienced much anxiety not knowing how painful the end would be. My heartburn, weight gain, and body aches continued but intensified. My body pain now centered around my pelvis and it felt as if I had been kicked hard square in the crotch by a man in steel toed shoes. It hurt to roll over in bed, get out of bed, put on my pants, and basically do anything that required spreading my legs apart. I perused the internet for answers and basically found that there weren't any solutions but to wait it out for the baby to make its exit. Another frustration of the thrid trimester is that the doctor's appointments increase to once a week. I found this most ridiculous because I view doctors for sick people and going every week was over kill for an uncomplicated pregnancy. Every appointment blood pressure and weight are checked and an internal exam happens every so often. Most of the time I would spend more time in the waiting room than with the doctor. As far as I'm concerned they were a waste of money.
I fooled myself into thinking that I was going to have my baby earlier than my due date. My sister had both of her boys several days before she was due as did my sister in law. Every night I would go to bed and wonder if this was going to be the night that I woke up with water running down my leg and contractions-the answer was no. Five days after I was due I started having contractions-these just felt like bad gas that would last about a minute and they started occurring every five minutes or so. I was sure this was IT, so I kept track of them and they were painful enough that I would wake up from them so I stayed up all night and in the morning went in to have the baby. We arrived only to find that they weren't strong enough to cause more dilation so we were sent home after an ultrasound was done to assure that the baby was doing well. Pregnancy definitely isn't a science and this ultrasound test looked at to see the baby make 3 movements in half an hour, but the technician said it really didn't prove much because sometimes the babies are just asleep for that half hour. Luckily when time was about up the baby made some kicks so we were allowed to go home and sulk. After much crying in the bath tub-a result of hormones and not having a baby-I realized that pregnancy is unpredictable and we were and would be on the baby's schedule.
Labor and Delivery
Finally two days after I felt the contractions they continued to get worse and I just bared them out until they were unbearable. I didn't want to go to the hospital and be turned out again so I waited as long as I could. The one thing I didn't consider was that even though contractions were terrible at home, they would be worse in the car. Upon arrival at the hospital I was ecstatic to find out I was 6-7 centimeters dilated so the end was even nearer. I opted for an epidural due to pure exhaustion and that was one of the best choices I've made. After having an IV hooked up and going through one bag of fuels I got the epidural in my back and almost immediately my pain was lessened. I could still feel the contractions but they were tolerable and I could feel more pressure as the baby dropped lower and lower. Pushing wasn't terrible, mostly because I couldn't feel pain yet. After several pushes the doctor pulled him out after his head came out and that was that, or so I thought. My husband was shocked at all the blood and goop that was in pools on the floor and bed. The next big surprise was how long it took to get stitched up. My baby was a 9 pound healthy boy, unfortunately he ripped his way out. The doctor took over a half hour stitching me up. I really wasn't expecting this as we had discussed how she doesn't do episitomies, but I was in the dark about how much sewing would be done on me. One of the more pleasant surprises was that I wasn't as sore as I thought I would be. I felt about as much pain as I felt having my 9 pound baby pushing down on my pelvis. Overall the actual labor part was better than what I thought but the 9-10 months leading up to that point was way more miserable, but I'll do it again in a heartbeat.
I had heard the adage sleep when your baby sleeps, but I never believed it and I still don't. We got home from the hospital and the days following our baby was only awake for 4-5 hours out of the day. Sleeping while my baby slept was not going to happen. I do find that taking it easy was the best option and letting people do things around the house helped me rest a ton. One of the worst parts of coming home from the hospital was-sorry to be gross-having a bowel movement. I had had very little to eat for the three days prior to having my baby so there was very little in me to come out. They had also been feeding me Ibuprofen every six hours which can lead to constipation and along with the fear that my stitches would come out led to me not wanting to go number two. Day four and five after delivering my daily goal was to have a BM and finally, after more pushing than I had done earlier in the week, I was successful. I know that was a gross topic, but it seems to be one of the most common problems with new moms-watch out and eat those prunes!
Another surprising aspect was that breastfeeding hurt. I know, I know, I read all the books and they said that if it hurts you're not doing it right. Well, after having at least three nurses help me make sure he was latched on correctly because my nipples were still hurting, one nurse told my husband that it will hurt because your nipples are one of the most tender parts of your body. I was so thankful to have that nurse finally tell the truth and assure me that everything was going correctly with the latch, but it would take some time for them to toughen up.
Along with the tribulations of sore nipples the day after coming home my breasts became engorged. They were so full of milk and fluid I thought they were shiny like they were going to explode. It was terribly painful and after much ice and a few days later they seemed to return to a more normal state. I was incredibly fearful at the time that my breasts were going to stay in the "heavy-ready to explode" state for the rest of the year while breastfeeding and I was quite relieved to have them be normal-if not a bit bigger than normal.
As the nurses told us, just when we think we have everything figured out-something else would come up. So far they've been correct.