Friday, January 25, 2013

100 things I didn't know, or didn't listen to, about pregnancy.

Photo by Rachel Bridgwood of Sweet Root Village
**Here's an updated version of "things I didn't know, or I didn't listen to, about pregnancy." I started this list in June 2012, when I was about 16 weeks pregnant. I had baby girl in November, so now I'm much more knowledgeable on the subject of pregnancy.**

Something I discovered when I was pregnant was that I had NO IDEA what to expect. You can read & read & read, but then you go through it & you're like "wait, what? What's going on with my body?!?" Seriously. All of the sudden you're host to a little alien that's slowly taking over your body & making you gain weight. I realize that people probably mentioned these things, but I just didn't pay attention cause it wasn't important at the time. I mean, there's a LOT of stuff. & I'm really grateful I wrote this while I was pregnant because now I'm 9 weeks postpartum & I forgot half of it!!! I'm sitting here missing being pregnant & I read this & remember how miserable I was. Thank goodness. It's really good to know the truth about pregnancy since no one ever talks about it.

Some of these are pretty personal, but I don't care. Also, keep in mind that this was written for a friend. So I wrote it as if I'm speaking to her. Which means there may or may not be sarcasm included. There probably is. This is also what my experience was. Every pregnancy is different, so my experiences could be totally different from the next person's. & also, since I started this list in June of last year, some of these are written as if I was still pregnant, & others are looking back. I know, confusing. But I didn't feel like going back through the list & rewriting everything. I did reorganize it a little bit though. Some things are repetitive, but that's because I feel they should be beaten in to your head more. =] Enjoy.


1. Growing a human is exhausting!

2. You haven't known "tired" until you get pregnant & morning sickness kicks in. Then it's never ending. (I can't imagine doing this with kids... or having multiples. Oh dear.)

3. People will insist on giving you advice... & you'll want to tell them to shove it. Just nod your head & pretend you're listening. Just remember, you're pregnant, so you can walk away whenever you want, even if it's rude! =P (I realize this is kind of advice, but I'm a wonderful, knowledgeable, honest person that gives good advice. =] )

4. If your period was more than a couple of months before you got pregnant you have to have an ultrasound to date the pregnancy. I was given 3 different due dates before I hit 10 weeks.

5. If you get pregnant with an IUD in place, sadly it probably won't be a good pregnancy & it will miscarry.

6. Miscarriages are emotionally hard whether you're 4 weeks or 12 weeks. But it's probably a million times harder when you've had more time to "bond" with the baby inside you.

7. Not having a period is nice, but your body more than makes up for it in other punishments far worse than bleeding for a few days every month.

8. Morning sickness is not exclusive to the morning. ( I did know this. But I had a nice reminder that it can last ALL day.)

9. It is also not exclusive to the first trimester. I was one of the unlucky ones that experienced it the whole pregnancy. Luckily it wasn't every day in the third trimester.

10. You'll want to throw up because it will probably make you feel better. I love throwing up when I'm weird as that sounds. & now when I wake up nauseated, I actually hope for it & look forward to it... that is if my Zofran can't beat it. (Melt on your tongue Zofran is a lifesaver PS.)

11. Prenatal vitamins will probably make you even sicker than you already are. But there is hope! You can switch to a gummy prenatal (which is easier on the belly), or take 2 Flinstones vitamins a day.

12. A lot of women find it best to take their prenatals before bed, or at dinner time because then they end up sleeping through the sickness. That didn't work for me. I always got sick within 12 hours of taking it, & if I was asleep, it would wake me up to barf. At least before I switched to the gummies. Everyone's different I suppose!

13. You'll get good at identifying nausea days as opposed to throw up days. I much prefer throw up days to 24 hour nausea. 

14. Eating new, or different things (like Indian) is probably a bad choice cause it may make you sick. I learned the hard way. While on a cruise no less! Which is awful because cruise food is delicious!

15. You'll get sick at the most inopportune times.

16. Even the most menial task, like checking the mail, seems never ending.

17. Hormones screw with absolutely everything! 
  • Vision changes. I had no idea the eyes would have problems! My vision was way blurrier & it took extra effort to focus, which caused more headaches, which in turn, made my eyes worse. Vicious circle.
  • Hair growth. It's faster & harder to tame...everywhere.
  • Mood swings. (More on that later.)

18. You may be less than loving during your first trimester. I didn't even want to cuddle.

19. Don't assume it will take months to get pregnant. I was pregnant in less than a week. & I have friends that it's taken over a year for. You never know.

20. You'll look forward to your belly looking like a baby bump cause there's a long in between stage where it just looks like you're gaining weight. Now that I think about it, this may be a reason some girls stop trying to hold in their bellies & they just push it out.

21. You don't have to be big & pregnant for heat to make you miserable. It's a hormone thing. I make Gabe stay way on his side of the bed cause he's a radiator, & I kick off the covers, & I'm still sweating when the AC is set at 68.

22. Just because you peed every half hour before your appointment doesn't mean you'll be able to do it for a sample. Trust me. I once had to drink an entire huge water bottle at the doctor's office & stay extra time so that I could give a urine sample. Drink tons of water beforehand, & hold it. If you have to go as soon as you get there they'll let you pee in the cup first thing.

23. There's extra discharge that comes with pregnancy. Lovely. Keep panty liners around. Just saying.

24. Mood swings are a billion times worse than PMS. It's like PMS on steroids. I can be smiling & within 30 seconds want everyone to jump off a skyscraper. 

25. You will cry about stupid things like your dog eating your ice cream (true story) or simply because you realize that you've cried multiple times that day (also done that). 

26. There's always at least a small part of you that's afraid something will go wrong & you'll lose the baby. 

27. People say not to lay on your stomach, but from my research it's only for comfort reasons. Particularly when your belly gets big. People also say not to lay on your back. My doctor never had a problem with me sleeping on my back. If I got uncomfortable I'd just move. People say it messes with baby's heart rate as well. I don't know if that's the case or not, but again, my doctor didn't have a problem with it & my baby's heart rate was always great.

28. Laying on your belly is a really easy way to feel the baby moving around early on.

29. Invest in pregnancy pillow. You'll be glad you did cause your back starts hurting early. Plus, from some of the reviews I've read, particularly for mine, you can roll it up in an O shape & sleep with your belly in the hole... so you can sleep on your belly if that's how you're most comfortable.

30. You have the chance to do some screenings at 12 weeks or so. I say don't do it. But obviously I'm not your boss. From what I've been told, a lot of women get positive results but a large majority of those turn out to be false positives. Why spend your pregnancy freaking out? There's nothing you can do about it. & I can't speak for everyone, but I know I wouldn't evacuate the pregnancy. I've seen tons of posts in online forums of women freaking out about their scans & blood test results. It's crazy.

31. For some reason women love to tell their delivery horror stories when they talk to you about pregnancy. It's not comforting in the slightest, even if they say something like "I was a rare case," or "it probably won't happen to you." Try to ignore it. I'm lucky to know a few women with good delivery stories so that's nice.

32. I haven't experienced this yet, but apparently strangers will touch your belly without permission. I'm not exactly sure how I would handle this situation. But I like to think that I'll be able to say that I'm not pregnant to at least one of them & freak them out.

33. It's not uncommon for a stuffy nose to kick in during the second trimester (thank you hormones). Happened to me a few weeks ago. You can use a saline nasal spray. That's it.

34. A "bump" appears in your lower abdomen almost overnight. But you'll probably be the only one that notices it.

35. Sucking it in as long as you can makes your muscles tighter. Which means less flab! Which is good. I'm only just starting to have problems sucking it in. But my muscles feel sore at the end of the day as if I've worked them out, which I think is funny.

36. Constipation. Eat lots of fruit & drink lots of water. That's all I'll say about that.

37. Maternity clothes, especially pants, are a billion times more comfortable than regular clothes in my opinion. I practically lived in my maternity leggings & I miss them daily. & they have such cute maternity clothes these days!!!

38. Headaches. Apparently they're not uncommon during pregnancy. Lucky me, since I'm prone to migraines already, I get them nearly everyday now. It is totally safe to take a couple Tylenol. & do it with caffeine cause it makes it work faster. If you're anything like me & that's totally ineffective, ask your OBGYN about a prescription for Fioricet. It never worked for me before, but I guess it's a miracle drug for me during pregnancy. 

39. Round ligament pains. Apparently it's from the loosening & stretching of joints & things. I don't care what causes it, all I care about is that it hurts. Now it's generally just a dull ache, but when they first goodness. They were so sharp & came on so fast I would curl up in fetal position & tear up. We thought I might have appendicitis. It was bad. That used to happen 5 or 6 times a day. Now that only happens a few times a week, which isn't bad.

40. Seriously. Mood swings. 

41. Going to look at baby things is completely overwhelming. It's a lot to take in. A lot. Brace yourself, take a deep breath, & remember you can handle it. Even if it totally freaks you out, like it did me.

42. If you're anything like me, you'll have an even more intense need for love & understanding from your husband. Especially when you've thrown up 6 times that morning, the trash smells so bad you're having dry heaves, or you need something from the grocery store at 11pm. & definitely when you're having a mental breakdown. 

43. Your sense of smell is seriously amplified. (I knew this. But it's totally different when you experience it.) 

44. When it's your first, people will constantly ask you how you're feeling. People you don't even think you've met before. They all suddenly know who I am & care about my well-being.

45. You're gonna crave random things especially at times when they're not available to you. There have been multiple occasions that husband has had to run out to get me something.

46. People will tell you that you won't make it past 5 or 6 months wearing high heels to church. Yours truly proved them wrong. I wore 4in. heels to church at 38 weeks. I would've worn them at 39, but I was having the baby at that time. Clearly they don't know that my grandmother is Grandma Crazy Shoes. It's in my blood.

47. You'll be super excited about planning the nursery or baby shower one minute & then flip a switch & suddenly be freaking out about being a mom.

48. If you don't push it out, people will tell you that you don't look 17 weeks pregnant...or however far you are before you really start to show. I get it all the time. I suppose some really do show early, especially women with multiples or who've had babies previously, but I'm willing to bet a lot give up sucking it in, or just push it out. I guess no one really knows what 17 weeks looks like. My sister-in-law still had abs at 16 weeks! I guess everyone is different. 

49. Pregnancy brain is real. It's sad how many times I left my keys or my wallet in the house or at Target.

50. Bloating is also very real. My belly was 2 inches bigger at my baby shower than it was the week I gave birth. Bloating.

51. If you're in tune with your body, you can feel the baby moving around in there earlier than people say is possible with your first. Especially if you know what you're looking for. Laying on my back, I could feel it a couple of times a week starting around 12 weeks. The doctor confirmed that's what I was feeling. But it gets a lot more prominent later. & by the end you feel like baby is trying to beat her way out. Looks like it, too.

52. Your baby's heartbeat is a wonderful sound.

53. Dreams gradually get weirder, more intense, & much more memorable. 

54. You wake up a bajillion times a night to pee in your first trimester. & then it gets even worse when you get big. & you need an extra push to get out of bed because of that big belly. Kinda humiliating.

55. If you're like me, you'll discover the ability to get ready in 30 minutes or less (including feeding & taking out the dog) just so you can get some extra sleep.

56. Your midsection gets tender when the uterus moves up & forces things to move around.

57. Things you loved to eat, even a week ago, may make you want to throw up now.

58. Again... mood swings are intense. & the crying. My oh my.

59. Take advantage of your first pregnancy. The next time you do it you'll have another child to take care of & won't get this beautiful chance to be lazy again.

60. Before 28 weeks, don't be concerned if you don't feel your baby every day. I went weeks feeling her every day, & then would go days not feeling anything. Totally normal. But at 28 weeks you're supposed to start feeling them every day. You're going to freak out regardless, but try to tell yourself it's normal. 

61. Keep a copy of "What to Expect When You're Expeting" (the book, not the movie) around for when you have questions or weird symptoms. It's a really good source.

62. According to the above mentioned book, you can have 200mg of caffeine a day. Soda has about 35mg in a can. A lot of people say you can't have it at all. It's just that you shouldn't over do it. Overdoing anything is never a good thing anyway.

63. Melatonin is safe to take when you're pregnant. My brain doesn't make enough so I had to take supplements before I got pregnant. A lot of books & things say that you shouldn't take supplements, but my OB, & like three others, said that Melatonin is perfectly safe. I take 5mg & it really helps. I mean, I still wake up, but I'm dead to the world for at least 4 hours straight before I start waking up every hour.

64. Smells that make you nauseous during pregnancy may make you nauseous for the rest of your life. Or things that made you throw up.

65. Some women don't start showing until 5 months or so during their first pregnancy. I just ended my 4th month & I'm just starting to look pregnant enough for people to be able to tell. But barely. It's completely dependent on your shape... & if you're a girl that let's it go & pushes it out or not. Again, everyone's different!

66. They say the second trimester is the best. That was true for me, but it's not because my morning sickness went away. In fact, my morning sickness was worse, but I had WAY more energy & I was WAY more peppy about throwing up. 

67. A little bit of spotting isn't necessarily a bad thing. Don't freak out. (You're going to anyway...but try not to.) Especially if it's not a lot. The cervix becomes a hot spot for vascular things & may cause spotting on occasion. But don't hesitate to call your doctor! They're there to help.

68. If your doctor tells you to do something, do it. If they say stay out of the heat, don't spend the next day outside. It's a bad idea. I mean, it won't necessarily turn out as dramatic as my story, but it could be worse... you never know! So just follow doctor's advice on those kinds of things.

69. Heat bad. AC good. That's all I've gotta say about that.

70. Stay hydrated. I've never been so thirsty in my life. I drink like 10 full water bottles a day these days. Which I think may be why I'm gaining weight so slowly. I drink so much that I eat less when it's meal time. Plus, you don't want to become dehydrated. Your body may do that to you anyway if you can't keep anything down. So. Try to stay as hydrated as possible. Plus, if you have to get an IV or blood taken, it makes your veins bigger & easier to stick. I would know.

71. The ultrasound where you find out the gender is nerve racking. At least it was for me. Especially since they told me what I wanted to hear but I didn't believe her. We made her check several times.  I still had doubts up until she was born.

72. Pregnancy really does mess with you in every way humanly possible. Leg cramps. I don't know if you ever experienced growing pains, as a child, but it's like that. But worse. Husband has to rub my legs at bed time all the time because they hurt so bad I can't stand it. There are some stretches you can do to help, but it's so much easier to have someone else help so you can try to relax.

73. Braxton Hicks contractions can happen at any time. I felt it for the first time at 19 weeks. People say they don't hurt, but they can be pretty uncomfortable. 

74. STAY HYDRATED. I know I said this before. But I'm so completely serious, it will save you so much pain. When my mom was in hospital while visiting me, I drank very little water one day & ended up in the maternity centre triage being monitored for an hour for contractions. While I did find out that my child was astoundingly healthy, I also found out that I was dangerously dehydrated. I try to be good, but sometimes you get distracted. They gave me one of the big jugs with the straw while I was there, & I kept that filled all the time. I drink SO MUCH MORE when I have a straw than I would otherwise.

75. Give in to cravings. Don't go crazy, but there's nothing wrong with eating some ice cream. Especially if you're on track with weight gain. I was being really really careful my first trimester. I didn't give in to anything. But then my doctor told me to or else I might go crazy & gain a ton of weight after I have the baby. So now I give in occasionally. We always have cookies or ice cream in the house. I don't crave unhealthy things everyday so it's not like it's hard to resist.

76. Make sure you eat healthy things as well. At some point, I can't remember when, during pregnancy, the baby starts to be able to taste what you eat. I've read that if you eat vegetables & things the baby will be more likely to like them. I don't know if it's true or not, but it can't hurt to try. Plus, veggies are good for you. & fruit is DELICIOUS.

77. Unless your doctor says you're gaining too much or too little, there's no reason to freak out about weight gain. You're going to think about it anyway cause when you look at the scale you'll think about how you'll have to lose all that after the baby is born. It can be discouraging. I weigh more than I ever have & it makes me feel awful. I feel so big. I weigh as much as husband, if not a little more. (Luckily I don't look like I weigh as much as I do.) It's weird. I don't like it. But I know I can lose it all after I have the baby. You should gain about a pound a week starting in the 2nd trimester apparently. But it's okay to gain more or less than that. Some appointments I go in & found out I've lost 3lbs...or gained 3lbs. But I'm still on track for a perfect weight gain so I'm not concerned. 

78. Seeing your belly move the first time is freaky. I'm not going to lie to you, it still weirds me out a little bit. But it's SO COOL! Actually, I'm not really sure there's a human in my belly right now. I don't know what the heck she's doing in there, but she shakes or something. It feels like a rattlesnake, or a cell phone set to vibrate. It feels weird. But I love love love feeling her move in there.

79. When baby gets bigger, movements can be painful. I felt like she got stuck in a "corner" a lot (yes, I know my uterus does not have corners). She could simultaneously jab me in the ribs & cervix at the same time. & lucky for me she never dropped so that never went away. 

80. People told me that I'd have a relief from the constant need to urinate in my second trimester. I still peed all the time, so that was crap. But once I hit my 3rd trimester it's like BAM! Every 10 minutes sometimes. & (sorry if this is TMI, but whatever...) sometimes you can't get all of it out. I have gone pee, then been washing my hands & had to go again. It's ridiculous.

81. If you feel light headed, lay down with your feet up. Preferably in a location that is over your head. This also helps to make swelling in your feet go down.

82. Swelling. My fingers look like sausages. & if my legs are hanging (like if I'm sitting on the counter), my feet turn bright red within minutes. You can feel it. It's all tingly & weird. Not at all pleasant. & swelling can happen anywhere. Even my nose is bigger. My mom had the same issue when she was pregnant. I didn't realize it until I saw a straight on picture of my face at my baby shower. I was like "WHAT HAPPENED TO MY FACE?!?" Not only was that a really puffy day for me, but my nose looked huge. I have days where I'm not quite as puffy as others, but I'm always puffier than I would be if I weren't pregnant. Drinking lots of water helps. (Another good reason to stay hydrated.)

83. Picking a name is a pain in the butt. It's not easy at all. All the names you once loved may no longer seem good enough. Good thing pregnancy is 40 weeks. Gives you plenty of time to figure it out. We decided not to pick until we had her. Then it took us another 12 hours even though we had a list of names we liked.

84. Most girls have insecurities, but during pregnancy they're magnified by like a billion. Suddenly going out without make up on & in some sweat pants sounds like the best idea, & then some skinny gorgeous girl walks by & you feel so awful about yourself you want to cry. It's even worse if you're with your husband, who is all put together, & this girl makes eyes at your husband. All I wanted to do was sit on that skinny skank. =]

85. Raging hormones are real. I have been so emotional lately, it's ridiculous. I cry about everything. & I want to yell at people for everything. I wanted to yell at the ticket agent at the airport the other day two kiosks down because she was being mean to her customer. It wasn't even me. But I wanted to put her in her place. Had I not been in pain at the time, I would have. Or, husband made a joke that normally wouldn't bother me, but I immediately started crying. My mom said she was going to deflate the air mattress so that I didn't have to, & I started crying. Anya was doing really well in puppy school the other day, & Gabe was being so sweet, & I teared up. Pathetic. hahaha

86. Registering for gifts is hard. It took me weeks to figure things out. Do I have any baby experience? No. But suddenly I have to decide on all of these baby products. It's incredibly overwhelming. Have some friends with young kids recommend things to you. Especially if they've had a baby in the last year or two. Products & technology change really fast, so it's nice to have a view from someone that's been through it recently.

87. Consignment sales are overwhelming as crap. But they're good. Watch out for any kind of sales. Heck. We got our pack'n'play from Target for 30% off. That was sweet. But consignment sales can have some really good finds. But definitely overwhelming. All these moms battling for the same thing. It's madness. That's why I bring husband with me. That & so when I bend down to get something on a low rack, he can help me stand back up.

88. Get a pedicure. No one deserves pedicures more than pregnant women. One, it's hard to reach your toes by yourself. & two, They rub your feet & the lower half of your leg. It's the best.

89. A good night's sleep is pretty much impossible. I have a horrendous time sleeping. From horrible, vivid dreams, to leg cramps, baby kicking me awake, having to pee 30 billion's tough. & now my hips are spreading even more. Last night sleeping on my sides hurt my hips really bad, & when I layed on my back she woke up & decided it was time for a fiesta. I just couldn't win. Get a body pillow to try to help make you comfortable. I love my pregnancy pillow. It forms to me really well.

90. Keep a fan in your room so you don't have to run up the electric bill too bad by running the ac lower when you're sweating like a beast.

91. I hit a point where I wasn't throwing up any more, but not for lack of trying. I wanted to so bad. So I just spent my days curled up in a ball til it went away.

92. You will discover the difference between morning sickness & heart burn. It's not hard to tell. At least for me. I've only had heart burn once, so I'm not a good source for advice on that.

93. Your innards have to adjust as baby grows. Sometimes the nausea I feel is actually just because she's in a location that's messing with my stomach. I know because the zofran doesn't touch it, & then when I feel her move away from that spot, the nausea eases. But a lot of pains you feel are because things are adjusting in there. From round ligament pain, to nausea. It happens.

94. Read pregnancy forums. Not because they're useful tools for information (that's what books & doctors are for), but because it's so fun to read some of the complaints & rants from people. Very entertaining. & plus it's nice to know other people that are as far along as you are have the same kind of complaints. Makes you feel less crazy.

95. Before 28 weeks, don't be concerned if you don't feel your baby every day. I went weeks feeling her every day, & then would go days not feeling anything. Totally normal. But at 28 weeks you're supposed to start feeling them every day. You're going to freak out regardless, but try to tell yourself it's normal. 

96. Not everyone experiences being clumsy. Pregnancy brain, absolutely. But I never found myself more off balance than usual. Maybe it's because I'm so skilled.

97. You may experience flu like symptoms in the time leading up to labor. Extra nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. Good times. Just kidding! Super unpleasant. But it's no indication of when baby will come. I had friends that had it the day they went in, but mine started almost 2 weeks before I went in to labor.

98. Traveling is really hard on your body. I had issues every time. The 8 hour drive to Virginia at 31 weeks ended with me in the hospital with a UTI (which when you're pregnant apparently can cause horrible contractions). When I flew to Colorado at 33 weeks, then drove down to Arizona at 34 for my sister's wedding, I ended up in the hospital again for actual pre term labor. Scary. Just make sure you take it easy if you travel. 

99. The last 5 weeks are the absolute longest. The seem to take forever. Especially if the pre term labor you had at 34 weeks triggers real contractions for the rest of your pregnancy. & contractions are exhausting so that's no fun.

100. If you're one that handles pregnancy like a champ, congratulations (but fyi, I don't believe you, you must be on something or lying). I'm not. I wish I was, but it's hard. I can tolerate a lot, & I've been through much worse than what I've experienced thus far, but I'm not going to lie to you, it's a pain in the butt & it doesn't make it any easier. It's a prolonged feeling of not feeling in control of your own body. But remember that the Lord blessed you with this amazing miracle of creating life in your belly. It seems like forever, but I know there's an end. & a beautiful baby to come.

The end.

- Alexa