It has been nearly 10 years since I was pregnant with my first baby and 8 with my last. Even though I don’t think any mother could ever forget the terrible morning sickness or the way it feels when a baby kicks from inside, time has a funny way of burying the little feelings and memories that go along with pregnancy. Somehow, 40 long weeks of counting down are obliterated once the baby arrives and you’re instantly thrust into a whole new line of concerns and changes. The counting of weeks (in the opposite direction) turn into months and before you know it, years have passed by in a blur. You’ll likely catch yourself wondering,
“What happened to my baby? How are you 9 years old already? You’re halfway to moving out of the house! Aaaaack…“
As this will be my last, I’m trying hard to relish and remember every little detail, good or bad. I want to savor the pregnancy and the early years because I know all too well how quickly it goes.
THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: Besides the obvious discomforts that go hand in hand with growing something inside of you, I’ve found the hardest thing to deal with is fear. This has been amplified exponentially due to my “Advanced Maternal Age.” I should note that under normal circumstances, I keep most medical visits to a bare minimum. I try to sustain our health through diet and exercise, utilising medicine only when truly necessary. Ironically, my experiences with childbirth have been everything but natural. It was as though my first two would’ve been content to stay in utero for good. They were both huge babies that required c-sections and even then, they wouldn’t come out! At the end of the day, I just wanted them to be healthy and out of my body. My first OB/GYN had delivered something like 35,000 babies in his career, so I put my faith in his ability and expertise. Even though he was unusually laid back, he had an uncanny ability to make you feel like he had it all under control. He’d say things (in a strong southern drawl) like, “You never know what is gonna happen, honey. There’s no point in worrying about a thing.” Finding myself pregnant again at the ancient age of 38, has been such a different experience. I spent the first three months expecting to miscarry. It doesn’t help that “AMA” is scrawled like scarlet letters on every piece of medical paper with my name on it. As my doctor told me, our bodies are meant to have babies in our early twenties. Thanks for that, doc.
TESTS: At 10 weeks, I had a new screening called MaterniT21. It’s a non-invasive blood test that can tell with 99% accuracy if there’s a presence of Down’s Syndrome or one of the main Trisomy disorders (an alternative to an early CVS or Amniocentesis). It also allowed us to learn the gender extremely early. Following this test, I had a worrisome Nuchal Translucency ultrasound which prompted us to get genetic counseling and the subsequent 23andMe DNA tests. It wasn’t required, but I’ll admit, I was very curious to learn about my ancestry, disease risks and gene carrier status. It took about 6 weeks and I nearly had a stroke prior to opening the results for my breast cancer and Parkinson’s screen, but it was completely worth the $99 to learn as much as I did about my health. Since then, I’ve had some of the usual tests like the AFP and monthly ultrasounds with a perinatologist. Unfortunately, they discovered we have something called Marginal Cord Insertion, where the umbilical cord inserted onto the side of the placenta rather than the middle. The doctors said they would monitor it to make sure the baby was getting enough nutrients, blood, etc., as it can result in a smaller baby. In the words of my perinatologist, “In this case, it might be a blessing that you have such big babies!” Of course I went home and researched it online and it seems THE BABY MIGHT DIE. I quickly got off the internet and started eating more. Thankfully, he’s growing right on track. Lastly, we were instructed to have an Fetal Echocardiogram Ultrasound with the top pediatric cardiologist in town because there’s a family history of babies with holes in their hearts. Overboard? Probably, but at least we know his heart is healthy. Now that we’ve checked for just about every little thing that can go wrong, I’m hoping from here on out, it will be business as usual.
As for some of the other fun changes:
SKIN: I broke out terribly with my daughter, but it was not too bad this time. However, the first sign that I was pregnant was a gnarly, tell-tale spot on my chest and then some on my back. This hadn’t happened since my last pregnancy, so I immediately wondered if I was indeed expecting.
HAIR: My hair fell out like crazy for the first couple of months of pregnancy. I’d only remembered the stage where I didn’t lose hair, but this time around I was shedding faster than an Alaskan Malemute! Now I lose a total of 4 hairs a day and I swear it makes my face look even bigger. (lovely)
NAUSEA: I will never understand how some women feel nothing while others can be retching for months on end! Consistent with my other two pregnancies, it started rearing it’s ugly head around 6 1/2 weeks and didn’t go away until 20 weeks. It mostly began around noon and would dissipate in the middle of the night while I slept. This little one made me throw up the most though. For the worst two months, I was in bed at 5:30pm curled up in the fetal position trying hard not to dry heave while watching favorites like Downton Abbey, The Mindy Project, Girls, or New Girl on the iPad. When it finally went away, it was as though the heavens had opened!
CRAVINGS: For someone who gets so sick, I have an uncanny ability to eat like a total gannet when I’m pregnant. The irony is, the act of eating makes me feel temporarily better and then as soon as I’m done, I go right back to feeling like I’m going to throw up. I started to think maybe chewing was the answer, so I’ve tried to supplement with minty gum whenever possible. Unfortunately, gum doesn’t satiate a never-ending appetite! Ava and Max have been completely horrified by the change in my diet. I’m normally very strict about what we eat with very little dining out and mostly natural/healthy homemade food. But everything is off the table when I’m pregnant. Candy, fast food, eating in bed at 10:30pm — you name it, I’ve eaten it. Here’s how a random week looked during the early months… Monday: I need a Philly Cheesesteak. Tuesday: Time for my weekly In ‘N Out Double-Double. Wednesday: Must. Eat. Giant. Carne. Asada. Burrito. Thursday: Who wants Egg Salad for the 5th week in a row? Friday: Gyro Time! As it is, I’m hungry every couple of hours and have been supplementing with bowls of granola, tangy fruits like pineapple/kiwi/mango, Trader Joe’s chocolates (damn you, TJ’s!) and these most delicious scones. One final thing to note is, this is the first pregnancy where I’ve been able to drink coffee (a mostly decaf blend) the entire time.
WEIGHT GAIN: I gained 60lbs with both of my other kids and it looks like I’m headed there again. I’m already up 40lbs. UGH! Everything hurts. My thighs are touching. I feel like a whale flopping from side to side in bed at night. I can hardly pull myself to a seated position without assistance. My face is fat. Once again, fairness doesn’t play equally, as I’m simply not one of those pretty pregnant people. (According to my cleaning lady, “At least you aren’t as bad as Kim Kardashian!” Thanks, amiga!) All of this leads me to counting down the days until post-partum bliss. As soon as the baby comes out, it’s like a reset button has been pushed and I feel normal again. I managed to lose the weight twice before and I know I will do it again. I have to.
TOOTHBRUSH GAG: Throughout the morning sickness ordeal, I also have the lovely side effect of gagging when I brush my teeth. It’s not a polite, lady-like retch but more of a guttural, my entire insides are going to come shooting out of me type of gag. Most of the time, it would cause me to dry heave and/or throw up. My children thought it was both hilarious and frightening at the same time. Please tell me that you (or someone you know) has had this before. I was *this close* to filming it because it is so weird!
NONSTOP URINATION: I’m pretty sure I must have the smallest bladder on the planet and that I pee more than most, but pregnancy takes that up about 50 notches. It could be that I consume at least 3 liters of water a day (Probably even more since that is about all I can drink right now. Who wants some fizzy water with lemon? Cranberry? How about some lime? We can pretend it is a cocktail! Oh nevermind.) I hate to say it, but water is getting old (I want wine!) and I certainly won’t miss these frequent bathroom visits one bit. My husband, as my witness, watched (in the other room, of course) me use the toilet directly before an ultrasound and 10 minutes into it, the tech made me go empty my bladder again because it was getting in the way of their view! Crazy.
HEARTBURN: I hate to even utter these words for fear they will come back to haunt me, but I have barely had any heartburn this go around. With Ava and Max, I had terrible heartburn for their entire pregnancies! Does this mean that this little babe will be bald?
EXERCISE: I never exercised at all when I was pregnant with my other two children. In fact, I counted going up and down our stairs as a good workout back then! Despite the weight gain being right on track, I’ve actually tried to stay more fit this time around. I stopped running as soon as I found out, but I try to walk and/or hike weekly. By no means am I anywhere close to as fit as I was prior to the pregnancy but at least I’m trying to counteract the scone and chocolate consumption!
MOVEMENT: Let’s face it! This best part is feeling your baby move inside. That is until it gets uncomfortable and they are kicking you in the ribs or your cervix. EEK! No matter, it makes the experience feel all the more real, however surreal it may be! I started feeling this one quite early on, around 17 weeks, but very sporadically. In the past 3-4 weeks he’s been moving much more and to some extent, on a schedule.
So those are most of the physical changes that I’ve been going through these past 5 months. Next time, I’ll tell you about some of the other ways this baby is going to rock my world!