1. My body is no longer mine
Other than the fact that it’s changing shape, growing a human does strange things to your physiology. For me, the scariest is how my pancreas started shutting down or stopped working like it should. I became insulin-deficient and also suffer from hypoglycemic shock – the kind where I start shaking, start becoming incoherent and require chewing of glucose tablets. If I faint or blackout, I not only risk physically hurting myself if I hit something but oxygen to my foetus would be cut off. I’ve been told it’s the pregnancy hormones that take over and things can get crazier as the pregnancy progresses.
I have also willingly become a human pin-cushion and at one point, was going in and out of clinics several times a week (for several weeks in a row) to get my blood drawn for tests. I now stick needles in myself 6-8 times daily. Forget about the pregnancy glow and how pregnant mamas should eat everything they crave because they’re eating for two. I struggle on a daily basis to eat and live properly on a very basic level. This blog used to be frivolous and I really enjoyed being all about “hey! This is what I’m wearing today” but you know, when you’re obsessed about just getting medication inside you at appropriate intervals several times a day, that’s the last thing on your mind.
These days, I look like I have black inky fingers all the time, but they’re actually bruises from the needles. Bruises also appear alongside red welts around my belly when I hit some capillaries by accident when giving myself a shot. T’s a sweetie pie but also a pragmatist and not exactly the smoothest guy around. He would sing to me while trying to coax me to stick the needles in BUT he would also tell me straight up “if you don’t, our baby will die. You just have to do it.” And while I still struggle to, I do it. Because my body is no longer mine.
2. Wonky emotions, alert!!
More than ever, my emotions run amok. Mood swings, irrational crying episodes. You name it, I’ve got it. Before we got married, T already knew I cry so well. But each time I get pregnant, he braces himself for the craziness that ensues. Our dog is so cute – cry. Why did I fall off the stationary bike – angry. This food is so delicious – cry. Why am I eating toilet paper – cry… angry… cry… It’s true. I ate toilet paper (but that was the last pregnancy) and I couldn’t stop myself even though I knew it’s crazy, so I just kept crying and got really furious with myself all at once. It’s nuts but a story for another time. Maybe.
With a history of depression, my perinatologist has advised that I should seek help if I feel like I need it. Despite what you might think, doctors feel that in general the benefits of psych meds outweigh the harm in this case. I’m lucky that T works from home so he’s around me all the time. For some unexplained reason (pregnancy hormones obviously), I refused to get out of the car for our OBGYN appointment last week. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the fear that they will give us bad news again and our baby is dead. I remember telling T that maybe if I don’t get out, we’ll never know. Like Schrodinger’s cat, I said. I would rather carry around a dead foetus than have to digest another tragedy. It was irrational. I can see that after the episode was over but my judgement was so clouded at that moment, it was rather frightening.
Also I’ve had friends with postpartum depression and I know how real it gets. So even if we manage to survive the pregnancy, post-delivery is another battle that might await us.
3. Pregnancy Brains is REAL
T read somewhere that pregnant women’s brains shrink. Have no idea if that is true but in general, I feel like my body is being overworked so resources are spread thin. Did you watch that episode of How I Met Your Mother where Lily found a melted ice cube tray in her handbag? I lose concentration very easily and my short term memory is fuzzy. Just 2 weeks ago, I came home and hunted for 4 bottles of hand soap I distinctively purchased. Checked the receipt and it was there. I remember being handed all my groceries and sundries, walking to the car, unloading everything from the supermarket trolley… and everything was a blur after that. I seriously don’t even remember driving home.
4. The Bane of Bowel movements
Okay, not just bowel movements but in general, excretion of waste. I pee every 15 minutes or so but I rarely poop. One night, T heard me go into the loo and he fell asleep while I was halfway through my pee. When he regained consciousness, I was still peeing the same pee. And upon my return to bed, he remarked “Wow! That was a super long one!”. Yup! They tend to be.
Also about 2 months ago, I had to do this test where I was required to collect 24hrs worth of all the pee that came out of me – the clinic gave me a gallon jug and a collection trough, I had so much pee within the 24-hr period that I had to throw the last few away because the jug was full before the 24 hours were up. Obvious conclusion: I pee more than a gallon worth a day.
On the flip side, pregnancy hormones slows down your digestive system and everything becomes super sluggish. What this means is, while my IBS meant that diarrhoea was commonplace in my life previously, I now barely move my bowels even with a fibre supplement, mild laxative AND stool softener. I do a happy jig and proudly announce to my poor husband whenever I get to poop (which is once every 3-4 days) AND I get insanely jealous when he gets to go while I don’t.
5. Pregnant women get Electrocuted Vagina (or Lightning crotch)
When I first experienced it, I yelped and screamed for T. I thought I was dying. Actually, a lot of pregnancy symptoms made me think I was having a stroke or dying. I described it as electric shocks in my lady parts and looked it up. Other people call it lightning crotch. IT IS A THING!! OH MY GOD! If you’ve had laser hair removal, you’ll know the stinging sensation and it is SO ANNOYINGLY UNCOMFORTABLE in a super sensitive area! I started experiencing this towards the end of my 1st trimester – which apparently is unusual, so I thought it was something else until the doctor said it’s normal.
So I’ve learnt that lighting crotch is related to your nerves being pinched and at a later stage, it’s the baby lying at some weird angle. I started feeling something like popcorn popping inside me about 2 weeks ago and I thought it was bad gas initially. The ultrasound however confirmed that we’ve got a super active baby. We’ve had 3 ultrasounds now and in the last 2, he was kicking and flipping and squirming – he looked like he was headbanging and doing sit-ups (I swear that’s what it looks like). I can only imagine that lightning crotch is going to get worse for me as he gets bigger.
6. It should be called All Day Sickness
Forget the misnomer Morning Sickness. With all my pregnancies, I was throwing up all day and I typically lose about 5kgs in the first trimester. I carry those free doggie poop bags I collect from the streets and they are always in my pockets, handbag, the car, night stand etc. Somewhere in the middle of January, it got so bad that I actually lost my voice. The bile scratched up my throat so much that I was hoarse and could barely speak. I’m further along in my pregnancy than I’ve ever been now, and it appears to have stopped. “They” whoever they are, say that it usually ends in the 1st trimester. It took me a few weeks longer than that but I haven’t had an episode for a while now. Fingers crossed. Dry heaving maybe once or twice but no actual purging.
This post was actually called “10 things” but I have forgotten what I want to say (see point 3: Pregnancy Brains). Hahaha!
With all of that said, I want people to rest assured that I’m definitely not alone in experiencing these challenges and pregnancy is not a breeze in general. I’m not complaining and it is, what it is. I’ve learnt that all pregnant women go through a combination of different issues and even if you think you’re so special and unique, you’re most probably not, so don’t be afraid to seek a support group for help – unless you’re like Daffyd Thomas in Little Britain and enjoy it that way.