Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Not-So-Crunchy First Trimester?

I am very incredibly sorry for the lack of posts in the last couple of months.  I have been trying to catch up on work since I took the summer off for an internship. Plus, I haven't been feeling the best during the 1st trimester of this pregnancy.  It takes a lot to look at a computer screen for more than  few minutes, and most of my updates to friends and family have been quick responses or postings through Facebook.

So what has happened in the last couple months?  Well, in addition to slowly expanding in girth, I have had a lot of great baby news.  On October 18th, I had my first early ultrasound because I was measuring small during my first prenatal exam, and my dates weren't exactly adding up.  It didn't help that I had been having 35 day cycles after I went off birth control.  So, they wanted to use an ultrasound to get a better date on my pregnancy.  Needless to say, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Not only did I get to see our "Little Owl" for the first time (although Crunchy Husband said it looked more like a squirrel or a raccoon), I got to hear the heartbeat!  Sadly, Crunchy Husband could only enjoy the pictures because he had to work the afternoon of the ultrasound, and ditzy me forgot to take video of the whole experience.  So verdict on due date is now June 8th, 2013, and as of this Saturday, I will be about 10 weeks along.  We got December 3rd for our nuchal fold translucency ultrasound, and luckily, Crunchy Husband will be able to be there.

"Little Owl", measuring at 6 weeks, 5 days on 10/18/12

So as far as pregnancy symptoms, this is what I have had, and I'll try to put them in the order of occurrence. Be forewarned... this is a honest look at what you could expect if you're expecting, and I held nothing back for the sake of education.  There is a lot of stuff no one tells you until you're actually pregnant, or you experience it and end up asking your doctor because you think you're weird.

(1) Lack of period (of course!).  This was my first clue something was up.  Although I had been having pretty long cycles for the 6 months we had been TTC, they had never gone longer than 35 days, so when I all of a sudden realized that I was 40 days and hadn't started my period, let alone started spotting, I immediately took a test.  Imagine my surprise after months of TTC with negative tests, when that little sucker said "Pregnant"!  I was so excited, I couldn't contain myself and immediately called my mom (Sorry CH, you weren't the first one to find out!)  About an hour later, my husband came home, and while he babbled on about his day at work, I ran into the bathroom, grabbed the positive test, and handed it to him.  I have never seen a smile that big.  Needless to say, he forgot about his horrible day at work.

The next day, I went to the doctor, and to my surprise again, my urine test came back NEGATIVE.  I was extremely confused, but the PA ordered a blood test, and the next day it came back as positive, with an hCG level of 30 mIU/mL, which explained why my at-home pregnancy test that was accurate from anywhere from 2.5-50 mIU/mL was positive, while the doctor's, which usually is accurate at about 50 mIU/mL, was negative.  She had me come back the next Monday to get another blood test, to show that I didn't already have an early miscarriage and my levels were rising.  Sure enough, they did, and my levels were about 240 mIU/mL after about 3 days. Definitely pregnant!

(2) Cravings.  Very early on in my pregnancy, I got a craving for foods that I sometimes crave before my period, and some other foods that were a little weird.  First on the list:  pickles.  But not just any pickles... fried pickles with ranch dressing.  Pickles are one food I usually crave every month, but I am not a fried food person AT ALL.  In fact, fried and fatty foods usually make me sick because I am missing half of my colon from appendicitis gone wrong a few years ago.  However, I craved fried pickles like there was no tomorrow.  Second food:  Chicken.  If you've read this blog, you know I prefer to eat a largely vegetarian diet.  But, when I'm not eating vegetarian, chicken is usually the last meat I want to eat.  I highly prefer beef or pork over chicken.  It's a texture and taste thing.  However, I could NOT get enough chicken.  Especially chicken wings... or fried chicken... or chicken nuggets.  Again, fatty foods that I don't usually eat.  Third food:  Thai and/or spicy food.  The first few weeks after I found out I was pregnant, my husband had to take me to the local Thai restaurant at least twice. I kept craving anything spicy, and I even made spicy stir fry loaded with chili garlic paste and Sriracha at least once a day for the first few weeks.  I also had an obsession with bok choy.  My favorite thing to do with it was saute it with some carrots, ginger, snap peas, napa cabbage, and chili paste and then stir fry in some egg.  That brings me to the fourth food:  Eggs.  I usually am not a big egg eater.  Once a week or every couple of weeks, CH and I would do breakfast for dinner and I usually would make scrambled eggs or eggs over easy, but I never really liked them.  I ate them because they were good for me.  During the first couple of weeks, it was nothing for me to make 2 eggs to eat almost every day.  Just goes to show, sometimes your body craves what it really needs.  Most of my cravings were healthy, aside from the fatty and salty stuff, but when your vasculature is branching out more than Pittsburgh has bridges and your baby needs fat to build brain, you need the extra salt and HEALTHY fats.

(3) Food Aversions/Extreme Nausea.  Although there wasn't a whole lot I wouldn't eat during the first couple of weeks, at 6 weeks pretty much on the dot, I started getting morning sickness, or as I like to call it "All day misery".  At first, it started out as a heartburn type of nausea. Like that feeling you get when you've eaten too much or you've eaten something greasy and it wants to come back up.  Then, it progressed into full-blown 24/7 gag reflex, with vomiting at least twice a day, and the slightest smell, touch, image on TV, or body odor would make me want to head for the toilet.  Especially when I brushed my teeth.  I have always had a slight gag reflex when I brush the back of my tongue.  At and after 6 weeks, even putting a toothbrush anywhere NEAR my mouth made me blow.  Kind of defeats the purpose of brushing your teeth.  Luckily for me, after a couple of false attempts at brushing, I got it out of my system and could brush my teeth (and tongue!) with no problem.  After that, it progressed to a near-vomiting nausea that persisted all day, and I always felt like it was right in my throat, ready to come out at any moment.

Feeling nauseated all the time put a damper on eating healthily while pregnant.  I couldn't even look at my veggie drawer without wanting to hurl, and the thought of anything green turned me green (and not in a earth-friendly type of way).  This is why I call the 1st trimester "Not-so-crunchy".  Even plain water made me throw up.  I resorted to a diet of saltines, Gatorade, Campbell's chicken noodle, English muffins/Bagels, applesauce, and surprisingly, dairy products.  I am lactose intolerant.  I have been since I was very little, but for some reason, when I got pregnant, I can now eat any kind of dairy I please without getting sick.  Before, I could usually tolerate cheese and Greek yogurt without getting sick (probably because of the protein), but now, I can drink as much milk as I like, and I have even started to love ice cream (which I hated before, probably due to it's ill side effects!).  A professor friend at work told me this is because my body is gearing up to produce milk so it produces things to get used to being exposed to lactose.  Not sure if this is true, but I'll take it!  I have always loved the taste of milk, but could never drink more than a few ounces and hated the taste of lactase tablets or lactose-free products.

As a result, I have not gained any weight in the first trimester, and have probably actually lost some.

The nausea is starting to wane, however, and I have been able to eat salads (yay!) for the last couple of days.  Until this morning, I hadn't thrown up once in two entire days.  Let's hope it keeps on the upward slope.

(4) Heightened sense of smell (and taste).  Before I even found out I was pregnant, I had noticed that it seemed as though I could smell things I wouldn't normally smell.  Like our neighbor's trash or dirty dishes... which resided inside their apartment.  Then, I started noticing that I could smell people.  From a long distance away.  Like... down the hall and around the corner far away.  In particular, I could smell CH's nasty breath from across the room (I love you!).  In his defense, it's not his fault.  He has some pretty bad gingivitis from years in the Army without proper brushing and flossing.  Even if he brushed his teeth, he couldn't even kiss me on the face.  I would have to turn my head and have him kiss me on the top or back of my head.  I couldn't even face him while sleeping in the same bed because he tends to open-mouth breathe on me in the middle of the night.  That was the number one thing that made my stomach turn on a regular basis.  I also could smell almost everyone's BO, even if they were wearing deodorant and typically had good hygiene.  The people that didn't have good hygiene, I avoided like the plague.  Our litter pan is pretty large to accommodate two cats, so we usually scoop it twice a week.  It had to be scooped at least 3 or 4 times a week to keep me from wanting to barf as soon as we got into smelling distance in the hall of our apartment complex.  Luckily, it is in an end of the house where I don't spend a lot of time, and CH was kind enough to start scooping it as soon as we were TTC, so I'm not at risk for the various cat poo diseases that lurk in the litter.  The kitchen trash was another thing that set me off as soon as I got near our front door.  Especially with all the chicken I had been eating (chicken trash is the worst!), the trash had to taken out about the same pace as the litter, even if the bag wasn't anywhere near full, just to avoid a disaster as soon as I came home from work.

(5) Sore boobs, especially nipples.  Ah yes, the things people never tell you until you get pregnant.  Somewhere around the first month or so after you conceive, your boobs start gearing up to be milk factories.  Your breasts actually won't fully develop until you become pregnant, which is part of the reason why some women end up with breast cancer shortly after they conceive.  Along with this new development comes the agony of the pain in the nipples and breasts from all that extra blood flow and hormones.  How sore were they?  Let's put it this way... I tossed aside the idea of saggy boobs by going bra-less at night because every time anything even remotely touched my boob like a pillow or a sheet, I would wake up in pain.  When the OB palpitated by boobs during the first prenatal visit, it was all I could do to not punch him in his stupid face.  "Ah yes, love, unreasonable torture", he said.  I'll show you unreasonable torture you sick b******.  Which brings me to....

(6) Mood swings!  Ah yes.  When I first had the inkling I could be expecting, it was after a rather rousing verbal disagreement with CH.  I don't know what caused it.  I can't even remember what it was about.  All I know, is that I had figured out exactly how to kill him, and how no one would ever find his body.  Although for the most part, I have been more laid back than my PMS-filled days before being prego, I still get a wire-y streak in me, and the smallest thing can set me off.  A lady once cut me off in traffic at around 5 weeks pregnant.  Trying to keep cool, I ignored her.  Until she stuck her arm with her middle finger attached out her driver's side window.  You have not seen road rage until you've seen a pregnant lady respond to that kind of idiocy.  There was lot of horn blowing, returned middle fingers, obscenities screamed.  And then I drove home, took a nap, and I felt much better.

Let me tell you, you do NOT want to piss off a pregnant woman, especially if it's in early pregnancy.  My coworkers have probably learned this.  I have gotten pretty upset about some pretty stupid things.  Some of which, I'm sorry for.  Some of which, I wish people would learn to function in a space they share with others.  CH hadn't learned... until the other night.  Please remember, my husband is a good man, and I love him dearly.  What happened next NEVER happens, and I think it was a combination of his crappy days at work, combined with baby stress on both parts.  CH occasionally likes to get a wire-y streak because it makes him feel manly, especially when his job gives him grief.  Sometimes, he likes to come home and get cranky with me.  Understandable.  I am okay with that.  I get cranky, too.  I am not okay with him causing a scene at a movie theater because he thinks I came out the wrong exit of a bathroom.  Let me explain.  Our movie theater bathroom is a long bathroom that has two entrances.  One by the main entrance, another on the end by some of the theaters.  Usually, at the end of a movie, I go in the end by the theaters and come out by the main entrance.  Makes sense because you don't have to backtrack, right?  After checking outside to make sure he hadn't gone to grab the truck, I gave him a call.  Well, CH didn't think my idea was so great, and he let me know how PO'ed he was to have been waiting with my purse by the theater side entrance when I finally called him and asked him where he was and told him I was standing at the main entrance.  After him blowing up and then proceeding to yell at me in the parking lot after I asked him why he thought I should have gone out the other entrance even though the one I came out was closer to our final destination, he got irate   CH is a crazy driver when he's mad, so I got out of the car and decided to wait until he calmed down because I was not going to ride in a car with him when he was that upset, especially while carrying our unborn child.  Well that made him madder, and he proceeded to squeal tires out of the parking space, nearly hitting some movie-goers on the way to their vehicle, and burnt rubber all through the parking lot.  So, I started to walk home.  He came back.  I tried to dodge him in the parking lot.  Then, he decided I was right to not want to ride with him and he handed me the keys, but he still wanted to be mouthy.  My calmness faded rather quickly.  I became a person and had a deep, scary voice I didn't know I contained.  Things got so ugly, I was pretty sure I was going to miscarry from getting so upset.  I was also pretty sure that I was going to leave him or kill him, whichever was going to be most convenient at the time.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is the ugly side of hormones.  One that I hope to never see again, from either one of us!  P.S.  CH has been very sweet since that episode, and I think he realized he was completely out of line, and I realize that my reaction did not help things.  People are human.  We get over it and move on.

(7) Sleepy time, all the time.  If I could put enough equity in sleep to get me through the first year of postpartum, I would have a an excess banked.  But sadly, for the past couple months, I cannot get enough naps in one day.  I sleep at least 8 hours a night.  I have been known to sleep through my alarm clock to go to work in the morning.  After arriving at work late, I work until I'm about to fall asleep at my desk.  A couple of times, I have.  Then, I had a bad habit of taking the afternoon off, coming home, sleeping some more.  Then I would wake up, do some things around the house, eat, and go back to bed.  Sometimes I wake up when CH is getting off the late shift at work.  I have stayed up a couple of hours with him, and then I go back to bed.  Wash, Rinse, Repeat.  You would think with all this rest I'm getting, I would feel great.  Not true in the least bit.

(8) Number 1 and Number 2.  Frequent urination.  I have to pee.  A lot.  At least 20 times a day, at least 5 times after I lay down to go to sleep.  The baby is not even big enough to push on my bladder.  I can't wait...  Also, your BM situation gets kind of wonky.  This is a result of all the extra hormones, plus that prenatal vitamin with iron you should be taking every day, if you can keep it down.

(9) Back/leg/neck/all over pain.  I noticed that I have started to walk differently now that I'm pregnant.  I thought I was crazy, until I read that your body produces the hormone relaxin in response to your growing baby.  Essentially, it helps muscles move essential parts out of the way to make room for baby, plus, it prepares your ligaments, muscles, and womb for later exit of said baby.  It also makes you clumsy and have poor posture, which can lead to a whole slew of ailments.  I will thank God for relaxin when a 7-11 lb baby is coming out of my vagina.  Right now, not so much.  In addition to all the extra movement of internal things to make preparation for growing baby, your nerves and muscles take a beating.  I have found that sometimes I get what is called "round ligament" pain, which is basically a cramp of the uterus, but it's not like a normal premenstrual cramp.  It's kind of spasm-y, but not so much painful.  I usually get it when I sneeze or have been sitting for too long in an office chair.  I also tend to get a numbness and prickling in a nerve in my leg.  I'm not sure it's sciatica, but it's similar from descriptions I've read.  I used to get the same type of pain in my right leg all the time if I had been sitting for long periods.  Now, I get it in both legs, and it's a little more wide-spread than in one small point on my outer thigh.

(10) Popping joints.  Blame this on relaxin, too.  I already have bad joints, probably due to a mix of lack of flexibility and juvenile arthritis, but my leg, knee, and hip joints have been popping more than usual.  My neck and back have also been doing it more often.  It's not painful, just loud, and it scares people because they think you are literally breaking apart.  A lot of days, I try to walk to and from work.  Walking helps work out the pops and build up the muscles to keep them from happening in the first place.

(11)  Dry nipples?  Starting this week, I have noticed that not only have my nipples grown in size and have become darker with increased melanin produced by my melanocytes (aka pigmented skin cells), my nipples are flaky and dry.  Especially after a warm shower.  So OB recommended I slather them with lanolin every once in a while to keep them from cracking, which will make it more difficult to breast-feed.  So far, this has helped with the dryness, although it's not pleasant for my bras.  I am definitely going to have to invest in some breast pads.  OB also warned me that I may start leaking colostrum, the "liquid gold" pre-milk loaded with antibodies and sugar that is perfect for baby's first days outside the womb, soon (GAH! Great!), so if I do, not to worry, that it's normal, and it can start at anywhere from 12-40 weeks. Still amazed at the things people don't tell you until you're pregnant.

(12) Low blood pressure.  I already have low blood pressure.  It runs in my dad's side of the family.  That's why they lived so long.  Lately, I've been feeling dizzy/light-headed, and OB told me I should keep drinking Gatorade for the electrolytes because not only does it hydrate and keep my blood volume up, the glucose keeps my blood sugar up, and the salts help keep my blood pressure up.  However, once the third trimester rolls along, I might find that I actually switch to having high blood pressure, so to not go overboard on salty foods so I don't end up with preeclampsia.

(13)  Discharge (ewww *shudder*).  This is one that's pretty much self explanatory.  You start making a mucus plug to keep your cervix sealed, and the whole environment down there changes to help keep your baby in there and safe.  It's not pleasant, but it's doing it's job.

(14) Sex drive! (and lack thereof)  Although I'm not in the mood as often as I used to be before conceiving-- mostly due to the nausea...when I AM in the mood, it's definitely amp-ed up. Let's just say, all the extra blood flow down there isn't necessarily a bad thing.

On that note, I think I've about covered it unless there's something I forgot.  If I did, it was because I probably tried to repress the memory.

So, next time, I will let you know how I battled the nausea.  I promise, it was all-natural and Crunch-worthy.  I'll tell you what worked for me, what didn't, and how I dealt with it.  Until then, keep it green!

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