Thursday, December 27, 2012

31 Weeks: GD life, Active Baby, Sleepy Mama

The past week has been all about adjusting to my new GD diet/lifestyle. I had to cancel some plans with friends (it's been impossible to see friends during this pregnancy!!), but the transition has been a lot easier than anticipated, mainly because my husband has taken over the food preparation/cooking after my initial effort - bless his heart. I miss eating fruits in the mornings, but it's not too bad. Getting through Christmas without sweets wasn't bad either. Instead of baking cookies, we roasted chestnuts, which I love anyway. Yum. And the pricking finger part has also become manageable after getting used to the routine, especially after cutting down to four times a day from seven. My blood sugar levels have been in the normal ranges at all times. I'm confident this borderline Gestational Diabetes is in control.

Speaking of control, I was hoping this diagnoses could explain some of the terrible things I've been feeling during my pregnancy. I was also hoping the diet would help me feel better. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be related. I still feel sick on and off with nausea and dizziness.

The good news is that my baby girl seems to be doing fine. She is more active than ever, and they say another growth spurt happens around now. I can feel it, not only in the stretching skin but also in the incredible sleepiness I feel. I want to sleep all the time. But of course, sleeping is not such an easy task with the huge belly, kicking baby, achey body, and breathing difficulty. 

I have nine weeks until my due date, but only six until I'm full term, which means there's a chance this baby will come out in about a month and a half. My husband and I had a moment of panic last night because we have so much to do.

We've only begun looking at cribs, strollers, and whatever else parents-to-be look at before the baby comes. We've been too busy focusing on and dealing with my sickness/condition during the pregnancy that we haven't had a chance to prepare for the actual baby who will be out soon. We're lucky tho to have so many new parents around us to tell us about their experiences. Last night, my husband and I FaceTimed with my sister's family for over an hour, talking about babies and baby products. As parents of a 17-month-old, they shared with us what they know and think, which was immensely helpful for us in making some decisions. 

PHOTO at 31 weeks: 
I can feel my baby's head (or butt) right below my rib cage at times, but I think I'm still carrying her pretty low in my belly. I've begun doing yoga ball exercises to help the baby position herself right for birth. This baby is coming soon...!! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

30 weeks: Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is one of the most common health problems during pregnancy. When pregnant, the placenta releases hormones - one of which is called HPL (Human Placental Lactogen) - that have anti-insulin properties. They're basically there to ensure the baby receives enough nutrients. Usually, the mother's body compensates for this specific insulin resistance by working harder at the pancreas, releasing extra insulin. A woman with GD, however, has a hard time accommodating, resulting in an elevated blood glucose level. If prolonged, a lot of dangerous things can happen. But if controlled, it's not a big deal - hence the routine testing. Though someone with GD has a higher chance of developing type II diabetes later in life, the condition usually goes away once the baby - more specifically, the placenta - is out.

There's a list of things that puts someone at a higher risk for GD: being older than 25, going through a 'high risk pregnancy,' having high blood pressure, being overweight before pregnancy, and having given birth to a large baby before. I am none of the above, except being older than 25. But as always, there are exceptions and anomalies. 

My blood glucose level came out slightly elevated after the initial glucose tolerance test (GTT), which routinely happens between 24-28weeks of pregnancy, when the HPL levels become higher and can start affecting the body. GTT consists of consuming within 5 minutes a drink containing 50g of glucose after fasting for 8-14 hours, then drawing blood an hour after. If the number is above 140mg/dl, doctors ask for further testing through the 3 hour glucose tolerance test. The second test consists of drinking a sweeter drink containing 100g of glucose the same way within 5 minutes (it's really sweet and makes some women vomit), then drawing blood for the next 3 hours at every hour. The cut off numbers - they seem to vary a bit depending on your doctor, but these are what my doctor used - are 95 mg/dl (fasting), 180 mg/dl (1hr), 155 mg/dl (2hrs), and 140 mg/dl (3hrs). If two or more numbers are elevated, Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed.

My weight is on track, and my blood pressure is 'perfect.' My baby's heartbeat looks great as well. But I failed the 3hr glucose tolerance test by a few points. I'm right at the borderline. For some more 'lenient' doctors, I might have passed. My doctor seems to be on the more cautious side, which isn't a bad thing. She suggested that I go on a restrictive diet and start monitoring my blood sugar level just in case. No more cookies, cakes, and ice cream for me until the baby comes - my doctor kept saying sorry because it's right before the holidays. But the thing is, I wasn't really into them anyway, at least during this pregnancy because they usually make me vomit. 

My doctor doesn't think it has anything to do with what I'm doing. She said it's probably my high hormone levels. She's putting me on a diet to make sure my baby's healthy and my birthing process is as smooth as possible. And keeping blood sugar levels in check never hurt anyone. 

When GD is severe and cannot be treated with diet and exercise alone, insulin injection or other form of medication is needed. But I'm not at that stage; I just need to monitor my glucose level and watch my diet. The biggest change will be that I have to cut down on my fruits and eat a lot more often. Oh, and I'll have to prick myself seven times a day. I was pretty bummed out for a day because I couldn't believe how helpless this pregnancy has made me, starting with Hyperemesis.

But after a good night's sleep, I've come to a completely different place of something closer to... excitement. After reading a bunch of documents from the Doctor's office, I made a meal plan chart for myself and went to Trader Joe's to get the ingredients. I also stopped by the Dr's office to learn how to use the glucose monitor. The needle is tiny and doesn't hurt (that much)! This is a great opportunity to revamp my diet, which has gotten a bit sloppy since Hyperemesis. This heightened awareness is going to only help me and my baby, not to mention my husband. And I've always been curious about my glucose level anyway. So far, things are looking good. I'm not hungry, and my sugar level is absolutely normal. Maybe these changes will help with my nausea and vomiting too. 

PHOTO at 30 weeks:
I feel heavy (my legs cramp up a lot at nights, probably from all the extra weight they have to handle), but I love the roundness of the belly. We saw our baby girl's face on the sonogram yesterday, and her cheeks have gotten chubbier! My husband thinks she looks like me, but I can't tell just yet. We're so excited to meet this baby girl!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

29 weeks: like 'Spirited Away' pigs

Have you seen the Japanese animated movie, Spirited Away? If you have, you know the part where the parents turn into pigs? Well, that's how I felt this week, like I suddenly turned into a pig different creature!

I'm feeling the 3rd trimester growth. I've been having a lot of breathing issues, especially after meals. I seem to be having a hard time adjusting to the rate at which my belly is expanding. I get cramps in my lower abdominal area when I lie down or move a certain way, and my hip pains are coming back. I'm getting frequent headaches, and my regular 'morning sickness' is maybe getting worse - yes, I'm STILL vomiting... On average, I seem to be bedridden every other day these days. I guess that's still much better than 24/7.

Today is my last day at the Bahamas with my husband. We've been on a full vacation mode since Monday, when we moved to a bigger room with an ocean view. It's been nice, especially because we've had to spend a lot of time inside. Fortunately, I've had one really good day this week - tho the morning was still awful - where I spent the whole afternoon in the sun by the beach. Mostly, I watched Dave swim in the ocean while sitting on a lounge chair, sipping on my virgin pina colada. But I did get to spend some time in the water as well - some in the ocean and mostly in the pool. It felt so good to feel so light and weightless! I'd describe that day, Tuesday, as... absolutely perfect.

Yesterday was another nauseated-and-dizzy-and-stuck-inside day. But hey, that's what room service is for, right? And this is our view right from our bed!

I had a really rough night. But after a really nice nap this morning, today has been one of my better days. After waking up from a nightmare that I slept through my last full day in the Bahamas, we spent some time out in the sun by the beach again. It was a bit too cold to go in the ocean because of the giant clouds that were covering the sun. But now that I'm back in my room to get ready for our next activity (aquarium!), the clouds have disappeared, and the sun is back up! Oh well... I already had my perfect beach day. I'm all good.

We fly back tomorrow, back to reality. In a way, I'm really looking forward to staying put at home and focusing fully on getting ready for this baby. And I think my body's had about enough of traveling for now.

PHOTO: 29 weeks and feeling like a pig different creature. This baby is GROWING and getting so strong! We play music to her sometimes, and I swear she dances to it. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

28 weeks: 3rd trimester begins in the Bahamas w/ a growth spurt

As I officially enter my 3rd trimester today, I'm in Nassau, Bahamas to attend a film festival. I know that probably sounds only marvelous, but I had actually been dreading it. Jet lagged and sick from the previous trip, I was pretty sure I couldn't handle another travel.

Luckily, I was able to get here somehow - most of it is a blur. Once on the plane, the ride felt a lot shorter than anticipated. I guess a 2.5hr flight feels like nothing compared to a 14hr one. And it's great that I'm in the same time zone.

My husband and I arrived two days ago, and it's only been pleasant so far. Being in a new environment that happens to involve warm temperatures, I've been feeling pretty comfortable. I know the baby is still in my belly, but it feels like we're on our first time vacation as a family of three. It also doesn't hurt that it's beautiful here in Nassau.

As expected, I'm definitely not my original walk-around-all-day-sightseeing self. I get tired easily. And being exhausted for me goes hand in hand with feeling sick that leads to vomiting, so I need to be careful. There are a lot of events I want to attend while I'm here, but I'll have to pace myself. There was a filmmakers' retreat the other day that involved a 40 minute boat ride, which I chose to skip. And there's an opening night party tonight on a yacht... I plan to stop by and reassess, but I'm pretty sure I won't be joining... I don't want to tempt my already on and off nausea.....

I'm starting to understand what women mean when they say they 'feel like a whale,' and it's annoying when I can't put on my wedding ring because my fingers are puffy (it's mostly after I eat some kind of Asian food for dinner the night before). I swear I'm bigger whenever I wake up from sleeping, whether it's overnight or just a short nap. And I'm convinced the little growth spurts make me extra sleepy. Oh, and I get really hot when I sleep - I'm usually the one with layers of clothes on in bed because I get cold easily. I'm experiencing a lot of new things as a pregnant woman.

As uncomfortable as I am, I also recognize how fleeting these moments are. A part of me can't wait until the baby comes out, but most of me wants to savor this experience while it lasts. My every cranky bout ends with some kind of food my husband gets for me, and even the worst of pregnancy sickness eventually tapers off as I'm comforted by my baby's movements. It's such a special time, and I am not going to wish it to go away soon. I'm sure I'll feel differently in 12 weeks, but for now, I want to enjoy the ride. And welcoming my 3rd trimester in the Bahamas with my husband, with whom I plan to take a few extra days off after the festival, seems like the perfect way to celebrate this huge transition into parenthood. I'm always hungry, tired, and/or sick, but all in all, life is good.

PHOTO: 28 weeks pregnant, feeling huge & starting to look it too.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: severe morning sickness

Apparently, Kate Middleton has this condition, and the media is beginning to cover Hyperemesis Gravidarum. The general population doesn't really know about it, and there also hasn't been much research on the topic because it's considered a temporary condition that passes.

My sister asked me if I had heard of HG because it sounds a lot like what I had gone through. Nonchalantly answering 'yes,' I was touched because I thought no one noticed - maybe except my husband. Reading this New York Times article by Laura Geggel, I do agree that this is not just another case of 'morning sickness.' I felt validated when I read '...there are a lot of misconceptions about it. A lot of women are treated really badly. They’re treated like they’re faking it or that they just don’t want their child.' I have actually been in this situation, where I was accused of exaggerating, which prompted me to change hospitals.

And when reading the blog entry, 'Pregnant and wanting to die' by Betsy Shaw, one of the links sis sent me, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. I guess I could blame it on the hormones, but it is more that this woman was describing things I dared not say out loud. The morbid thoughts that has gone through my head had filled me with shame and a sense of incompetence as a woman. I too remember having moments of complete compassion for women who chose to end it. I remember thinking every day I want to die.

Fortunately, I was able to get through it without such tragedy. And I was also able to stop my weight loss early on. But I was still completely nonfunctional for months without any break - not even a moment, throwing up every single day, mumbling to no one in particular, 'please make it stop.'

I think back, and the only reason I was able to survive without living at the hospital is because my husband was by my side 24/7, feeding or trying to feed me every hour. There is no way I would have ingested anything if I were alone. Every bite of food or sip of drink tasted like death, and I was too dizzy to move.

But I also knew not taking what my husband had in front of me meant going to the hospital. For better or worse, I convinced myself eating and throwing up is better than lying in the hospital with a needle in my arm. Every bite was a battle, but I took it because I had an irrational fear - or maybe it's plenty rational - that I could hurt my baby if I didn't consume anything. My husband's hand movement that brings food to my mouth sometimes would be enough to set me off to vomit. Sometimes, we cried together as I struggled to swallow a piece of fruit...

Needless to say, I'm glad that period is over................

I feel nothing but sympathy for the duchess, but I'm slightly hopeful for what this new awareness could bring about.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

27 weeks: jet lagged, anxious, but happy

I've been feeling like a zombie since I got back home last week. The 13-hour difference has been brutal. My attempt to adjust to the new time zone by eating at 'right' meal times was not matching up with my sleep schedule, messing me up in pretty much every way. Obviously, being pregnant doesn't help... And I don't know what made me think eating Indian was a good idea, three days into readjusting, especially after not touching it since I got pregnant. I regretted immediately as I spent a good chunk of time and energy in the bathroom, hugging the toilet. It was... a violent night.

The thing about being jet lagged is that I get up really early in the mornings. In the beginning, it was at 2am, but now it's trickled down to almost 6am, which is a pretty normal time to get up for a lot of people. I've always been more of a night owl, but I do really love being up early in the mornings, when things are quiet, and air feels crisp. After waking up at 3am, I was able to put in another couple hours before I was up at 5:30 this morning, thinking about carrot juice. When my husband woke up soon after, we made an early morning trip to the grocery store to get some carrots. The fresh squeezed carrot juice made by my husband with our new juicer was heavenly, except I realize it may be too sugary to gulp down on an empty stomach. Next time, I'm having it with my breakfast. Oh, and I also came back with these: chocolate cravings, anyone?

Being pregnant for me has been such a crazy experience so far, where I feel the worst and the best of all emotions. The worst comes from the bodily discomforts and pain, and the best comes from this amazingly joyful anticipation. The sensation of this baby girl's movements and growth is the most exciting thing I've ever felt in my daily existence but also the reason for my physical misery. It's conflicting sometimes, but they seem to balance each other out in the end. I'm not actually so much cranky as I am groggy. I started sleeping at nights since two nights ago, so maybe I'll be more clearheaded by this weekend. I'd better be because I'm traveling again in less than a week.

Speaking of sleeping, my anxiety seems to manifest itself in my dreams these days. I'm always fighting some kind of a battle, sometimes as a swords(wo)man, and sometimes as a superhero. In a way, it's great because it always plays out in this grand, cinematic background, and I'm awesome. But of course, I'm also always trying to protect either my baby or my pregnant belly, which is not so fun. I think part of the anxiety comes from the fact that I feel like I've let go of my independence for the time being. Because I've been so sick on and off throughout this pregnancy, my husband has taken over a lot of what I do, which is necessary and great. But what happens when circumstances change, and he no longer does everything for me? Gasp. I have to keep reminding myself that certain symptoms will go away once the baby is out, and I will be back to being myself again. It's just hard to imagine because I've been in this constant state of something different for half a year now.  

I stopped being surprised at the size of my belly. I kind of love how big it's getting. My sister says I'm still 'tiny.' I'm sure I'm not actually 'tiny,' and I also know I'm going to grow a lot more in the next few months. And the bigger I get, I realize my belly looks different, depending on the time of day, as you can see in the photo. This morning, she was sitting really low. It's fun to think about where she is and what she's doing. Sometimes, I imagine she's taking a swim; I feel her little hands and feet poking as she tries to maneuver in the little space she has. And when I rub my Earth Mama Oil over my belly after showers, I feel a weird sense of pride. Despite feeling fat and clumsy at times, I am starting to love my pregnant body.

Friday, November 23, 2012

26 weeks: growing and growing and growing...

My 2nd trimester is coming to an end soon, and it shows. Whatever discomfort I thought I was feeling in terms of the belly growth has doubled in the past week. I'm moisturizing diligently, but the stretching skin is itchy, and I feel sore around my sides.

I'm mostly exhausted, but it could also be that I was on a 14 hour flight two days ago, and I'm very much jet lagged. For the past few days, I've been sleeping and eating at weird hours, feeling groggy all the time. My husband and I spent most of our Thanksgiving day napping on the couch. But we did get to eat our Thanksgiving feast, complete with pies and ice cream. I had leftovers, including dessert, for breakfast this morning at 6:30.

The flight itself was not too bad. I was feeling pretty awful in the morning of the flight, but I was able to get over it with a little vomiting and a short nap - so gross... I can't believe I haven't stopped throwing up. Of course, it's not the same as what it was in the beginning of the pregnancy, when the act wasn't helpful in any capacity and was just another part of the long, torturous, never-ending state of being. At least now, it brings me some relief. It's also no longer a guaranteed daily occurrence.

Now that we're back home, we really need to clear out the place and get ready for the baby. With a growing body that makes me feel like an oaf, cleaning/reorganizing the house feels overwhelming. I've always been a very physical person, moving furniture pieces around like it's nothing when I felt like it for example. But now, everything is different. My husband has been great in taking over everything, but I do get frustrated sometimes that I can't just get up and do the things I used to.

Another thing to consider is taking a birthing class. But I have another travel coming up soon. Sometimes, I wonder why I think I can handle all these plans. I don't think this jet lag is helping. All I want to do is sleep. Maybe it's time for another nap...

PHOTOS: 26 weeks & 1 day, with my pregnancy body pillow in the background - again, a life saver.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

25 weeks: fat or bloated?

I've been away from home for a few weeks now, and things have been busy. After two weeks of concentrated activity, I've spent this week trying to recover. I'm still feeling pretty lousy, which I'm trying to get over. This trip is coming to an end very soon, and there is another long plane ride ahead of me...

In the midst of all the madness, I kept forgetting to weigh myself. According to my record, 19 weeks and 4 days was the last time, which is more than a month ago. Then this week, I finally remembered. Knowing my baby has grown quite a bit in the past few weeks, I was simultaneously excited and scared to step on the scale. I kind of wanted to see a shockingly high number. But of course, that wouldn't actually be a good thing. After getting over that momentary stupidity, I found myself being reflective in front of the scale, asking questions like... Have I been taking care of myself well enough? Am I eating enough or too much? Do I need to exercise more?

Then I was finally standing on the scale. Immediately, I was puzzled. It was nothing like I expected. According to these numbers, I had lost weight since week 19. It didn't make any sense because I clearly do not look any thinner, and I've been eating way more than before. Also, the rate at which my belly has been growing cannot possibly spell weight loss. Suspicious, I reset the scale and went back on. As expected, it was a fluke - just a calibration issue. I think this may be the first time I was alarmed about a low number on a scale. Fortunately, I've been gaining the 'right amount' (0.5-1lb/week since 2nd trimester).

The thing is tho, I've been feeling really fat. Or maybe the more accurate description is 'bloated.' It doesn't help that I've been eating a lot of salty foods lately, tho my father thinks I did actually gain some fat - thanks dad! Of course, I'm obviously carrying around more weight than usual, and I guess dad could be right too. I do seem to get hungry all the time, if not sick. I have 15 more weeks to get bigger, but I already feel so heavy. My butt hurts when I sit. I need to start doing some squats or something. Or perhaps I'll feel well enough soon to finally go to a prenatal yoga class!

PHOTO: My upper belly is starting come out a lot more. The baby seems to have come up higher. I feel her movements above my belly button now. And I'm starting to sit funny.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

24 weeks (& 3 days): baby & me

I had a rough week. Just as I thought I was starting to feel my '2nd trimester bliss,' I began vomiting again at nights. But I think it's because I overextended myself. I was suddenly working longer hours and meeting people in the evenings, staying out all day and coming home late. My legs and feet would puff up more than I've ever experienced before - tho not enough to buy new shoes. I'd fall asleep in that uncomfortable, nauseated state, remembering all the awful things I felt in my earlier months of pregnancy.

Realizing I'm probably doing this to myself, I made it a point to clear my schedule for this weekend to rest, postponing a highly anticipated family dinner. I was determined to sleep in this morning.

My baby had other ideas. At 5:30am, I woke up to a strong kick in my stomach. I didn't mind because I find her movements adorable, and I had to go to the lady's room anyway. When walking back to bed from the bathroom, I felt a hunger pang. But being so exhausted, I thought it'd be better to sleep through it. So I got back in bed and lied down on my left side as recommended, wrapping myself with the cozy pregnancy pillow my sister sent over as soon as she knew I was pregnant (it's a must-have!), then tucking myself in under my mom's soft and fuzzy purple blanket. Warm and comfortable, I was ready for some serious resting, and sweet slumber was falling on me when I felt another kick that abruptly brought me back to reality. And she wouldn't stop. Her kicks were strong and frequent enough to keep me in that half-awake-and-not-quite-asleep state for two hours straight! In my sleepy delirium, I was excited because it was the first time I felt her move so much for such an extended period of time. It felt like she was dancing around in my belly. How cute is that? But by 7:30, I began to feel too famished to stay still. I finally got myself up to grab some food.

In hindsight, I wonder if the baby was 'dancing' because she was hungry. I've read if the mother feels hunger, so does the baby. I've also heard other women talk about their hungry, kicking babies. To further support this theory, my girl's kicks stopped as soon as I scarfed down some bread and milk.

I had a moment of feeling like a terrible mother, but I also felt an overwhelming sense of joy from the idea of communicating with her. The bigger I get, and the stronger she kicks and punches, I feel like we're getting to know each other better. I find myself cradling my belly a lot these days, especially when I sleep. I used to think it's funny when my husband rubs my stomach and talks to our baby, but I've started doing it myself. Sometimes, her pushes feel like responses to what we say to her.

She's such an active little one. I wonder what she's going to be like.

PHOTO: According to, my uterus is about the size of a soccer ball by now.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

23 wks & 5 days: HUNGER

For the past couple of days, I noticed I felt really hungry during my late night bathroom runs. The first night, I got myself up and drank some chocolate milk. By the way, the fact that I got myself up to get something in the middle of the night is a HUGE improvement in itself. And the fact that I feel hunger instead of nausea is another great sign. But the hunger is becoming another source to disrupt my sleep. I woke up several times last night, a few to go to the bathroom, and once, famished.

This is a new phenomenon. It's exciting and a bit alarming. As I write this, it's after 11pm where I am, and I just ate what could be a meal after having dinner at 6. 

Also, any kind of junk food used to make me vomit, but some things are beginning to appeal to me again: namely, pastries. Ice cream seems to be still off limits, but cake, pastries, cookies, and bread are becoming a regular craving. Uh oh.

I had my first 'ouch' moment today from the baby's movement. It didn't actually hurt, but I was startled by the force and location of her kick. I just lifted my shirt and observed with my husband to see if the belly actually moves from the outside. And it does! 

I'm sure she's gonna start waking me up in the middle of the night with her kicks and punches pretty soon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

23 weeks: hurricane Sandy & getting huge

My husband and I escaped hurricane Sandy before it hit our neighborhood. Our building is apparently still without power, tho the flooding in the first couple of levels has subsided. Talking to family and friends back in NYC area about what they're going through, I can't believe how close to home this disaster hit. There were no fatalities in my circle, but I know many are dealing with devastating situations. (Here's a link with info on how you can help.) And being mostly a mess these days anyway, I can't imagine how I would have handled the stress if I were home. I know there are some damages I'll have to deal with when I get back, but I can't describe how grateful I am for being where I am, warm and with power, surrounded by people I love...

Life is so precarious and fragile that I used to ponder extensively about what it means to bring another life into this world. I've always wanted to be a mother, but I was also aware of the weight of responsibilities that comes with starting a family, including the overwhelming need to protect and the inevitability of reality.

When I was going through the worst of the 'morning sickness' in bed for three months straight, I couldn't fathom the idea of going through this again. But perhaps because of my current, better physical condition, or maybe the hurricane, I am beginning to think about a second child again. Mostly, I want this baby girl to have someone in her generation to call family. Cousins are great - I've grown up with a bunch. But a sibling is irreplaceable. I'm sure everyone's different, but I know I feel a kind of security I can't quite explain just from having the two siblings I have. Going through some deaths plus serious illnesses in the family recently, I've come to appreciate my siblings on another level. I want this baby to have that when she's older. I won't be around forever, and I don't want her to be alone.

But of course... I should focus on getting through this pregnancy first.

On a lighter note, I'm getting huge. I thought I had my growth spurt two weeks ago, but that was only the beginning... I know there's a lot more to go, but I'm already starting to feel enormous. I can't slouch the way I used to (maybe it's a good thing) - my big round belly is in the way. The extra weight is starting to affect my mobility, and I can't stay in one position for a long time. My extremities get swollen if I'm not careful. I find myself massaging my hands and feet a lot. 

Looking back at pictures from previous weeks, I realize how small I was. This process is just going to repeat itself until the baby comes, I'm sure. The fact that my body has the capacity to grow in the way it's growing is fascinating in itself, and to think that there's another alien life in there seems crazy. All these things I took for granted are now somehow endlessly miraculous and awe-inspiring. 

This is me at 23 weeks, earlier today. I had to lift the shirt to show the 'real belly,' but it still doesn't really capture how huge I feel. I think I'm carrying her pretty low, which I think is apparent in the photo. But I'm noticing my upper stomach area is starting to 'pop' as well. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

22wks: Travel

The past six days are a blur... But I did it. I got on a plane and flew 7000 miles over. I'm 13 hours ahead from NYC, surrounded by different sights, sounds, and smells.

I was convinced I look pregnant enough for airport workers to be extra nice to me (people said they would!), but I was wrong. I saw a few people do a double take, trying to figure out what's happening with my belly, but that was it. I was strangely conflicted - happy that I'm not huge, yet disappointed that no one noticed.

The ride was unexpectedly pleasant: no breathing problems and no vomiting. I ate all the food they offered, drank all the water and juice they gave me, using the frequent bathroom trips as my opportunity to stretch and move. I noticed I swelled up a bit more than usual; my feet stayed fat for a day or so. But nothing was as painful or uncomfortable as I had feared. I watched four movies, including 'Hysteria,' which was surprisingly delightful.

So far, the newness of everything has proved to be beneficial. It could also be that I'm staying with my parents - it's comfortable. I haven't vomited since I arrived. I've been taking daily walks, which was almost impossible before. The nausea is still on and off, but it's not bad enough to keep me in bed all day. I get tired easily, but that's only expected. I'm still jet lagged.

Her kicks and punches are getting stronger. My favorite time of day these days is when she moves around for an extended period of time. My husband got to feel the movements early this morning. It might have been one of the most relaxed and happiest moments of my pregnancy thus far.

I haven't weighed myself in a while, but I can tell I'm getting heavier by the way my tail bone hurts when I sit. It must be the extra weight on me that my bottom has a hard time handling. I can't sit for a long time, especially when the surface is hard. I can't believe I got through a 14 hour plane ride.

PHOTO: 22 weeks & 2 days

Monday, October 22, 2012

My constantly changing body

We spent last night with another pregnant couple, 2.5 months ahead of us. This mother-to-be's belly was perfectly round and oh so cute. Why is it that I find everyone else's baby bump so adorable, yet I can't wrap my head around the fact that my expanding waist line is because of a growing baby?

They say the baby has developed everything by now. She's just fattening up and growing bigger, and she's apparently doing this really well! Every morning, my husband says to me with much enthusiasm, 'It's getting so big! Our baby's growing!' It's mostly endearing, but sometimes... Not so much.

I have catalogued through all the pregnancy-friendly clothes. I seem to have enough to get through the next four months. Some loosely fitting sweaters I thought I could utilize during pregnancy don't fit the way I expected. I also realize I don't own a lot of empire waisted tops. I must have given all of them away after my brother nonchalantly commented years back, something to the effect of 'that shirt makes you look pregnant.' At the time, it was the most shockingly offensive thing to hear. Now, here I am, trying to look as pregnant as possible. Otherwise, I just look awkwardly thick.

Am I the only pregnant woman looking for belly support with underwear? No one I know seems to think this way. Low-rise apparently is the way to go. But I like my lower belly covered and warm, especially now with a baby stretching me out every day. I found some candidates on Amazon, but none of them offers my size. Underwear is another unexpected dilemma. I've only heard women talk about changing bra sizes. 

After having a moment of feeling like a failure of a mother for not being able to stomach prenatal vitamins, I decided to try the over-the-counter gummy prenatals. It's my second day, and no violent reactions so far! Woohoo!

The shortness is on and off - still there, but I think I'm getting better at managing it, mentally and physically. 

I've been too busy being sick to think about my changing body; and now that it's happening, it's another challenge in itself. I will only get bigger and heavier, and it's definitely not the most comfortable I've been. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that I will have my share of enjoying this process - I mean, I already am in spurts. Though I am unfortunately still vomiting, and the breathing issue is complicating things, I know my body was designed for this. However miserable at times, I can do this. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

the expansion: 21 weeks & 3 days

It occurred to me today - I've been eating more than before, perhaps adding onto the expansion of my belly that is already happening. It's hard to tell, but I'm way too uncomfortable in my breathing. I must find a way to alleviate. They say it could be anxiety, but I honestly think it's something more elementary, more physical, like too much pressure in my gut. The other day at the ER cleared me of any real dangers, but I'm still regularly gasping for air.

This phase is completely unexpected. I never thought I'd have breathing problems. I don't remember ever hearing about it. I was more worried about the stretching pains, which is not too bad so far. I keep browsing through photos of pregnant women online, trying to see if I'm growing too fast. But at least according to those pictures, I'm not particularly big. In fact, it's still hard to tell that I'm pregnant when I'm wearing all my clothes, especially with a coat. Everything is technically 'on target,' and I'm 'doing beautifully,' as one of the doctors said to me the other day. So what is going on?

In light of this sudden and immensely uncomfortable experience, I am making a note to self to stay away from foods that make me bloat. That's all I can come up with for now. Obviously, I have to stay away from any strenuous activities, which I can't do anyway. I will try to avoid all wheat products and fried foods for the next few days (not even a bite!) and see if it makes a difference. This pregnancy is really kicking my butt!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

anxiety scare

A lot of things happened yesterday. Two couples I know welcomed their beautiful firstborns, and Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake got married in Italy (why do I know this!). My baby wasn't coming anytime soon, and I already had my wedding years ago. Nonetheless, I had some important plans of my own.

After having stayed up all night trying to 'catch my breath,' I was exhausted in the morning. But I got myself up anyway because I had a long list of things to do. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I noticed I was still having breathing troubles. At some point, it got worse, tho I don't remember exactly how or when. Perhaps I was hyperventilating because I was lightheaded and dizzy. I had to stop what I was doing.

Slightly panicked and gasping for air, I called for my husband, who was fortunately nearby. After googling and reading some alarming info, we decided to head to the ER, just in case.

Once we arrived at the hospital, they were quick to take me in. A slew of people rushed over, putting a bunch of stickers and tubes all over my body, checking my vitals and talking to each other as urgently as they do when working on a critical patient. I've been to the ER many times in my life, but this was the first time they responded in this manner. It scared the crap out of me. I wanted to tell them I'm actually fine and was there more as a precautionary measure, but I didn't have a chance. Everything happened so quickly. It's like there was a time lapse, and I was suddenly naked in a loosely tied hospital gown with a Oxygen mask over my face.

Then it hit me things could actually be serious - something could go wrong with my baby. In that moment of heightened realization, all senses in my body were lost. I couldn't feel my hands. I closed my eyes and started praying. I don't remember when they took my blood or how they stuck that IV in my arm. What I do remember is the warm sensation of tears flowing down my cheeks, as I desperately tried to remain calm and awake.

Looking back, it was overly dramatic, but also necessarily so. They were afraid the baby wasn't getting enough Oxygen, that it could be a clot or worse. They needed to make sure the baby and I were surviving before anything else. Only after I stabilized, they were able to slow down and put me through a series of tests that eventually cleared me of any critical conditions. They also checked my baby's heartbeat. She's doing fine.

When waiting to be discharged after spending all day at the hospital, I was annoyed at myself for making the decision to go to the ER. I felt embarrassed, like I wasted my day for nothing, scaring a lot of people, including myself. But of course, that's not a very well thought out conclusion. After a good night's sleep, I no longer regret it. I'm glad to have been cleared of any serious conditions. Now I have some peace of mind.

Also, I realize how much this unborn child of mine has taken over my existence. I don't even know her face, and she has already become the most important thing in my life that it boggles my mind. The next four months of pregnancy seem like eternity, but I'm grateful to be carrying her, healthy and growing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

21 weeks: growth spurt

I was up until 5am this morning, trying to catch my breath. I'm not sure how else to describe it. I've read that growing baby could put pressure on the lungs, making it hard to breathe. That's what I must have been experiencing. I've also read that pregnant women could experience temporary asthma - hope that's not the case... I was exhausted, but I couldn't lie down. I kept sitting up, stretching, standing up, and shifting all over the place, trying to find a position that would allow me to take a satisfying breath. I thought I was going to have a panic attack.

Fortunately, no attack came, and I eventually fell asleep. But I woke up only a few hours later from the kicking baby, who is getting stronger every day. It could also have been the hunger, which I actually enjoy because I usually feel it in the form of nausea. Hunger pangs are so much better.

This past week has been rough, and I wonder if it's because the baby is going through a growth spurt. I weighed myself this morning, and I noticed I have gained 3 lbs in about a week, which hasn't happened before. This baby is definitely growing, and the thought makes me so happy. Last night, I felt a bit crazy because I kept smiling when the baby moved, all the while breathing loudly enough to wake up my husband and tearing because I was in pain.

I'm getting huge, fast. I thought I was going to get away with wearing my regular shirts for a long time, but I'm beginning to need stretchier and longer ones. I've decided if feeling good in this growing body requires wearing the right clothes, it's worth the investment. With that logic, I just ordered some maternity shirts and a coat.

PHOTO: growing belly at 21 weeks - may appear larger in real life.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

same difference?

My fear of traveling comes from disrupting this 'delicate balance' I've established in the past few months of eating certain types of food and staying home a lot. But I'm not exactly doing great. So would it make that much of a difference if I changed my environment and risked some additional discomfort in a different location? Or would it really jeopardize the little progress I've made so far?

As most things in my life, it is not so clear. There is no definite answer, and I could only keep weighing things out, carefully assessing my daily condition. I can't help but to wonder why I am this way, when other pregnant women seem to function just fine. Right now is when I'm supposed to be going on my 'babymoon.' I often feel quite isolated in that no one I know seems to share this experience. Sometimes, I feel the underlying doubt in the polite yet skeptical responses I get from friends who have already gone through a pregnancy or two. A friend asked the other day,' what do you think is wrong?' Medically, not much. In my daily reality, however, everything - enough to confound my life.

I asked my husband yesterday if I had always been 'this way,' lying down and moaning, being sick and cranky. He kindly reminded me that I'm one of the most active people he knows, and that I'm just having a difficult pregnancy. I nodded in exhaustion, grateful, vaguely remembering what it means to be that way. I mumbled to myself, 'Oh yeah... I used to get so much done in a day.....' as my head landed back on the pillow, searching and digging for comfort that wouldn't come.

Mostly, I'm grateful for everything: this amazing blessing of a pregnancy, the fact that I can afford to stay home while sick, my husband whose immensely nurturing side has made its big debut, among many other unexpectedly great things that have happened this year. My body is doing something miraculous, and my 'sickness' is temporary - I'm not terminally ill or anything close, which I have closely witnessed in the past year... When put into perspective, I should only be thankful, and nothing else. It goes to show how 'human' I am, being frustrated at this body for not letting me do all the 'normal' things I desperately want/need to be doing.

But....... As long as I am able, I have things to get done and places to go. Maybe they could take me on a gurney... with a bit of sedative...?

Monday, October 15, 2012

daily challenge: brushing teeth

I have always been very serious about my dental hygiene, at least ever since this one really painful office visit as a child. I have flossed daily, along with mouth wash and meticulous brushing. I make my biannual visits, where I get my teeth cleaned by a professional, which I hate by the way. But my efforts have paid off. I haven't gotten any cavities filled in ages, and I've never had a root canal - not yet anyway...

Once I became pregnant and sick, brushing teeth has become one of my biggest fears. Anything going into my mouth would trigger a gag reflex, always leading to a painful series of stomach contractions that leads to... Well. Vomiting. In my case, brushing my teeth would guarantee it. I had only thrown up a handful of times in my entire life before the pregnancy, and only when I was violently sick. The harsh contractions would deplete my body of the energy I didn't have, knocking me out, shaking. 

Fortunately, my body doesn't react as violently anymore at my 21st week, and I have more strength than before, thanks to my ability to eat more these days. But the gag reflex has not stopped. Every night when I walk into the bathroom to brush my teeth, I have to take a deep breath and mentally prepare for what is to come. I often close my eyes and try to concentrate, trying so hard to not let this reaction take over me. I have yet to be successful.

After yet another night of an unsuccessful attempt, I have canceled my upcoming 6 months dental checkup for now. Also, after another rough, sleepless night, I have postponed my travel plans one more time. 

I saw a pregnant woman at the grocery store last night, enjoying a chocolate ice cream cone, savoring each bite. I was envious, wishing I had cravings like that I could handle. But I know I'm not alone. My sister in law also had a rough pregnancy - she said her nausea got 'a little better' at 6 months. I remember freaking out at the number (WHAT? SIX MONTHS? NOOOOO!), but now I'm almost there myself. Maybe in 4 more weeks, I will feel better, and I will be enjoying my own chocolate ice cream cone at the grocery store, making some poor, sick pregnant woman jealous... :)

And by the way, my doctor tells me that 'throwing up once or twice a day is fine.' I'm also not a 'high risk' pregnant woman, nor do I have any threatening issues. I just happen to be one of those unfortunate women feeling sick all the time - probably due to my high hormone levels, coupled with high sensitivity. I have my genes to thank for that. My mother and her mother both were this sick. And my mom had three children, and my grandma, six.... This is only my first time. I can do it. No problem! ...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My version of 'bliss' with a dilemma: 20 weeks 3 days

Every morning, my stomach feels a bit fuller. I find myself reaching for my lower belly as soon as I'm awake, and the growth I detect in my hand makes me smile. The baby's movements are getting stronger, and my husband was able to feel a pretty strong kick this morning, which made both of us giggle like little kids. The fact that every life has gone through this process is mind boggling. It's such a joyful time.

Physically, however, I haven't reached such a joyful place yet. This unexpectedly long 'sickness' brings with it a lot of dilemmas. Long story short, I have to travel for various reasons, including one that involves a job I have to finish. I have hired a company overseas for a project, and I have to be there for the final review in order to officially finish it. This meeting has been postponed since July, when I couldn't get out of bed. Now, I am definitely out of bed. I even take daily showers and am able to feed myself. But I still am constantly nauseated, and vomiting hasn't stopped, which worries me when I consider traveling abroad. It's not only the 14 hour plane ride, during which I usually have motion sickness anyway; it's also all the other little changes that come with a longterm travel: the jet lag, the different foods, the environment... The reservation for our plane tickets expires today, which means we have to make the decision to either buy it or postpone it by today. This is our third or fourth time having to make this decision, and I'm getting frustrated. What are my options? The only two I can think of are either I hire another company to do the job locally, which would mean a financial loss, or postpone it until I can stand a plane ride and a long time away from home.

At the doctor's office, they say right now is the optimal time to travel because I had my big 20 weeks checkup and don't have anything until the glucose test that comes between 24-28 weeks. And I'm supposed to feel my best during this period because my belly will only get bigger, making it harder to move around later on. Then when the baby comes... It's a whole different world of struggles. So... if what they say is true, and I feel the way I do now, I don't know if I can travel at all during my pregnancy. 

So I keep looking at my calendar, trying to make some predictions, decisions. And I keep writing emails, making changes to what I said might happen. I'm frustrated at my own body that won't let me enjoy this period like all the other pregnant friends I know. 
Then the baby moves. She dances around in my womb, letting her presence known, reminding me of this tremendous miracle I'm experiencing. Maybe this is my version of '2nd trimester bliss.' I'm just really happy, despite everything. Maybe the physical part of the 'bliss' will never come, but maybe that's okay.

Now, back to my calendar......... 

Friday, October 12, 2012

20 weeks (and 1 day): reflection

After two days of feeling optimistic about my progress, I've been having my 'rough days' again for the past few days. A 'rough day' consists of many types of discomfort, including but not limited to indigestion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue, and body aches. These recent 'rough days' are fortunately much better than my 1st trimester. And still, I am bound at home, in bed, not being able to do much. But I get to write, which is a big deal. Everything seems very relative these days, and it's not necessarily a bad thing.

There are no words to accurately describe this wonderful (bc there's a baby!) yet utterly terrible experience of that 1st trimester of mine. Honestly, I felt like I was going to die every moment of every day, and nausea and vomiting wasn't the worst of it. I've been sick with stomach flu, food poisoning, been hospitalized for numerous things that included surgeries. I've also spent 8 hours in throbbing pain without any drugs right after an oral surgery to remove two wisdom teeth (it's a funny story...), but this extended period of 'sickness' may be the worst of my experiences thus far. I suspect it's because there was no moment of relief - not even one, and  it was for an extended period of time. For months, I had no room to think or feel anything other than the pure misery that had taken over my whole body. I needed 24/7 constant care of being fed every 1-3 hrs, in bed but not being able to do anything but stare at the wall because anything and everything made me dizzy-watching TV or reading a book wasn't an option. Completely bedridden, with the exception of using the bathroom, I was constantly sobbing, trying to remember that it is only temporary. Saying I had no appetite is an understatement because everything was disgusting. But 'eating and throwing up is better than not eating at all' became my mantra, and I acted accordingly after almost ending up in the ER with dehydration. It was the first time in my life, including all the other times I've been sick, that I hated the sight/smell of food as much as I did during this period. But thanks to my husband who ran around all over the city to find what I could stomach at the given moment, I was able to eat SOMEthing every hour or two, albeit only a bite or two most of the time. My weight stopped declining, and I was able to keep it steady for the rest of the trimester.

I once read some woman's comment on someone's blog about pregnancy, saying something to the effect of 'pregnancy is like a death sentence to some women because it's NOT a pleasant experience.' I remember wondering how bad it could be. Now... I get it. It's a difficult thing to express or talk about because pregnancy is a privilege in so many ways, and the 'sickness' is not 'real,' meaning it is usually not life threatening - tho for some women, it is. Fortunately, it wasn't for me, and I got through the worst of it.

When week 12 passed, I was anxious to start feeling some relief, which never came. Even at 20 weeks, there is no real sense of 'relief.' The improvement has been a very gradual one, with some ups and violent downs that would put me right back in bed. Still at 20 weeks, the nausea and vomiting have not subsided as much as expected, but my body is at a better place nonetheless, where I can function like a normal human being for hours at a time on a good day. I am definitely not experiencing what they call the '2nd trimester bliss,' but I'm grateful to be where I am. I can eat. I can go out to sometimes. But it's still hard to make any plans in advance because every day is a new, unpredictable challenge.

We confirmed at the doctor's appointment earlier this week that it's a girl! And she's an active one. She kept moving during the sonogram that it took more than an hour to get that one picture of her profile. Despite all my symptoms, the baby is doing well. Everything is 'on target.' I began to feel her movement about a week or two ago, and the new sensation is a kind of comfort I never expected. I feel privileged to be experiencing this pregnancy, despite all the misery that comes with it.

The belly is expanding quickly. In the past few days, I've been experiencing occasional shortness of breath, especially after eating, and some stretching sensation surrounding my growing belly. I've been eating more with an increased appetite, but I'm also noticing I can't eat a 'normal' meal at once because it gives me an enormous amount of discomfort. I need to go back to eating the way I did, eating little very often. The weight gain isn't stressing me out as much as I thought it might, but I think it's because I'm busy feeling sick so often. My weight gain so far is a bit under average, but it's only expected because I didn't gain any during the 1st trimester, and everyone gains at different rates anyway. My doctor isn't worried, and I'm not either. My goal is to stay below 30lbs total. We'll see how that goes. 

I always envisioned myself, going to prenatal yoga and being active, being one of those glowing pregnant women who say, 'I feel great!' Unfortunately, I am nothing close to those women. My effort to be active doesn't go any further than walking around in the city when I feel up to it (it only happened once so far...), and following my husband to the grocery store when I can handle it. I stretch in bed and try to move around as much as I can. But I know I'm not ready yet for a yoga class. I'm still hopeful, however.

I've been meaning to travel since summer. I was hoping to feel well enough for it by now, but it's still a questionable plan. My desire to be active coupled with the inability to do so makes for a daily dose of disappointment. However, I've come to terms with it - at least more than before. As long as this baby girls is healthy and happily growing, and I get to feel her movements, I am grateful. I long to see my family, but as my father gently reminded me over the phone the other day, now my priority is my baby...

I woke up with a craving for a nutella crepe, but I opted for a more nutritious breakfast. With my inability to move much, I really have to watch what I eat, not only to keep myself from gaining too much weight but more to keep the baby healthy and growing. I haven't been taking my prenatal vitamins consistently because it makes me sick and/or vomit - I've tried at least five different brands... As much as it worries me that I'm not taking vitamins, I think it keeps me extra alert about my food choices. I do eat my dessert when I want it and think can handle it (it's only happened about 3 times so far), but I also eat all my dark leafy vegetables, lean meats (sometimes not so lean...), fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and eggs. I don't keep track of everything, but I pay attention to protein, iron, and folate. And so far, everything seems to be going well. 

PHOTO: my growing belly at 20 weeks