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