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

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