Pregnancy…Not My Favorite

I’ve been pretty open about how much I haven’t enjoyed being pregnant. I’ll be 37 weeks on Thursday and it has been a long 37 weeks.

FYI, I’m about to talk about stuff you may not want to read about (like boobs and bowel movements), so feel free to skip this post if that’s not your cup of tea.

First Trimester

Before I knew I was pregnant, I was so exhausted I felt like I could fall asleep anytime. Honestly, I nearly fell asleep in the middle of a baseball game, so we left in the 5th inning.

Sure, this was probably partially the first trimester fatigue most people experience, but mine was likely worsened by my undiagnosed hypothyroidism. I was tired all. the. time.

After we found out we were pregnant, that’s when things got even more fun. I will say, getting pregnant was probably a good thing, because my OB immediately put me on thyroid medicine and by the time I reached the second trimester, I had more energy than I’d probably had in the last year.

Back to the first trimester. The nausea was pretty much constant, but I only ever vomited twice (both times after eating a peach of all things). I basically lived off of chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese during this time. Not only was it easier on my stomach, but because I was so exhausted, that was about all I could manage to cook most days.

Another fun thing I experienced during the first trimester? Horrendous breast pain. You know how your breasts feel tender before you start your period? It was like that but about a hundred times worse and it lasted forever.

These were, apparently, growing pains. At least in my case. I went up three cup sizes over the course of my first trimester. I’m already “blessed” with big boobs, and they’ve been a source of frustration for me for years. So the fact that they were rapidly getting bigger was difficult for me (and my wallet).

Eventually, my clothes stopped fitting well enough to hide the weight gain, so I had to buy some new non-maternity clothes because I was still keeping things under wraps at work. Seriously, everyone talks about how expensive it is to have/raise a baby, but no one tells you about how much you’ll spend buying new bras, underwear (yes, those stop fitting/being comfortable, too), and clothes. It’s a lot. Oh, and I needed new shoes eventually, too.

Before we move on to second trimester fun, let’s talk about another fun pregnancy symptom I’ve had pretty much since the beginning: diarrhea. All the pregnancy websites and apps talk about how to relieve constipation because apparently that’s a pretty common symptom. Oh how I’ve longed to be constipated.

I’ve talked to my doctor about it and we can’t figure out what’s causing it. I tried going a few days without my prenatal vitamin to see if that was the culprit. No dice. I tried taking a fiber supplement. That worked for about a day. Then it was back to business as usual.

It doesn’t seem to matter what I eat, how much or little I exercise, or anything else. It’s possible it’s just pregnancy hormones. Or it could be a side effect of my thyroid medicine. I’ve also been diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) in the past, which I think is just a catch-all diagnosis for when doctors can’t figure out what is actually wrong, but that’s just my opinion. So it could be my IBS rearing its ugly head due to all the hormones and stress.

Basically, I’ll have no idea until I’m not pregnant anymore and all the hormones are out of my system. I’m hoping things get back to normal, though. It has caused me to chafe horribly (on vacation, no less) and I’ve had to rush into public restrooms on more than one occasion. Not to mention, I’ve had to deal with all this while at work, too.

Second Trimester

A lot of my symptoms started early and just continued (like the diarrhea). The fatigue fortunately subsided and so did the breast tenderness. With my second trimester came awful pelvic pain. It came and went and didn’t seem to matter if I was sitting down or standing up or even laying down.

I also seemed to gain quite a bit of weight in the first half of my pregnancy. People were kind enough to make comments like “are you sure it’s not twins?!” Let me tell you, nothing makes a woman feel better about her rapidly changing body than comments like that.

On top of all that, after we had our first ultrasound to find out the baby’s sex (it’s a boy! and holy hell those ultrasounds are expensive), we also found out the placenta was low. This meant I was at risk for placenta previa, which is a condition where the placenta is delivered before the baby, which puts him at risk. The solution is to have a c-section rather than deliver vaginally, but that’s not to say he wouldn’t try come early on his own.

We had to have two (maybe three?) more ultrasounds to keep checking the placenta’s location and see if it moved far enough out of the way that I’d be able to have a vaginal delivery. Fortunately, it moved and the baby has been healthy. (Seriously, though, no one talks about how expensive those damn ultrasounds are!)

So I was dealing with daily diarrhea, periodic pelvic pain, and the stress of worrying about whether the placenta would move or not and what that would mean for my delivery.

Because of the placenta’s location, it also meant that while other people I knew who were pregnant were already feeling their baby kick, I felt nothing. Of course, he wiggled around on the ultrasound like he was in a dance competition, so we knew he was fine, but for the longest time, I couldn’t feel him.

Honestly, feeling another human move inside of you is weird (even weirder when you can actually start to see it), so I don’t hate that it took longer for me to feel this. I did hate when people would ask if he was kicking and I had to say I wasn’t feeling anything yet.

I also ended up with a cold not once, but twice, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was miserable and–bonus!–you can’t take cold medicine when you’re pregnant. You just have to suffer through it.

When it came time for my glucose test for gestational diabetes, I failed the first test. That meant I had to go back for the three-hour test. The three-hour test was horrible.

Because of my thyroid problem, they draw my blood more often than they do for others. The same nurse always does it and we had never had any issues. Until the day of my three-hour test.

She had a hard time finding my veins that day and my blood was coming out in a trickle. It was painful and frustrating (and totally not her fault!). Not to mention, all the sugar made the baby twitchy and that was just uncomfortable.

Later I found out I “barely failed” the first test, so my doctor wasn’t surprised I passed the three-hour test. Yet another thing I was stressing over that I probably didn’t need to.

Third Trimester

During my third trimester, things have just gotten more and more uncomfortable. My back hurts, my feet and ankles swell up. The pelvic pain continues and is now accompanied by a burning sensation, which my doctor described to me as the ligaments in my groin pulling apart. So that’s fun.

I’m not as tired as I was in the first trimester (despite not sleeping well), so I think I definitely have my thyroid medicine to thank for that.

I have to pee all. the. time. which is super annoying. Basically, at this point, I just can’t wait to have my body back.

And by that, I don’t mean “I can’t wait to be back at my pre-pregnancy weight” (I have no idea how much weight I’ve gained total, and I don’t care–whatever I gained is exactly what my baby needed, so it’s fine). What I mean is I can’t wait for my body to be mine again.

I can’t wait to not deal with swollen fingers and feet/ankles. I miss wearing my wedding rings and I miss wearing my favorite shoes.

I can’t wait to not have to pee every 15 minutes (or more!). I can’t wait to (hopefully) know what it feels like to have a normal bowel movement again.

The third trimester has been what I expected in that I’m constantly uncomfortable. Thanks to the global pandemic, it’s also nothing like what I expected. And my labor and delivery won’t be either.

That’s been the hardest part of my third trimester: grappling with the increased anxiety and worry, well beyond what most women experience. There’s been a lot of disappointment and grieving for all the things I’ll be missing out on.

I’ve had friends and family give me tips that no longer apply because we won’t have visitors and the goal is to spend as little time in the hospital as possible. We won’t have the newborn pictures in the hospital (or even when we get home from the hospital–not professional ones, at least).

Our parents won’t be able to hold their grandson in the hospital and probably not for some time after we get home. We won’t have the support I thought we’d have.

Our son won’t get to meet his cousins or all his aunts and uncles (both biological and our best friends). No one will stop by with food or to hold him while I take a shower or a nap.

For months I’ve dreamed of taking him for walks in his stroller every day. Now, I’m not even sure if we’ll do that.

I never expected to enjoy being pregnant (and I haven’t) and I feel like my expectations for labor and delivery were pretty low (I never had a “birth plan”). But I feel like I’m missing out on all these experiences that most other women have gotten to have, and that’s heartbreaking.

I feel like I’m constantly oscillating between being excited to meet our baby and bring him home and being terrified of all that can go wrong. I’m no longer worried about being induced or needing an emergency c-section (you know, all the horrible things they show on TV).

Instead, now I worry about what will happen if I get the virus and/or my baby gets it. I worry about being separated from him, both of us put in isolation for who knows how long. I worry about not being able to hold him and breastfeed him and bond with him.

I’m so grateful I had friends and family who were kind enough to tell me what labor and delivery is really like rather than sugar-coating it. Despite those stories, nothing could have prepared me for this.

I’m doing my best to prepare however I can. Making sure my hospital bag is packed. Making sure the baby’s clothes, blankets, etc. are all washed and put away. Cleaning my house for the millionth time. Occasionally, though, the thought crosses my mind that certain things just don’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if I have multiple outfits for the hospital because we won’t be there that long. It doesn’t matter if my house is clean enough for visitors because we won’t be having any. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have something I thought was essential for getting out and about because we won’t be going anywhere once we come home.

Fortunately, I usually snap out of it. I packed my bag with one pair of pants and two nursing tops. I keep cleaning my house because I know it will make me feel better to come home to a clean (ish) house. I ordered items we still needed so that when the time comes and we can leave the house, we’ll be ready.

Overall, my pregnancy has been uncomfortable (even painful at times), weird, scary, disappointing. Maybe if I’d had a better outlook, I would have enjoyed it more. Then again, I might have been setting myself up for even more disappointment.

Regardless of how I’ve felt about being pregnant, I’m glad it’s almost over and that we’ll be meeting our baby soon (about 3 weeks to go).

 

Silver Linings

Last week was an emotional roller coaster. I oscillated frequently between feeling calm (even thinking I was overreacting) and having extreme anxiety about the uncertainty of everything.

This week, fortunately, has been better. That’s not to say I’m not still feeling anxious and worried—I am. But I’m dealing with it a little better this week.

Getting myself off that emotional rollercoaster—if only temporarily—has allowed me to focus a little more on the good things that have come out of this quarantine.

For one, my husband is home much more, which is a treat since he normally travels so much. Not only is he not traveling, but he’s also getting home much earlier every day (sometimes in the afternoon, but at least by 5). Normally, he gets home after 7 most nights, sometimes even later.

So we’re getting to spend more time together. We’re also cooking dinner more. Partly because we have to, but partly because we actually have the energy. Before, he would get home after 8pm and the last thing either of us wanted to do was cook that late in the evening. So we’d go out or he’d pick something up on his way home.

He’s also helping out more—cooking dinner, doing dishes, etc.—because he has the energy (which is great, because at 8 months pregnant, I don’t).

We’ve also started doing our “at-home happy hours” again. We started them last year. We’d sit and have a drink, he’d smoke a cigar, and we’d talk. No phones allowed (except for work stuff).

Obviously, my drinks are non-alcoholic right now. But it’s nice to have the time to sit and talk and just spend some time together.

So while this situation as a whole really just sucks, some good has come out of it for me. My husband and I are getting to spend some much-needed time together, just the two of us, before the baby is due in 5 very short weeks.

Canceled

Today we had to cancel our maternity photo session.

That may not sound like a big deal, but right now, it was one of the only things I had to look forward to.

I’ve been pretty open with people about how much I have not enjoyed being pregnant. But I read that many women who didn’t take maternity photos regretted it.

And although I don’t love being pregnant, I also didn’t want to regret not doing something like this later on.

Plus, doing maternity photos gave me an excuse to buy a new dress and have my sister do my hair and makeup, so I’d feel extra pretty.

Now no one will see that dress. I won’t get my hair and makeup done. I won’t get to smile alongside my husband and feel giddy and excited to meet our baby.

Instead I’ll spend the day sitting on my couch (or laying in bed) in my sweatpants, with unwashed hair, watching TV and scrolling through Facebook and Instagram.

I know bigger events than this are being canceled. I’m out $50 on a dress (a good friend offered to do the photos for us) while other people are losing thousands of dollars after having to cancel their weddings.

I know graduations are being canceled. People are losing their jobs. It’s all heartbreaking.

That doesn’t make having to cancel my maternity photos any less heartbreaking for me, though.

It was one of the last exciting things we had scheduled before our son is born. It was the only exciting thing on my long list of to-dos.

I’m crushed.

I know things will get better. And I know, in the grand scheme of things, the photos aren’t that important. But right now I just need to allow myself to feel sad about the things I’m missing out on.

 

3 Reasons I Didn’t Do the September Whole30

Why didn’t I do the September Whole30? Here’s why.

If you know me or have been following my blog for a while, you know I’m a big fan of the Whole30. I’ve done at least 5 rounds in the last few years and will probably do more. And I always recommend it to others who either want a better relationship with food or who are trying to learn more about how specific foods affect them.

A couple times a year, usually in January and September (September is the new January), there’s a massive group Whole30. It’s great for people who aren’t ready to go it alone, as they share tons of resources and support, and there’s literally thousands (or more) of others doing it with you.

I briefly considered doing the September Whole30 this year, but decided not to for several reasons:

  1. Until recently, I’ve really struggled with my energy levels. While eating Whole30 would certainly help boost my energy, I was worried all the planning and preparation that goes into it would zap any energy I did have.
  2. I wanted to focus more on the things I know I’m sensitive to already without limiting too much else. That meant avoiding dairy, eggs, and gluten, but being free to eat things like rice or corn tortillas (because tacos are basically a food group in our house).
  3. I also wanted to be able to eat at places like Chipotle when I was too tired to cook (the only compliant meat they offer is the pork, which I’m allergic to). Not doing a Whole30 also means I can have store-bought, egg-free mayo because I haven’t found a homemade recipe I like (I buy Just Mayo—it has sugar in it, so it’s not compliant).

After a tough summer struggling with depression, low energy, and almost no exercise, I wanted to focus more on the baby steps: exercising, eating mostly healthy, and doing as little meal prep as possible so I have plenty of time to actually rest and recharge.

I imagine I’ll do another round of Whole30 later this year or early next year when I’m ready for another reset.

Have you ever done (or thought about doing) a Whole30? Did you do the September Whole30?

The Harder to Kill Challenge

It’s been a little less than a week since I completed the Harder to Kill (HTK ) Challenge with Steph Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo. The only other “challenge” I’ve done is the Whole30 (several times), and that is focused solely on food. The HTK Challenge focuses not only on the food we use to fuel our bodies but also how we move, energize, and think about our bodies.

The challenge consisted of daily lessons on one or more of these four pillars. It comes with a meal plan for four of the six weeks of the challenge, as well as a fitness plan. The fitness plan places a lot of focus on functional movements, which was really fantastic. Almost all the movements were based on ways we move our bodies every day and were aimed at improving that movement.

At the beginning of the program, we took “before” photos and measurements. About halfway through, I felt really anxious about what my “after” would look like. By the end of week six, though, I realized I had no real desire to take any after photos or to weigh myself or take any other measurements. Over the course of six weeks, my clothes had begun to fit better. More importantly, I noticed my strength improving. I ran a 5k without stopping and in just under 36 minutes.

These changes have been subtle for sure, but I have noticed them, and they have been enough. The fact that these changes were enough also shows me how much my mindset has improved over these six weeks. The two pillars I really wanted to work on during the challenge were energy and mindset. My mindset has improved, but there is still work to do.

My energy has improved significantly. I began tracking my sleep with the app Sleep Cycle. I also adopted Steph’s 90/30 rule. This is similar to the Pomodoro Technique. With the 90/30 rule, I work for 30 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. This repeats 3 times (or until you’ve worked for 90 minutes), then you take a longer 30-minute break. The real key, though, is using your breaks to do things that renew your energy rather than drain it. So instead of checking Facebook or responding to emails, I’ve done things like stretch, color, and read. It sounds counterintuitive to take so many breaks throughout the day, but it has really helped.

Projects that would normally take me from 8am to 6 or 7pm to complete I can now finish by 3 or 4pm. The best part, though, is that I don’t feel completely exhausted when I get done working for the day. I have the energy to get laundry or dishes done, or to exercise if I haven’t already. For me, this has been the most life-changing aspect of the challenge.

Some days I don’t do the 90/30 rule. It’s usually when I have errands I have to run in the middle of my day, so it throws everything off. On those days, I notice the negative effects. It’s still a work in progress, but my energy is so much better in just six weeks.

If you’re thinking about doing a health/fitness challenge to start the new year off right, I highly recommend Harder to Kill with Steph Gaudreau. She is an excellent coach and I’m so grateful for the experience. If you have any questions about the challenge, let me know!

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-AB

 

Review: Jaybird X2 Wireless Earbuds

Finally getting around to writing up my review of the Jaybird X2 Wireless Earbuds! The past two weeks have been crazy busy, but that gave me more time to test them out!

The package includes the headphones themselves. Also included are different sizes and types of earbud tips (foam or silicone). So far, I’ve only used the silicone tips. They also come with three different size “fins”, which fit over the earbud and help keep the buds secure in your ear. Then there’s a USB cable to charge them and clasps to make the wired portion adjustable.

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My first experience with them was running my first 5k of the year. I charged them up the night before the race, and then the next day, I tried them on. I thought for sure I would need the smallest silicone tips because I think earbuds are always too big for my ears. I ended up using the largest silicone tips though. Their instructions (which I found online after a little digging) recommend trying on all the sizes so you can get the right fit. I didn’t try any of the foam tips, though.

Next, I had to put the ear fins on. Even the smallest ear fins seemed too big. They really don’t fit my ears the way they show in pictures on the website. I have to sort of fold it up to get it to slide into place. While not uncomfortable, they don’t provide quite the level of security I was hoping they would.

I’ve had these earbuds for almost two weeks now, and I’ve worn them for about six runs total. They have not fallen out once, but I did have one run where they felt loose the entire time and I had to keep shoving them back in there. Aside from that, the earbuds have stayed put. I’m still getting used to the controls though. The instructions say to turn the headphones off, hold the middle button down for four seconds. Maybe I’m just a fast counter, but it’s usually more like six or seven seconds for me. I haven’t quite gotten around to figuring out how to skip songs, answer calls, etc. yet. Fortunately, I don’t typically need to answer a call during a run, and I’ve created some pretty good playlists, so I don’t usually need to skip any songs.

There is definitely a learning curve with these headphones, and they don’t “fit like a glove” the way I’d hoped. But after six runs and only one instance of them feeling loose (not actually falling out), I’d say these have been a good investment so far. The sound is great, there are no wires for me to accidentally pull on and rip the ear buds out of my ears, and so far, they’ve been comfortable. I may give the foam tips a try at some point just to compare fit.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchase, especially since I got them on sale! My only complaint is that the ear fins are still too big for my ears. If you have normal, non-toddler-sized ears, I would definitely recommend them!

Thanks as always for reading!

-AB