Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pregnancy: the Fragrant Elephant Experience

Fragrant Elephant Junior is one week old today! We're sending him to Foxborough for training camp:

I held off on blogging about being pregnant because I wanted to complete the fetus download. Now the little guy is here and I figure I'd share a bit about the last nine months.

***Nerd alert: I made a trimester-by-trimester spreadsheet where I recorded weekly fetal development and the corresponding pregnancy symptoms.***

I had a fairly uneventful first and second trimester. In the first few months, as my body churned out a placenta to supply nutrients to the rapidly growing cluster of cells in my uterus, my boobs felt tender, I got tired at work more easily, and I had to pee more. This period was when we heard his heartbeat for the first time. It sounded wet.

Next, I swanned through the second trimester with nary a complaint, which is par for the course for most pregnant women. Fragrant Husband and I headed to San Francisco so my dad could show off his slim profile and snicker at my "basketball."

26 weeks

The only pregnancy issue I had during this time was costochondritis, where the cartilage on my left ribs got inflamed and forced me to lie exclusively on my right side to sleep. This bummed me out because I'm a back sleeper. Boohoo.

Eating for Two

This phrase means, "Eat an extra 300-500 calories for optimum maternal health and fetal development, not "Eat twice as much," especially if your diet is not terribly balanced. 

I used the SuperTracker app to  record my meals and check that I got the recommended food groups: whole grains, dairy, fruits, protein, and vegetables. I found that I consistently ate too much fruit and not enough veggies. Fortunately, the app records avocado as a big serving of vegetable for some reason, so that's how I got close to my 100% goal for recommended veggie intake. Mwahahaha!!!

The app also tells you how much sodium you had and how many empty calories you consumed. Very helpful!

Give It Up for the Preggo

Outside of my own body changes, other things I noticed were how absorbed people get with their gadgets. On my daily rush hour commute, 90% of my fellow train passengers didn't even look up. It was inevitably a woman who got up to give me her seat. My favorite was a very young woman who passed her enormous backpack to her friend so she could stand up and offer me her spot. Very sweet.

Pregnancy Myths

Old wives' tales about pregnancy ran rampant. Everyone from my coworkers to random strangers authoritatively told me I was carrying a boy/girl, because:

a) I was carrying high /
b) My bump was round instead of flat /
c) My skin looked great /
d) My hair looked fabulous /
e) My nose didn't look wide /
f) etc.

Y'know what? They all had a 50% chance of getting the sex right. Hah.

Tactlessness Abounds

Speaking of random people, one lady in line at the supermarket asked me if I was having twins, because I was "huge" and "sometimes one hides behind the other."


Then It Got Worse

The third trimester is when things started going downhill. At first I powered through it. I marched up and down six flights of stairs in the office. I had no itching, nausea, food aversions or cravings, weepiness, headache, cramping, constipation, swelling, varicose veins, heartburn, backache, or any of the seemingly endless list of terrible things that happen to pregnant women. My linea nigra did show up eventually, and my belly button threatened to become an outie but never followed through. And I got red stretch marks! omg

BUT. My appetite grew exponentially. I ate every hour on the hour. My rapid weight gain took a toll on my feet, which hurt more and more every day. "Fat and tired," I recorded on my spreadsheet several times.

The worst part was the home stretch. I hate waiting. "When will baby come?" I whined endlessly to the husband. I felt like a planet by this point. In my uterus, baby was beginning to descend, putting pressure on my bladder and pelvis. He also kept me up at night with his marathon hiccuping sessions and fist pumping. I was so large and uncomfortable that I couldn't sleep through the night, which made me deeply unhappy. I wanted baby out out out!

Managing Expectations

My own expectations made the waiting worse. My mom and sister had delivered their firstborn children early--both at 38 weeks. I was convinced I would do the same, so I took my leave from work two weeks early. As the days stretched out with only Braxton-Hicks contractions to tease me, I alternated between moping inconsolably around the apartment and frenziedly swimming or walking around with my mother, who had flown all the way from Manila to help out (THANKS MAMA I LOVE YOU).

39 weeks
The Obligatory False Alarm

My lowest point was at 39 weeks, when we rushed to the hospital because I had cramps from hell that went from the top of my uterus all the way to the bottom. I frantically sent the get-home-NOW text to Fragrant Husband, who responded, "Oh boy!" and dramatically announced to his office, "I got the call."

It wasn't actual labor, although we did find out that I was 90% effaced and 1 cm dilated by that time. Alas, this is not enough to push out a tiny human.

I was grumpy every morning for several days after that. "No baby yet," I would gloomily announce to my mate.

My due date came and went. Rationally, I knew that it was just an estimated time of arrival, but I had read that post-term babies had an increased chance of stillbirth, and my treacherous mind latched onto that terrifying prospect. Every day that passed by with no labor pains brought my baby closer to danger, or so my irrational, fearful side whispered.

All I could do was wait. Every pregnancy ends no matter what, I kept telling myself.


TL; DR: My pregnancy was a breeze until the third trimester.


Next post: labor and delivery!

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