As I mentioned in my previous post, there are so many things they NEVER tell you about being pregnant. People and books are full of advice, but it’s typically of the general sort. As in, “You’ll be tired” rather than, “You’ll be so exhausted that you might fall asleep sitting up in the middle of a presentation by a potential new faculty member.” I feel I benefit most from real-life examples, which is probably why I simply thrived in organic chemistry. I think a lot of women feel it’s better to give that general advice as just because they had a certain experience doesn’t mean anyone else will. The way I take it, though, is that if it happened to you, something along those lines could happen to me, too. So here is my ever expanding list of things I wish I had known might happen while in the throes of pregnancy:
- Nausea. Everyone knows to expect nausea and possibly vomiting during the first trimester (and beyond if you’re Kate Middleton). However, I wouldn’t exactly characterize this sensation as nausea. For me it started as upper epigastric pain (bloating, which I’ll get to, contributed to this too). That was the first day of my stomachy symptoms, and by the next day it was straight up nausea. The only other day I could straightforwardly identify my stomachy feelings on was when I was at my parents and I just felt downright queasy (my mom said I was green). The rest of the time I experienced something completely new every day. I couldn’t say if it was nausea or queasiness–it was like a whole new realm of stomach upset. Even though I never actually threw up, I think I really struggled with this part of being pregnant because I have rarely had stomach bugs. Even as a kid, when I got the rare stomach bug I would bargain to have it switch over to strep throat because that was so much more bearable.
- Fatigue. Fatigue is another symptom everyone knows to expect. After all, there is a future human inside of you who is currently forming all of his vital parts. I had no idea that I would literally just fall asleep with no warning. I wasn’t working yet my first I think week and a half of being pregnant and I don’t know how women who are working do it without tipping their coworkers off because I would hit a certain point of the day and just have to go to bed. I was barely functional because of the nausea, and then on top of it I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I didn’t know how bad it was until I started work and fell asleep sitting up. Three times. Once during a presentation by a potential new faculty member. And it’s this whole new kind of exhaustion where if you need to be paying attention to something you just go completely cross-eyed and start bobbing and swaying uncontrollably. I would try and shift around a lot if I was in a meeting to keep from taking a nose dive (literally–if I stayed in one position for more than a few seconds my head would start to take a nose dive). But for real, I would love to know what all you working women did do hide this from your bosses.
- Running. I expected running would be difficult after I was huge. I also expected it would be difficult due to exhaustion for a bit during the first trimester. However, I never really thought about how being dizzy would effect it. I had a few runs on which I really felt like I might fall over. Worse though was, through week eight, the stomach issues. I was “nauseous” 24-7, and running made this so much worse. It would make me incredibly bloated and caused not pain (because I would have stopped right there) but rather a great deal of discomfort. I stopped running for a while because for the rest of the afternoon or evening I just couldn’t do anything but pray I would fall asleep so I didn’t have to feel this anymore. All this stomach stuff was exhausting in itself–it literally makes you tired. Also, I had a lot of trouble breathing on my runs the first few weeks. I have mild asthma so always use an inhaler before running, so I’m not sure if this had something to do with it but it is a lot better now. I started feeling better on my runs around week ten, and now I can go for 45 minutes with no problem (I would go longer but I don’t have time).
- Constipation. Okay, you probably don’t want to read about this, but if there was anything I wish I had been more prepared for it would have been constipation. I did read in some book or online that it can make you tired (like everything else in pregnancy), so I expected that. What I did not expect was how incredibly uncomfortable this would be. You’re giving up your daily coffee, and all of your organs are trying to shift around to accommodate your expanding uterus, so obviously there are going to be some disturbances. However, I was completely unprepared to clog my future in-laws’ toilet. Let’s just say I take no bowel movement for granted these days.
- Bloating. I kind of mentioned it before, but bloating has been pretty problematic for me. I used to be super thin but after college gained some weight (bringing me up to a still completely normal BMI of 18-19) so my pants were already kind of small. With the bloating, however, I couldn’t even look at a pair of jeans. I got a lot of upper abdominal bloating which is pretty uncomfortable and also looked so bizarre because it went right up to under my boobs. I really don’t know how I could have prevented this because I wasn’t exactly eating a lot at the time.
- Eating. Speaking of eating, it was really weird to realize that though eating was the last thing I wanted to do when “nauseous,” it was the only thing that helped to alleviate the problem. Also, while ginger ale and saltines were incredibly helpful the first week I knew I was pregnant, just typing those words right now makes me gag. Into the second week grapefruit juice helped. Now I can’t drink that either. While I used to be a strictly water or coffee drinker, I’ve had to reconcile that drinking juice–which I would never have touched before–is going to have to be okay because I need to get some sort of hydration and water is no longer appetizing. Also, early on in pregnancy I could only eat little bits at a time, much like what occurs late in pregnancy when your baby takes up all the space into which your stomach used to be able to expand. And lastly, I used to be obsessed with ice cream. Now, I can’t even think about it. For the most part, sweets are completely unappetizing where before I couldn’t skip dessert after dinner. There are still a number of things that were staples in my diet that I just can’t touch anymore (including hummus wraps).
- Belly button. I just want to end on a good note. I didn’t know your belly button could start popping out as early as week twelve. Because a lot of my symptoms had subsided, I was worried that my fetus wasn’t doing so hot in there. When I noticed my belly button had started to push out, this so helped alleviate my fears. I thought I might have been imagining or exaggerating how much different it was, but then I showed Ryan, his mom, and his sister and they all said the same thing–“WOAH!”
- My butt. Oh, and one last thing. I grew a butt.