As I wind down in what I think is the final week of my pregnancy with my second child, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the experience.
Being 11 years older, I had a lot of trepidation when I found out I was pregnant. I had just started a new job with much increased responsibility. I was in a fairly new relationship too with my fiancé Mark who is an older first time father at 52. I became worried about having a healthy pregnancy. I think most women worry about this throughout the pregnancy to a degree. When you are creating a life and nurturing it, you feel a sense of responsibility for the outcome, more so than the father I believe. You wonder how everything you do could negatively or positively affect the baby and with so much data available, it can be overwhelming.
One of the hardest things about being pregnant is not being able to predict how you will feel from day to day. It seems like every side effect is normal. No one can understand what you are going through and if you tell them, you count on them believing that it could really be that bad all of the time. I remember when I first got pregnant, my oldest sister described how she imagined that pregnancy was a blissful experience for most women - I promptly told her that's not the case for MOST women. I tried not to complain all the time - that would have gotten old and I just hoped that the time would fly by...longest 40 weeks ever!!!!
Here are some of the effects of pregnancy that I experienced:
Fatigue - This was the toughest part of being pregnant. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was in the middle of leading a team in negotiating a $500M contract. I couldn't show weakness or inability to do my job and the fatigue nearly consumed me in the first trimester. I didn't want anyone to doubt my ability to do my job and when we were at the finish line at work with that negotiation, I finally admitted that I was pregnant. There were days where I felt that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I wasn't used to slowing down and the sheer lack of any energy made me move at a snail's pace mentally and physically. Even a short walk into my office consumed my entire being.
Blurry vision - One day I was at my son's basketball game and when I looked across the court, I realized that I couldn't clearly make out every player. Yep, pregnancy affects vision too! Many pregnant women retain fluids which can change the thickness and shape of your cornea leading to blurred vision.
Nausea - It was hard to make it through many meals due to the nausea but I didn't suffer from the incessant vomiting that accompanied my first pregnancy.
Gas - Due to my higher levels of progesterone, I had my full share of burping and flatulence. My son discovered that girls do both! I told him it's just the baby and that most girls don't make a habit of farting and burping for no reason. Progesterone relaxes smooth muscle tissue throughout your body, including your gastrointestinal tract.
Constipation - When you're used to frequent bowel movements, you feel like you're stuffing yourself full of poop when you only go once or twice a week. At times, I wondered how much of my weight gain was poop and how much was really baby. I know which one will be easier to lose! Increased progesterone slows the movement of food through your digestive tract and the pressure of your growing uterus on your butt doesn't help either. Elevating my feet for about 20 minutes a day helped increase my bowel movements.
Nosebleeds - The whole winter, I woke up with a bloody nose - even with the use of a humidifier, the bedroom still felt like it was full of extremely dry air. Pregnancy can cause the blood vessels in your nose to expand, and your increased blood supply puts more pressure on those delicate vessels, making them rupture more easily.
Lost sense of need to urinate - Early on, I realized that I no longer knew that I needed to urinate. I didn't proceed to involuntarily urinate on myself, but I did have to make a conscious effort to empty my bladder from time to time when I began to feel uncomfortable. I did not suffer from having to urinate frequently at all.
Low iron - Whew - by the third trimester, my iron was extremely low. I took iron tablets for a little while, but I am horrible at remembering to take pills and at taking them consistently so my regimen tapered off after a while and the fatigue associated with low iron returned late in my third trimester as a result.
Healthy hair growth - I think I lost 10 strands of hair the whole pregnancy. The gray hairs came in nice and thick and I am sure the standard hair loss will resume soon after delivery.
Leg Cramps and Restless Leg Syndrome - During sleep, I often experienced painful leg cramps and even had restless leg syndrome a few nights. This could have been due to low calcium or magnesium levels. I was not good at taking my prenatal vitamins throughout the pregnancy.
Backache - Increased progesterone and relaxin loosens joints and ligaments in preparation for birth. When the ligaments around the spine relax, extra strain is put on the back and hips. Two pregnancy massages were very nice to get during the pregnancy. Near the end of the pregnancy I couldn't really comfortably turn over in bed.
Sore belly - I was all belly during the pregnancy, so towards the end, my belly became quite sore around my belly button from all the stretching out. I didn't exercise at all the entire pregnancy. After the extreme fatigue I experienced in the first 12 weeks, I decided that I would just take a break from any working out during this pregnancy. I was simply too tired for exercise.
With all of these effects, it was hard for me to get excited about being pregnant. Luckily, the excitement of my friends and family began to rub off towards the middle of my second trimester when my energy began to pick up for a few weeks. I began to like some pink things (I don't own very many pink things for myself and I'm not a "girly girl".).
My son's excitement about getting a sibling also helped me to be excited about the pregnancy. When we finally told him that I was expecting, then we had to wait to find out the gender. He wanted to know why I hadn't shared the news prior to the second trimester and I had to explain that sometimes the baby doesn't survive the first trimester. In the back of my head the whole pregnancy, I remained concerned about how he would respond if something did in fact happen to the baby or if the baby wasn't healthy at birth.
Now I am three days away from my due date and feeling ready to be done! I finally signed up for teleworking which is a blessing. I am feeling really nervous about going into labor and although we all know that's temporary, it doesn't make the anticipation or anxiety go away. As I am typing, I am having a contraction. I had the Braxton Hicks throughout the third trimester and now I am hoping to start having the real contractions.
Ms. Bhakti Mary
I am an optimistic, positive, generous and driven woman who is passionate about self-improvement.
The essence of who you are does not lie in the past. What matters is what you are willing to do NOW. You are the presence.