TMI alert. This will be the last time I alert you, though. Frankly, at this stage in my life, very little is TMI.
I imagined that my body would get kind of wonky during pregnancy. Things are changing rather rapidly. Tons of new hormones. Major bone and organ shifting as the baby grows. You gain weight quickly (like never before). But for some reason, I didn’t really consider the emotional toll this would have on my life. It feels a lot like puberty, frankly. Your body is no longer under your control but powered by some unforeseen force (hormones! or, in my case, a tiny apple-sized creature inside of me!). Symptoms or health issues you’ve never experienced before rapidly pop up every week, just to keep you on your toes.
Here’s a small list of some of the crazy changes my body has experienced in the last four months. Some are recurring, some have stopped all together and some will continue to get worse.
Acne – I’ve never had great skin but now I really do resemble my 16-year old self. Back, face, arms. You name it.
Butt and hip pain – Pretty expected but pretty annoying. As my pelvis shifts to accommodate the babe, my pelvic bones (particularly in my lower back) are shifting this way and that, giving me a pain in the ass, quite literally.
Nail growth – I’m a habitual nail-biter, but several weeks ago I got a manicure for a wedding, which prompted me not to chomp. Well, I swear to you my nails have grown a half centimeter since then. My nails have never been this long.
Itchiness – Along with blemishes, hormones can cause your skin to become drier (my problem) and itchy as your skin grows. I”m trying not to rip my flesh off with my new nails.
Urinary tract infections – I’ve had these my whole life, but apparently they are particularly common in pregnancy as your urethra stretches out and allows more bacteria in. Fun. I went on a week of antibiotics to clear this up, which may just have caused….
Yeast infections – Mmm. Never had one of these before. But, again, your vagina and your cervix are basically on steroids during pregnancy, so things tend to get out of whack more quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if my antibiotic regime caused this lovely infection (antibiotics kill all bacteria, including the good flora that keeps your vagina right on track).
Hemorrhoids- Sweet lord. Could it get any worse? The weight of the baby and the mass increase in blood flow causes varicose veins (and hemorrhoids are just one form). Fortunately, mine are internal, so they don’t hurt much and they heal easily. However, they cause you to bleed like you’re on your period. And, any amount of blood in the toilet is enough to stop my heart (see previous post).
Heartburn – I had this pre-pregnancy but pregnancy heartburn is worse. Tums are my new best friend. Also, they say the same hormone that causes heartburn may also cause the baby to sprout hair. So, hairy baby here we come.
Weight gain – Boring but still quite the change. So far, I’m 8lbs up from my pre-pregnancy weight and climbing. I can only wear maternity clothes.
Pamela Anderson-like breasts – My breasts have easily grown 40% in size. They are a shocking new addition to my body, esp. because I had rather small breasts before (oh how I miss them!). They are also painful and angry, like Pamela Anderson’s breasts, I’m sure.
Laughing and crying – Being pregnant is a bit like those few days right before you start your period when every NPR story, Cheetos commercial or squashed bug on the sidewalk makes you cry. But what I’ve noticed even more is I am laughing. A lot. At stupid things. My laugh is loud and indiscriminate. Gotta say, this has to be a plus.
Frequent urination – In your first trimester, hormones are causing your body to flush fluids rapidly through your system, so even though you are still small with child, you pee about 5 times an hour. As someone who has long enjoyed bladder fortitude, this was annoying. I would pee twice before bed, then at 2:30am, and then 6:30am. Fortunately, this has died down.
Insomnia – Peeing frequently seemed to set a pattern of insomnia that’s been hard to break. For the last two weeks, the vast majority of my nights have looked like this: Crash at 10:30 and sleep until 3:30. Wake for no apparent reason and lay there until 4:30. Turn on light and read book until 5:30 or 6 when Dave’s alarm goes off. Pass out until 9:30 or 10.
Food aversions – There’s a lot of debate about whether pregnancy cravings are real (as in physiological) as opposed to psychological. I definitely craved pickles and continue to crave meat in all forms (and anything sour). But the most pronounced food issue I experienced was food aversions. Just thinking about certain things (certain veggies) or hearing them mentioned (“Sausage balls,” which Dave mentioned once at 6 weeks) made me want to vomit. Fortunately, I NEVER VOMITED. Boom.
Increased sense of smell – This is an annoying superpower. Fortunately it has died down. But in the first trimester, I couldn’t stand the smell of celery (even the memory of it makes me gag), my Burts Bees lip balm (what the?) and anything burned (like the charred crumbs at the bottom of our toaster oven). I could smell what Dave was eating for dinner two rooms away. I could smell the dirt outside. Everything smelled.
Faintness – A few days ago, Dave and I were in Winston Salem taking a tour through a museum (guided tour only) and half-way through, I became extremely hot and had to sit down. And then, I started yawning nonstop and sweating profusely. Then, everything became fuzzy. “Dave, we’ve got to get out of here.” We had to interrupt the tour so the lady could lead us out. Sweet lord I’ve never almost fainted before. These are the weeks when your blood pressure is the lowest as your body works to pump more blood through your system. Being too hot, standing for along time, dehydration or low blood sugar can make you pass out. Eeek.
Headaches – My posture is out of whack because my lower spine is moving forward, causing my neck to compensate and giving me wicked headaches. Thank you, lord, for the nice chiropractor.
Increased vaginal discharge – Woohoo! This is exactly what it sounds like. You are never dry.
Hairy belly – Is it just me or does my belly look like a furby? I’m a hairy person but wow. Like your nails, pregnancy can cause your hair to grow faster. So far, my belly’s been the only victim….but what’s next??
Totally random bleeding – I’ve had my fair share of this during pregnancy and it’s freaky. Some of it is from cervical infections, or a “friable cervix” (which the midwife mentioned I had a few weeks ago). You are just full of blood, and anything from constipation straining to sex to exercise can cause you to spot. Other causes – ovarian or cervical cyst, placental abruption or previa, implantation spotting, or….miscarriage. Yikers. (Previously, I had written “Random-ass bleeding,” meaning “Totally random bleeding.” For Random ass bleeding, see “Hemorrhoids.”)
Allergies – I’ve never been one to suffer majorly from allergies. But for the past three weeks, I can’t go anywhere without a tissue. Sometimes, I sneeze 7 times in a row. My eyes itch all the time. I am a snot machine, basically, especially at night. Pregnancy makes your blood vessels dilate in your nose, which just aggravates allergies even more.
Now, just imagine all of these things happening AT THE SAME TIME, or at least, within several weeks of each other. When I read these lists before I was pregnant, I thought “Well, I can handle that…and that.” But I didn’t comprehend that all of these things would descend in a gigantic pregnancy symptom hurricane. I must say, the second trimester IS proving to be better, but I still can’t quite say I enjoy being pregnant (even when I reflect on the great joy of carrying a human life inside of me blah blah blah). But, here we are! And here I am! And there it is!