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I’ve never understood people that enjoy being pregnant. Sure, pregnancy is worth it once your baby is born, but to say that you enjoy those 9 months of gestating? Definitely not something I enjoyed.
Now that I am 9 months postpartum, and recently posed for one of those “9 months in/9 months out” pics to show how much weight I’ve lost since my daughter was born, I’ve been reflecting on my pregnancies.
Truthfully, knowing that my daughter is my last baby, makes me somewhat nostalgic about my pregnancy days.
I had 2 back-to-back pregnancies, (which I do not recommend) and both pregnancies were predictably miserable.
The only real difference between my 2 pregnancies was that in my 2nd pregnancy I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes (GD). Honestly, I think I had GD in my 1st pregnancy as well. It was simply late onset, and wasn’t caught during my screenings. My experience with GD deserves its own post, so I will not discuss it anymore here.
What made pregnancy miserable for me?
Let’s start at the beginning:
I wanted nothing more than to pass out and take a nap, whenever and wherever I could.
When I got home from work, I parked my butt on the couch and did not move. I used to watch shows in bed with my husband, but when pregnant (much to my hubby’s dismay) I struggled to keep my eyes open during our favorite shows.
- Morning Sickness
Like clockwork, once I hit 6 weeks pregnant, morning sickness developed in full-force. Who am I kidding? It wasn’t morning sickness; it was all day sickness. I felt like I had a low-grade flu and would throw up 3, 4, 5 times a day depending on what I ate.
- Lack of Appetite
As a result of persistent morning sickness, I lost most of my appetite. My diet consisted of bland carbs such as crackers and Cheez Its. In a bit of cruel irony, fruits, veggies, and other particularly healthy foods made me nauseous.
- Motion Sickness
Morning Sickness and Motion Sickness are not the same. I suffered from motion sickness before pregnancy, and used Sea Bands or Dramamine to help. I always knew when I was pregnant because my motion sickness kicked into high gear and the Sea Bands no longer worked for me. I’ll just say I never got into a car without having a paper or plastic bag at the ready…
- Morning Sickness
Morning Sickness persisted for nearly 20 weeks with both of my pregnancies. In my 2nd pregnancy, my OB prescribed Diclegis, and that little pill was a lifesaver. In my 1st pregnancy, I suffered through it with no miracle pill, and constantly sucked on Jolly Ranchers or Peppermints to distract me from my nausea.
- Back Pain
As my belly expanded and my ligaments stretched, back pain developed. Back pain was worse in my 2nd pregnancy, since I had the added responsibility of caring for my son (who was very much still a baby) while gestating a baby. If I could do it over again, I would invest in a maternity support belt.
- Trouble Sleeping
Pregnant women are told to sleep on their sides, particularly the left side, once they reach 20 weeks along. This helps “increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.” (American Pregnancy Association)
Since I am a normal back sleeper, (which is apparently the worst sleeping position during pregnancy) sleeping on my side was not an easy change. During my 1st pregnancy, I piled several pillows behind my back to keep me propped on my side. For my 2nd pregnancy, I purchased the Snoogle pregnancy pillow, which I highly recommend. It was much easier to deal with one large pillow, than the four or five pillows I utilized during my first pregnancy.
- Braxton Hicks Contractions
Felt like a tight ball in my belly. These “false labor” contractions didn’t hurt that much, but did feel weird and uncomfortable.
- Swelling (particularly in the hands and feet)
Even though swelling is a normal part of pregnancy, and is a result of the body producing “approximately 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby” (American Pregnancy Association), it is still uncomfortable. In addition, excessive swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia, which is dangerous for both mom and baby.
I experienced swelling in my fingers, which meant I had to stop wearing my wedding ring by the 3rd trimester of my 1st pregnancy. (I didn’t even attempt to wear my wedding ring during my 2nd pregnancy.) Since I didn’t want people to see my pregnant belly and assume I wasn’t married, I went and bought a cheap Walmart ring to wear until my finger swelling returned to normal.
My feet and ankles swelled up during pregnancies, and were always worse when I had been on my feet for too long, or had been out in the summer heat too long. The only remedy was to sit down with my feet elevated, and to take a much-needed break.
As my feet swelled, they went up in size, and I borrowed shoes from my mom to wear until my feet returned to their normal size. This shoe was super comfy and I wore it all the time, much to my husband’s embarrassment. (I may or may not have worn my husband’s socks as well, since I could not handle tight socks cutting off the circulation in my ankles).
- Stretch Marks
Stretch marks developed at the end of both my pregnancies on my lower abdomen. They are my “battle-scars” and I don’t hate them. I never used any stretch mark creams, but I don’t believe that they are effective anyway. If you are meant to have stretch marks, you will get them, regardless of how much you try to prevent them. So don’t worry about them.
- Belly button changes
With my 1st pregnancy, I expected my belly button to become an outie, but instead it just flattened and became level with the rest of the skin on my belly. During my 2nd pregnancy, I developed a slight outie. Now, 9 months postpartum, it is back to an innie. Expect your belly button to change during pregnancy.
- Varicose Veins
I could not say when my varicose veins developed, but I know it was sometime during the course of my two pregnancies. They are only in my left leg, below the knee, and are quite ugly. Varicose veins are genetic, and I am not surprised that I developed them, since my mother has them as well.
- Excessive Urination
During the 3rd trimester, with a baby nearly the size of a watermelon, partying on top of your bladder, you will use the bathroom a lot more than normal. Once an hour or so, I found myself rushing to the bathroom. It’s a good idea to always know where the nearest restroom is, just in case.
This lasts the duration of pregnancy, but was the absolute worst during the 3rd trimester. Drink lots of water and get up and move around to avoid this. I also would not recommend a 13-hour road trip while in your 3rd trimester. Lesson learned.
- Overheating/Sweat Overload
With a daughter born in September and a son born in October, I experienced the joy of being hugely pregnant during two Oklahoma summers (August is typically the hottest month around here). To say I was a sweaty, overheated mess would be an understatement. All I can say is expect to be hot. Dress for the heat. I highly recommend maxi dresses and comfortable sandals.
If you have a laundry list of pregnancy complaints like me, it is ok. Even though forty weeks feels like forever, you will get through it.
Just remember: You don’t have to enjoy pregnancy, you just have to survive it!
Your baby will make every ache and pain, the nausea and upset stomach, the sleepless nights (a precursor to life with a newborn), and the stretch marks, all worth it.
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