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Pregnancy. Ooof. Where to begin?
I had several assumptions about what it would be like to be pregnant before actually experiencing it for myself.
On one hand I was terrified of getting pregnant. Scared of getting fat, scared of all the needles, scared of labour and the dreaded possibility of 'tearing' - eeek - I still don't understand how I only found out about that lovely possibility in my early twenties. I was also scared that it might never happen for me. It seems that more and more people are facing fertility problems these days and in my (and my husbands) particular situation, it was a very real possibility that it wouldn't be easy for us to conceive.
On the other hand, I anticipated the miracle of carrying a child in my 'belly'. I hoped to be one of those "glowing" pregnant women who stayed in amazing shape and never look pregnant from behind (!) I vowed that I would exercise regularly up until the very end. I imagined getting fat in all the right places and what it would feel like to have a baby "kick".
All my fears of what facing fertility issues could or would do to Brandon and me were put to rest on August 8, 2006 when I peed on a little pink and white stick for the very first time in my life. My first pregnancy was a huge surprise. We weren't trying to get pregnant. We weren't thinking of trying to get pregnant. I was close to 10 days late before I finally took the test because I just didn't think it was possible. "I must be stressed", "I can't be pregnant", "it's not supposed to be this easy"... On top of which I had these crazy cramps so I was SURE I was about to get my period.
The morning I took the test, Brandon left for work while I was still in bed, but asked me to text him with the results. I believe my groggy response to him was something like this... "I had cramps all night. I'm sure I'm getting my period. Don't worry about it.". It was enough to convince him not to take his phone with him.
And then I took the test. It wasn't like on TV where you have to wait for 5 minutes for the results. That second pink line popped up right away. I gasped. I laughed. I cried. Then I got ready for work and spent 1/2 the day being the only one in the world who knew that a new life was had begun... and it was growing INSIDE ME!
I was scared how Brandon would react. This wasn't our plan. We weren't ready for this. Would he be upset? Would he be scared? His reaction was incredible. When I told him I was scared he said "why? I think it's great. I always wanted to be a young dad, but if you had asked me if I was ready I would have said no. But now it's not up to me. Now I'll get to be a young dad!".
And soon I learned how much I DON'T enjoy being pregnant...
After the initial surprise wore off and after we started to share the news with our family and close friends (I do not know how people can keep it a secret until the 3-month mark!) I worried, like most pregnant women, about the chances of miscarrying. I also worried about the fact that I had been drinking before I knew I was pregnant, about what I was eating, about vitamins and exercise... etc. etc. etc.
About 2 weeks after that I started to feel ill. Can someone please explain to me why they call it morning sickness? I felt sick (without actually being sick which I think... I think... is a blessing) ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. I drank ginger ale, ate soda crackers, added protein to my diet. The only thing that seemed to help a little was eating. So I ate. A lot. So much for gaining nothing in the first trimester. Good thing I started out this pregnancy on the "skinny" side!
At the 12 week mark everything got better. I saw the baby and heard it's little heart beat for the first time. Wow. I started to feel better. Fantastic. I started to enjoy being pregnant.
All good things must end. Is that how they say it? At around the 5-month mark I started to have sharp pain in my groin. It got gradually worse until I could barely walk, turn over in bed... basically MOVE... without shooting pain between my legs! I was diagnosed with symphysis pubis dysfunction (sounds lovely doesn't it?). I was prescribed a support belt that I had to wear as tight as possible around my hips. I don't care how thin you are, any pregnant woman is going to have a pretty decent "muffin top" when they wear this kind of thing. So much for being fit and slim and beautiful. Sigh. The weird limp didn't help things either!
And that's not all! At about 36 weeks, with just under a month to go, I got itchy. Everywhere. Not just my belly. Not just the parts of me that were rapidly expanding. EVERYWHERE. There was no rash and nothing strange in my blood work. But my hands, my feet, my ankles, my legs, my wrists... and of course my belly, were ridiculously itchy. It got so bad that I would scratch until I was bleeding. In my attempts to find relief, I would take cold baths in the middle of the night and rub calamine lotion all over myself to try and soothe my skin - hoping that I would fall asleep before it started again.
In the end, it was the itchiness that did me in. I desperately wanted to avoid being induced but when my little baby wasn't showing any signs of coming at the 40 week mark, we scheduled the induction and my doctor assured me that the itching would end as soon as the baby came out.
Oddly enough... I don't mind labour(!)
My first labour experience, induction and all, was drawn out and long - but good. The nurses and my doctor were incredible. The only one I really took issue with was the anesthesiologist as I almost passed out when they gave me the epidural (which didn't really do much to numb the pain for me). In the end I pushed for close to an hour and a half but I came out of it with one stitch and beautiful little girl who we named Layla Rose.
And about two years later, I did it all over again.
My second pregnancy was almost an exact replica of my first. It was a surprise. yes. again (... we have no clue what we're doing... obviously... we're going to need to be a lot more careful this summer if we're serious about not being sure about a little #3!...). It was almost exactly the same time of year (my due date was 2 weeks later than with my first). I experienced all the same symptoms (except, thank God, the itchiness!) but most were worst than the first time. I even carried both babies for the same amount of time... 40 weeks and 3 days!
My second labour experience was completely different, but still good. Instead of being induced, I experienced the contractions that got gradually closer together... gradually more and more painful. Instead of having my water broken, it broke all on it's own. Instead of being long and drawn out... it was quick and intense. There was no time for me to get the epidural to numb the crazy pain so I experienced it all! And then I got to hold my second beautiful baby girl, Meaghan Marie.
Even though I don't like it - It's still a beautiful thing!
It's obvious that I'm not one of those women who would just love to be pregnant forever - goodness no! I'd be miserable!
HOWEVER - I do know enough to count my blessings.
I don't like pregnancy because I'm extremely uncomfortable when I'm pregnant. But I'm blessed that my only problem was discomfort. My babies were never in danger. I carried them to term - both were healthy and strong. And despite the fact that I didn't enjoy being pregnant, I was and am still amazed at how the body works and transforms to carry a child, at the feeling of a baby moving inside my womb, at the strength that I was able to muster to bring each of them into the world. And although I wasn't the super fit pregnant lady that I hoped I would be, I don't think I've ever received more compliments on my body!