Left: My feet last summer, as they always had been, size 7.5. Right: My feet now, size 8.5 and creeping. Notice also the buckles do not close around my ankles. (I wound up buying these shoes in each color because I couldn't decide - which, continuity wise, serves this photo comparison well).
There I was, going through my pregnancy taking things in stride, thinking things were going great, nothing to complain about. Little did I know. My midwife then informed me that actually, I am having a lot of negative pregnancy symptoms. Apparently it hasn't been a cakewalk. When you're pregnant the absolute most important thing is that your baby is healthy. When that is the case, complaining about the side effects doesn't cross your mind. You figure, whatever happens to your body, whatever discomfort you experience, it is the least you can do because soon you'll have an incredible, uniquely created little one of your very own.
Well, now that I am 38 weeks, and 2 days, I want to recount here all my pregnancy manifestations - just so I remember exactly what it was like (before the sweet little thing arrives and gives me pregnancy amnesia). Most of these are very common and to be expected. I think the sheer volume of simultaneous afflictions is the killer. Warning: TMI ahead.
- Nausea/morning sickness - this hit hard in the first trimester, like it does for the majority of women. It was a lot worse than I thought it would be, I think because it's so trivialized on t.v. and in movies. Cleared up by 2nd tri but reared its ugly head again in the 3rd - not as bad though.
- Chloasma (a.k.a. "the mask of pregnancy") and Red Spots - I developed dark, blotchy spots all over my face and have broken blood vessels everywhere (face, neck, chest). I invested in a good concealer and foundation to help cover them up. Without makeup I look like I aged 10 years since last summer. I hope they go away but if not, I already have my Fraxel fund ready to go.
- Nose bleeds - Those above mentioned broken blood vessels are due to the 40 - 50% increase in blood volume in pregnant women. Another apparently common but not often discussed symptom is a bloody nose. I had such bad nose bleeds - two or three a day and often both nostrils simultaneously - that I finally had to get the blood vessels in my nose cauterized. Twice. And my gums bleed like crazy too.
- Moles and Skin Tags - Oh this is so not pretty. Did you know that your moles can increase 3 times their size during pregnancy? Take my word for it. I also grew a whole host of new ones. And I developed little skin tags on my neck and chest. I called a dermatologist yesterday to schedule an appointment to have all 1,000 of these things removed. I also have dark lines and patches around my neck, a very dark line (linea nigra) on my belly and a big old dark ring around my belly button. I feel like my pigment is leaking out everywhere. And I do mean everywhere.
- Nose Swelling - Did you also know that your nose can swell during pregnancy?? I noticed my face looked so different, and not just because of the dark puffy circles under my eyes, the brown blotches and the red dots, my actual face shape looked different. The higher amounts of estrogen swell the lining of the nose/mucus membranes. I have been congested for 8.5 months now (add snoring to the list of unattractive pregnancy byproducts) and my nose started getting bigger 5 months ago. I have been using nose contour makeup tricks to make myself feel better.
- Aches and Pains - Things grow, things stretch, things separate from each other. I had a lot of expanding to do in my hips and thanks to relaxin (pregnancy hormone) my hips and joints were falling out of place all the time. Everything cracks, pops and aches. Trips to the chiropractor help put my pelvis in alignment but my body seems to come apart so easily. You have to sleep on your side come a certain point in pregnancy and gosh do your hips hurt. Pillows are your best friends and the secret to alleviate the pain at night is having a huge pillow that separates your legs all the way past your ankles. I am currently up to 3 pillows, 2 prop blankets and an entire couch cushion.
- Pregnancy Carpal Tunnel - Swelling/water retention/edema is very common. I started swelling late in my 2nd trimester but it's definitely increased in my 3rd. I haven't been able to wear my wedding ring or my shoes for months. Thanks to the swelling that presses down on my nerves in my arms and hands, I developed pregnancy carpal tunnel. It started out like pins and needles that woke me up at night and then escalated to sharp shooting pains up my arms, hands and especially my wrists. In the mornings, my thumbs and wrists pop out (it hurts!) and I have to put them back in place.
- GBS and UTIs - My pregnancy has been plagued with the dreaded bacteria that often occurs in pregnant women. They seem to come and go overnight. I have been on antibiotics 3 times and have been utilizing every natural remedy available. I drink my weight in Kefir and eat Greek yogurt every morning, I take Fem- Dophilus, I do vinegar washes, peroxide washes, consume massive amounts of garlic, and have done other things that rise to the level of WTMI so I will spare you. There are so many things beyond your control when you're pregnant but if there are things you can do, you will do them.
- Exhaustion - I have never felt true tiredness like I have during pregnancy. It is wild. No matter how much you sleep it's never enough. Right now I can barely sleep at night because of the increase in overall discomfort. I am accustomed to the 2 or 3 bathroom breaks now but the huge heavy tummy and my wiggly almost 7 pound baby has upped the sleep challenge. I have to get out of bed at night in order to find some comfort - sitting on the ball, getting on all fours, sitting on the toilet just to sit there cause it feels good...
Well that is enough of that! A lot of women have it a lot worse so I am certainly not complaining. Truth be told, I really like being pregnant. It's hard work sometime but it's not that bad. It is amazing how high a tolerance you have for these things when you are totally in love with the little person in your belly. I am also kind of looking forward to my post-prego body; maybe I'll have more of a womanly figure with hips and everything!
Addendum, April 3rd: I forgot to write about a couple of other things and feel like I must.
- BO - major, major body odor. Like, nasty dude on the metro who you give up your seat to get away from and willingly stand body odor. It's unreal.
- Hair issues - my body hair grew like crazy in the beginning half, couldn't shave fast enough. Then it slowed way down and barely grew at all. Also, my hair went dull and dry and ugly. I started mixing avocado oil and aloe juice and spraying it on my hair for 20 minutes before a shower. It helped. I also got a gloss treatment at the salon.
- Icky stuff - You think you're home free from using feminine products for 9 months because you don't have your period anymore. Wrong. Instead you feel like you have your period for 9 months straight because of all the liners/pads you have to wear every day because of, what I call, the icky stuff.