Thursday, November 10, 2011

What no one told me to expect (a third round of pregnancy observations)

Here's my third trimester installment of pregnancy observations (click here and here to see my first and second trimester observations.), this time accompanied by some baby/toddler/little kid photos for fun.

Even though I may have read more about pregnancy than the average woman before I got pregnant, most of what I was prepared to expect was fairly obvious. I "knew":

1) I would gain weight. (True: as of today's appointment I've gained 20 {!} pounds at 32 weeks. I'm actually surprised by how much I've gained, seeing as I went through almost half my pregnancy without gaining any weight. It has really picked up, but it's still {thankfully} mostly just noticeable in my stomach. I don't know how much longer that luck will last. I will say that in the past two days no fewer than seven people have asked if I am within a week or two of my due date, and a couple asked if I'm having twins. I'm not offended, mostly amused.)

2) I would have trouble sleeping. (Partly true: I wake up at least once, sometimes twice, every night to pee, but neither baby kicking nor general discomfort so far has kept me from getting a solid eight hours of sleep each night.)

3) I would be more tired than I am normally. (False: I have taken far fewer naps in pregnancy than I took before being pregnant. Perhaps it's because I'm running on adrenaline. Perhaps it's because I was a little down-in-the-dumps about my prospects of getting pregnant while trying to conceive and therefore my tiredness was more psychosomatic. Either way, I marvel at Matt who seems to take more naps now than he did before we conceived.)

First day home from the hospital...how does my mom look so well-rested?

4) I would have nausea, morning sickness, or both. (Partly true: I never had what I'd call true morning sickness, though I did have my period of intense food aversions from weeks 6 to 12.)

5) I would be emotional. (Partly true: I still get weepy when I think about my little girl's future, or when I see a sappy commercial, etc., but I've only had about one totally irrational emotional moment when I got really, really upset about the wrong color of white that a contractor painted on our house as he fixed our bay window after our latest round of HOA inspections. And I got really upset with Matt after I hiked the black diamond at 24 weeks pregnant, but that, my friends, was totally justified.)

Just a wee one, about two months old.

6) My boobs would grow. (True: Fact: And all my girlfriends have admired my new girlfriends.)

7) I would have cravings. (False: Yes, I faced food aversions, but I haven't had true cravings. Sure, I've wanted some blue cheese and some salt and vinegar chips, but I always want those things.)

8) I would be forgetful. (False: I still find the term "pregnancy brain" offensive in the same way that I find men saying that women should not go into politics because of PMS offensive. Of course, you might experience "pregnancy brain," but I will proudly shout out that I have not.)

Someone must have mastered tummy time...

9) I would get really swollen. (Not yet: Jury's still out on this one. I can easily see this happening by the bitter end, but so far, so good.)

10) I would get stretch marks. (Not yet: Chalk this up to being fortunate to have relatively good genes, or gaining weight slowly. Or perhaps next week I'll suddenly be plagued by stretch marks.)

But then there are all those little things that I either read about in passing or never heard about at all that have come true. This is where it gets real. You might accuse me of oversharing here, and that's fine, so if you'd rather not know the nitty-gritty, you should stop here (but the act of reading a blog is in essence an act of voyeurism, so I figure you're along for the ride. After all, what's the point of sharing if you're not honest?)

Here are my two disclaimers:
1) I am sure your pregnancy was/is/will be different from mine, but the following is a collection of what I've found (and other friends have found) surprising. Everyone's different, blah blah blah.

2) Please don't take this list as me complaining. I am still loving being pregnant and feel so lucky to have this chance to be an almost-mom. I really can't wait.

So here's my list of What I Wish Someone Had Told Me to Expect:

1) How little of my wardrobe would actually fit me in late pregnancy. In the two or three years leading up to getting pregnant, whenever I'd buy new clothes somewhere in the back of my mind I'd think, "Could I wear this when I'm pregnant?" We're blessed to be living at a moment in fashion history when styles are basically made for pregnant women. Or so I thought. And then I hit about 26 weeks pregnant. And then even those non-maternity-yet-should-be-pregnancy-friendly items stopped working. Flow-y tops? They don't necessarily work. In fact, in my experience, most of them don't work. If there are any buttons or zippers involved, count it out for me. This has more to do with rib-cage expansion than anything else. So, if you're planning to have a baby in the next year or two and think stocking up on pregnancy-friendly wear is a good plan, you might reconsider, just because by your third trimester you'll have to suck it up and buy some true maternity wear anyways, so what's the point? Show off your hot bod now.


2) How uncomfortable it is to sit for longer periods of time. Most pregnant women are forbidden from flying at 34 weeks or thereabouts. I took my last flight of my pregnancy at 24 weeks, and it was five of the most uncomfortable hours of my life. I could not imagine flying now at 32 weeks. Yikes. I can't even sit still for more than about 30 minutes at a time. I've also developed a case of restless legs syndrome many nights in bed. My body is tired but my legs keep moving.

3) How I would have to sit completely upright. I've now reached the point where everything in my torso is squashed together. I didn't fully understand this phenomenon until the last few weeks. Now if I sit hunched over at all it really feels like my lungs are compressed and I'm losing oxygen. So, being pregnant is now an exercise in improving my posture, which isn't a bad thing, seeing as my posture is less than stellar.

4) How I would lose my breath after talking for too long. I talk constantly as a teacher, but lately I've found that I can't keep going like I used to without taking deep breaths. I am also trying not to waste my breath, which is why I'd rather scowl at those annoying 16-year-olds who insist on making farting noises during class (yes, you read that correctly) rather than spend my energy telling them it's unacceptable. So far scowling is working out fine.

5) How much my skin would itch. Although I have not gotten stretch marks (yet) my skin around my abdomen is clearly being stretched to the max and it will only get worse. On certain days my skin is totally itchy; on other days it's not noticeable at all, so I'm guessing I'm itching the worst during a Baby Awesomerod growth spurt. She's been having a lot recently.

6) How you can develop a hernia during pregnancy. My doctor thought I had a hernia in my upper right thigh. Good news from yesterday's appointment is that I do not appear to have a hernia, just a really uncomfortable vein. Of everything I've experienced so far in pregnancy, aside from my 6-12 week food aversions, I'd say this troublesome vein has given me the most discomfort. It's best at night when my leg has had time to decompress.

7) How much constipation sucks. OK, so TMI, perhaps, but this is one thing I'd heard about that I still found surprising. I've heard some horror stories, and, well, they're for real. Pregnant women are more likely to get constipated because 1) your body is trying to hold onto every last nutrient possible for the baby and 2) everything is compressed in your body. There are ways to combat, this, but in my experience no way to make it go away 100 percent. Among other things, try: 1) drinking lots of water, 2) walking/staying active, 3) stool softeners (add this to the Pregnancy Essentials Shopping List, under the "This is For Real" category), 4) Fiber One bars, 5) fiber supplements. I've done everything but the fiber supplements, but I'll be picking those up soon.

For those of you women who've given birth or you pregnant ladies out there, what has surprised you most?

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