Holiday Hullabaloo

It’s a week til Christmas and the Holiday Hullabaloo is in full swing!  Isn’t hullabaloo such a great word?  Technically it means “a clamorous disturbance.”  So yeah, the holidays are a temperamental blend of being enjoyable yet chaotic.  Add a high-risk pregnancy to the mix, and keeping your sanity can quickly become a real struggle.  Here are some tips on how to gracefully handle survive the season.

Lower Those Expectations

Even in my pre-pregnancy life, I was never one for big, fancy Christmas parties.  The schmoozing, forced mingling, and awkward moments of silence with party goers you don’t know always gave me an uneasy feeling.  I will say this, though, I have perfected the fake laugh for when a saucy uncle or drunk coworker makes a lame or inappropriate joke.

Really? Did you just say that?

Really? Did you just say that?

So when you’re preparing yourself to either host or attend a holiday party, don’t freak yourself out by anticipating the worst.  Remember that if people know you’re pregnant or have health issues, the only thing that’s expected of you is to answer cliche questions (“So are you excited?”), ignore weird comments (“Enjoy this party, ’cause fun is over after the baby comes!”), and dodge the belly-rubbers.  Don’t hold yourself to unrealistic standards and don’t let anyone give you a hard time about it.  They should just be happy you’re wearing pants.

Let It Go (don’t take it personally)

When people make offensive remarks, treat you differently, or otherwise cause you to feel uncomfortable, try not to let it get under your skin.  The sucky part is, most of the time it’s those closest to us that can say the (unintentionally) worst things.  While your partner, in-laws, and best friend may mean well, a simple “You don’t seem like yourself; you were acting weird at the party,” can cut deep.  Your hormones are at an all-time high, so even the most innocent observation made by a loved one can make you feel like you’re a high-risk pregnancy alien.

Buster knows how I feel

Buster knows how I feel

So while dignity and grace may seem like qualities of the past, a little poise can go a long way.  Sure it’s hard to muster a diplomatic smile when your pelvis feels like it’s slowly being crushed into oblivion, but flipping out on your aunt for saying it looks like you’re smuggling a watermelon isn’t exactly keeping in the holiday spirit.  Trust me, as awkward and weird as you feel about all the changes happening to your body and psyche, those around you are grappling with how to connect with this different and new you, too.  Cut everyone the same slack that you would like them to give to you.

Accept Help & Take Shortcuts

Yes, you are superwoman.  No, you don’t need to prove it.  Put down the casserole dish, slowly back away, and nobody gets hurt.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: bravery and pride are not the same thing.  You may be like me and you don’t want to admit to yourself that you are no longer able to do the things you once did.  Or you may be like thousands of other mothers who have fallen victim to the expectation that pregnant women should be able to “do it all” and better look good while doing it, too.

Thank you, Society.

Thanks a lot, Society.

With so much on your plate already, joyfully accept any and all help offered to you during the holiday season.  And don’t feel bad if this year your pumpkin pie is of the Sara Lee variety.  Be vocally appreciative when someone provides assistance and remember that help comes in many forms.  It can be tangible, like a home-cooked meal, or it can be something meaningful like running an errand for you or just giving you a shoulder to cry on when you realize that cute dress doesn’t fit you anymore.

Comfort is Key

Speaking of clothes that don’t fit anymore, for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t squish yourself into an uncomfortable festive frock for appearances’ sake.  I made the mistake of cramming myself into a pair of stockings for a holiday occasion.  Granted, they were really really cute stockings, but after fifteen minutes of yoga-like positions trying to get them on, the end result was that my pudgy preggo legs looked like they were stuffed into very sad sausage casings.  I also forgot that, as a living human, I would eventually need to eat.  I’m truly surprised my stockings didn’t spontaneously burst.

Sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping!!!

Sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping!!!

Needless to say, after I peeled off my stockings, I promised my poor body I would never subject it to such cruel abuse and torture ever again.  Now, a sparkly headband is the extent to which I choose to express my holiday cheer.  Dresses or over-sized tops and sweaters paired with stretchy leggings will be your best friend during this season.  You’re already in enough discomfort with your pregnancy and health issues, so don’t make it harder on yourself by sporting high heels and painfully tight attire.

Emotions… OH GAWD THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!

If you haven’t already, you will at some point inexplicably cry over something that isn’t actually that sad.  The holidays will put your emotions to the test.  Now I’ve never been particularly maternal or girly, so the sensation I felt when watching a Kohl’s holiday commercial where a young couple secretly decorates an elderly widow’s apartment seemed foreign and strange.  “Are my eyes leaking?  What’s happening?!” I thought to myself.  But I soon found out that this was totally normal and even non-pregnant humans tear up when evil marketing execs concoct intentionally sad commercials designed to render you emotionally vulnerable and more inclined to buy their products.  My emotions were all over the place in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Yup, pretty much

Yup, pretty much

So try not to be embarrassed if you find yourself getting weepy at the dinner table when relatives are reminiscing about a loved one.  Or you could even get emotional over something really trivial and that’s normal, too.  I had a minor breakdown when I not only couldn’t get my turtleneck on, but then I got stuck and couldn’t get it off either.  My husband’s laughter only made my rage induced blubbering swell even more.  Try not to get hung up on the negative side of the emotional roller coaster.  Remember that the holidays are a time of love, celebration, and really awesome food.  Enjoy the moment (and take plenty of leftovers).

I’ve Got the C-Section Blues

First off, apologies for the gap in posts.  As I’m sure any mom or mom-to-be out there knows, sometimes life happens and things can quickly get overwhelming – especially during the Holiday season!  All that aside, I wanted to write a post today about my impending c-section.  It wasn’t by choice, but that doesn’t make it a pill any easier to swallow.  So here’s the candid, raw look into the sometimes messy world of a caesarean section birth.

You are not alone

Michael Jackson had at least one thing right.  No matter how odd I thought something was in this pregnancy, after a little searching I would always find that I was not the only one having that experience.  Recently, I’ve been struggling with having to get a c-section.  In some weird way I felt like less of a “real woman” because I can’t give birth to my son the way the good Lord intended.

Sometimes you need a good snap

Sometimes you need a good snap

At the admonishment of many of my much saner friends, I very quickly realized that having a c-section in no way changes the status of your womanhood.  Some of the ways in which I’ve heard women describe a c-section: cop-out, quitting, failure, last resort, giving up, losing the race, have to throw in the towel, etc.  All of these words just create a cage in which we women put ourselves.  You and I are not wrong for having these feelings and moments of doubt, but we are not correct in giving them validity.   You are doing and have done everything in your power to make sure that this pregnancy is as healthy as possible.  So don’t beat yourself up in the homestretch.

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus

This would be the most accurate way to describe what it felt like when I was told that my connective tissue disorder (and frequent hip dislocations) would prohibit me from having a natural birth.  Part of me was like, “Bones?  Who needs those?  I can totally have a baby naturally!  No pain, no gain, right doc?!”  My doctor did not find my jokes (or my overcompensating nervous laughter) very funny.  Whatever, his loss, I’m a freaking genius comedian.  But honestly, behind the awkward sweaty smile was a kid who just found out Santa was really a middle-aged, pillow-wearing, wino just looking to make some fast cash at the mall.

Sometimes you just need a minute

Sometimes you just need a minute

One of this biggest reasons why I was having a freak out session was that I just had this very clinical, impersonal image of what a c-section was in my head.  This is my first pregnancy, and I honestly don’t know if it will be my only pregnancy.  So I want the birthing experience to be meaningful, special, and something I will be able to look back on fondly.  But to me, getting a c-section was reminiscent of the time when the DJ played the wrong entrance song for me and my husband at our wedding.  Sure the rest of the day was amazing and it was an awesome ceremony, but anytime anyone brings up the awkward moment when the song from “Beverly Hills Cop” inexplicably started playing, I can’t help but cringe.

Plans are for the crazy and the naive

Sometimes I happen to fall into both of those categories.  If you know me, you know I love nothing more than planning and projects.  But just like clockwork, I would find with alarming consistency that my well-intentioned plans never seemed to work.  I would drive myself bonkers trying to make my pregnancy look and feel like how I thought it was supposed to be.  Okay, so maybe it takes me a little longer than most to admit defeat when a plan just isn’t working.  But c’mon, when so little is in our control during a high-risk pregnancy, is it really so bad if we lose it from time to time when things don’t go the way we wanted?

So help me, I will make this work!!

So help me, I will make this work!!

 Allowing myself a mini pity party when I found out I couldn’t have the natural birth I wanted was actually one of the best things I could have done.  I let myself be bummed, and then I shifted my attention to regrouping and adjusting my plans.  It still gave me something to focus on.  If I had just smushed down my disappointment and slapped on a shiny, happy veneer, you can bet good money that a small town could easily be destroyed by the ensuing floods when my emotional dam inevitably ruptured.  So don’t ignore feeling let down, but don’t let it consume you either.  No one wants the deaths of imaginary townspeople on their conscience.

C-Section ≠ Meaningless

At the direction of a good friend, I discovered the wonderful world of family-centered, natural caesarean birth!  Though it is still more common in Europe than at home here in the States, it is gaining popularity.  And why shouldn’t it?  Every mother deserves to have the birthing experience she wants.  In the natural c-section, just a few minor changes allow for a more personal mood in an otherwise cold and clinical setting.  They do thinks like placing the IV in the non-dominant arm, putting the ECG dots on the shoulders, ribs, and back to leave the chest area clear, delivering the baby more slowly (mimicking the pressure from the vagina) to squeeze out liquid from the lungs, lowering the screen when the baby is delivered, delayed cord-clamping, and getting the baby onto the mother’s skin as soon as possible.  This is what my husband and I want, but it’s not for everyone.  The point I want to make here, though, is that you don’t have to give up your vision when you must have a c-section.  With the exception of sudden medical emergencies, most doctors will be surprisingly open to your desired birthing experience.

In the end, I may not have entirely shaken off the c-section blues, but I certainly don’t feel as hopeless and helpless as I did in the beginning.  In all honesty, I probably won’t be able to fully let out a sigh of relief until my baby is here, in my arms, safe and sound.  Keeping my focus on the happy end result will definitely keep the blues at bay, though!  So if you are feeling bummy about getting a caesarean, know that you are not alone and that you can still design your birthing experience.  In case you’re interested, here’s an excellent video describing what a natural c-section is 🙂

A Day in the Life

With all the stress of the holidays, I figured we could all use a little laugh.  So here’s how an average day for me goes, as told through amusing GIFs.

Wake up, attempt to get out of bed

HALP!

HALP!

Immediately have to pee

OUTTA MY WAY!

OUTTA MY WAY!

Forage

Scary true

Scary true

Try not to feel nauseous

Delusional? Maybe

Delusional? Maybe

Feel nauseated and get sick anyways

Just being honest

Just being honest

Lie still and try to recover

About sums it up

About sums it up

Have a mini-pity-party

Wahahaha :(

Wahahaha 😦

Snap out of it

C'mon, self!

C’mon, self!

Take a shower, contemplate shaving

Hairy legs are in, right?

Hairy legs are in, right?

Find something stretchy to wear

Elastic waistbands rule

Elastic waistbands rule

Force myself to eat again

Must. Eat. For. Baby.

Must. Eat. For. Baby.

Spend (too much) time Googling pregnancy stuff

I can stop whenever I want!

I can stop whenever I want!

Pretend I’ve been really productive when husband gets home

But we know the truth ;)

But we know the truth 😉

Eat dinner

It happens

It happens

(Over)React when husband judges food choices

Here's what I think of your healthy food

Here’s what I think of your healthy food!

Apologize for mood swings

I had to do it

I had to do it #nerd

And last but not least, try to get comfy and sleep

Unsuccessful

Unsuccessful

5 Lies You’re Told

This is going to be a fun one!  Not only are we going to discuss the lies you’re told about being pregnant, but also about the lies dealing with illness.  Even before I was pregnant, there were all these misconceptions out there about how a “sickie” is supposed to feel and act and live.  Now that I’m with child, it seems like I’m fighting two different yet equally prejudicial battles.  So here are some things I’ve been told that have turned out to be completely false.

5. You Can (and should) Have it All

Now I’m just as much a feminist as the next gal.  I even hyphenated my last name when I got married!  If that’s not proof, then I don’t know what is 😉  But seriously, there’s this unreal standard that women are held to in society.  You’re told you should be able to juggle your personal and professional life – all while staying in perfect shape, of course!

Me thinks Photoshop has been used

Me thinks Photoshop has been used…

There is absolutely no shame in picking your own path, even if you feel like you’re admitting defeat.  The moment I realized it was okay for me to take time off work to focus on the health of me and my baby, I felt amazingly relieved.  Don’t fall prey to the lie that you are supposed to be some kind of “Wonder Woman.”  You’re growing a human inside of you!  How much more Wondrous can you get?

Real women. Real bodies.

Real women. Real bodies.

4. It’s Just in Your Head

Pre-pregnancy, when I was searching desperately for a diagnosis, I was told by many doctors and specialists that the joint pain, fatigue, and subsequent anxiety was all in my head.  I had never felt more confused, full of self-doubt, and even angry than when I started to let those doctors get to me.

NO IT'S NOT!

NO IT’S NOT!

Thank God (after quite a few years) I found a doctor that listened to and believed me and was able to give me my diagnosis.  Then, as a high-risk pregnant woman, I’ve also been judged by non-high-risk women telling me that I was just exaggerating my symptoms.  The insulting part was when they would tell me their “real symptoms” as if a) mine weren’t real and b) that their symptoms were worse than mine.  Honey, I would take your puffy ankles over my hip dislocation any day!  So just tune out the negative people in your life and don’t back down with your health professionals if/when they don’t take you seriously.

3. It’s All About the Birth

This was a new one for me.  Out of all the weird comments I was expecting to get, this was kind of a curveball.  While it’s true that “It’ll all be worth it in the end,” some people take it to the nth degree.  Some people made it sound as if the entire process of pregnancy is only about the end result.  So anytime I would be talking about a speedbump we had encountered in the pregnancy, the validity of my concern was immediately thrown out the window, because I should just “focus on the main event.”

The indignation of it all!

The indignation of it all!

But the entire nine months are important in their own right.  For instance, my husband and I have never felt closer than through these months of pregnancy.  I’ve gained a new perspective on motherhood from many late-night phone calls and talks with my mother and mother-in-law.  I’ve made deeper layers of friendship with the women in my life that are moms or moms-to-be.  I’ve even formed bonds with people on internet support groups where we can all rally around each other and our shared health issues. There are so many wonderful experiences I’ve gained through this pregnancy, that I would hate to think what would have happened if I only let myself focus on the end result of birth.  Live in the now and appreciate the process, warts and all!

This applies to so much in life

This applies to so much in life

2. Just Push Through It

Whether you are pregnant, have a chronic illness, or a combination of the two, you have had days where the word “pain” is an understatement.  For the average person, pain is your body’s way of saying something is wrong, but often we are told that as high-risk pregnant women, the pain is just something we will need to learn to live with.  While there are some things that I’ve gotten used to with my Lupus or EDS, I know from experience that not all pain is the same.  Listen to your body.

Some days are a 10

Some days are an 11

There is also this misconception that asking for help = weakness.  Admitting that your body can no longer do the things it used to isn’t being weak, it’s being honest!  To “push through it” and “suck it up” is not only delusional, but potentially harmful to both you and your baby.  So, no, don’t stress out over every little twinge of pain, but also don’t ignore the signals your body sends you.

1. You’ll Get That “Pregnancy Glow”

Maybe this one is just me, but one of the things I always heard about was how women will get this “glow” during pregnancy.  I imagined that when my pregnancy was in full swing, I’d have this cute little bump, radiant skin, and fabulous hair.  Well with a little help from MasterCuts, my hair is pretty fabulous, but besides that I don’t feel like I’m glow-y.

SHE'S SO RADIANT!

SHE’S SO DARN RADIANT!

And I’ve realized that’s okay.  At this point, I’m actually just stoked that my baby is staying healthy and is growing how he’s supposed to be.  Us high-risk ladies find happiness in the little things “normal” moms-to-be take for granted.  While some of my pregnant friends were talking about how their skin cleared up and their hair and nails seemed stronger than ever, I was over here being like “Hey I had a brief moment where my joints didn’t feel like they were on fire!  It’s gonna be a good day!”  It’s also good to remember that most celebs (and even some of our friends) just happen to have the extra time, money, and stylists to make it possible to look like an actual human in the morning.  For me, not so much.

I ain't even playin right now!

I ain’t even playin right now!

So in the end, no two pregnancies are exactly alike and we shouldn’t expect ours to hold up to the magical standards portrayed in movies and on magazine covers.  Your pregnancy is your pregnancy.  What is normal for you won’t necessarily be normal for everyone else.  This is basically how life goes, by the way.  The quicker we can acknowledge and accept that we make our own definition of what’s beautiful, the better.  Now I love the bags under my eyes, sallow skin, and swollen joints.  You know why?  Because it means the little life inside of me is still alive and kicking and my body is so busy keeping him healthy, it doesn’t have time to worry about looking “fresh.”  Flip the script and embrace it!

5 Things Your Partner Puts Up With

Yes, you are growing a little human inside of your body, so you have every right to be grumpy.  Yes, most people are jerks and life can be really hard sometimes.  But you know who is there to listen to you grumble about all your aches and pains and mean friends and rude strangers?  Your partner.  Whether you have a husband, boyfriend, life partner, whatever, let’s take a minute to stop and appreciate all they do.  Because if your partner is anything like my husband, he has put up with A LOT!

1. Trying to Understand What the Flip You’re Talking About

Attempting to read our mood swings is already hard enough for our partners.  Now they have to decode our hormone-induced rants?  Sometimes when we’re venting about girl problems or health issues, we forget that other people have absolutely no clue what we’re saying.

Me: “My RLP is really intense today.  I can’t tell if it’s my Ehlers-Danlos acting up, too.  Maybe I should do some hypermobility stretches to try to relax my pelvic floor.  Ugh, this Lupus fog isn’t helping either!”

Justin’s response:

confused-mark

Wheels are turning…

Poor Justin.  I could tell from the look on his face that he wanted to help but had no clue how to do so.  So remember, your partner is listening, but keeping your communication clear is helpful to everyone.  If you want a massage, just ask for a massage.  Your partner will appreciate your directness, trust me.  But in turn, verbally show your appreciation for their effort.

2. Being Grossed Out On the Regular

Morning sickness, hemorrhoids, hairy legs, and sitting in on awkward OBGYN visits are all par for the course for your partner now.  My poor guy has had to see some really weird stuff but he has never once made me feel like the repulsive monster I am.  He has seen me at my lowest:

This is an understatement

This is an understatement

And as much as he’s been tempted to, he has never had this reaction to my grossness:

He's thinking it, though

He’s thinking it, though

God bless him, he has seen things no man should ever have to see.  Yet through it all he has always managed to offer a kind smile, stroke my greasy hair, and even give me a hug (while holding his breath, of course).

So sweet

Now that’s true love!

3. Feeling Helpless

This was one thing I never even thought about until my husband expressed it.  As frustrating as it is to be a high-risk pregnant woman dealing with all your struggles, imagine what it’s like to be on the outside.  Your partner has to watch the person they love most in life go through unimaginably painful ordeals, and there’s not a darn thing they can do about it.  My heart broke a little the day he told me how helpless he felt and that he would give anything to be able to take away my hurt.

Gets me every time

Gets me every time

Whether your partner has said it out loud or not, I guarantee you they have felt helpless and vulnerable at some point during your pregnancy.  Stop and realize how amazing it is to have someone love you that much and be thankful that same person is going to be the one who is by your side to help you nurture this new life.

4. Suppressing EVERYTHING

Let’s have a moment of honesty here, ladies.  We complain.  About everything.  A lot.  Hey, we deserve to, don’t get me wrong.  But your partner is often left mute in the wake of your rage.  My husband works two jobs, both of which are physical and he rarely gets a day off.  But will you hear him complain about how his legs hurt or how frustrated he is?  NOPE.

Quiet rage

Quiet rage

Although I would like to think I wouldn’t go all Oxygen “Snapped” on him if he were to complain to me, I can understand why he stays silent.  And whenever I ask him if he’s hurting, he usually just says, “I’m fine,” or shrugs it off.

Poor guy

Poor guy

We should remember to hug our partners because they’re hurting sometimes, too.  Sure, they don’t have to worry about pushing a baby out of their delicate downstairs business, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t frustrated or in pain as well.  So pick up a card, or hug him, or do a little something to let him know that his emotions are valid and you are there for him, too.

5. OMG YOU’RE HAVING A FREAKING BABY!!!

Though you would think this goes without saying, sometimes it actually takes a while for this realization to dawn on your partner.  Every person (even you) has that “HOLY GUACAMOLE!” moment where it hits you that everything is about to change.

Totally understandable

Totally understandable

Even if your pregnancy was planned, it is completely normal to have a freak out moment.  Where you get off easy, though, is society thinks it’s more acceptable for women to be emotional.  If your partner is a man, he has it a little tougher.  Whether it’s from peer pressure or decades of society making him feel this way, your guy is having trouble reconciling his realization with the emotions he’s feeling on the inside.

Yes.  Yes you can

Yes. Yes you can

Let him know that it’s okay for him to feel nervous.  The worst thing you can do is buy a one-way ticket to “Denial Land.”  If you try masking your concerns and he’s busy stifling his emotions, you’re just asking for things to blow up in your face.

You asked for it

You asked for it

Even if your partner isn’t big on talking and feelings, make the effort to have a little sit-down and lay your worries out on the table.  Chances are you even have similar fears.  The sooner you both acknowledge that this is indeed a big deal and it probably won’t be easy, the sooner you can start moving ahead together.  Don’t fall prey to the trap of each person having to bear his/her own burdens.  And when in doubt, breathe into a paper bag for a minute and look at this adorable bunny eating a flower:

SO CUTE

SO CUTE

In conclusion, remember that your partner has feelings, too, and that this is scary for both of you.  Verbally and physically demonstrate your appreciation for all the things they have to put up with during this trying pregnancy.  Kindness matters.  And hey!  Who knows?  Maybe that sweet note you left him will get you a back massage tonight!  But seriously folks, be nice to your partner.  They’ve had to hold your hair while you’ve puked.

How to Be Freaking Classy!

With all the raging hormones flowing through your body, your patience may be wearing thinner and thinner as the days go on.  As for me, I started out trying to be really polite and friendly all the time.  You know, never wanting to be a bother, or some nonsense like that.  But as time went by, I had less and less tolerance for the weird and awkward things people would say to me – or worse – behind my back.  Don’t you just loooove frenemies?  So I decided I wasn’t going to kill them with kindness, I was going to kill them by being fabulously classy!

“Are you sure you should go through with this pregnancy?”

First off, rude!  Let me point out, this was an actual question I was asked within the first few days I made my pregnancy public.  Sure, most anyone who knew me was aware of my health issues, and I can see how that may raise questions about my pregnancy.  But for the love of God, don’t ask a woman – especially not a high-risk one – if they are going to keep the baby!!!

What I Wanted to Do:

Slap-Happy-futurama

Don’t act like this wouldn’t feel great

Boy did I want to do this, but I didn’t.  Instead I chose to be freaking classy!  I’m talking Don Draper level classy!

Don't smoke, kids!

Don’t smoke, kids!

 

The Classy Thing to Do Instead:

So when someone asks you if you’re going to keep your child, say, “It means a lot to me that you’re so concerned, but choices regarding my baby’s life is a private and delicate matter and I would appreciate it if you treated it as such.”

There’s one thing that is crucial to this working.  As soon as you say your devastatingly classy line, RUN AWAY!  Don’t give them time to utter an ignorant response.

RUUUN

RUUUN

 

“You think that’s bad?  Let me tell you MY way worse story…”

There’s always gotta be a one-upper.  Whether this is a friend, coworker, frenemy, or an eavesdropping stranger, the dreaded one-upper will find a way to take any story, any experience and attempt to make you feel insignificant.  Which is exactly how you want to feel when your emotions are all over the place and you’re worried about the health of you and your baby, right?

What I Wanted to Do:

We all know this person

We all know this person

Aside from cutting the drama queen off, you have only two choices.  One, you let the person finish and say something snarky like, “Okay, do you feel cool now?”  But that’s probably best left as a scenario you play out in your head to amuse yourself.  Second choice, the classy one.

The Classy Thing to Do Instead:

Let the one-upper finish, and respond with, “I’m sorry for your experience, but I’m going through a very trying time right now and would appreciate the same sensitivity and empathy you expect from people when you tell your stories.”  And then, as always, make a quick exit.

So true, Mary, so true

So true, Mary, so true

 

“Maybe you’re doing something wrong.”

“And maybe you’re a giant doodie head!”  But seriously, it’s like your pain and struggles can’t just be the results of an illness, you must be somehow responsible for jeopardizing your baby’s health.  For every one-upper out there with an awful story, there is a Disney princess who just can’t understand why you’re having a hard pregnancy because hers was just so darned magical.

cinderella-spin2

What I Wanted to Do:

When hearing about their blissful, worry-free experiences while I was in the midst of my own personal hell, I just wanted to shout, “GOOD FOR YOU!” and stomp out all sassy-like.

*stomp stomp stomp*

*stomp stomp stomp*

 

The Classy Thing to Do Instead:

Be honest.  You may not want to be so candid, but it’s your best bet.  Whenever the princess starts going on about how when her water broke, rainbows and fairy dust spilled out instead, just smile and say, “I’m so happy that you had an unusually easy pregnancy, but it’s really hard for me to hear about it when my pregnancy is so uncertain and filled with problems.”  Sometimes laying it all out on the table like that will shut up any rude people.  And then peace out as usual.

Deuces, I'm out

Deuces, I’m out

 

“If you think the pregnancy is hard, wait ’til the baby comes!”

Gee, thanks.  As if I wasn’t already nervous enough, now I have to worry about how I’ll be able to take care of my baby.  I started thinking, “What if my illnesses are too much to handle?  Oh God, what about the actual delivery?  What if something goes wrong?  What if the baby is sick?” 

What I Wanted to Do:

Solid comeback

Solid comeback

How exactly did that person want me to respond anyways?  “What?  You mean I have to feed and change him everyday?!  Whoa whoa whoa, this changes things!”

The Classy Thing to Do Instead:

“Wow!  You really know a lot about post-pregnancy life and babies.  So you won’t mind helping me out if I need it then?”  BOOM!  Either they’ll laugh it off and run away or they’ll awkwardly agree to helping you.  It’s a win-win!

kthxbai

Love ya, mean it!

 

“You Need to Gain More Weight!  You’re So Small!”

I know most women get flack for the opposite, getting judged for putting on too much weight.  But because of my Lupus flaring up and making it difficult for my body to process fats, oils, and fiber, my morning sickness mutated into a debilitating battle with food.  Before I was pregnant, I weighed 106 lbs (which is healthy for my 5’2 frame).  At the lowest point in my pregnancy I only weighed 90 lbs.  For someone of my petite stature, the weight loss took a more drastic toll on my body and it made me extremely concerned for my baby.  So when this woman thought she was being funny, cute or paying me a compliment, she was actually reinforcing my fear that my inability to maintain or gain weight was going to be bad for the baby.

What I Wanted to Do:

Fear>Sadness>Anger. Repeat.

Fear>Sadness>Anger. Repeat.

Sometimes you just need to have a big ol’ ugly cry fest full of pillow punching and dying whale sounds.  But sometimes you have to just rise above it and channel your inner diva.

Ya betta werk!

Ya betta werk!

 

The Classy Thing to Do Instead:

Most of the time, the people that make comments about your appearance are not going to be friends or family.  So if it’s a stranger or acquaintance, you have a little more leeway with your sass level here.  How I chose to respond was, “Thank you!  Baby is doing fine for now, but I guess I better start eating more Krispy Kremes, huh?  And can you believe I don’t even have stretch marks?”  Just try not to waste your time on people who fixate on the superficial things.  You’ve got more important things to think about, and their snark comments aren’t one of them!  Focus on you, booboo!

people-worst-nick

Nick is so wise

So those were the top five rude/awkward/weird things I have actually had people say to me during my pregnancy.  I try to remember that most of the time these people are just incredibly oblivious to the fact that what they are saying is awful.  I also try to remind myself that these people think that what they are saying is well-intentioned.  Either way, you’re the one who is in charge of how you let people make you feel.  And, honey, you are you too freaking classy to let these haters bring you down!!!

5 Things You Need to Get Over Now

Whether you’re pregnant with your first or a seasoned vet, you already know that your life is different with a child in the picture. So here are five things I realized I needed to get over (quickly!) in order to have a healthy, less stressful life.

5. Saying No

Whether you’re a social butterfly or a people-pleaser, you’re going to need to add this word to your vocabulary: NO.  In the beginning, your life as a mother might not have changed that much.  But soon, you’re probably going to need to get used to turning down party invitations, not volunteering for projects, and no longer being a pillar of strength for everyone but you.  Don’t feel guilty if you have to say no to a girls night out with your best friend.  The people who love you won’t be offended and will understand that you are going through a crazy tough time emotionally and physically.  Don’t be afraid to say no at work, either.  The laws in most states are pretty good at protecting pregnant women from unfair treatment in the workplace.  So if your boss orders you to pull multiple all-nighters or do something physically demanding, be unafraid and unashamed to say NO. 

Say it LOUD and PROUD

Say it LOUD and PROUD

4. Superficial Things

Nothing puts things in perspective like bringing a life into the world.  All of a sudden, the little things seem comically small and you wonder why you ever worried about those things at all.  But we, as emotional women, will sometimes put a magnifying glass to trivial concerns and work ourselves into a tizzy over them.  Don’t fall prey to stressing over the superficial things.  First thing to go for me was caring about my appearance.  Once, I opened my door and the UPS man made a joke about me wearing pajamas in the afternoon.  I responded with, “I’m sick and I’m pregnant.”  He paused and replied with, “Did I mention those are very nice pajamas?”  Wise man.  You learn to not only get over caring about how you look, but about what people think.  You’re caring for and raising a human.  So remember that everything else comes second to that. You need to take care of yourself and be healthy in order to be able to take care of your little one.

You go, Penny!

You go, Penny!

3. Mistaking Pride for Bravery

I’ve brought this issue up before and continue to do so because it was such an important realization for me.  When my Lupus and Ehlers-Danlos were in full swing (pre-pregnancy), I was bound and determined to still live a normal, active life.  I wasn’t going to use my illnesses as a crutch and be dependent on others.  However, this kind of bull-headed approach can be quite dangerous when you enter motherhood.  You are not doing your baby any favors by trying to be “tough” and putting yourself in potentially harmful situations.  If you need help lifting something, ask.  If you can’t work anymore, don’t.  If something hurts, stop.  This was incredibly hard for me to do, but if you won’t accept support for yourself, do it for you baby’s sake.  Even the strongest people need help sometimes.

Even the best people need help

Even the best people can you extra support

2. Being Easily Intimidated

Some of you ladies may already have a strong, mama bear instinct, but some of us just need a little extra encouragement.  Outsiders also underestimate how frightening the whole experience of going through a high-risk pregnancy can be for a woman.  Not only are you getting opinions and advice from family and friends, but you’re getting news and orders from your doctors, too.  Whether you’re making decisions about your child’s health while you’re pregnant or while you’re in the pediatrician’s office, you need to stand firm in your right to protect your child.  When every decision you make has the potential to impact your baby’s health, it can be very easy to let anxiety take over and for your instinct to take the back seat.  A dear friend of mine – through no fault of her own – is dealing with the consequences of neglect and abuse of authority on the part of the medical staff that was supposed to be keeping her baby’s best interest at heart.  Though she doesn’t have a weak bone in her body, the doctors still made mistakes that changed the life of her baby forever.  Remember, you have the right to tell the doctors what you do/don’t consent to and you also have the right to be informed every step of the way.  You have to dig deep, listen to what your gut is telling you, and be outspoken about the issue.

Find your inner lioness

Find your inner lioness

1. Being Embarrassed

Fact: when pregnant, strangers will be examining your downstairs.  Fact: you will not always have time to prepare for said examinations.  Fact: sometimes you will accidentally snart (sneeze+fart) on your doctor.  These things happen.  The only reason I put this on my list of things to get over, is that your well-intentioned preservation of dignity can actually be a bad thing.  I’m unfortunately speaking from experience.  Early on in pregnancy, I let my shyness, modesty, and embarrassment override my better sense of judgement.  I wrote off my pain and bleeding as possible hemorrhoid issues.  I also told myself that I was probably overreacting and that the blood was barely more than what I would call spotting.  As it turned out, I had a ruptured uterine cyst and a subsequent infection that led to a pre-term labor scare.  Thank the good Lord that everything worked in the end, but boy did I learn my lesson!  From then on out, I didn’t care if I grew a second anus and I didn’t care how many doctors would like to see my mutant sphincter.  (For the record I only have one anus, thankyouverymuch.)  Point being, get over any hang ups you have about embarrassment or weird body issues.  Your baby’s health is top priority.

Judy Garland knows what's up

Judy Garland knows what’s up

All joking aside, this was a very personal post to me.  I hope it lets women know they’re not alone in this struggle, there is support, and, now more than ever, it is necessary to have (and use) your strong voice!

10 Gross Things That Happen When You’re Pregnant

Newsflash: Despite what the airbrushed magazine covers would lead you to believe, pregnancy is not always cute.  In fact, it can be pretty gross.  Remember when you were a preteen and you were 99% sure that the changes happening to your body were abnormal and you were the only girl having these problems?  Well, pregnancy is a lot like going through a second puberty.  Don’t worry!  The weird stuff going on with your body is probably not that weird at all.  I just wish someone had warned me about the unpretty side of pregnancy!  So now I’m warning you.

youre-welcome

10. Hair (not the musical)

This is the dawning of the age of… awkward hair growth.  While prenatal vitamins make the hairs on your head super lush, your hormones think it’s really funny to make hair sprout up in non-hair areas.  I’m having a boy, so some people have attributed the hair growth to the testosterone thing, but I have no idea how scientifically sound that is.  But I did have a white girl panic moment at the OBGYN one day, and she assured me (while holding back an eyeroll, I’m sure) that getting hair on your tummy, face, and beyond is all perfectly normal and will go away post-pregnancy.  I am holding her to that or suing for enough money to cover my Nair budget.

Hey! Who found this picture of me?

Hey! Who found this picture of me?

9. Can’t Blame the Dog

At times I swore I could single-handedly end our war with the Middle East with the insane amount of gas my body could produce.  I’m clearly not the most bashful person in the world, but even I was embarrassed by my grumbly tummy. During one particularly uncomfortable visit, I snarted in my obgyn’s face. In case you didn’t know, snarting is when you sneeze and fart at the same time. Yup.  Again, it’s all totally normal according to the doctors, but that doesn’t really make it any less awkward.  Thankfully Beano and Tums can make things a little more tolerable.  You also may want to avoid broccoli, chili, and eggs in the meantime.  Just saying.  I also apologize for having the sense of humor of an eight year old boy.  (Farts are kind of funny, admit it.)

fart

Just for farts & giggles

8. Pizza Face

Like I said before, pregnancy can really feel like you’re going through puberty a second time.  There I was, like a fool, waiting for that famed “pregnancy glow” to come.  What I got instead was acne that made me super self-conscious.  If my gas couldn’t solve the crisis in the Middle East, the oil spill that was my face certainly could.  Switching from heavy foundation to a tinted SPF helped, though.  Try staying away from harsh scrubs and switching to a gentle toner safe for everyday use, too.  If all else fails, just keep telling yourself that this is temporary and you’re going to get a cool, little human out of the deal.  So putting up with teen-style acne seems like a pretty fair trade off if you ask me.

katy-perry

It could be worse

7. Got a Logjam in the River

No one warned me about the nightmare that is constipation.  The only way I can think to describe how awful it is, is for you to imagine trying to push a sideways pine cone through the eye of a needle.  Not.  Gonna.  Happen.  My OBGYN jokingly said it was a preview for giving birth, but needless to say I did not find that very funny.  Prune juice and fibrous foods are going to be your new bffs.  Don’t overdo it, though!  Let’s just say one day I was desperate, and one Dulcolax and three glasses of prune juice later, I had to frantically (but politely) scooch past eight people and run out of a movie theater.  Do you know how hard it is to clench and crabwalk past a row of strangers in the movies not once but twice?  Answer: pretty hard.

no-thank-you

Prune. Juice.

6. Water, Water Everywhere

In addition to buying new bras and pants, you may want to invest in some pillowcase covers.  Why?  Because you’ll be drooling more than Homer Simpson around a dozen fresh Krispy Kreme donuts.  This may not happen to everyone, but it definitely did (and does) happen to me.  The first time I woke up, shocked by the yucky puddle of embarrassment on my pillow, I was unnerved to say the least.  Apparently your pregnancy hormones are less like some sweet, fairy godmothers turning your body into a magically, fertile goddess and are more like the cast of “Jackass” trying to find new and horrifying ways to embarrass you.  Just be thankful the extra drool only comes during sleep and not randomly during the day.

Just play it off

Just play it off

5. SO MANY EMOTIONS!!!

I was never a particularly girly-girl.  I didn’t cry when I watched romantic comedies.  In fact, I rarely watched rom-coms at all.  But when I became pregnant, all of a sudden those Sarah McLachlan hurt puppy commercials seemed really, really sad.  This isn’t really a gross side-effect of pregnancy, but it was definitely a strange one for me since I rarely ever cried pre-pregnancy.  Just be prepared to be filled with strange, new emotions or more intense versions of the emotions with which you are already familiar.  Do yourself a favor, though.  Don’t Google videos of dogs that are happy their owners are soldiers returning from war.  That’s just asking for it.

feelings

Why, Sarah McLachlan, WHY?

4. Bleeding Bloody Blood

While you’ve already gotten somewhat accustomed to stuff coming out of your various body holes, you may not have expected nosebleeds and bloody gums.  Naturally, after watching a marathon of “Untold Stories of the ER,” I assumed that my new Carrie-like problem was a definite sign of some type of hemorrhage.  Either that or my brain exploding.  Both seemed plausible at two in the morning.  Anyways, it turns out those pesky hormones are responsible for increased blood flow, more sensitive tissue, and inflamed blood vessels.  Combine all those factors and there you have a perfectly normal reason for your benign yet inconvenient nosebleeds and bloody gums.  If it gets really bad, though, do consult a physician… and don’t watch medical shows at two in the morning.

true-blood-dying

I was pretty convinced

3. Hair (again)

Though you won’t have this issue until further along into your pregnancy, your protruding tummy will eventually make shaving difficult if not impossible.  Unless you are a tenth level Yogi (that’s a thing, right?), then you may be out of luck in the flexibility department.  I’ve already had to relinquish being able to wear some of my cute clothes and my hormones had me feeling like Jabba the Hut.  So I was not about to add Sasquatch to the list.  While it’s still totally possible to be able to shave and maintain your grooming routine, you may want to cough up the dough and treat yourself to a professional waxing service.  I prefer to save myself the embarrassment of losing my balance in the shower trying to shave my legs.

cat-fall

Almost. Got. It!

2. Water (again)

You probably already knew that pregnant women have a reputation for needing to go to the bathroom every 2.7 seconds.  And although it is true that your bladder has been squished to the size of a thimble, it’s not just the frequency of urination that is the problem.  Bladder control becomes a very real, very gross reality in pregnancy.  Because you have a freakin’ human taking up room inside of you, it is totally understandable that things are going to change.  Pressure on your uterus, spasms due to stretched muscles, and stress put on your pelvic floor all contribute to the normal occurrence of incontinence during pregnancy.  Incontinence is a nice, doctor-y way of saying sometimes when you’re laughing you whiz, AKA lizzing.

lizzing

Liz Lemon knows me too well

1. Birth Cannon Blaster

I’m no good with euphemisms and I find the clinical terms for lady parts to be off-putting.  So we’re just gonna stick with what we’ve got.  Basically, at some point in your pregnancy, you’re going to feel your little miracle kick!  This can be totally awesome and a really beautiful moment to share with your partner.  But then comes the “downstairs” kicking.  It is such an unusually sharp and crazy pain, that you may even jump a little when you initially feel it.  I totally thought that I was going into labor the first time I felt the “fireworks.”  Not that you can ever really prepare for an internal crotch kick, but if I had at least known this was a possibility, I might have been able to maintain a better demeanor whilst sitting in an Applebee’s with friends.  I yelped and jumped for no reason, but thankfully I have understanding girlfriends who weren’t put off by my hoo-ha issues.  Turns out this, too, is normal and nothing to be worried about.  Sure is an adventure, though!

Kinda feels like this

Kinda feels like this

And there you have it.  The ten weird, gross, and awkward things that happened to me and my body that I wished someone had told me about.  Fortunately most of the crazy things that occur during your pregnancy are totally normal, but as always, listen to your body.  If something seems off, don’t hesitate to contact a medical professional.  Otherwise, try to keep a good sense of humor about the unusual changes happening to your body.  And if you laugh about it, just try not to pee yourself 😉

7 Things I Couldn’t Live without in My 1st Trimester

The first trimester is by far the most bipolar of all the trimesters, hands down!  You go from the very low lows of morning sickness yuckies to the super high highs of seeing your baby for the first time on your ultrasound.  Even for a normal pregnancy this can be taxing.  Add in your high-risk health issues and this makes for a roller coaster of energy levels and emotions.

charlie bipolar

This can all occur within 5 minutes, by the way

So here are some things that helped me make it through the roughest trimester

7. Portable Puke Cup

Unless you are in the 0.000001 percentile and you don’t experience morning sickness, you will become very familiar with your toilet over the next few months.  The thing that I didn’t realize would happen is that morning sickness doesn’t always happen in the morning.  It can strike at anytime, anywhere, which can create some panicky, awkward situations.  That’s why my mom’s solution of keeping a ziploc-lined plastic cup in my car was a lifesaver!  It may sound gross, but it is waaaaay better than yelling frantically at your husband to pull over and having to upchuck on the side of the road.

This could be you without a puke cup

This could be you without a puke cup

6. Comfy Clothes

Even though you probably won’t start to show until your second trimester, your body is still going through some wacky changes.  I remember my joint pain and inflammation was so bad one day, I literally just laid on the bed in my towel after a shower.  So invest in some fat pants, soft jammies, big shirts, and – let’s be honest – lots and lots of stretchy, cotton undies.

pants

At least she’s honest

5. Thick Skin

As I mentioned in my introduction post, people will say some of the rudest, craziest things to you when you’re pregnant.  It’s like whatever social contract existed that prevented people from being offensive just goes right out the window.  You being pregnant is not an excuse for your co-workers, friends, or family to get rid of their brain-to-mouth filter.  Especially when you are high-risk, people get some weird fascination of sharing morbid statistics and medical horror stories with you.  I wish I could say that as the newness of your pregnancy wears off so will the weird comments, but alas they will not.  If anything, as your body starts to grow, so will the “advice.”  Just try and remember that (unless it’s a frenemy) these people mean well but their over-excitement at your pregnancy has rendered them temporarily insane, believing that everything they are saying is helpful, interesting, and solicited.

such-a-good-friend

They really think their word vomit helps

4. Over Shoulder Boulder Holders

Pre-pregnancy I was a proud member of the itty bitty committee (c’mon ladies, you know what I’m talking about).  But hormones and, oh I don’t know, growing a whole freaking other human inside of your own body can change your lady pillows.  As your sweater puppies grown into full grown dogs, they might start to feel super sore and tender.  This is totally normal.  In addition to the temporary relief of frozen peas, finding a good bra can really help.  And even though they are getting bigger, I strongly suggest getting one without underwire because otherwise they can really dig in to your already sensitive chest.  You may even want to consider wearing a comfy, cotton bra to bed so that as you toss and turn, you have some support.

jenna-comfy

This is your life now

3. The B.R.A.T Diet

You might already be familiar with this if you’ve been frequently sick, but for those of you that don’t know, the B.R.A.T. diet is great for your ever-present nausea.  B is for Bananas, R is for Rice (plain, white rice), A is for Applesauce (the plainer, more natural the better), and T is for both Toast (again, plain) and Tea (unsweet if you can stand it).  This diet was designed to be easy on sensitive stomachs.  This diet definitely helped me when my stomach seemed to be my worst enemy.  One word of warning, if you are also experiencing constipation, skip the banana part.  Or if you have a particular aversion to any of these foods, then feel free to skip it.

banana

Bananas aren’t for everyone

2. Bland TV

While no one has taken me up on investing in my great idea of a channel solely for nauseated people, you do still have some options.  I found that sometimes I just wanted to turn my brain off (whether I was nauseous or not).  Magazines and books normally were fun for me, but I would either zone out whilst reading or the words would start to dance on the page and – next stop – toilet town.  So my new best friends became HGTV, Animal Planet, and that weird Public Access channel that just has nature pictures and mellow music playing.  Netflix also has great options if you don’t have cable and Pandora has some pretty sweet mediation music if you don’t have TV.  Either way, sometimes you just need to zone out.  So turn your phone to silent, don’t feel guilty for saying no, take off your pants, and just let yourself zone out.

boo

Huh? Sorry I was um, what?

1. Journaling

Having a great support network of friends and family is great, but sometimes there are going to be things you don’t want to discuss with them.  Yelling into a pillow can only work for so long.  I found writing in a journal to be a wonderful alternative.  You can pour out all your frustrations and worries without fear of judgement.  There were plenty of times my poor husband just wanted to help, but my pain-induced grumpfest was best subdued by pen and paper instead.

Marnie1

Don’t take it personally, folks

So those are some of the things that I couldn’t have done without in my first trimester!  Hopefully this might help you traverse the murky waters of high-risk pregnancy.  Or, at the very least, this momentarily entertained you.  Either way, getting my thoughts and experiences out there has helped me declutter my pregnant mind, so thanks for the opportunity 🙂