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).

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

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 🙂