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.
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!
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?
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!”
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:
And as much as he’s been tempted to, he has never had this reaction to my grossness:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
Yay! You’re pregnant! Or, if you’re like me, you’re pretty sure you are but insist on taking a bajillion tests anyways “just to be safe.” And now that you’re (fairly) confident that you are indeed with child, you’ll need to make your first prenatal appointment! Yay? It can seem intimidating, especially if you already know that it’s going to be a high-risk pregnancy. Although hopping on the very reliable Interwebs in the name of “research” may seem like a good idea, it usually isn’t.
Funny thing about your first visit: the time between when you make the appointment and when it actually is, will seemingly not abide by the rules of time and space. I like to call this “The Waiting Vortex.” Logically you know your appointment is only two weeks away, which isn’t really that long. but somehow two weeks ends up feeling like three months. Approximately. Your vortex may vary.
All right, so the day has finally arrived for your first prenatal visit! You’re probably pretty stoked.
So here are 10 tips I wish I had been told before my first prenatal visit:
10. Take someone with you
This may seem like a no-brainer, but just having someone to go with you can ease a lot of your stress and help take your mind off things. They can also be your reinforcement, remind you of any questions or concerns you have, or (worst case scenario) be someone that will stand up for you.
9. Your Mother was Right
This one may seem silly, but the old, maternal adage “wear clean underwear, in case you get in an accident” is embarrassingly accurate. While everything from potential birth defects to morning sickness woes are occupying a large portion of your brain, what you wear to your first prenatal visit probably isn’t ranking high on your list of concerns. It wasn’t until I was regretting my tank-top decision in the freezing waiting room that I realized I didn’t shave my legs and I was wearing my “it’s laundry day” underwear. Just saying, you won’t find this on any cute pregnancy blog, but you will thank me when you’ve avoided having to explain your poor life choices to the ultrasound tech who is staring judgingly at your lower half.
8. Be a Nerd
Write down any and all questions you have prior to the visit and don’t be embarrassed to bring your notes with you. Heck, make a cute Lisa Frank binder if you want and who cares about any nurses that are jealous of your awesomely bedazzled Trapper Keeper! But seriously, write down every question you have, no matter how dumb you think it is.
7. Don’t Be Intimidated
I cannot stress this one enough. Throughout your whole pregnancy, you will have to make a lot of healthcare choices for both you and your baby. Don’t let the doctors/specialists/nurses make you feel rushed for a decision. Don’t assume that they know everything. You are your own advocate. It’s very easy to fall under their spell. You think, “Well, they’re the ones with the medical degrees. They must know best. I should just keep my concerns to myself. What do I know?” Answer: You know everything! Even prior to my pregnancy, I had to be persistent about getting the right healthcare. It took me years to even get my Lupus diagnosis. So if your body is telling you something is wrong, listen. Listen, and then don’t stop making your concerns known until you get your answers. The doctors are there for you. This is their job. Don’t let them make you feel bad for demanding the healthcare you and your baby deserve.
6. It’s Not Just Physical
Aside from the gurbly tummy brought on by nerves, you may already be experiencing some early pregnancy symptoms, too. Now, this may just be me, but I genuinely feel that we as high-risk women have a lot more on our plate mentally. So while morning sickness is a totally normal thing to have, the crippling anxiety that plagues you before getting the answers you so desperately desire at your appointment, is a whole other ball game. This is normal, though. You are under a tremendous amount of stress and it is impossible to think that your pregnancy will look like some Hollywood-version, free of worry, anxiety, and self doubt. If you feel that the emotional and mental side of things is already too much, bring it up at your first visit. You are not the first high-risk mom they’ve seen and certainly not the first to feel the mental strain of it all. There’s no shame in admitting you and your baby need support.
5. Medicine, Tests, and Pills, oh my!
You’ve probably already heard about prenatal vitamins, and if you aren’t already taking them, this will be something your doctor will prescribe for you at this visit. Something high-risk pregnancy women have to consider is whether or not their current medicine regimen will need to change. A friend of mine with Fibromyalgia was no longer able to take certain medicines, particularly ones that helped her manage her pain. Find out what alternatives there are and which of your current medicines fall into the “C” category (which are medicines that pregnant women can not take). On the flip side, they may be prescribing you new medicines to deal with any issues they think need to be controlled during the pregnancy. Again, if there is anything you are uncomfortable with, don’t let them pressure you into making a quick decision. Get a second opinion, do your research, and then proceed. In addition to researching what medicines you will feel comfortable taking, add prenatal tests to the list. There are some basic, non-invasive tests out there that are routinely done (blood tests from the mother, ultrasounds, etc). But there are some that you may not feel comfortable doing (amniocentesis, quad screen, etc), so feel free to ask your doctor what tests are absolutely necessary and what the pros/cons are. And get used to repeating yourself (and your list of medications/allergies/conditions) to every single member of the medical staff.
4. New Life = New Lifestyle?
You have a new little life growing inside you, so now you have to consider how your lifestyle will or won’t impact your baby. At your first prenatal visit, it’s a great idea to ask the doctor what your new reality is going to look like. If you’re a fitness nut, ask what level of exercise is safe for you and baby. If you’re a foodie, ask what foods and beverages are safe and which you should stay away from completely. If you’ve got a touch of wanderlust, ask about limitations on traveling. I’m not just talking about the typical “no flying in the third trimester” thing, but if you’re at risk for something like blood clots or pulmonary embolisms, road trips may not be in your near future. Depending on the severity of your high-risk pregnancy, you should also ask about if and when you will need to quit work. As much as you don’t want to think about it, bed rest may be a real possibility for you at some point in your pregnancy. You may start to feel like trying to keep some semblance of your “normal” life is pointless, but don’t lose hope.
3. There is ME in TEAM!
Most likely, since you are high-risk, your primary doctor will want to set up a medical team of sorts to monitor you and your baby throughout the pregnancy. For instance, I’m seeing my regular OBGYN, a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist, a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist (GI), and an orthopedic doctor. They wanted me to see a rheumatologist as well, but they couldn’t find one in my area that accepted my insurance, so they just monitor my ANA levels and send me for regular labwork. So find out as soon as possible what kind of doctors they will want you to see, which are absolutely necessary, who accepts your insurance, and how much they expect you to be involved in compiling this team. And I will continue stressing this, don’t be intimidated and remember that this team is there for you. If you feel there is not enough communication happening between the various doctors you are seeing, speak up! Once when I was getting labwork done, the nurse realized there was a duplicate order and that was because the GI and the MFM had not shared plans with each other and ordered the same tests. Good times.
2. Hold It
Another seemingly silly piece of advice, but a lifesaver, if you ask me. DON’T PEE BEFORE YOUR VISIT!!! At your first prenatal appointment, they are going to ask you to give a sample, and by sample they mean pee. Bad news for you if you went before you left your house. Because they will make you sit there and drink water from those flimsy cone cups until your bladder tank is full enough. Not a major issue, but I do wish someone had told me they would need a sample before my first visit. So now I’m telling you. You’re welcome.
1. ENJOY THIS!!!
It may be hard to put all the anxiety and negativity out of your head, but just take a second to stop and realize how awesome this is. Forget all the downers and hypothetical tragedies. You have a life growing inside of you! Savor this moment. At your first visit they will do an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy, so this will be the first time you will get to see your baby! Honestly, it won’t look like a baby, but it’s still pretty freaking cool! So embrace this amazing time in your life and cherish it 🙂