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 Things to Know for Your 1st Prenatal Visit: High-Risk Edition

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.

So many WebMd articles!

So many WebMd articles to read!

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.

C'mon, how could I resist a Dr Who gif?

C’mon, how could I resist a Doctor Who gif?

All right, so the day has finally arrived for your first prenatal visit!  You’re probably pretty stoked.

Oh to be that excited

Oh to be that excited

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.

puppy baby

Some people just need more convincing

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.

"Sure, it's 'laundry day,' riiiight"

“Sure, it’s ‘laundry day,’ riiiight”

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.

Ask your doctor everything

Ask your doctor everything

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.

Don't be shy and nervous like Beaker

Don’t be shy and nervous like Beaker

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.

Emotional nausea is a real thing, people.

Emotional nausea is a real thing, people.

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.

You'd think they would communicate with each other

You’d think they would communicate with each other

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.

This guy should give up, though

He should probably give up, though

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.

He's got a point, ladies

He’s got a point, ladies

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.

Congrats! You're preggo. Now pee in this cup.

Congrats!  You’re pregnant!  Now pee in this cup.

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 🙂

Dude! I'm having a baby!

Dude! I’m having a baby!