Hating the Term “Morning Sickness” or Why Pregnancy Sucks

I am currently 13 weeks pregnant with our first baby. We started trying not long before the wedding, as I had some apprehension about it taking a while to “get one to stick”. I guess that’s the chronic illness girl coming out in me, but obviously, I shouldn’t have been worried.

At our actual wedding, I was about four weeks, but I had no idea at that point. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and my meds were already at a pregnancy-appropriate level, so I was focused on enjoying what was going on. I didn’t need to be stressing about whether or not I had a bun in the oven before we left the country for two weeks. The wedding went perfectly, I felt fantastic for the whole thing, and our vacation got off to a great start.

Fast forward to the last few days of our vacation. The first week was spent trolling through the Orlando theme parks, and the second was spent on a Carribean cruise. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before, and by this point we decided it was something we never wanted to do again. It was noisy, crowded and hyper-commercialized in a way that just makes me mental. Did I go to Honduras to eat at a Fat Tuesday? Absolutely not. So, when I got what I initially thought was sea-sickness from some rocky waters, I was perfectly happy to sit in our “state room”, order grilled cheese from room service and watch Cartoon Network all day.

That feeling didn’t last long. The nausea didn’t subside with the calming of the ocean, and when I looked at my calendar, I began to suspect that I was, in fact, carrying around a tiny human. It had been about six weeks since my last period, and with no real sources of stress to report, that was the only logical explanation.

I decided not to get my hopes up until we got home. Actually, I was so busy being miserable 24 hours a day that excitement wasn’t high up on my list of emotions. I was more focused on getting what little sleep I could, staying hydrated and not kicking Shawn in his sleep (restless legs already being a problem for me, it got worse, not better).

My parents came and picked us up at the airport, and I managed to be excited enough to tell my mum that I hadn’t gotten my period yet. She admitted that she had been wondering, but obviously wasn’t going to ask when we were away. I then told her all about my nausea, vomiting, increased insomnia and twitchy limbs. She seemed encouraged by this, so I decided to take a test the next morning.

It was positive.

Now, here’s where hating the term “morning sickness” comes in. I was nauseated 24 hours a day, every day of the week, for over three weeks. I woke up to vomit on more than one occasion, and doing anything other than lying on the couch and trying not to move was beyond me. I felt useless and miserable and so did Shawn. He hates it more than anything when there’s nothing he can do to make me feel better, so both of us were feeling pretty rotten.

There actually came a point where I got a dehydration induced migraine and wound up in the ER for fluids and pain management. The wonderful doctor who saw me gave me a prescription for Diclectin, a pregnancy specific anti-nauseant, and after taking that for a few days, things started to look up. I also got some emergency Tylenol 3s from my GP, as everything else I have for migraine management is a no-go during pregnancy.

Morning sickness my ass. “Pregnancy sickness” can hit any time of the day or night. It can be intermittent or constant, and can last beyond the first trimester in some cases. I’m still thrilled if I go a whole day without puking something up. This makes me wonder: was there a magical time when pregnant women only got sick in the morning? Where did that absurd term come from?

I find myself constantly correcting people when they ask me how my morning sickness has been, and I’m getting less nice about it. “Actually, it’s pregnancy sickness, and it hasn’t been the greatest.” I also had to laugh at the people who told me it would stop once I hit twelve weeks. No one knows my body like I do, and it tends to like having the worst of everything. I’m not going to count on the nausea going away at all, and if it does, it’ll be a bonus. I’m willing to endure anything this pregnancy can throw at me as long as my baby stays healthy and keeps growing.

Speaking of a healthy baby:

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This was taken at our first ultrasound on July 8. Up until this point, I had been worried that my body was lying to me and that there wasn’t going to be anything in my uterus when they took a look. (This tends to be a common fear in people that have lost pregnancies in the past, but that’s an entirely different story.) Then I saw this. I managed to keep it together until the ultrasound tech left the room, but as soon as the door closed, I started bawling.

Shawn, I think, was a little confused. I remember him asking, “Why are you crying? Everything is okay!” That’s exactly why I was crying. There was really a baby, we were really going to be parents, and all the shit I had been (and would continue to) put up with was now totally justified and 100% worth it. Our baby was exactly the right size and had a healthy heartbeat of 170 BPM. I was crying because I was happy and relieved.

Yes, things have been challenging. All the pregnancy preparedness books I flipped through when we started trying are, frankly, full of it. It’s rare that I feel magical or special at all. I don’t think I’m glowing in any way whatsoever. In fact, I have a nice bout of hormonal acne to deal with at the moment. There are certain things, no matter how honest a book or resource is trying to be, that they just don’t tell you:

  • Pregnancy sickness is miserable. There will be times when your body tries to throw up when there’s nothing left. You get dry heaves. Your tongue gets irritated from all the stomach acid. I had swollen taste buds at the back of my mouth for a week. Your teeth get sensitive. Not even water wants to stay down. True, some people don’t have to put up with any of that, but for those of us that do, no one really prepares you for how terrible it’s going to be.
  • If you have insomnia, it’s probably going to get worse. If you don’t, you may start to get it. For those of us that have it chronically, forget about taking anything for it. I have a lot of guilt about taking sleeping pills before I knew I was pregnant, and there are nights when I could certainly use something, but the risk is just not worth it. I’ve taken to sleeping when I can and for how long I can, even if that means my sleep schedule, such as it is, is way out of whack.
  • If you develop new or worsening restless leg syndrome, be prepared to want to cut your legs off. It’s not a nice feeling at the best of times, but when the rest of your body is equally as miserable, the twitchy horribleness just seems to be enhanced. The only thing I found that worked was getting a really soft memory foam mattress topper that I can sink right in to. Having something to cradle my entire body releases tension in my spine and tends to relax my legs. That, and I just don’t bother going to sleep if it’s really bad. Luckily, that part seems to be evening out a little bit.
  • Two words: Acid Reflux. I had GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) to begin with. There were days when putting anything in my tummy would make the acid churn like crazy. My chest and throat felt hot, and I prayed I wasn’t going to throw up until it had passed. Sitting up and elevating the head of your bed are definitely good ways to help with this, and I’m never shy about taking an antacid. I took one twice a day before, so why stop now when I really need it?
  • Hormones. Hormones everywhere. This is one thing that the books did seem to cover, at least to a certain extent. I will now cry at the drop of a hat. Sappy commercial? Sad episode of Grey’s Anatomy? Someone say something I don’t like? It doesn’t seem to matter. I feel particularly bad for Shawn, as I’ve been cranky as all get out. Yes, feeling awful all the time will do that to a person, but I will blame the hormones just a much as that these days.
  • Nothing tastes the way it used to. I have a hard enough time deciding what I want to eat, and that’s turned in to a huge gamble. A lot of the foods that I used to adore don’t taste good right now. Well, they may not taste good one day and then be delicious the next. For someone who loves food, this has been a huge challenge. I’m going to chalk this one up to the hormones again.
  • Ligament pain!i wasn’t even aware that there happened to be ligaments supporting my uterus until they started to hurt. At first I was a little freaked out. Sharp, shooting lower abdominal pain? That doesn’t feel nice when you’re pregnant. My mum checked me out and and informed me that it was my uterine ligaments stretching out. That happens when your uterus starts to expand to accommodate your growing baby.not very many people actually notice that its even happening, but if you do, it hurts. A lot. If you’re not sure what kind of pain you’re having, get it checked out! It’s better to been safe than sorry.

Would I rather feel (my version of) normal and not be pregnant? Absolutely not. This is something I have wanted for a very long time, and it finally happens to be the right time. My husband is excited. Our parents are excited. Would I be happier if the misery would end? Probably, but I got to hear my babies heartbeat for the first time today. We saw it at the ultrasound appointment, but today was the first time I got to hear it. 153 BPM of perfection, and I’m still riding that high. Yes, I threw up part of my snack when I got home, but my baby is doing well. That is what’s important to me. It’s all for an amazing cause.

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This is the only day I managed to have a “glow”, and it was the day we took my twelve-week bump picture. This kid seems to want to pop right out! Mind you, I’m only 5’2″, so that probably has something to do with it. I’ll be posting pictures once a month for anyone who wants to keep track of how huge I get. I should also have another ultrasound picture in about three weeks or so. To any other mums-to-be out there, congratulations! Even if it’s been sucking, try and ride the wave of excitement as often as you can. Sometimes, that’s the only way I can get out of bed in the morning.

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