Janet (j4) wrote,

The kick inside

A couple of people said in my poll that they wanted me to write about my experience of pregnancy so far. I haven't really written much about it so far -- partly because of the tradition/superstition/pressure not to tell people until you're past the end of the first trimester; partly because there wasn't really that much happening that I thought would be of interest to other people; and partly because I was often so tired that it felt like my head was melting from the inside, starting at the eyeballs, and blogging about this seemed a lot less important than sleeping. But since it's been requested...

I can't say it's been a positive experience so far. I mean, obviously on one level I'm pleased that it's happening because of the (hopeful) eventual outcome; but as a day-to-day experience, I've had more fun at the dentist. The sickness has been really pretty horrible: from weeks 8 to 16 I was throwing up most days (not just in the mornings, all kinds of times), sometimes several times a day; it was making my throat sore & my stomach muscles achey, and it got to the point where I couldn't bear to eat or drink anything because everything just seemed to sit on top of my stomach sloshing around & waiting to be thrown up. It got to the point where I was feeling actually jealous of addedentry for being able to drink a nice big glass of water. Every time I found something that seemed to help, I'd go off it again after a few days (usually after throwing up just after eating it -- puts you off pretty much anything). And when I wasn't actually being sick I was feeling queasy most of the rest of the time. From weeks 16 to 18 I was only throwing up occasionally, & managed to start eating a few more normal things; I seem to have finally stopped being sick now (20 weeks) and am really enjoying being able to do things like drink a glass of water or eat a pie. As well as the queasiness I had more or less constant wind and bloating, often enough to be painful; I'm still getting quite a bit of that. Passing wind (in either direction) never actually seems to relieve it, and every time I burp there's a horrible sour taste in the back of my mouth (not to be confused with the burning just beyond the back of my throat from heartburn. The constipation is constant and fairly miserable; in about week 16 it got so bad that I went to the doctor because I was doubled up with pain (he prescribed some gloop & told me to take double the maximum dose, which slowly got it back to 'bearable' again). So, digestive system thoroughly screwed; what else? Everybody mentions sore breasts as a symptom of pregnancy; I expected this to be "feeling extremely sensitive" whereas actually it's more "feeling like the entire chest region has been badly and deeply bruised". Sports bras help a lot here. There's also the sore nipples, which get really really painful when they get cold (which is quite often at this time of year!). That's another thing: everybody says you get really hot all the time when you're pregnant. So far I've been freezing cold most of the time. I asked the midwife about this (in about week 16) and she said "Oh... it's probably that, er, your body hasn't, you know, caught up yet." Science, there. The general aches and pains are just a kind of background thing: backache (helped a bit by having switched to a kneeling-chair-thing at work), aches around the bottom of the uterus, more leg-cramps than usual. My eczema has also got a lot worse, and the only thing that really helps (steroid cream) is something I'm not supposed to use while pregnant. (MediHoney Derma Cream is the best alternative I've found so far.) And literally every night I have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the loo, which is kind of wearing, particularly since the tiredness creeps up and bashes me on the head even when I have had plenty of sleep. I'm also getting bigger, of course. I gather some people are delighted to have a 'bump', but to me it just feels like dragging a tonne of fat around with me. I'm not saying "fat is bad", it's just that I'm not used to having to carry that extra weight, & it feels like a ball and chain. It doesn't help that nobody else can even see it unless I stick my stomach right out in a tight-fitting top (which I don't have much opportunity to do because I'm so cold that I need about six layers on). Given all this, it's hardly surprising I have less sex-drive than a wet cardboard box.

Then there's the mental/emotional side of things. The midwife asked if I was feeling depressed (knowing that I had a history of depression), and I said that being sick several times a day & being unable to eat/drink anything except ice-cubes was enough to make anybody miserable, which was true, but only really half the story. I've had episodes of miserable weepiness where everything feels hopeless and despairing, and I've been struggling to concentrate on anything (getting into that horrible hitting-refresh-on-facebook state of mind where I hate myself for procrastinating but can't force myself to do anything), and both of those are pretty strong indicators of heading into depression, at least for me. I don't want to dwell on this side of things, because it'll just drag me down. If I'm not in that state of mind I can't write accurately about it; if I write accurately about it, I'll be in it, and I'm not currently in it, and I don't want to be in it.

I'm not suggesting that any of these are insurmountable things; worse things happen at sea, mustn't grumble, etc. I did get really really tired of people suggesting "infallible cures" for morning sickness when most things are no better than a placebo; but I did also eventually find things that were less impossible to eat/drink (of course, it was hard to tell whether they were helping or whether I was just slowly getting better anyway). I sort of got used to being sick every day. I do have coping strategies for fighting the various forms that depression takes for me, and I found a few more self-motivation tips in a rather good book called 59 Seconds (evidence-based self-help in easily digestible chunks), though it's harder to keep battling against the emotions when I'm physically tired and achey. But the alternative is sinking into a pool of misery and never getting out of bed.

On top of all this there's been the medical side of things: ultrasound scans, blood tests, midwife appointments, that sort of thing. The blood tests don't bother me (fortunately, since they had to do all the 'booking bloods' a second time because they lost the first lot -- I never did get any results back from those). The scans have been interesting: I confess I didn't find that I was swept away by emotion at the first sight of the baby, but it is still pretty damned awesome, both from the point of view of there being an actual moving living thing in there with, like, hands and feet and everything, and from the point of view of us having the technology to see it and hear the heartbeat. I'm also taking part in the Intergrowth-21st study, so as part of that I get extra scans, including a 3D scan, which was pretty nifty and made the baby look like something from Alien v Predator. (Incidentally, they should have been able to tell from that one what sex the baby is, but it had the umbilical cord tucked modestly between its legs. Hopefully they'll be able to get a better view at the 20-week scan in two days' time!)

I figured that if I was going to be miserable for 9 months I might as well be of as much use as possible to medical science in the process, so I'm also taking part in the SPRINT study, a trial of selenium supplements to prevent pre-eclampsia. It's not very troublesome: I have to take a tablet every day (which may be selenium or a placebo) and I also had to give my toenails to medical science (they can measure current selenium levels in toenails). I am generous with my body-parts, see; I also donated some of my saliva to yet another study, a psychology study about (I am loosely paraphrasing here) whether seeing unhappy babies makes pregnant women stressed. As part of this I had to watch a 6-minute video of babies yelling their heads off; for me that seemed much less traumatic than the other part of the experiment, which involved filling in pages and pages and pages of those bloody awful self-assessment questionnaires ("I get stressed by filling in forms" -- strongly disagree/disagree/neither agree nor disagree/agree/strongly agree). I also had to sign a form saying that I was giving your saliva samples to the University of Oxford as a gift. Happy Christmas, University of Oxford: here are some spit-soaked cotton-wool balls! All this stuff is actually quite cheering, because it gives me a sense of Being Useful.

What with all the sickness and tiredness and faff (and carrying on going to work and going to choir and volunteering at Oxfam and just Getting On With Life) I've not had much time to think about the actual baby. But now that I'm starting to feel it move, it's reminding me that it's there, which is good. So far it seems to be most active around 10am, 3pm, 8pm, and midnight -- dunno why, though the first three of those are roughly a couple of hours after I eat, which may be relevant? It also seems to move in reaction to me singing; I just wish I knew if it liked it or not! :-} It doesn't really feel like kicking yet (what I said about being kicked from the inside was just poetic licence), it's more like something wriggling and turning over inside; it's not unpleasant (just a bit odd) but quite distracting.

So that's where I'm up to now. Sorry so much of it has been whinging -- I'll write more about the thoughts and decisions and stuff at a later date, and hopefully that'll be more interesting!
Tags: pregnancy
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