“You look amazing!” “You’re glowing!” “Pregnancy agrees with you!” “You look great! How are you feeling, mama??”
These are all sweet, well-meaning and appreciated statements I’ve heard from friends and family the past several weeks. But when asked how I’m feeling, I’m never exactly sure what to say. It depends on the moment in time and who’s asking. More often than not, I say, “Doing pretty good, thanks for asking!” It’s easier that way.
If I’m being truthful, I basically feel like crap. All the time.
My first trimester hangover gave way to a second trimester surge of energy and feeling great, for a blissful week or two. Then began a rapid decline around week 15 that has led to a whole host of issues. Oh, pregnancy, let me count the ways in which you have wrecked my body:
- What I thought was just a stiff neck and shoulders while sleeping causing my hands to fall asleep became something much more dire. General swelling in my body has caused some arthritic-like symptoms, making my hands and wrists painful, tingling and numb to the touch. I currently sleep with wrist guards the size of an arm cast, which eases things ever so slightly, but most days I wake up unable to feel my fingers or close my hands into a fist. While the mornings are the worst, the symptoms persist throughout the day. I can’t drive for more than a few minutes without my hands going almost completely numb (sounds safe, right?), it’s a struggle to put on my jewelry or makeup, and I’m going to have to switch to a hands-free phone setup because my hand goes numb thirty seconds in when talking on my cell phone. All manageable issues, but definitely not fun nonetheless.
- Speaking of swelling – I’ve gone up a full ring size, my watch is on an additional notch or two, and my feet look and feel like sausages most of the time. That whole “barefoot and pregnant” thing definitely applies to me (not the “in the kitchen” part though, lol), since I can’t fit my feet into almost any of my shoes besides flip flops and Birkenstocks. I’m on a strict “elevate the feet” plan basically any time I’m sitting down.
- I’d heard of postpartum pelvic floor issues, but did you know that some women have pelvic floor issues even before pushing a baby out of their hoohah? Yeah, I didn’t either – until it happened to me. My already small bladder is struggling with the extra weight of the baby and so much less space; I swear this kid is using my bladder as a body pillow. I’m living in the bathroom and having serious issues on days I’m active and on my feet a lot. Disneyland is definitely not the happiest place on earth if you have pelvic floor issues… take my word for it.
- General added aches and pains include aching hips, especially while sleeping causing me to wake up multiple times a night, and a stiff back while lying down, creating a turtle on its back type of effect when I try to stand up.
- Appointments at the IVF clinic have been replaced by appointments with a pelvic floor physiotherapist and chiropractor. And here I was, thinking I’d finally get my time back…
- Clearly all of this adds up to feeling super sexy! But don’t worry – I’ve been diagnosed with marginal placenta previa (my placenta is too close to the cervix for comfort at the moment if I were to deliver today), so even if I wanted to have all the sex, that’s currently off the table.
- The worst part about all of this: if it weren’t for the swelling and discomfort I’m experiencing, my energy level is awesome! I have a strong desire to be active, especially for a healthy pregnancy, but I’m being sidelined by all of the other fun stuff happening in my body.
Sounds like a walk in the park, right?
On top of all of this, I’ve diagnosed myself with a separate, unofficial condition that I’ve dubbed “Infertile Guilt”. I’ve got a real bad case of the IG. These tracks keep playing in my head:
Remember, you wanted this!
You should be feeling lucky right now, not whining about how you’re feeling.
You have no right to be complaining when other people have it way worse than you.
Who are you to talk about feeling crappy when there are so many people who haven’t had their prayers answered yet like you have?
The IG is real, folks. It’s a catch 22: I want to be honest about how I’m feeling, but I’m constantly cautious about how much I share, since I don’t want to come off as whiny. After all, this is what I’ve been wanting for so long! I don’t want to seem ungrateful, especially to those following my story who have been in the same infertile boat as me.
But this wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t tell it all: the good, bad and the sometimes really ugly. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that just because I am being honest with myself and others about the discomfort I’m experiencing, it doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize that I’ve been truly and radically blessed to be where I’m at, either.
Two weeks ago, Dale and I got to see our little girl via ultrasound for the twenty week anatomy scan, the super in depth check at the halfway point. We saw her fingers and toes, her kidneys, the cerebellum of her brain, and the four chambers of her little heart beating in fast rhythm. It was nothing short of miraculous.
And that’s how I know that despite everything I’ve gone through – the shots, the appointments, the agonizing wait, the discomfort, the stress – is all going to be worth it in the end. So cliche, but absolutely true. We are blessed to have a baby who, by all modern medicine’s standards, is perfect and healthy and growing right on schedule. And so I’ll continue to push through the pain and revel in the joy of feeling my baby girl’s kicks that are getting stronger by the day. Even if those kicks land on my bladder.