Sunday, January 8, 2017
Mid-Pregnancy-ish Update: Similarities & Differences
Sometimes, I don't even know how to properly label this pregnancy.
Whenever I tell someone I'm expecting another baby, or whenever they notice my little bump, they always ask what number it is. Is it your second? they'll ask, eyeing Bug nearby. Well no, it's not. Technically, this is my fourth pregnancy. Fourth. But things get murky because Bug is my only living baby, and lots of people don't really recognize miscarriages as actual pregnancies. Or they like to pretend that since the baby never was born, not in a traditional sense anyway, that it never existed.
I don't like glossing over my losses; they were real; those babies existed, if only for a short time physically, although forever in my heart. My decision to openly acknowledge the pregnancies I lost tends to make people uncomfortable. Or maybe they just don't know what to say. Either way, I find myself in an awkward position; I'm not fishing for sympathy when I mention my miscarriages, but I also don't want to pretend that there was only nothingness between Bug and now.
Fourth pregnancy, second baby? Simply say this will be my second living baby? I feel like I'm jinxing myself when I say that. Even now, more than halfway through the pregnancy, I find myself not wanting to believe that this is all real. Unable to believe. I likely won't believe until I'm holding this baby in my arms. I may sound morbid, but there's still no guarantee that a living baby lies at the end of this journey. Any woman who has suffered a loss can understand the fears that underlie an otherwise healthy pregnancy.
It's hard to really contrast this pregnancy with any of my others. Bug was born so long ago now, nearly five years, and I honestly have a hard time remembering what my pregnancy with him was like. As for my other two pregnancies, I found myself comparing this one to them and contrasting at every turn. As much as I don't like to admit it, part of me was trying to avoid doing anything wrong, making any mistakes, doing anything that might increase my risk of another miscarriage. Even though I know, intellectually anyway, that neither one of those losses was my fault, I still couldn't help but wonder if I could do things better this time around, somehow.
I found myself comparing pregnancy symptoms and discomforts. I remember being really nauseous when I was pregnant with Bug, for pretty much my entire first trimester. I also dealt with nausea during my second pregnancy, the one I lost at 12 weeks. I had none with the third, but that one lasted only six weeks. So when I started feeling sick a few weeks in with this one, what did it mean? What about the exhaustion I started feeling as I inched closer to that 12 week mark? How much was pregnancy-related and how much was simply from running around after my son?
There have been other interesting comparisons as well. With Bug, I broke out like crazy toward the end of my first trimester. I constantly had pimples around my mouth and on my chin. Some people told me that was a clear sign I would be having a boy (old wives' tale, of course, although I did indeed end up with a son), while others simply reminded me of the amount of extra hormones my body was producing. This time around, my face remains clear as can be. Does that mean I'm having a girl? Does it have anything to do with my diet (I was lacto-ovo vegetarian when I was pregnant with Bug, but I've been fully vegan for a year and a half now)? Is it simply a case of every pregnancy is different?
When I was pregnant with Bug, I didn't really have much in the way of food cravings. I did have a few aversions--tea, chocolate. Contrary to what some predicted, meat continued to gross me out (a few people told me I'd surely start craving it). If I craved anything, it was greasy things: breakfast sandwiches (I had all but eschewed eggs for a long time before that), french fries, other fried potatoes.
This pregnancy so far is much the same. I stopped drinking tea a few weeks in; my body apparently knows that caffeine is a no-go, and I don't even want herbal tea, although I drink it sometimes anyway. My aversion to chocolate isn't as strong as it was with Bug, but I still haven't voluntarily eaten a brownie in a long time, I can't handle hot cocoa, and I stopped buying myself the high quality dark chocolate bars I used to indulge in. About the most chocolate I can handle now is the occasional chocolate chip cookie. As for cravings, I don't know that I really have any of those either. Nothing so bad that I want to send D out in the middle of the night in order to achieve satisfaction. I've been wanting potatoes on occasion (french fries again, and I find myself making fried potatoes frequently in the mornings), tater tots. I have wanted onion rings a few times. I definitely find myself gravitating toward salty rather than sweet these days, but for the most part, I'm still eating the same overall-healthy plant-based diet as I was eating pre-pregnancy.
When I was pregnant with Bug, I exercised consistently throughout my first trimester. I was running three or four miles at a time, lifting weights, attending cardio kickboxing-type classes, swimming. I started to taper off sometime during my second trimester, for various reasons related to scheduling and energy levels. I did yoga for the duration of pregnancy number two, and I honestly can't remember if I had started regular exercise again (or not) for number three.
By the time I got pregnant with this baby, I had been well settled into a regular routine, switching primarily between several workout DVD sets and an at-home yoga practice. I continued exercising for the first few weeks after my positive test, but I have to admit that I fell out of practice soon after. Even though I know, know that exercise does not cause miscarriages, that irrational fear was definitely part of the reason why I quit. Other reasons included nausea and exhaustion.
Once I had gotten past the first twelve weeks, the most scary part for me, and been in for a regular doctor appointment where I could verify that baby was still alive and well (there's that morbidity again), I started exercising again. And for the most part, I've managed to stick with it. I've been exercising 4-6 times per week, sticking with a mixture of yoga and my workout DVDs (modified as necessary, of course; avoiding pretty much all abdominal and back-lying exercises at this point, and focusing more on yoga and strength than on cardio) and occasionally trying out videos I find on YouTube or apps on my phone.
Pretty much every book I've read on prenatal fitness (and trust me, I've read a lot of them) indicates that there are myriad benefits to staying fit throughout pregnancy. At this point, now that my baby has a consistently strong heartbeat and I can feel him/her moving frequently, I am beyond my fear of somehow damaging my baby. Instead, I'm focusing on this as one aspect of the pregnancy that I have complete control over. Being Rh sensitized means that there are many things I likely don't have control over--where I give birth, some of the tests I will have to endure, certain hospital procedures, not to mention the possibility of induction if things get bad--but I can control how healthy my body is and do everything in my power to ensure strong muscles, a centered mind, and--hopefully--a good birth (even if there's a possibility neither I nor baby may get to decide when that will be).
In the mommy groups I'm in on FB, lots of women ask when others first felt their baby move. To be perfectly honest, I don't remember when I started feeling Bug move. I really don't. Pregnancies two and three never got that far. This baby, though, I've been feeling since I was about eleven weeks.
Eleven weeks! But I was afraid to tell D for days, in case I was imagining it, and I didn't mention it to anyone else for some time either. They were only the lightest flutters, but I felt them. And continued to feel them through and beyond my subsequent prenatal appointments. And even so, only I could feel them; it's only within the past few weeks that anyone (meaning, D and Bug) has been able to feel them by placing a hand on my belly.
By this point, though, those movements are pretty strong. Strong enough that they keep me awake at night sometimes. Strong enough that I can't concentrate on other things sometimes because I'm just so in awe of the life inside me. Strong enough that I can't fall asleep at night because I just want to lie awake and revel in the fact that this baby is still with me.
At roughly halfway through the pregnancy, I have a respectable baby bump, too. I also don't remember how fast my bump grew with Bug, other than to say that I remained relatively small throughout. My bump now isn't huge, but it's big enough to get in the way when I do yoga and to make it hard to sleep.
Roughly halfway done. Here's hoping the rest of this pregnancy goes as smoothly as the first part has gone.