Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Early Days - 0 to 12 Weeks

I first knew I was pregnant when I took a group of college students to Knoxville for a service learning project. We were helping out a wonderful elderly woman who insisted we call her Granny West. We rebuilt the roof on her house because she had insane leakage problems - which is a big problem with the mid-western storms that frequently assault Tennessee - and painted her multicolored home a cheerful blue color. By the end of the trip, I could feel what I can only describe as a "burrowing" sensation in my lower abdomen. Also, those tampons I packed remained unopened. I passed on the complementary adult beverage offered on the airplane ride back to Spokane, and took a pregnancy test the minute I got home. It was positive. [Cue panic attack]

Jeff and I talked about having children, but never thought it would happen so soon. One factor I did not take into consideration was my regular visits to the acupuncturist. Not wanting to be on birth control any more, but also wanting to rid my body of the painful ovarian cysts that plagued me since high school, I had been seeing her once a month for 3 months. Though I was feeling much better, my past struggles lead us both to believe that it would be at least 6 months before I would get pregnant. And now here we are.

Many of our loved ones have been plagued with miscarriages. My sister had a terrible miscarriage a few months earlier, very nearly taking her life, and my brother and sister-in-law lost their first few pregnancies before finally giving birth to their beautiful little boy. And of course everyone has friends who have also been through the experience. It is a normal part of life, but is also devastating. Although we were both in shock that the pregnancy happened so soon, we were very excited to have another life join us and were worried about losing the baby. Every twinge, cramp, and spot was monitored, and I quickly memorized the number to my doctor's office...I still need to write that poor nurse a thank you letter. Once the first trimester was over, we felt more confident and posted our happy news on facebook. However, there is always fear that something will go wrong, and this stress still comes around again at times when it is least expected.

Anyone who knows me well and sees me on a regular basis knows three things: 1) I love coffee, 2) I love wine, 3) I run off all the food I consume (including copious amounts of cookies).

They say it can be up to 20 weeks before some women start to show, but for me I was showing immediately. At 4 weeks my pants were already tight, and I was brainstorming stealthy ways to wear sweats to work - thank you lululemon for making workout pants that also function as leggings. At 6 weeks my coworkers were gossiping amongst themselves saying, "Does Emily look a little pregnant these days?"

My body was definitely changing. I had to unbutton my jeans while sitting down. When I went out for a run, I was experiencing so much discomfort that I had to turn around and walk home after only a few blocks. My past eating schedule was a solid three meals, with a small snack in the mid-morning; but by 6 weeks I was consuming my entire lunch by ten in the morning...and I was starving again by lunchtime. It seemed that no matter how much food I packed, I could not be satiated and would need to make a Starbucks run for a bagel and a large hot chocolate. Also, if dinner wasn't ready the minute I got home, I went on a binge eating spree.

By 8 weeks my appetite was the only thing that kept morning sickness at bay. If I wasn't snacking, I had a terrible taste in my mouth...you know that taste you get right before you throw up. The solution: eat a pastry whenever I feel sick. Lucky for me, morning sickness also rid me of my love for coffee and wine, meaning I never had to go through withdrawals. The smell of these beverages was repulsive. It wasn't until shortly after 12 weeks when I started to feel normal again. Thanks to my recent love of pastries, I gained 10lbs in the first trimester (about twice as much as the "average" pregnancy), but I made it out alive.


How do I feel?
Like the only thing worth doing in life is sitting on the couch. And eating. I will eat my own arm if I don't have something to snack on at least once an hour. I wish I could run, but I don't have the energy, and when I try it feels terrible. This makes me feel like I am no longer in control of my body. I'm looking forward to the second trimester when I can exercise and feel normal again.

Weight gain?
10 big ones!

Food cravings?
Pastries...any kind of pastry, pancakes, eggs over easy (a big NO if you are pregnant, but I had to risk it!), lemonade, Dairy Queen Blizzards.

Food aversions?
Apples, garlic (sad face), sandwich bread (so weird right?), peanut butter, anything spicy or salty.

If I don't get at least 9 hours of sleep every night I am a mess. My bedtime quickly went from 10:30pm to 8:00pm. This drove Jeff insane when we were out with friends, but he knew that it was what I needed. During my lunch breaks I'd turn off the lights in my office and take a nap.

Twas a mystery! I really would like a girl, but something tells me it's a boy. My girlfriends all think it's a boy too.

What have I learned?
When you think something is wrong, DON'T GOOGLE. Cramps are completely normal in early pregnancy, and it makes sense because your uterus is expanding to make a comfortable, roomy environment for your little passenger. Some bleeding is also normal. I had spotting a couple times, and rather than having a panic attack, I called the doctor and was reassured it was normal.

Scared to death, but very excited.


Little baby's a-growing!

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