Warning: This post is long and all over the place, probably full of typos and words I may have left out. I started writing this at 5:30am when my baby and husband woke me up. Apologies.
So I’ve been racking my brain for a couple of days now since being asked to write this. I have to figure out what is too much, if something is too little and a lot of other things. But I have quite a few people who want to know all of the things they DON’T tell you about pregnancy and some of the ‘joys’ that come from it and during childbirth.
Well let’s talk about pregnancy first. Now we all know the given things like gaining weight, stretch marks, cravings, emotions all over the place and morning sickness. But what are the other things that happen that ladies don’t talk about?
First trimester: you discover you are pregnant! congrats! You probably won’t find out until you are a few weeks in, either by missing a period or by feeling ‘off’. You’ll get your test or go in to a doctor and confirm! whew! Now that that’s over, what happens next. Well, you will start sleeping a whole lot more then you normally do, but you aren’t tired. It’s weird. I could sleep for 12+ hours and feel the exact same when waking up as I did when I went to sleep. Next you start eating everything in sight, but you will also have foods that will make you so sick just by smelling them. For me during my first trimester, it was beef and eggs. If I smelled them I would feel sick almost instantly. I kept working through my entire pregnancy, and thankfully I had understanding co-workers, but when the ‘morning sickness’ kicks in, you will be running to the bathroom every 10 minutes. Literally. Let’s talk about morning sickness for a minute. I’m not sure WHY it is called that because you are literally nauseous all the time or at really random times. Middle of the night, sometimes in the morning, sometimes all afternoon, right after you eat, before you go to sleep…. It’s crazy soup. Also as you are dealing with hormonal changes, if you are already emotional like I am, you will be in for a ride. But honestly that didn’t really kick in too much for me until the second trimester. I was planning my wedding while in my first trimester and was still able to squeeze in to a corset by the end of it (something I really wish I could do now) so you don’t gain a whole lot during your first trimester, usually. Really the first trimester isn’t all that horrible. Where a lot of the stress comes in is your OB appointments. Most miscarriages happen within the first trimester. So making it past that, understanding that it could still happen after that, to a doctor that means you should be ‘in the clear’. Also you will have gas. SO MUCH GAS that you can’t control that comes from no where. So you better come to terms with the fact that you will fart throughout your entire pregnancy at awkward times. But most people don’t make a big deal out of it because hey, you are carrying a person! Cravings are pretty intense too. (story time: so my husband tried convincing me that I didn’t want bagel bites, which were my craving food. He told me it was my body wanting other things. It wasn’t. I wanted bagel bites. So he tried to tell me he could get bagels and the ingredients to make homemade bagel bites which would be better. By this point, I was so emotional that I yelled “NO! I WANT THE FREEZER KIND!” and it’s something we laugh about now, but…. yeah. Feed your cravings, girls.)
Which brings us to our second trimester: weight gain and emotions. A few weeks in to your second trimester, you should really be starting to show that you are pregnant and somewhere along the line you will begin to feel little kicks and hiccups. That’s the basics. But this is also when your back, joints, head, everything will start to ache and swell. Rings that once fit, won’t anymore because your fingers swell soooo much. Most of your shoes won’t fit by the end of your pregnancy. Forget about getting back in to anything you wore before you were pregnant. Your skin will start to change too and your hair and nails will grow faster then you ever thought possible. This is also when everyone you know will start throwing parenting advice at you whether you want it or not. And an even bigger thing to look out for: RAGING HORMONES. And not just from you. Your significant other gets in tune with you during this time. My husbands hormones responded to mine. He became emotional too. You will yell over small things or not react at all to big things. You will cry. A LOT. The world will end and then within 10 minutes be a bright and happy unicorns wet dream land filled with rainbows and sunshine. Yeah, I said it. And you will also start feeling tired. With how much your body is changing, the strain on your back, your baby kicking at all hours of the night and keeping you awake… You get very tired, very quickly.
So all of this now brings us to the final trimester: just speaking from personal experience, this is when a lot of symptoms from pregnancy stopped for me. I wasn’t as achy, I wasn’t nauseous 24/7 anymore. I was getting a lot of sleep. Stairs were a nightmare though. Try being 32 weeks pregnant, living on the third floor of an apartment building with no elevator. You definitely stay in shape though, especially if you have a dog you have to take outside multiple times a day. But you start getting anxious the closer your due date becomes. You start thinking really hard about child birth and what that is going to be like. For some women, you can also develop hemorrhoids during this trimester. Your breasts will very much increase in size and start leaking in preparation of breast feeding. But you’ll also have a new sense of calm about everything. You are just… ready to meet the thing that’s been kicking and poking you for 9 months. You are ready to not be pregnant anymore. This is also when everyone and their mom starts touching your belly without permission. Advice: you are allowed to tell people to stop. It’s not ok for them to do that without permission. Your balance will be way off by this point now. So no ladders, step stools, bending over to pick up anything on the floor. You definitely learn the art of squatting during this trimester. Look to your partner for help with a lot of things at this point. My husband had to help me put on shoes, get off the bed, in and out of the bath tub (BATHS ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS LADIES!! Take them often while you are pregnant. Get a good bubble bath or some epsom salts) But you will need a lot of help, so don’t be too prideful to accept it. You are going to be huge at this point, so take all the help you get. You will also start feeling braxton hicks contractions more intensely now. You can feeling these ‘false labor pains’ as early as 6 weeks in to your pregnancy, but they really start to become intense the closer you get to your due date, and they can last for a few hours and make you think you are actually in labor when you are not. Best thing to do, going off what my doctors told me, take a bath. (hey look at that, told you they were your best friends) Take a bath, change positions, take a small walk. Usually braxton hicks will go away using some of these methods, but sometimes they don’t.
This now brings us to the big moment……. LABOR AND DELIVERY! Oh boy, here we go…. I am a 5’2 woman, so I was pretty huge by the end of my pregnancy. Because of this reason, my OB decided that it would be best if I was induced instead of waiting for labor to start naturally. I was so ready to be done being pregnant, that I went along with it. Right now, I wish I had done what I wanted to do instead of what my doctor wanted. Girls, I can not stress it enough, if you have a plan for how you want to deliver your baby, stick to it. Find a doctor who will work with you. I went to an OB at a hospital and discovered that doctors, not midwives, have an agenda. They want it done quickly and swiftly and will do what it takes to do that. Also take birthing classes, if you can. They are so SO helpful.
But anyway, so induction… It’s not fun. The drug that is now on my hate list is called Pitocin. That is one thing they use to induce you. This is how it happened for us. They brought us in to the hospital at 6am. Got me settled in my room, the bed was so uncomfortable, and hooked me up to an IV which also connected to the pitocin drip. They will increase the amount every few hours. Pitocin causes very painful contractions, much more painful then natural ones. So while I went in to the hospital with the mindset of no epidural, after 8 hours of being on pitocin I was passing out from pain and finally asked for one. It was only 5 hours after getting the epidural that I was ready to push, so 13 hours of labor total and I was able to meet my daughter. But when it came time to push, that is when your doctor will show up again. Most of the time you will just have nurses with you. I pushed for 20 minutes. Now this is why I say that it is important to find a doctor who honors your wishes: I specifically told my doctor that I did not want an episiotomy. That is when they cut your vagina to make it bigger for your baby to come out. It’s not always needed, with a little bit of time you can stretch which is why labor is so long. Or you can tear naturally. You will hear it both way: It’s better to tear naturally or it’s better to not. But then you will have stitches. My doctor cut me without asking, without telling me it was going to happen. He just did it to rush the process. And the pain that I’m still having in that area, 3 months later, is…. excruciating. My sex life is not…. frequent or enjoyable that much right now. It’s slowly getting better, but it’s not great and that is because of the scar tissue. Also if you didn’t develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy, 9 times out of 10, you will get them while pushing. I’m still dealing with them, and they are something that might not ever go away. So there is that. SO MUCH FUN. It’s a simple pleasure, I would like it back!
So that’s it, a lot from personal experience. I can also talk about (in a shorter post) of the things that happen after pregnancy and birth. Like the healing process and postpartum depression. But yeah! Feel free to ask any questions, make comments or what have you.