I’ve decided to do a mini-series on my pregnancy experiences with both of my children. My experience with Matthew was previously posted (you can find them here: Part 1 – The Pregnancy & Part 2 – Labor & Delivery) and Emma will be featured this week and next week!
As I do each time I’m pregnant, I re-read a lot of the pregnancy books just to make sure that I’m not forgetting something important (you can find my recommendations here). One of the things that is emphasized over and over in everything I read is that every woman experiences pregnancy differently, and that even within the same woman, her individual pregnancy experience can differ from baby to baby. I was hoping that last part wasn’t true, because I felt like I had a relatively easy first pregnancy experience, but I’ve learned that it is unfortunately completely true. My second pregnancy still wasn’t horrible (compared to a lot of stories I hear from other women), but it was different than my first. So I figure it may be helpful to other moms to hear about each experience I had, since you never really know what you are going to get!
Part I: Emma – The Pregnancy
I’m such a planner in life – always have been. Anything big in life that I can anticipate happening, I make sure to learn and plan for as much as I can. And pregnancy is a pretty big thing! So even though I had been through all this before, I started my prep work for Emma’s pregnancy months in advance.
First, my husband and I set a date for when we were going to start trying for a second child. It might not sound magical and romantic, but since I aim for the healthiest pregnancy possible, I needed a date that we would start trying. Because that’s the date that I start eating as if I was pregnant – that means no wine, no sushi, no runny eggs or medium rare meats as I prefer, etc. And since I like 90% of my food on the “less cooked” side of the equation (and when you are pregnant everything is advised to be cooked to the max), I pretty much hate eating when pregnant. I don’t like to give this up any sooner than I have to. But I also don’t want to risk a glass of wine in case I am pregnant, so a start date is very important to me.
Second, I started to take off the baby weight that I didn’t lose following Matthew’s pregnancy. If you read my prior post (My Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss Journey – Part 1), you’ll know that I’ve struggled with a weight gain/weight loss cycle my whole life. I know how hard it is to take weight off, and I know how uncomfortable pregnancy can be as you get bigger, so I didn’t want to start off this second pregnancy any larger than I had to.
Third, I also started to take all my prenatal vitamins (about three months in advance as recommended in order to build up good stores of vital nutrients) and I made sure that I got all my health checkups out of the way.
It was basically the same things I did prior to getting pregnant with Matthew – and I was doing a good job at the prep work! I felt good and was down to a good weight prior to us conceiving. And conception for Emma happened just as quickly and easily as it did when we tried for Matthew (which I know I am blessed for having it be so easy – my heart goes out to all those moms who have a hard time with this). After the first month of trying we were successful, so naively I thought that I would luck out with another easy, breezy pregnancy.
And some things were similar – at first. I started out the first trimester again with no desire for coffee, and I again never felt like I really had true morning sickness (still proud that I’ve never vomited during either of my pregnancies!). But there were also some subtle differences that started to creep in. I remember with Matthew I was pretty comfortable eating whatever, whenever. But this time, especially those first three months, food just lost all appeal. I wasn’t sick, but nothing appealed to me either. I would get out of the shower in the morning, and my husband would ask me what I wanted for breakfast, and I would just stare glumly at him and reply “nothing”. All my prior favorites were totally unappealing. It was easiest to swallow down carbs – pancakes, toast with peanut butter, crackers and cheese, cheese pizza, etc. But I never really wanted to eat anything. However, I knew I needed to be eating, and I knew that if I didn’t eat I would feel even more sick, so I forced myself to eat anyways. It was unsettling to not be following my hunger cues for eating and I was starting to worry that my weight gain would get off track because of this.
Luckily when the second trimester hit, eating and finding food appetizing was much better. A lot of those symptoms lifted. I still wasn’t able to enjoy everything, but I wasn’t feeling quite so restricted anymore in what I could get down. And I felt like I was able to get a more varied diet in place, which made me feel better about what I was feeding my baby. But then some other pregnancy symptoms started to creep in. I would experience a racing pulse at random times during the day (it did seem to be mostly at work when I was doing a lot of standing). I would be absolutely fine with my normal heart rate hovering around 60-70 beats per minute, and suddenly without a change in activity it would jump to 110-130 beats per minute and stay there for 5-15 minutes or so, before finally coming back down. During that time I would feel so dizzy and odd – and it was really unsettling since I couldn’t predict when it would happen or how long it would last. I spoke with my OB about it, but no one seemed concerned or offered any suggestions for improvement (other than staying hydrated and resting, which doesn’t come so easily when working).
The other thing that drove me crazy was my leg veins. I know that my family is highly susceptible to varicose veins (one look at my mothers’ legs and it’s obvious), but I made it through Matthew’s pregnancy without getting any of those. Emma on the other hand was doing a number on me – and it was painful! Everyone said it was just the way she was situated in the womb, but the veins on my right leg just exploded, while my left leg remained mostly unaffected. My leg would throb, ache, and be riddled with sharp stabbing pains. I felt like every time I looked at my leg, new veins were showing up, and some were so engorged that they even stood out and were visibly raised even through a pair of leggings. I tried compression socks and keeping my leg elevated when it was really sore, but nothing really helped. And all I would get from my OBs were sympathetic looks and a reassurance that I would be able to get a vascular consult when the pregnancy was over with. So again, you learn to live with it, but boy did I hate it.
Then we get to the third trimester, and I finally got to experience that lovely pregnancy symptom of swelling. I didn’t really have this at all when pregnant with Matthew, but I certainly had it with Emma. I wasn’t able to wear rings for the last 3-4 months of the pregnancy. I had to wear my watch on the loosest setting. Every morning I would wake up and my fingers felt like they were arthritic from all the swelling and soreness. My ankles disappeared. I still wasn’t huge, but I was definitely swollen. And that didn’t feel good either. I tried to stay hydrated and active to flush out the extra fluid, but with only minimal to no results. It was so frustrating to feel like my health and wellness were beyond my control!
And then in the final two months before delivery, my food aversions and loss of appetite came back with a vengeance. Again, I was still never sick, and oddly enough I never had a problem with smells. But I found that if I cooked or prepped the food (even a benign food like pancakes), I couldn’t eat it. But if I stayed away from preparation and just only had to eat it, then I would be able to get a reasonable amount down. Thankfully my husband stepped up to the plate (literally!) and did a lot of our cooking at home. And I enjoyed more take-out meals than I normally do. Even though I didn’t love why I was eating out, it was a welcome break from cooking all the time! (Always look for the silver lining).
As I was nearing one month from due date, I was so ready to be done being pregnant. And I was expecting to go early. I’d started to have Braxton Hicks contractions, which was another new thing that I never experienced with Matthew. And since Matthew was a premature birth (and the biggest predictor of an early delivery is an early delivery in the past), I was actually starting to feel overdue when Matthew’s gestational delivery date came and went. I was glad that Emma wasn’t going to be born premature with all the possible complications that can come with it, but I was just soooo tired of being pregnant!
People around me were starting to vote on when I would go into labor. A few of the predicted dates came and went and still no baby. We also were starting to make sure we had a plan for what to do with Matthew when the time came. My mother-in-law has been Matthew’s sole babysitter since his birth, so she automatically was on call for when I went into labor. She was even planning to come in the middle of the night if needed (even though she’s about 45 minutes away). But of course, she has things she needs to do as well, and there was one day in March that she wasn’t going to be available to watch Matthew no matter what. And as that day grew closer and I still hadn’t given birth yet, I got to thinking that would be the day Emma came.
And go figure, it was!
If you read A Tale of Two Pregnancies: Matthew – Part 1, you heard about how my husband basically fell out of bed in a panic when I told him my water had broken in the middle of the night. Well this one was similar, but so much less dramatic. I had been in the habit of going to bed around 10 PM, but always woke up around midnight to pee (thanks to my habit of drinking a lot of water before bed, which really isn’t good when your bladder is compressed!). So I did just that, and I was just drifting back off to sleep when I felt it. That no-mistaking it, sudden, warm gush when your water breaks. I didn’t find myself sleepily on the toilet this time. Instead I was lying on my side in bed, hoping like crazy that I wouldn’t make a huge mess if I could just keep still enough. Rob was next to me and I called out to him:
“My water just broke.”
“OK”. And he rolled out of bed and started to pull on a pair of pants. So blasé this time. I almost started laughing about how dull the moment was compared to the first birthing experience. I guess all the panic goes out the window when you’ve done this before.
I sent him to the bathroom for a towel so I could try and get up. Thankfully the bed wasn’t a mess. First thing I did was waddle out to the kitchen where I keep my cell phone. My first call was to my brother-in-law, Paul who lives about 20 minutes away. It was 12:15 AM. Thankfully I knew he would answer, because he’s a night owl, and my mother-in-law had told him that he was on call since she was going to be unavailable that day. He’s never babysat Matthew on his own before, but there’s a first time for everything! I told him not to break any speed records, but that he needed to get to our house sooner than later to watch Matthew so we could get to the hospital.
After that I called the hospital to prep them that I was on my way. The nurse who answered was the same nurse who ended up delivering Matthew when he had his speedy entry into the world. She asked me if this was my first child and I laughed, telling her that no, actually she had delivered my first baby! She sounded shocked and mentioned that she would have to pull up my chart to remind herself, but to come on in and they would be ready for me.
By 12:45 AM, my brother-in-law and his wife showed up at the house. Matthew was still sleeping peacefully through all the middle of the night preparations. We gave them a quick overview of what to do with Matthew when he woke up, and then I motioned to Rob that we needed to get going – I had just started to feel the first contractions.
We got into my Jeep and were on our way! I had my fingers crossed the whole way that things would go just as quickly as Matthew’s delivery – no one wants to have those marathon labors, especially since I only had about two hours of sleep under my belt. But it was time to find out what was in store for us.
Here we go again!
(The second part of this series – my actual labor experience with Emma, will be published next week. Stay tuned!)
All the best,
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