I’ve decided to do a mini-series on my pregnancy experiences with both of my children. Matthew will be parts 1 & 2 (this week and next week on the blog) and our new baby will be parts 3 & 4 (which will come out whenever baby sister decides to make her appearance – so likely sometime in the next 3 weeks or so – and if it happens to go beyond that, God help me, I’m going to be one horribly cranky and miserable mama!)
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 so far it is unfortunately completely true. My second pregnancy still hasn’t been horrible, but it is way different than my first (and not over yet!). 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: Matthew – The Pregnancy
My sweet little first born. I just love this guy to pieces! Funny to look back on it now, but even though there were some uncomfortable times in this pregnancy, overall I really don’t recall there being much that was awful. We did have some stressful test results and such, but in the end everything ended up perfect for him like I’d always hoped. I’ve talked to a few other moms, and they said that the first one lulls you into a sense of how easy pregnancy can be, and because of this you are duped into having your second – which can be so much tougher. Oh the irony!
My husband and I met and married a little later in life (we were both in our 30s) so we knew that if we wanted to have more than one child we would need to start sooner than later. Matthew was born in 2016, so granted I was also younger than I am now, but only by three years. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but with his birth I was still considered “youthful”. With my current pregnancy I’m now considered “geriatric”, so maybe it does make a difference. Regardless, it wasn’t like I was in my 20s when my body was more flexible and able to bounce back well. But overall, it wasn’t too bad.
I was dreading all those horrible things I hear about and have seen with my girlfriends – constant morning sickness, swelling, moodiness, food aversions, throwing up at the sight of raw meat (especially chicken), only being able to stomach certain foods, etc. I’ve worked so hard to improve my diet over the years and eat healthy, and the thought of not be able to continue eating the way I wanted to when I really needed to be healthy was a nightmare to me. And I was really dreading the bodily changes as well for the same reason. I had spent so much time finally getting my weight under control, that to be purposely putting pounds on had me in a slight panic. I finally had started to like my body and I didn’t want to lose what little abs I had, or have my feet swell, or my hips to widen, or my skin to stretch. My family is also very prone to prominent veins, especially in our legs, and I was terrified of ending up with the legs my mother has.
Regardless of these fears, I knew that having kids was a stronger desire for my husband and I, so I pushed them all aside and we took the plunge. And luckily, fertility was not an issue for us. After setting aside a date night so I could have my last sushi and wine, we were successful the first month that we tried and our new adventure had started.
And I was pleasantly surprised! No morning sickness, no vomiting, almost no anything. One of the few things I found was an aversion to drinking my morning coffee, so I just went without and didn’t find that too difficult either (I only routinely drank one or two cups a day prior anyways, so it wasn’t a huge loss). My nightly glass of wine I did miss, but again, I was able to cope just fine. As my sense of smell grew more potent, I did find that I had an aversion to the smell of vegetables. This really worried me, because I love veggies and know how good they are for me (especially when growing a baby!). But I found that as long as I didn’t have to prep or cook them, I could eat them without issue. So I just made sure to take my husband with me to the grocery store each time. I would skirt through the fruit section of the produce department, staying as far away from the veggies as possible, while Rob would load up the cart with what we needed. Rob then took over veggie prep and cooking at home. Meat never bothered me, and I was able to cook that easily enough. I did however stop enjoying shrimp. I used to LOVE shrimp, and that is one thing that never fully recovered from Matthew’s pregnancy. I can eat them now, but I really don’t enjoy them like I used to.
However, I never threw up once! And for that I am extremely grateful and consider myself very lucky.
We did have a little developmental scare when some of my blood work showed an elevated AFP level (which can be correlated with spinal birth defects). There were a lot of sleepless nights, stress and worry while my husband and I awaited special follow-up testing at a more advanced clinic than what my local OB could provide. Luckily, all these tests appeared normal, and we went back to feeling like everything was going to be just fine.
My stomach grew, but I always stayed on the small side of the expected measurements. Not enough to be worrisome, but I think I also carried well. I didn’t really experience any of the swelling in the hands or feet that I was so worried about, and I even ended up making it to delivery with zero stretch marks! (Again, I’m thankful and know that I’m lucky – perhaps my previous overweight status taught my skin how to stretch….who knows). I even remember, a week before delivery, my husband and I were over at a friend’s house and they commented that from the front, you couldn’t even tell I was pregnant since I still had a waist. You could only tell from the side, and even that wasn’t horribly big considering how far along I was. It was really nice to hear, especially since I had been stressing so much about the bodily changes.
And then D day came! Well, let’s just say it came unexpected and early. I was in my 36th week, and I had my routine checkup on a Wednesday after work. I remember telling my practitioner that I was just tired of being pregnant and was looking forward to being done. She did an internal exam, grabbed the swab to test for group B strep, said everything looked perfect and sent me home till the next week.
So I did what I normally did. I got home and hopped on the treadmill for a quick walk to make sure I got my 10,000 steps in for the day, relaxed after dinner, and went to bed at my normal time.
When I woke up next, I found myself sitting on the toilet, glasses on my face, and bathroom light blazing. As the haze of sleep started to fade away, I wondered to myself how I had gotten there and what just happened. All pregnancy I had always woken up prior to getting up for the bathroom, and I never felt the need to bother with my glasses or lights. I shifted on the seat and then I knew.
I checked my Fitbit. It was 3:30 AM on February 4th. A Thursday and I was due to be at work at 8 AM.
Incredulously, I called out to my husband, who was peacefully sleeping in the room on the other side of the door.
A muffled “hrmp” was my reply.
“I think my water just broke.”
I heard a giant crash as my husband flew out of bed in a panic.
And that was how it all began. Our lives as parents and my struggle to balance life as a new mom.
It was early in the morning and we were completely unprepared. The nursery wasn’t set and the hospital bag wasn’t packed. We thought we had four more weeks to get ready and I had planned to organize the shower gifts, set up the nursery, and wash all the clothes and sheets that coming weekend. But as I would soon learn, things rarely go according to plan with a new baby, and you have to learn to be adaptable.
Rob stumbled to the bathroom door. “Are you sure?! It’s way too soon!!”
Well, considering I couldn’t move without fluid gushing out of me, yeah, I was pretty sure.
He knocked on the door, “Do you need any help? Can I come in?”
Now I strongly believe that certain things in a relationship should remain private to keep some of the mystery, allure, and sex appeal strong. Like trips to the bathroom, for example. Number one or number two, either should be done in private. I wasn’t really sure I wanted my husband to see me sitting half naked on the toilet, leaking amniotic fluid every time I moved. But I didn’t really know what to do at that point and realized that he was going to be seeing so much more by the end of the day, that it probably didn’t matter anymore. I swallowed my pride and said yes.
“So what do we do?”
At that moment I was extremely grateful for the Lamaze classes we had just recently finished at the local hospital. I honestly felt stupid practicing the breathing exercises in class, but the tour of the Labor & Delivery unit, information on contractions, and “what to do if your water breaks” talk suddenly seemed so much more useful! Rob fetched me my phone and I called the hospital. Since I didn’t seem to be experiencing any contractions, they instructed me to take a shower, pack a bag, and try to get there in an hour or so.
So that’s exactly what I did. The shower itself felt so freeing, because it didn’t matter what leaked out of me as I moved – it was washed away with no mess. I attempted to wear a pad once I finished, but soaked through two and two pairs of underwear in a matter of minutes, so I just resorted to waddling around with an old towel between my legs. So humiliating. I never even had to waddle during my pregnancy because I didn’t really get all that large. The baby never even dropped. But here I was, waddling and stiff, trying to move around and pack with as little twisting and pelvic movement as possible to stem the leak of fluid.
Luckily the hospital was only about 5 miles away. And also luckily, it was an unseasonably warm winter in central Maine. Most of the snow had melted, the roads were clear, and I didn’t have to worry about a hefty coat or boots since it was in the 50’s. The night air was so foggy that early morning, it felt almost as if we were driving through a dreamscape as we made our way to the hospital. Fitting, considering the shock of my water breaking this early in my pregnancy.
I had so many worries. I was 100% convinced my water had broke, yet I had zero contractions. At my appointment the day before the OB said everything was normal with my cervix – no softening or dilation. Plus it was still too soon! He had 4 weeks left to grow, and considering I never got very large I was so worried that he wasn’t ready yet. I prayed everything was ok. I was also alarmed that nothing seemed to be happening. There’s a rumor that your labor and delivery will be similar to the experience your mother had. Well my mother was fast – both my sister and I were out in under two hours, start to finish. My dad had warned my husband not to dawdle on the way to the hospital once things started.
But here it was, 5:30 AM, and I was walking myself down the corridor to the delivery unit, finally leaking less, and not one contraction. We reached the double doors and buzzed to be let in. There was an audible click and my husband held the door open for me.
Deep breath. Here we go!
(The second part of this series – my actual labor experience with Matthew, will be published next week. Stay tuned!)
All the best,