I look back at my pregnancy as an easy one. We had no major issues, but some discomfort and nuisances, of the type that one can read about in the multitude of articles in magazines and on the internet. They became more palpable and personal, as pregnancy progressed, and my close companions during the last weeks. And I thought pregnancy lasted a very long time. I remember reading about the progress of the pregnancy week by week and thinking not much is changing or that it was all going to slow; I was so impatient that I read several times the notes for each week thinking more time had lapsed since the last time..
(Morning) Sickness: Not really! Around weeks 4-6 of pregnancy I used to have very light nausea around noontime, but it easily subsided with some sips of Schweppes Bitter Lemon (my mom always keeps a stash for her gin tonics). I vomited once in the first trimester, but I blame it more on the very boring breakfast I had just had that day (the same every morning for approx two months that we spent in the hotel upon arriving in a new country).
Carpal tunnel syndrome: A tiny bit annoying! Around weeks 9-13 or so, I used to feel mild pain and numbness in my right hand (thumb, index, little finger, wrist and palm) and for a while I wore an elastic band to control the discomfort. Doctor told me it was a possible manifestation during pregnancy, so I did not look into it any further. It went away as pregnancy progressed and all joints loosened. On that score, pregnancy was actually really great for a lower back/hip pain I had acquired before, that had incapacitated me to sleep on my back or on my belly or to spend more than ten minutes in any seated position that had my bum lower than my knees (i.e. car seat).
Swollen feet: Yeees, they were so huge! I always battle with swollen feet in hot weather and considering it was summer during my entire pregnancy, not too surprising. It started to become visual after week 21, at which point I started wearing flip-flops everywhere and honestly, spent lots of time barefoot, even at work. It became worse the bigger I grew, but it never passed the threshold of worrisome for my healthcare providers. Swollen was the new normal and made putting my feet up, which I did on every occasion (at work, had put a box under the desk to keep them up) or lying down so much more sweeter. Actually, thinking better about it, during the last months, pretty much all of me was swollen most of the time, apart from a few minutes immediately after waking up.
Weight gain: Not so bad, could have been much worse! For someone who has been on the chubby side, always concerned about her weight, and with a hypothyroid condition, I am quite satisfied with how I fared. Particularly considering I did not take particular care of what I ate or refrain from anything during pregnancy. The first 6-7 weeks, I actually lost 2 kilos. By the end of the second month, even though my tummy was not visible and I still fit in all my clothes, the shape around the tummy area had started to change. By week 25 or so, I had gained around 5-6 kilos (on top of regaining the two lost) and then I just exploded :))). By the time the baby was born, I added 10 kilos extra. All in all, I gained 16 kilos. I don’t remember feeling particularly heavy or restricted in my movements (using flip-flops definitely contributed positively to this), but visually I was biiiiig. I mean the tummy was biiiiig. Towards the end my face was so very puffy, it looked a bit grotesque :P.
Nighttime wee: So annoying! Possibly one of the things I disliked the most. I love my sleep and never used to wake up during the night. I hated waking up, going to the bathroom and all as it took me forever to fall back asleep each time. Don’t remember when it started, but towards the end I was maybe waking up two-three times per night just to squeeze some drops, which made it all even more annoying..
Uncomfortable sleeping and occasional cramps: Uhuh! For a good part of the pregnancy, I slept only on one side. My husband hugging me from behind and holding a pillow between my thighs and knees helped, but keeping to the same position felt uncomfortable and favored cramps. Cramps woke me up occasionally during the night; sharp pain in the tibia area that brought tears to my eyes. It took willpower to relax and massage it away.
Reflux and heartburn: Yes, during the last two – three months. Wasn’t serious, just unpleasant. I just chose to live with it, not mind about it.
Piles/haemorrhoids and constipation: Oufff, yesss :(! They’ve become my intimate friends since week 28 or so. It started with a very itchy pile and it grew into a nice bouquet of at least 4, I would say, of various sizes and placing around the anus. They are the protruding kind that one can only get rid of with surgery. I did not know what it was in the beginning; I was travelling for work and did the whole picture taking with my phone and comparing with images on the internet. My gynae and my GP were not interested in taking a look, just took my word for it and prescribed stuff; told me it was normal, they would get worse until after childbirth, and advised to wait for any surgery I may want to consider until I was done having kids. My God it was itchy in the beginning. The itching was as annoying as they ever got and that was easily solved with an ointment. During the last months of pregnancy, despite my best efforts, I did not manage to avoid constipation, even though we had a healthy diet, ate lots of fibre and drank water. I used laxatives that my gynae prescribed. It was more difficult to accept mentally that there was something alive down there and growing and multiplying and I naively hoped they would still go away by themselves, soon…The idea of them bothered me immensely.
Stretch marks: Not an issue. I only found out about the possibility they may appear in the last semester and used an oil (quite unfrequently; I still have more than half the bottle).
Cravings: Not more than before pregnancy. My only two cravings were bretzels (easily satisfied at our supermarket) and the best chocolate covered peanuts I ever tasted (available at the same place, plus at a very convenient store close to work). I hardly ever refused them to myself.
Pain: I remember when confirming my pregnancy, the doctor prescribed painkillers just in case, telling me not to be brave and take them, as it would be better for both me and the baby. I never needed to use them and until the end I asked myself what was it supposed to ache or hurt.
About childbirth related anxiety I already wrote a dedicated post.
I did all I could to make my pregnancy as comfortable as possible for myself. I dressed as simply and comfortably I could. Possibly my favourite part of pregnancy is that I could experience it in leggings/short pants and flip-flops. I used to carry with me a pair of flat, loose red sandals (still my favourite ones), for official meetings, but that was the only compromise I made. And nobody minded. Around week 28 I cut my hair very short. I was so tired of taking care of it and keeping my hands in the air under the shower and drying it. It felt like such a nuisance… and it was so hot…
My extraordinary husband helped a lot. It must have been around week 32 when I went home from work and told him that I’d rather not eat than have to cook dinner again. Without a word he took up cooking and he is the main cook in the house now. Not to mention that he drove me to and from work every day for 34 weeks. I was afraid to drive on the right side of the road, particularly a rented car and with manual transmission the first three months; then, I was too big and he offered to continue.