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    The First Trimester of My First Pregnancy

    The First Trimester of My First Pregnancy

    When I discovered that I was pregnant with my daughter after six months of trying to conceive after suffering a miscarriage, I immediately began recording my experience through my pregnancy journal and blog entries. Here I share the first trimester of my first pregnancy.

    The First Trimester of My First Pregnancy

    Week 4

    April 25, 2011

    Faint Positive Result on Home Pregnancy TestI clearly remember the morning when I discovered that I was pregnant with my daughter. I was nine days post ovulation and decided, on a whim, to take an early home pregnancy test as soon as I got out of bed. After waiting the three minutes indicated on the test, I peaked at the stick, expecting nothing but another negative. Instead, I discovered the shock of my life. An extremely faint positive result. Maybe. But maybe not. Neither my husband nor I could tell for sure if the second line was real or not. I even took a picture of the home pregnancy test. To this day, I still cannot tell whether the second faint line is real, although I know now that the result was indeed positive.

    On the morning that I took the first home pregnancy test that announced my pregnancy with my daughter, I used a First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test. According to my diligent research, First Response was the highest rated brand of home pregnancy tests available on the market at the time. Additionally, as indicated on the box, a First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test would allow me to test six days before my missed period with a fairly high degree of certainty. At nine days post ovulation, my period was either four days (if my luteal phase were going to be twelve days again) or six days (if my luteal phase decided to be a more typical fourteen days) away. The First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test that I took should have given me the answer that I needed, although I clearly remember feeling more anxious over the results than had I not tested at all.

    While I was trying to get pregnant with my daughter, I took a number of other home pregnancy tests. However, for all of those tests, the result was clearly negative. When I looked at the test window, the control line was always bright and clear, and the test line was always invisible. However, that first test that I took at the beginning of my pregnancy with my daughter left me feeling absolutely uncertain. The extremely light appearance of a second line that morning made me think that the results of the home pregnancy test indicated a super faint positive result.

    Not wanting to get my hopes up too much, I decided to do a little research. Could the faint second line really mean that I was finally pregnant? Or could the faint second line have just been an evaporation line? An evaporation line is a second line that appears on a home pregnancy test after the allotted time. However, a quick internet search told me that evaporation lines are usually grayish in color (not the faint pink that my second line was) and usually appear after ten minutes. My second line was decidedly pink (although very faint) and appeared after only three minutes.

    I must admit that the faint little second line of that home pregnancy test filled me with fear. Had I never been pregnant before and had I never lost a pregnancy before, such a faint possible positive would have left me screaming for joy. However, realizing that I might finally be pregnant again after having lost my first baby to a miscarriage filled me with sheer terror. First, getting pregnant again had been quite the journey. My first post miscarriage period took an arduous fifty-four days to arrive. After that initial period, my cycles were irregular at best, varying between twenty-nine days and forty-two days. After charting my basal body temperature and cervical fluids religiously each day, I also discovered that I was not ovulating during those first few cycles after the loss of my first pregnancy. I was therefore absolutely terrified to even consider that I was finally pregnant again.

    Despite the relief that I knew that I would feel at not needing to continue on the journey of trying to conceive after a miscarriage, just thinking that I might be pregnant again filled me with fear. I always knew that miscarriage was a risk with any pregnancy. However, my first, albeit short, pregnancy was a time of innocence. Miscarriage was a theoretical risk in the back of my mind, but I was an optimistic mama-to-be. I did wait until I was eight weeks into my pregnancy to make an announcement to my friends and coworkers, but I was not afraid of announcing my pregnancy that early. Having lost one baby, I knew that I was going to be more reserved in my happiness with any subsequent pregnancies. That faint little second line just nine days post ovulation brought back the fear of losing another pregnancy to the forefront of my mind. After all, having gone through one miscarriage and subsequently getting pregnant again meant that I could potentially suffer another miscarriage.

    I vividly remember the morning that I first discovered that I was pregnant with my daughter. At just nine days post ovulation, I was faced with an incredibly faint positive home pregnancy test. The rational part of my mind kept reminding me that getting pregnant after a miscarriage did not mean that my chances for experiencing another miscarriage were any higher than for any other woman or any other pregnancy. With that knowledge, I still planned on taking another home pregnancy test the next morning. I was definitely hoping for a more definitive result. I can say, though, that that ninth day post ovulation was the longest day of my life.

    How did you feel when you received your first positive home pregnancy test result?

    April 26, 2011

    Two Positive Home Pregnancy Tests at Ten Days Post OvulationDo you remember your reaction when you found out that you were expecting? At first, I was doubtful and afraid. In fact, I did not quite believe that the first rather faint positive home pregnancy test result. At just nine days post ovulation, I could not comprehend that I might finally have been pregnant again. So, I told myself that I would take another test the next morning and that more positive pregnancy tests would force me to admit that I was expecting.

    When I woke up the next day at ten days post ovulation, I took another early result pregnancy test. The results: I was definitely and without a doubt pregnant. In fact, because I was not ready to trust the results of a single pregnancy test, I peed in a cup instead of on one stick so that I could test multiple times that morning. Thus, instead of the faintly positive result that I received the previous morning, at ten days post ovulation, I was greeted with two very clear positive pregnancy test results. I was finally pregnant! Three little positive lines on three separate tests all showed up in under three minutes. I was without a doubt an expectant mama-to-be.

    With three positive pregnancy tests in my hand (with photos as proof), I was left with little room for denial. The optimistic girl inside me wanted to jump and down and shout to the rooftops in celebration. The cynical part of me, however, was still looking at those faintly positive pregnancy tests with a wary eye. After all I was only three weeks and three days along in my pregnancy. Even an early home pregnancy test could be positive one day and then negative the next, indicating a chemical pregnancy rather than a healthy pregnancy that I would carry to term.

    Knowing that I was finally and without a doubt pregnant again did little to assuage my fears. I remember thinking that I should have been overjoyed with happiness at the moment. I also remember wondering why I was feeling somewhat ambivalent about my then current state despite a total of three positive home pregnancy tests within a two day period. The answer was quite simple: Getting pregnancy after a miscarriage is scary. I was afraid of getting attached to another baby only to experience another loss.

    In an attempt to alleviate some of my pregnancy fears, I did a little more research on miscarriage. Research almost always makes me feel better. Having the facts in hand would help me feel not so scared. According to information from the Mayo Clinic, because I had had only one previous miscarriage, my subsequent risk for pregnancy loss was about the same as for a woman who had never lost a pregnancy via miscarriage, which was about 20%. Knowing that I had the same odds now of losing (or keeping, depending on my viewpoint) my then current pregnancy as before my first miscarriage brought me a little bit of comfort. All pregnancies have about a 20% of loss; my risk was no more and no less. Additionally, as I also learned, the average woman will experience at least one miscarriage during her lifetime. In many cases, the woman never knows that she lost the pregnancy (as is the case of a chemical pregnancy) and will then carry a subsequent pregnancy to term. Anecdotal evidence has also linked miscarriages to stress. I had to keep my spirits up and think positive thoughts about my new pregnancy to move past my fear of miscarriage.

    Despite my denial about the faint positive results that I received on both nine days post ovulation and ten days post ovulation, three positive home pregnancy tests meant that I was definitively pregnant. Although sometimes lying about being negative, early home pregnancy tests are notoriously accurate in giving positives. And, with the multitude of subsequent tests that I would take over the next few days that would also give me positive results, I finally did admit to myself that I was finally a mother-to-be. I may not have feared pregnancy outright, but I was terrified of losing another baby to another miscarriage. But you should cut me some slack. I was a newly pregnant woman with newly pregnant crazy emotions!

    How many pregnancy tests did you take before you finally admitted that you were expecting?

    April 28, 2011

    Giving birth at home was always my first choice with my daughter. Although I had looked into the available local hospitals, I had decided that I was 100% against an unnecessarily medicalized pregnancy, labor, and birth. Thus, when I discovered that I was pregnant with my daughter, I decided to look into midwives to the exclusion of OB-GYNs and other maternal care professionals. In fact, I would not accept just any midwife to provide me with prenatal care or to assist in the birth of my baby. Although I could have chosen any number of midwives in my area, I was interested only in local midwives who attended home births.

    After I lost my first pregnancy to a miscarriage, I seriously began searching for homebirth midwives in my area who would be willing to help me give birth to my future child in the comfort of my own home. After finding the only homebirth midwife in the area who was taking new clients and meeting with her in October 2010, I thought that my search was over. I really liked my future midwife, so all I needed was to get pregnant again. Therefore, when I finally did discover that I was expecting my daughter in April 2011, I thought that I could cross looking for a midwife off my list of things to do over the next thirty-six to thirty-eight weeks.

    After four more positive home pregnancy tests in addition to the three that I had already taken, I asked my husband to call the midwife and let her know that we would be needing her services before and around January 7. (Based on the ovulation date that I had determined via charting my basal body temperatures and through the use of an ovulation predictor kit, my due date was January 7, 2012.) However, as soon as he got off the phone, my husband gave me some terrible news. The homebirth midwife that I liked was pregnant too and due around the same time, so she was not going to be able to take me as a new client. Needless to say, I was a little stressed.

    Fortunately, during my initial investigations into homebirth midwives in the area, I found another midwife who lived within an hour and a half radius of my house. Although the second midwife was not actually taking new clients at the time, because my original midwife could not take me, the second midwife agreed to be my care provider. The second midwife had actually trained the first midwife and had offered to help out with patients of the first midwife during her pregnancy. So began a wonderful relationship with a wonderful homebirth midwife. My husband and I happily drove almost an hour and a half away to meet with our midwife. As long as my pregnancy was healthy and low risk, I was determined to give birth in the comfort of my own home. And, as my readers know, my story ended happily with the homebirth of my daughter, Poppy.

    How did you find your health care provider for your pregnancy and birth?

    Week 5

    May 1, 2011

    As I entered week 5 of pregnancy, I remember that my biggest concern was dealing with dry skin during pregnancy. (I weighed a respectable 122.9 pounds, and my waist measured 33 inches.) I usually suffer from dry skin, and early pregnancy was no exception. If I step out of the shower without immediately slathering lotion all over myself, I know that I am going to end of rather itchy as soon as my skin dries. Similarly, if I do not put hand lotion on my hands before I get into bed, I know that I am going to wake up at some point during the night from the pain of itchy dry skin on the backs of my hands. Therefore, knowing that the hormonal and physical changes of pregnancy can make dry skin worse, I created a plan of attack to deal with my new pregnancy skin dryness.

    First, because my skin gets so dried out after I shower, my main plan for tackling my dry skin was to continue to put lotion on immediately after I stepped out of the shower. I would pat myself dry (but not rub off to protect my delicate skin) and then immediately slather on the lotion. My three favorite lotions at the beginning of my pregnancy were Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Crème, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Tummy Butter, and Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks. All three of these lotions are gentle on the skin and also offered the added benefit of preventing stretch marks. Although I was less concerned with the possibility of getting stretch marks than with treating my dry and itchy skin, using a product made especially for pregnancy was definitely not going to hurt.

    Second, in addition to slathering on the lotion, I also used early pregnancy as the perfect time to start including more liquids into my diet. Drinking plenty of water is not only good for the inside of the body but is also good for the skin. Furthermore, as my pregnancy with my daughter progressed, I would need to increase my fluid intake anyway to maintain the health of my growing baby (and the quantity of my amniotic fluid, in particular), so getting used to drinking more early on would help me out in the long run. Dehydration, in addition to being bad for myself and my daughter, would also lead to more problems with dry skin, so I was doing myself a double favor by drinking more water, decaffeinated tea, milk, and 100% juice.

    For expectant mothers like me who suffer from dry skin in general, early pregnancy can be a drying time. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause some major skin changes. For me, early pregnancy thus meant using more lotion and drinking more fluids to combat my dry and itchy skin during week 5 of pregnancy.

    Did you experience any changes to your skin during early pregnancy?

    May 3, 2011

    During week 5 of pregnancy with my daughter, my biggest complaint was the exhaustion. One of the first symptoms that I experienced was fatigue during early pregnancy. I had some other early signs of pregnancy such as frequent urination, gassiness, some slight nausea, and sore breasts. I was even having cravings for bell peppers, vegetables, and salad. My weight was a respectable 122.9 pounds, and my waist measured 33 inches. However, for the most part, I was just downright tired all of the time.

    I remember one day at work when I had been awake and up for only six hours with about eight hours to go. I was so tired that I already felt like crawling back into bed. My eyelids were heavy, I was having trouble concentrating, and I kept yawning. I was even having trouble doing my job at work because my mind kept drifting off with thoughts of crawling straight into bed as soon as I get home after work that evening. I just remember thinking that my little Poppy wanted me to go to bed!

    Fatigue during early pregnancy is a common symptom that many pregnant women experience. As I learned from my research on early pregnancy symptoms, feeling extra tired is a result of the tremendous amount of energy that a pregnant body requires to build the life-support system, or placenta, for the developing baby. During week 5 of pregnancy, my body was busy building the life-nourishing placenta that Poppy would call home for the next thirty-two weeks. (She was born during week 37 of pregnancy.) No wonder I was tired all the time! My body was literally helping to build another little body.

    Additionally, because frequent urination is also a common early pregnancy symptom, my new need to pee during the night was also putting a damper on the nine to eleven hours of sleep that I usually got each night. Unlike before my pregnancy, I could no longer lounge around in bed for extended periods of time without having to run to the bathroom at least once! Even resting on the couch before and after work required at least one bathroom break after a while. I needed to rest, but my body was absolutely out to thwart my efforts.

    Why the early pregnancy symptom of frequent urination? An increased need to pee all the time is one of the most frequent early pregnancy signs and symptoms that many expectant mothers experience. The reason? A growing uterus and skyrocketing hormone levels. Because there ass nothing I could do about this symptom, I just made sure to use a bathroom whenever I needed to and made sure I know where the bathrooms are wherever I go. And, like with my fatigue, I was happy to live in the bathroom for the next nine months so long as my baby was born healthy.

    Fortunately, with the end of the semester approaching, I knew that I would get a reprieve from fatigue during early pregnancy soon enough. I had just a few more class days left that semester, and my homework was almost done. Because I was not taking another class until the end of the summer, I knew that I was going to have a little more time to relax. Plus, with the approach of summer and some nicer weather, I would soon be able to get outside, get some exercise, and get a little sunshine, all of which would ultimately help me sleep better, meaning that I could get a little relief from my fatigue during early pregnancy. And, as I can happily report to other tired mamas-to-be, my tiredness did eventually pass. Maybe fatigue during pregnancy really is practice for after the baby arrives!

    Did you experience fatigue during early pregnancy?

    Week 6

    May 9, 2011

    Because of the unhappy end to my first pregnancy the year before, I was exceptionally nervous about sharing the news about my pregnancy with my daughter. In fact, I did not share the news with the majority of the people that I knew until I was about sixteen weeks pregnant. However, I did want to tell my parents that they were going to be grandparents. And what better day to let my mom and dad know about their first grandchild than Mother’s Day! So, during week 6 of pregnancy when I still weighed just 120.3 pounds, I shared the news of my impending happy arrival.

    My dad’s birthday is in early May and usually falls near or on Mother’s Day. Since neither of my parents are big into material gifts, my husband and I decided to take my mom and dad out to a special lunch at TGIF. I had recently been shocked to discover that I was finally pregnant again at just nine days post ovulation and after months of trying to conceive. Although I did not want to believe that I was finally pregnant again after that first positive pregnancy test, twelve more positive results since that day have finally convinced me. As a result, I was able to say “Happy Mother’s Day, Grandma!” to my mom that year.

    During that Mother’s Day lunch, I was fairly quiet. I did not really feel like contributing to the conversation much because I was anxious to share the news of my pregnancy with my parents. Finally at the end of the meal, I casually said to my mom and dad, “Don’t make any plans around January 7.” Curious about the specific date, my parents asked me why to which I replied, “Because that is my due date.” Boy were my parents thrilled! My mom and dad were so excited about becoming grandparents. (You should have seen how excited they were when Poppy was finally born!)

    At only five weeks and one day pregnant with just some fatigue, thirst, nausea, and food aversions to remind me of my condition, I was still a little anxious to share my news with my parents. I was trying my best to keep my hopes up that nothing would go wrong, but I was still rather afraid of losing another baby. With that said, my pregnancy continued wonderfully, meaning that the next year I got to celebrate my first Mother’s Day with my daughter.

    Week 7

    May 16, 2011

    During the first few weeks of my pregnancy, my biggest complaints were an overwhelming feeling of tiredness and some extra itchy skin on top of my usual skin problems. During week 7 of pregnancy, I still weighed only 120.3 pounds and my waist measured just 34 inches. I was still feeling more tired than usual, my breasts were continuing to get bigger, and my skin was still bothering me with extra dryness and more pimples. However, once week 7 of pregnancy rolled around, I began experiencing the worst symptom of my entire pregnancy: morning sickness.

    Although medical professionals have yet to agree on the cause of nausea during pregnancy, the most likely culprit is hormones. The increase in HCG, estrogen, and progesterone in the body can lead to an upset stomach, queasiness and nausea, and even vomiting. Furthermore, despite the name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day: morning, noon, evening, and night or any time in between.

    When I was six weeks and two days into my pregnancy with my daughter, I began experiencing morning sickness. Rather than vomiting, however, my morning sickness manifested as a constant feeling of queasiness. Although feeling nauseated all the time was annoying, I would much rather feel sick than actually throw up. Early on during week 7 of pregnancy, I had thrown up only once and spit up another time. I felt queasy all of the time, but at least I was not throwing up. Later on in my pregnancy, I did throw up more from my morning sickness, but early on I just felt an overwhelming sense of queasiness.

    Additionally, although I was not actually throwing up, in addition to the constant queasiness of my morning sickness during pregnancy, I was also experiencing some moments of dry heaving during week 7 of pregnancy. Every so often, I would feel the need to run to the bathroom and heave over the sink. For the most part, just heaving made me feel better without actually throwing up. Again, dry heaving is annoying, but I would much rather deal with dry heaving than actual vomiting. I just really hate throwing up!

    To keep my morning sickness during week 7 of pregnancy at bay, I mostly tried to avoid the things that increased the effects of my morning sickness during pregnancy. For example, I avoided strong smells that turned my stomach. I also avoided foods of which the mere thought could send me running for my throw up bucket. I also tried to remind my self that morning sickness during early pregnancy has been linked to better pregnancy outcomes, a fact that I promised myself to keep in mind should my constant queasiness have turn into actual vomiting.

    Did you have morning sickness during pregnancy?

    Week 8

    May 25, 2011

    I first began experiencing problems with my skin during week 5 of pregnancy. The hormonal changes in my body were causing my skin to be drier and itchier than usual. I have always had to deal with dry and sensitive skin, and early pregnancy was no different. As soon as I stepped out of the shower and before I dried off completely, I slathered lotion on all over myself to avoid the pains as my dry skin stretched over my entire body. I expected my pregnancy with my daughter to be no different. In fact, I was even hoping that pregnancy would grant me a little reprieve from my dry skin. I was hoping that the combination of the approaching summer and the hormonal changes in my body would result in slightly oilier skin than usual. Then week 8 of pregnancy rolled around.

    During week 8 of pregnancy, I weighed a respectable 119.3 pounds (down a pound from the previous week). Some of my other pregnancy symptoms included larger breasts, pimples, heartburn, and nausea. However, next to my ever present nausea and queasiness, my biggest complaint over the previous two weeks of my pregnancy had been skin problems. The skin on my abdomen, stomach, chest, and sides of my torso had been super itchy all the time. Changes to the skin are common during pregnancy because of hormones and other physical changes as the body changes shape and grows larger. However, my new itchiness was starting to impact the quality of my life.

    My initial plan to combat dry skin during pregnancy had been to increase the amount of lotion that I applied each and every day. Unfortunately, though, slathering on the lotion immediately after my shower was no longer bringing me any real relief. As soon as the lotion dried, the intense itchiness returned. I even tried different kinds of lotions, butters, and creams in a futile attempt to find a solution that worked. I tried regular body lotion, cocoa butter, tummy butter made especially for pregnancy, my more expensive body butter from Victoria’s Secret, and even my ultra-thick hand lotion from Goldbond. My itchiness prevailed.

    To continue my battle against my dry and rather itchy skin during my eighth week of pregnancy, I decided to a few bottles of some new lotions. I was willing to try any brand at almost any price to find some relief for my itchy skin during pregnancy. Luckily for my pocketbook, I did have a number of coupons for Suave and Vaseline lotions that would allow me try some new products without costing me a fortune. Unfortunately, though, the only real cure for my dry, itchy skin was giving birth to my daughter an returning to my former self (albeit, a bit more stretched out). Knowing that itchy skin during pregnancy is a common complaint among expectant woman did bring me a little comfort. And I am very happy to report that the dry, itchy skin during pregnancy does go away postpartum.

    Did you have dry or itchy skin while pregnant?

    Week 9

    June 1, 2011

    When I was pregnant with my daughter, I first began experiencing some rather unpleasant morning sickness during week 7 of pregnancy. I felt queasy all of the time, and I could no longer enjoy a cold glass of milk. As I clearly remember, I had not only morning sickness but also afternoon, evening, and night sickness. I just felt like I was going to throw up all the time and at any moment. Fortunately, though, during those first week weeks of my pregnancy, I just felt sick but did not actually throw up. But, then, on the weekend of week 9 of pregnancy, my pregnancy morning sickness, or, rather, pregnancy all-the-time sickness, turned from general queasiness into full blown vomiting.

    During week 9 of pregnancy, I weighed a respectable 121.6 pounds, which fortunately was an increase from the week before. My overly dry skin was still bothering me terribly, but my biggest complaint going into the third month of my pregnancy was the morning sickness. Due to Memorial Day, I had a four day weekend off from work and had been looking forward to the time off. One of the activities that my husband and I do together is take a day to do our monthly grocery shopping. Sadly, though, the shopping trip was not quite as fun as I had planned. Although I was having fun saving money with coupons and sales, I felt nauseated the entire day. I even thought that I was going to throw up a few times, and my husband was afraid that I was going to faint or fall over.

    In an effort to get my morning sickness under control, I even stopped a the local Motherhood Maternity to buy some Preggie Pop Drops, which are hard sour candies that are supposed to help ease the nausea of pregnancy morning sickness. The candies did not really work at that time during my pregnancy, but, later on, I did find that the combined sweetness and sourness Sour Patch Kids helped to settle my stomach a bit.

    The next day of that weekend, my husband and I had planned to have a date day during which we would go out to lunch and then see a movie. We had planned to see the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but my morning sickness during pregnancy got the better of me that day. After eating lunch at my favorite local Mexican restaurant, a feeling of queasiness crept up on me again. While walking around Walmart prior to the movie, I gagged a few times and almost threw up. As we were then driving to the theater, I told my husband that I needed to go home because I was pretty sure that I was going to throw up sometime soon. I wanted to enjoy the movie, not spend the whole time worrying that I was going to throw up in my popcorn. Sadly, our date day saw an early end.

    Because of my morning sickness during week 9 of pregnancy, I spent the next two days napping on the couch. I felt absolutely nasty. Then, on Monday night as I tried to sleep, the queasiness of my morning sickness turned into full blown vomiting. I threw up. And I threw up a lot! I woke my poor husband up as I continually jumped out of bed to rush to the bathroom. He also had to help empty the throw up bucket so that I would not throw up again. (Vomit makes me vomit.) Although he was a bit cranky from being woken up in the middle of the night, he was very helpful and incredibly understanding. And we were both ready for my morning sickness to pass!

    Did you experience morning sickness while pregnant?

    June 2, 2011

    When I was eight weeks and five days into my pregnancy with my daughter, I wrote down that I was extremely excited and very relieved to have gotten past the point at which I had miscarried my first pregnancy the year before. In light of my first loss, I was also feeling strangely happy (although, I will admit, still a little annoyed) about all the pregnancy symptoms that I had been experiencing so far. To commemorate each and every little milestone of my pregnancy, I faithfully wrote down my symptoms in my pregnancy diary each week.

    The first of my early pregnancy symptoms during week 9 of pregnancy was nausea. All too many times throughout the day including while I was at work, I found myself running to the bathroom to throw up. I generally hate throwing up. However, knowing that morning sickness is statistically linked to a lowered change of miscarriage, I was happy to spend the early weeks (and, by early, I mean the first sixteen or so weeks) of my pregnancy feeling constantly queasy and occasionally vomiting all for the sake of my baby. I gladly suffered for my precious little Poppy!

    In addition to feeling sick to my stomach most of the time, another symptom that I was dealing with during week 9 of pregnancy was fatigue. I felt tired all the time. Unfortunately, because of a combination of nasal allergy symptoms and pregnancy congestion, I was finding that sleeping well was becoming harder and harder to do. For example, I often found myself waking up a couple of times a night because I was so stuffed up that I could no longer breathe through my nose. My midwife assured me that I could safely take Benadryl to ease my allergy symptoms. I wanted to take as little medication as possible for the sake of my daughter, but I did end up needing to take an antihistamine almost daily for a while just so that I could breathe and get a little sleep. The need for sleep outweighed my desire not to take any medicine.

    The other major early pregnancy symptom that I was experiencing during week 9 of pregnancy was changes to my skin. I was super itchy on my stomach, abdomen, and chest. No matter how much lotion I slathered on, I was still feeling dry and itchy. I also found myself getting more and more pimples on my face, which was a battle that I had been waging (and losing) long before the ninth week of my pregnancy. I was also finding pimples on my chest and thighs! Since typical acne treatments like salicylic acid may be problematic for a developing fetus, the only thing that I was using on my skin to treat my pimples was Cetaphil and plain water. However, I was more than happy to put up with any skin problems for the sake of my unborn daughter.

    For me, week 9 of pregnancy meant nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and dry skin and more pimples. What symptoms did you experience early in your pregnancy?

    Week 10

    June 5, 2011

    Skin Rash During PregnancyAs week 10 of pregnancy with my daughter began, I noticed that my tummy was beginning to stick out, much to my delight. I weighed 121.7 pounds, which was the same as the week before, and my waist measured 34 inches around. I was beginning to notice a back ache, and I was also experiencing headaches. However, my biggest complaint during week 10 of pregnancy, in addition to the extremely dry and rather itchy skin that I was already dealing with, was the strange little red mark that itched liked crazy on my legs.

    When I woke up one Friday morning during week 10 of pregnancy, I found myself dealing with my usual dry skin and even more pimples than normal. However, by that evening, I had developed some sort of weird skin rash on my legs. After a little bit of research, I discovered that, because of changing hormone levels, skin rashes sometimes occur during pregnancy. I therefore wondered if the four red, itchy circle-shaped marks on my legs were a result of my crazy hormone levels.

    Because I also suffer from allergies, which sometimes includes skin allergy symptoms, I thought that my skin rash during pregnancy might also be some sort of allergy hives. At the time, pollen levels were unusually high according to the pollen count app on my phone. With my moderate to severe allergies, an allergic reaction in the form of a rash was not out of the question. Perhaps my time spent out at garage sales looking for baby gear that morning had brought me into contact with something to which I was allergic. My new skin rash during pregnancy could definitely have been an allergic reaction that was exacerbated by my ever increasing hormone levels.

    That evening before I went to bed, I took a Benadryl that I hoped would alleviate the swelling and itchiness of my new skin rash during pregnancy. If my newest skin problems during week 10 of pregnancy were the result of an allergic reaction, an antihistamine would help relieve the symptoms. Unfortunately, when I woke up the next morning, the spots were bigger and itchier.

    Because I was growing a little more concerned with the worsening rash on my legs, I stopped by her house to talk to my mom that next day. After she took a look at the red marks, she had a verdict that I had not considered: bug bites. Bites from an insect would definitely have explained the symmetry of the marks as well as the itchiness. In any case, the only course of action that I could take for either an allergic reaction or insect bites as a combination of antihistamines and time. And I am happy to report that my weird skin rash during pregnancy did clear up in a couple of days, which was good because I could not deal with one more skin problem during pregnancy unless something else cleared up first!

    Did you experience any skin problems during pregnancy?

    June 5, 2011

    Week 10 of pregnancy marked the week that I first noticed my belly growing larger as my daughter grew larger inside me. I was still dealing with morning, noon, evening, and night sickness, and I had also developed a weird skin rash that I have since concluded was the result of bug bites. Pregnancy can sure be full of surprises, some wonderful and some less than wonderful. In addition to all of my other symptoms, back pain during pregnancy was one of those surprises that was less than wonderful.

    As accident-prone as I am, I had never really experienced serious back pain before the third month of pregnancy with my daughter. When I was younger, my back would sometimes feel a little achy after a strenuous gymnastics class. Regardless, I could always still move just fine despite a twinge of pain in my back every now and then. And I often get knots in the muscles in my back and neck, which my husband easily fixes with a relaxing massage. However, my newest symptom during week 10 of pregnancy came as quite a shock: back pain.

    I first began experiencing back pain during pregnancy one evening when I was playing a karaoke game on my Wii. I had been lying flat on my back on the floor when I began feeling some rather intense pain my back. I could not make the tiniest movement without hurting. I could not even cough without sending a searing shot of pain through my lower back. Since I had been feeling relatively fine earlier that day, I was surprised to find myself suffering from back pain during pregnancy for the first time so late in the day.

    In addition to suddenly experiencing pain in my back at the end of the day, I was even more surprised to realize that lying flat on my back on the carpeted but hard floor with a pillow propping up my head had brought my back pain to fruition to begin with. My husband, who sometimes suffers from his own back pain, finds that lying flat on a hard surface brings him some relief. Some of my friends who also experience back pain on a regular basis also always end up lying flat on the floor in an effort to relieve the pain.

    Thus, on top of my nausea, fatigue, skin problems, and other symptoms of early pregnancy, week 10 of pregnancy brought me the joys of back pain during pregnancy. When I finally decided to get up off the floor that night, my husband had to practically lift me straight up because bending more than a little bit sent another twinge of excruciating pain through my body. On the bright side, though, the new pain in my back did allow me to finally brush and floss my teeth that night without gagging because I was concentrating on the pain rather than my nausea.

    When I woke up the next morning, my back pain during pregnancy had fortunately lessened. I could move a little more easily and without twinges of searing pain shooting down my lower back. I still had some stiffness that made walking and otherwise moving a bit uncomfortable, but I was no longer in intense pain.

    Back pain is a common symptom during pregnancy. In general, back pain results from the growing and stretching that the body goes through as the baby grows bigger. However, as my mom called to tell me that morning, I did need to keep an eye on my back pain during pregnancy in case my new symptom was the result of a kidney infection. Back pain is also a symptom of a kidney infection, which is especially dangerous during pregnancy. However, the relief I experienced overnight made me think my back pain was nothing so serious.

    My lower back pain during pregnancy continued until the beginning of my second trimester. Then, in my third trimester, my back pain, which moved from my lower back to below my right shoulder blade, started up again. The most likely cause of my third trimester back pain was that my daughter was poking me in my gallbladder. However, as with all symptoms of pregnancy, my back pain finally did go away after the birth of my daughter. And I would definitely have endured an entire nine months of back pain just to have my daughter in my arms.

    Did you experience back pain during pregnancy?

    June 6, 2011

    When I look back at week 10 of pregnancy, four main symptoms stick out vividly in my mind. I weighed 121.7 pounds, and my waist measured 34 inches around. I was also beginning to notice a slight baby bump on my abdomen. With my growing belly, however, also came some new sensations in my abdomen. For example, I would sometimes feel a pulling sensation on one side or the other of my abdomen near my uterus that suggested to me that I was starting to feel my ligaments stretch. Also as my belly grew, I started feeling strange sensations that accompanied my need to pee more often than usual. I was starting to be able to tell when I had waited too long to take a trip to the bathroom when I started feeling some subtle pain in my abdomen as my bladder fought for space against my ever growing uterus. During week 10 of pregnancy, I was needing to go to the bathroom more often and with more urgency.

    In addition to the new sensations in my abdomen as a result of my growing uterus and baby, I was also experiencing pain my in lower back. In fact, I would have gone as far to say that my lower back was as sore as all heck. I also felt extremely stiff. Depending on which way I tried to move or bend, my back just plain hurt. As far as I could discern, my lower back pain during week 10 of pregnancy was just a common symptom that many mothers-to-be experienced. Eventually my discomfort did lessen, although my back pain did return during my third trimester. On the bright side, the soreness in my lower back was a great excuse for me to ask my husband to give me a back massage a few times a day!

    If aches and pains in my abdomen and lower back were not enough, I was still suffering from morning sickness during week 10 of pregnancy. I still vividly remember that night that I threw up, spontaneously and completely out-of-the-blue, while I was brushing my teeth. I had for once not been feeling at all queasy that evening. However, I must have triggered my super sensitive gag reflex with my toothbrush while brushing my teeth because, one minute I was brushing my teeth without a care in the world while the next minute I was throwing up in the sink. Vomiting is one of my least favorite sick feelings, but at least I felt fine after I did throw up that night. And, despite my continued nausea, I was finding myself feeling generally queasy less of the time during week 10 of pregnancy.

    Finally, the last few weeks of my first trimester also brought me more and more pimples that made me look more like a teenaged girl than a grown woman who was expecting her first child. While bemoaning my acne in my mirror, I often found myself wishing that I just slather on my face washes and face creams that contained salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. My skin would have cleared right up with the application of both chemicals. However, since I knew that current research was inconclusive about the potential harmful effects of both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide on a developing unborn baby, I simply tried to ignore all of my annoying pimples by reminding myself that I was sacrificing my vanity for the health and wellness of my daughter. I survived my teenage years with pimples. I could survive a few months while I was pregnant.

    What symptoms did you have during week 10 of pregnancy?

    June 7, 2011

    When I was nine weeks and three days pregnant with my daughter, I wrote down that I was most definitely suffering from nausea during early pregnancy. Although my queasiness was pretty constant, I was fortunate in that my morning sickness had been pretty mild compared to some women. Some days I did feel ill for most of the time, and I did spend my share of time in the bathroom throwing up. I could even boast to having vomited in the bathroom on every floor of my six-floor library. Fortunately, though, I never experienced the extreme and unrelenting nausea that some expectant mothers suffer through. However, I did have some pretty definite triggers for my nausea during the first third of my pregnancy.

    The first trigger for my nausea during pregnancy involved food. Even though I was queasy most of the time, I still tried to eat as well as possible. However, if I ate too much at one, I would find myself throwing up or at least feeling sick to my stomach. For example, one evening I ate way too many tortilla chips with spinach and artichoke dip at dinner. Throughout the rest of the night, my stomach felt uncomfortably full. While I was brushing my teeth before bed that evening, I ended up throwing up in the sink. Likewise, if I went too long between eating and let my stomach get too empty, I also felt like I was going to throw up. In other words, food and I were not getting along very well early on in my pregnancy.

    While on the subject of throwing up while brushing my teeth, the second trigger for my nausea during pregnancy involved my overactive gag reflex. While I was pregnant with my daughter, my gag reflex was in absolute overdrive! For example, I often found myself gagging or even throwing up into the sink while attempting to brush my teeth during my pregnancy. Flossing was even worse. Sticking my hands into my mouth to floss my farthest back molars was an unfortunate adventure. I was never sure if I was going to be able to successfully complete the task anymore. On nights when I felt especially queasy, I had to skip flossing altogether to keep from vomiting. And do not even get me started on going to the dentist while pregnant!

    Finally, the most bizarre of my triggers for my nausea during early pregnancy was walking too fast. Sometimes when I found myself rushing to get to the bathroom, I ended up feeling like I was about to throw up because I walked too quickly. And I could forget about running. I could just image myself trying to run but then stopping after a few paces to throw up. Yes, some of my triggers for my nausea during pregnancy were a little weird. Certain foods, overeating, not eating enough, and brushing my teeth are pretty usual culprits. However, I never would have thought that too much physical exertion would leave me feeling nauseated as well!

    Did you have any weird triggers for your morning sickness during pregnancy?

    Week 11

    June 14, 2011

    During week 11 of pregnancy, my husband and I met with our doula for the first time. I was also eagerly awaiting my first appointment with my midwife the week after. In comparison to my first pregnancy that sadly ended in a miscarriage, I was experiencing far more symptoms during early pregnancy, which led me to believe that my unborn baby was perfectly healthy. Everything seemed to be going well thus far. I weighed a respectable 119.9 pounds, and my stomach was getting bigger. So, what were the symptoms that I was experiencing during week 11 of pregnancy?

    First, as I have already written many times before, my pregnancy with my daughter found me dealing with morning sickness. With my first pregnancy, I had felt only slightly queasy a few times during the eight to nine weeks that I was pregnancy. And I never even came close to throwing up. With my second pregnancy, however, I felt nauseated much of the time during those early weeks. In fact, my list of triggers that made me throw up or at least want to throw up was rather lengthy.

    One morning, for example, I asked my husband to make my favorite brand of white pizza for lunch. Unfortunately, though, as soon as I smelled the garlic on the baking pizza, I threw up the ice water that I had been drinking. My husband had to open the windows in the kitchen quickly to get rid of the smell. He also ate as much of the pizza as quickly as possible to get as much as possible out of the possible without wasting too much. I was also having trouble with soda. Although I tried to limit my soda intake as much as possible for the sake of my baby, I still wanted some Coke every now and again. However, soda was also giving me an upset stomach early on in my pregnancy. Luckily for me, nausea during pregnancy is believed to be correlated to a reduced risk of miscarriage. And I would gladly suffer from constant queasiness again for the health of my daughter.

    During week 11 of pregnancy, I was also noticing some strange changes to my skin. In addition to more pimples on my face and chest (and thighs and bum), I was also having problems with extremely dry and rather itchy skin on my stomach and abdomen. Despite slathering on as much lotion and cocoa butter as humanly possible, I was still flaky and itchy. I also began noticing that I was bruising more easily than usual. At that point in my pregnancy, I had three sizable bruises on my leg thigh, probably the result of banging into the corner of my bed frame. However, as I learned after doing some quick research, bruising during pregnancy is common due to changes to the skin as well as to an increased volume of blood in the body.

    Also during week 11 of pregnancy, pain in my lower back continued to plague me. For almost two weeks, I had been suffering from lower back aches and pains. Some days were better. Some days were worse. One day, for example, no matter how I moved or sat or stretched, I felt a twinge in my lower back. However, I just kept reminding myself that my lower back pain was a good sign. Pain in my back meant that my body was stretching and growing to accommodate my developing baby right on track. And I would gladly go through the worst back pain in the world again just to have my daughter with me today.

    What symptoms did you experience during the first trimester of your pregnancy?

    June 16, 2011

    During week 11 of pregnancy when I was only a mere ten weeks and five days along, I had already begun noticing physical changes to my body. I still weighed a respectable 119 pounds with my lack of much weight gain due to the constant queasiness that I had been experiencing that made eating rather difficult. The biggest physical change that I had experienced throughout the previous weeks of my pregnancy was aches and pains my lower back. At that point, my back had been feeling sore for almost two whole weeks. Sometimes I would have trouble getting out of bed or off the couch because of the pain. My back hurt most in the morning right after I woke up and late at night right before going to bed. As both my midwife and my doula assured me, the pain that I was experiencing was normal, the result of my uterus growing and expanding inside my abdomen.

    In addition to lower back pain, I had also begun to notice other physical changes to my body during week 11 of pregnancy. One day, after making another trip to the bathroom to pee, I realized that my underwear was fitting a bit more snuggly than usual. Because I am such a small woman, I was already developing a little baby bump so early in my pregnancy. When I looked back at the weekly pregnancy pictures that I had begun snapping during week 5 of pregnancy, the change to my belly was even more noticeable. My abdomen was definitely protruding more than usual!

    Another physical change that I noticed during week 11 of pregnancy was the size of my breasts. As my body prepared for the birth of my daughter, my breasts grew in size as the glands that would produce milk grew and developed. By the third month of my pregnancy, I already had to buy new bras. I had gone from a 32C to a 34C in just a few short weeks. I remember thinking to myself that, if my breasts got any bigger, I was going to start looking disproportional. Of course, my ever-expanding baby bump would soon distract from my disproportionally large chest!

    Finally, in addition to my bigger belly and bigger breasts, I also began noticing bigger thighs and a rounder butt during week 11 of pregnancy. One day while riding in the car, I looked down at my legs, and, because I was wearing short shorts, I could clearly see that my thighs were larger than before my pregnancy. I had also realized that my butt was more than just a handful. The extra fat that I was putting on was important for the development of my unborn baby and would help during breastfeeding after I gave birth. However, what I could not figure out was that, despite my increasing size, I had not yet gained any significant weight. In fact, because of my morning sickness, I had even lost a few pounds by week 11 of pregnancy. My wonderment did not last long, though, because, by the end of my pregnancy, I had gained a respectable 31 pounds.

    What physical changes did you first notice during pregnancy?

    Week 12

    June 20, 2011

    When I finally reached the end of my first trimester at the end of June 2011, I felt an incredible sense of relief. The risk of miscarriage drops considerably at the end of week 12 of pregnancy. On the afternoon of June 24, I heard my daughter’s heartbeat for the first time. At my first visit with my midwife, my daughter’s heart was pounding away at 155 beats per minute. When I heard that wonderful noise for the first time, I could not help but smile and breathe a little sigh of relief.

    During week 12 of pregnancy, my daughter was roughly the size of a lime, measuring at just over two (2) inches in length from crown to rump and weighing about half (0.5) an ounce. She also had developed all of her major organs and vital body systems, although she still had a lot of growing to do. My daughter, who was considered at fetus at that point in her development, was busy moving around inside my uterus: She was kicking, bending, stretching, and even making faces, although I would not feel any of that movement for another couple of weeks.

    As for me, I weighed 117.9 pounds during week 12 of pregnancy. I had lost a few pounds since the beginning of my pregnancy due to constant queasiness and morning sickness. The end of my first trimester also found me still feeling more tired than usual. I grabbed a nap whenever I could. However, my biggest complaint during the third month of pregnancy was pain and discomfort in my back and abdomen.

    Week 12 of pregnancy still found me experiencing aches and pains in my lower back. Some days were better. Some days were worse. Certain times of the day were also worse than others. Often I would go to bed in pain and wake up in pain. Some days, my husband would have to give me a massage before I went to sleep. Other days, though, I could get out of bed all by myself without groaning in agony. Even on good days, though, as the day wore on, the ache in my lower back would get progressively worse. I blamed my ever growing uterus and my stretching ligaments. Fortunately, the pain in my lower back would get better as my pregnancy progressed on. Of course, the pain would eventually move up higher in my back, but not until I was almost in my third trimester!

    Speaking of my uterus during week 12 of pregnancy, I began noticing more growth and expansion in my abdomen one afternoon at work. I was pretty sure that my uterus was doing a little expanding one afternoon. Right after I got to work that day, I started to feel a small ache in my abdomen. I was not in pain, just feeling more uncomfortable than usual. No matter which way I moved, I still had an uncomfortable little ache in my abdomen. I was not too concerned though because I was sure that the ache I felt were the ligaments and muscles in my abdomen stretching out to make room for my ever-expanding uterus and baby.

    However, although I was still dealing with aches and pains in my lower back and abdomen, some of my other first trimester pregnancy symptoms seemed to be easing off a bit by week 12 of pregnancy. Although I still found myself dealing with a few moments of nausea here and there, I generally felt less queasy more of the time. By the end of week 12, I had not actually thrown up for quite a few days. I still gagged while brushing my teeth, but I was able to completely brush, floss, and rinse again. My appetite was also coming back. I was not completely back to feeling like my old self, but my pregnancy did seem to get a little easier after the first twelve weeks or so.

    Did you have an easy or difficult first trimester of pregnancy?

    June 22, 2011

    I am not a big fan of the dentist. Do not get me wrong: My current dentist is wonderful as far as dentists go. In the past, however, I have had some downright unpleasant experiences with dental care. My very first dentist who I saw from the time that I first got my baby teeth in until I got my own dental insurance kept insisting that I needed expensive dental surgery to remove my wisdom tooth. Of my four wisdom teeth, one has come through the gums but is completely sideways. However, because this tooth is not bothering any of my other teeth and because I floss and brush this tooth every day, I have wisely refused and still have my crooked wisdom tooth to this day.

    Next came the dentist who I can describe with no other word than evil. When I first visited this dentist, he announced that I had four cavities that needed fillings. Although I brush my teeth daily, I have poor enamel, so I get a lot of cavities despite my best efforts (and despite the dental sealant that I had put on my teeth as a child). However, this dentist, while numbing my gums for the fillings, jabbed me incorrectly with the needle, resulting in tooth sensitivity for the next year as well as a sizeable bruise on my cheek for the next two weeks. I flat out refused to ever go back to that quack dentist.

    I eventually found a nice dentist is a nearby town who is great as far as dentists go. However, with all my bad experiences with past dental care, I was definitely not looking forward to going to the dentist while pregnant. Unfortunately, during the first trimester of my pregnancy with my daughter, I had to go to my six-month appointment that had already been scheduled months in advance. I still vividly recall my first experience with pregnancy dental care.

    Because I had been suffering from morning, noon, and night sickness for almost the entire first part of my pregnancy, I was terrified of throwing up on the dentist or the dental hygienist or both while visiting the dentist while pregnant. Whenever I would brush and floss my teeth, I would end up gagging and would sometimes throw up. When I would throw up in the sink, I would have to brush my teeth again, which would just make me gag even more. I was also having an especially hard time with flossing because of the mechanics of flossing. And, although I liked to finish my dental care routine with a mouth rinse, I could rinse my mouth with Listerine for only about five seconds because I would almost vomit in the sink again. I was so sure that I was going to get sick in that uncomfortable dentist office chair while visiting the dentist while pregnant.

    For my six-month dental checkup, I made my husband come with me to the dentist office. If I were to throw up on myself or on anyone else, my husband was sure as heck going to be there to comfort me! He was also going to be there to back me up in case anyone gave me any trouble with my oversensitive gag reflex. Fortunately for me and my poor little tummy, both the dental hygienist and the dentist were very understanding about my pregnancy-induced gagging. The dental hygienist even kept asking me if I were okay while she cleaned my teeth. She was also very good about getting her hands out of my mouth when I gagged while she was attempting to floss my teeth. So, despite my fears and my past bad experiences with dental care, going to the dentist while pregnant ended up not being all that bad.

    Did you go to the dentist while pregnant? How was your experience with pregnancy dental care?

    June 22, 2011

    The first trimester of my pregnancy really put a damper on my healthy diet during pregnancy. I have never been a huge fan of food. I will admit that I really like some foods such as spicy taco chili on a cool fall day, my Grandma Nordine’s mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving and Christmas, red velvet cake with cream cheese icing on my birthday, but, in general, I eat only because I have to eat to stay alive. I am just not a food fanatic. I derive pleasure from food, but food does not always equal pleasure for me. In fact, I would say that my attitude towards food is pretty healthy, especially in a society that is currently struggling with an obesity epidemic.

    Unfortunately, the first trimester of pregnancy made my indifference towards food even greater. On top of the morning sickness that made me fearful to eat anything because I was afraid of throwing anything and everything back up, I was also having trouble finding any type of food that sounded even a little bit appetizing. My increased distaste for food was definitely making eating a healthy diet during pregnancy a bit more difficult.

    During the first few weeks of my pregnancy, my diet remained pretty healthy. I was craving mostly fruits and veggies including some vegetables that I normally did not like very much. I bought a bunch of vegetables and ate those with dill dip. I was even eating bell peppers, which I usually dislike because of the strong taste. I also wanted salads. Whenever my husband and I would go out to dinner, I would usually order a salad. I particularly loved getting a Greek salad with a bowl of yummy cheddar and ale soup from my favorite local restaurant and microbrewery. I also drank a lot of fruit smoothies made with mostly fruit and a little bit of vanilla yogurt. Maybe the reason that my daughter loves fruits and vegetables so much is because I ate so many early on in my pregnancy.

    Since those first few weeks of the first trimester, my diet during pregnancy took a turn for the worst. When I was feeling the sickest to my stomach, I did not want to eat anything. Meals were an absolute battle. I basically choked down whatever I could stomach just to get some calories in me. I was eating a lot of mashed potatoes and drinking a lot of ice water. Even bland foods like bread and crackers were not sitting well in my stomach. I threw up quite frequently after meals. My favorite beverage at the time, milk, also made me sick. I even lost a few pounds at the beginning of my pregnancy because of my lack of appetite and constant queasiness.

    However, by the time that I reached week 12 of pregnancy, my diet during pregnancy had improved greatly. I discovered that I really loved baby food at the moment. Fortunately, baby food is easy, cheap, and healthy. For example, for lunch one afternoon at the end of my first trimester, I ate four jars of baby food: lasagna, peas, peaches with squash, and apples with oatmeal. Overall, my lunch that day was pretty healthy, especially when compared to my lack of meals the few weeks prior. Best of all, I kept all of the baby food down and barely gagged while eating. If you ever find yourself struggling to eat a healthy diet during pregnancy because of morning sickness, I highly recommend picking up a few jars of commercial baby food. The bland but healthy food may help you eat well enough to get past those annoying weeks of nausea.

    What did your diet look like during week 12 of pregnancy?

    June 26, 2011

    When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I went to our first prenatal check up with our homebirth midwife during week 12 of pregnancy when I was eleven weeks and six days along. I was super excited but also a little nervous. I was excited about hearing the fetal heartbeat for the first time. I was nervous because of the initial fiasco with finding a midwife who would attend a planned homebirth. I had really liked the first midwife that we had initially interviewed. However, I also really liked the second midwife, who had actually trained the first. So, with some questions in tow, James and I set out for our first prenatal check up with our midwife on the Friday afternoon on June 24.

    During week 12 of pregnancy, I weighed about 117.9 pounds, which was down a bit from before I conceived my daughter. My biggest symptoms were back ache and fatigue. I had also noticed my abdomen had started to stick out a little. Because of the loss of my first pregnancy to a miscarriage, my biggest fear for my first prenatal check up was that the midwife would not be able to find the fetal heartbeat with the fetal Doppler. Starting around week 12 of pregnancy, a fetal Doppler will pick up the majority of fetal heartbeats. Therefore, as soon as we arrived for our appointment, I was feeling anxious about finally hearing the heartbeat.

    The first that happened at my first prenatal check up was that my midwife took my weight. According to her scale, I weighed 118.5 pounds, which was about two pounds less than at our initial visit back in April. Although many pregnant women gain a few pounds during the first trimester, some also lose some weight as well. Because of my constant queasiness and occasional vomiting during the past eight weeks, I had ended up losing some weight. However, my minor weight loss was not a big deal for me or my developing baby.

    After being weighed, I was still eagerly awaiting the chance to hear the fetal heartbeat for the first time. However, first my midwife and her student midwife-in-training went over the history forms I had filled out. Then I changed into a robe. Next the student midwife took my vital signs and performed a basic checked up. Finally, after a short period of time that seemed like an eternity, she started checking on my baby.

    I was both nervous and excited when the midwife pulled out the fetal Doppler. Despite the pile of positive home pregnant tests that said otherwise, part of me was still sure that I was not actually pregnant. However, the midwife-in-training easily found the fetal heartbeat. My daughter then stubbornly moved, but the student midwife was quickly able to find the heartbeat again. I felt so relieved to hear that little heart beating at 155 beats per minute. A weight was definitely lifted off my shoulders. I was finally convinced that my baby was growing inside me! My entire first prenatal check up went great. The midwife said that everything looked healthy. And I was incredibly relieved to hear the fast little fetal heartbeat of my developing baby.

    How did you feel when you heard the fetal heartbeat for the first time?

    Week 13

    June 27, 2011

    For many women, pregnancy is a rollercoaster of emotions. If you had asked my husband back during week 13 of pregnancy, he would have most definitely told you about my up and down emotions and crazy mood swings during pregnancy. At the beginning of my second trimester, I still weighed a respectable 117.3 pounds. I was also still suffering from some slight nausea and some soreness in my back. However, pregnancy-induced mood swings were definitely my most significant symptom at the time. In fact, while going over my background information sheet at my first prenatal checkup, my homebirth midwife specifically asked about the “Emotional Problems” that I had circled under the symptoms section. James just laughed.

    I am usually a rather emotional person when not pregnant. When I am happy, I am really happy. When I am mad, I am really mad. When I am sad, I am really sad. During pregnancy, however, my emotions went totally bonkers. One minute I would be fine. The next, my mood swings during pregnancy made me lose my head over something. And that something that triggered my meltdown was usually fairly insignificant.

    One morning, for example, I went to absolute pieces over the ants invading our kitchen. Prior to discovering the pesky little insects, I had been having a meltdown about making enough money after our daughter was born. James kept telling me that we would be fine. He also told me to stop worrying about his work. Letting my crazy roller coaster emotions during pregnancy control me, I blurted out, “But then what will I worry about?”

    During the conversation, I had been loading dishes into the dish washer. Just like the summer before and last summer, we had ants in our kitchen again. Unfortunately, ants are common in many of the houses in our neighborhood during the warmer parts of the year. The summer before, a couple of ant traps did the trick and got rid of the ants quickly. The summer that I was pregnant, not so much. Cue the crazy pregnant lady. My emotions during pregnancy got the better of me that day, and I started freaking out over the ants. James just took me into his arms while I was freaking out and assured me that he would solve the ant problem. (As a side note, he has yet to fully get rid of the ants in our kitchen, even to this day.)

    Although I admit that some of my mood swings during pregnancy were a bit irrational or overblown, my heightened emotions were not always over insignificant or imagined problems. Sometimes I would find myself about to burst into terms over something on television or some memory. For example, one night, I was trying to watch A League of Their Own. The movie always reminds me of my grandmother, who died a few years ago. While watching the movie, I almost started crying thinking about her. When my grandfather died at the end of June that year, I also found myself whizzing around a roaster coaster of emotions. I know in my heart that he was finally with my grandma again, but I was still sad, and my pregnancy hormones were not helping with my emotionality.

    Did you find yourself suffering from crazy mood swings during pregnancy?

    June 28, 2011

    During week 13 of pregnancy, I still weighed only 117.3 pounds. Due to the nausea and constant queasiness during my first trimester, I had lost a few pounds because I could not eat normally. By my second trimester, however, my morning sickness was decreasing. My back still ached uncomfortably. I was also experiencing another common symptom that most expectant mothers complain about: an increased need to visit the bathroom.

    Pregnancy often means needing to pee more often than usual. As the baby and the uterus grow inside the abdomen, the bladder has less room to expand, thus resulting in more frequent urination. Some women will also experience some mild incontinence during pregnancy. By week 13 of pregnancy, I had not yet experienced any problems with peeing myself (although I did have some minor mishaps during my third trimester when I had a couple of sneezing fits with a full bladder). Sometimes I did find myself dashing to the nearest toilet because I had waited too long between bathroom breaks, but I had yet to actually pee myself.

    However, I did experience a few times when I did think that I had wet myself. In addition to needing to pee more often pregnant women often also experience watery, white discharge during pregnancy. Leukorrhea, as the increased clear or white discharge during pregnancy is known among medical professionals, is a common pregnancy symptom. Although normal, my leukorrhea did send me running to the bathroom in a panic more than once!

    Because I charted my cervical fluids in addition to my basal body temperature prior to conceiving my daughter, my awareness of the different kinds of discharge and fluids in and around my vagina was heightened. Therefore, I was in general not worried about experiencing watery discharge while pregnant. Leukorrhea is caused by an increase in hormones and blood flow to the vagina, resulting in an increase in fluid production. Watery or white discharge during pregnancy also plays an important role in protecting the baby: Leukorrhea prevents nasty germs from entering the uterus through the again. A clear or white watery discharge while pregnant is therefore wanted and necessary.

    However, sometimes when I felt a little gush of discharge during my pregnancy with my daughter, I still found myself in a little panic as I headed for the nearest bathroom. First, having lost my first pregnancy to a miscarriage, feeling any increased in vaginal discharge prompted me to check for blood. Second, sometimes the feeling of watery discharge while pregnant made me feel like I had just peed myself. In either case, I wanted to make sure that my baby and I were both okay. Leukorrhea is perfectly normal. But feeling anything wet in my panties is a little disconcerting, pregnant or not. Pregnancy just made me a little more anxious about my vaginal discharge.

    Did you experience leukorrhea during pregnancy?

    June 29, 2011

    Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy is so important for both the health of the baby and the health of the mother. At the beginning of my second trimester of pregnancy with my daughter, I started to become a bit concerned about my diet because of my ongoing morning sickness. I had always been a small woman (and I still am) who never really loved food. I always ate regularly out of necessity to stay healthy, but I generally do not derive excessive amounts of pleasure from food. (Yes, a strange sentiment in a culture in which many Americans seem to have an almost unhealthy relationship with food.) Food is fuel. I eat because I have to eat to stay alive. I really like some foods, but my idea of a good time is not centered around food or eating.

    Unfortunately for me and my appetite, food became very off-putting during the first part of my pregnancy because of my constant morning sickness. During the first twelve weeks of my pregnancy with my daughter, I lost about two pounds. Feeling nauseated most of the time left me even less enthused about food than before. Furthermore, many of the foods I normally ate (macaroni and cheese, pizza, bread) made me physically ill. As a result, my diet during pregnancy significantly suffered.

    While searching for bland foods like I could stomach without throwing up, I one day decided to try some commercial baby food. Because I was also so tired all the time, I also wanted something easy to prepare and eat. Baby food, after all, is inexpensive, easy, and healthy. Just pop open a container and eat. Store bought baby food is also pretty bland (which is one reason that I make my daughter homemade baby food from fresh and frozen fruits and veggies that are still full of flavor). I figured that, even if I could not eat much of anything else, at least I could keep down some bland baby food purees.

    One day for lunch during week 13 of pregnancy, I tried some macaroni and cheese with vegetables, squash, prunes with apples, and pears and squash, all in the form of store bought baby food. My unborn daughter must finally have been happy with my culinary selection because I had finally discovered a food that I could keep down. Better yet, I did not feel sick to my stomach at all. Plus, all the foods tasted good to me, which was not something that I had been experiencing with big people food at that time in my pregnancy.

    Eating commercial baby foods did wonders to improve my diet during pregnancy. First, I was eating regularly again. With an assortment of baby foods from which to choose, I could always find something to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Second, I was eating many more fruits and vegetables than I had been during the first trimester of my pregnancy. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is extremely important during pregnancy. My new pregnancy diet of baby food helped keep my and my daughter healthy. Third, when I did still feel a little sick, preparing baby food was easy. I could just grab a jar, pop the lid off, and dig in. Store bought baby food saved my diet during pregnancy!

    How did you make sure that you ate a healthy diet during pregnancy?

    How did you feel during your first trimester?


    Miscarriage: Risk factors:

    Image Credits

    The First Trimester of My First Pregnancy © 2011 Heather Johnson
    The First Trimester of My First Pregnancy © 2011 James and Heather Johnson
    Faint Positive Result on Home Pregnancy Test © 2011 Heather Johnson
    Two Positive Home Pregnancy Tests at Ten Days Post Ovulation © 2011 Heather Johnson
    Skin Rash During Pregnancy © 2011 Heather Johnson

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