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    The Second Trimester of My First Pregnancy

    The Second Trimester of My First Pregnancy

    To document my journey through my first pregnancy, I started journaling as soon as I discovered that I was pregnant with my daughter. I have shared the first trimester of my first pregnancy, and here I share the second trimester.

    The Second Trimester of My First Pregnancy

    Week 14

    July 6, 2011

    During week 14 of pregnancy, I still weighed a respectable 120.8 pounds. In addition to my ongoing nausea, I also found myself still dealing with some back soreness and continued fatigue. I was also beginning to suffer more from my allergies because I could take nothing stronger than a Benadryl antihistamine. However, also at the beginning of my second trimester, another common symptom of pregnancy struck: dizziness.

    When I reached the beginning of week 14 of pregnancy, I was most looking forward to the knowledge that the risk of losing my lemon-sized baby to a miscarriage was significantly lowered during the second trimester. I was also looking forward to a slight reprieve from some of my pregnancy symptoms. Unfortunately, however, when I woke up one morning and attempted to drag myself out of bed, a new early pregnancy symptom struck me hard.

    Dizziness during pregnancy is a common complaint that many expectant mothers experience. In fact according to the many books and websites that I consulted in an answer to my newest ailment, although a frequent early pregnancy symptom during the first trimester, dizziness will often get more intense during the second trimester. I would certainly agree.

    One morning during week 14 of pregnancy when I woke up around 10:00, I felt mostly fine. I was still a little groggy from the antihistamine that I took for my allergies before going to bed the night before. Otherwise, however, I felt okay. But, when I rolled over onto my left side to slowly sit up, I was hit by a rather annoying symptom of pregnancy: dizziness. Although definitely not as bad as the vertigo that I dealt with back in December of last year, my dizziness during pregnancy was still annoying and a little disconcerting. Pulling myself out of bed, I felt certain that I was going to fall over. I even yelled for my husband to come help me. Carefully, I made my way to my bathroom.

    After putting my contacts in with the hope that seeing clearly would ease my dizziness, I carefully hobbled back to my bed and laid down flat on my back. My husband headed for his computer to look up some information about dizziness during pregnancy. When he came back, he reported that I should lay on my left side to help blood flow. As I rolled over, I was hit by an even greater sensation of dizziness. I therefore quickly flopped back onto my back to stop the spinning.

    Thinking maybe that my newest pregnancy symptom meant that I needed to eat and drink, my husband brought me some yogurt with oatmeal and a glass of milk while I remained in bed. Unfortunately, eating and drinking did nothing to help relieve my dizziness. Despite the spinning, I still managed to get dressed and ready for work. I even miraculously (and perhaps a little foolishly) drove myself the twenty or so miles to my library. As long as I did not move quickly or tilt my head down, I felt okay. However, the walk from the parking lot to the library was excruciating. I thought I was going to fall down or throw up (or both) as a result of my dizziness during week 14 of pregnancy.

    Instead of doing my usual work that required me to be up and moving, I spent most of that work day at my desk working on a project at my computer while I snapped and sipped on iced tea. By the end of the day, I felt much better, although I was still feeling a little off kilter. Dizziness does not suit me (as I again learned after I was stricken with a case of vertigo two years later). Fortunately, throughout the rest of my pregnancy, I did not experience any more intense dizziness. I would occasionally feel a spinning sensation if I stood up too quickly, but I did not experience any more days of feeling completely dizzy.

    Did you ever experience dizziness during pregnancy?

    Week 15

    July 12, 2011

    Morning sickness usually ends as the second trimester of pregnancy begins. However, for me, pregnancy-induced nausea continued well after the first trimester. During week 15 of pregnancy, I weighed 117.4 pounds, which was down from my pre-pregnancy weight of roughly 120 but was still respectable. Some soreness in my lower back continued to bother me. Increased allergy symptoms like congestion, runny nose, and watery eyes continued to plague me. I also found myself dealing with some dizziness. However, my biggest symptom during week 15 of pregnancy was still nausea. I had just one simple request for my unborn daughter: “Week fifteen is a good time to stop making your mommy randomly throw up. Stop with the nausea during pregnancy. Please!”

    As I have previously shared, I began experiencing morning sickness early on in my pregnancy. Week four, in fact, brought about the first wave of serious nausea. As I was driving home from my second-shift job late one night, I had to open my door at a stop light and throw up in the middle of the road. Since that first moment of morning sickness, I had ups and downs in the severity of my nausea. Some days I felt better. Some days I felt worse. Some days I felt queasy. Some days I felt queasy and would dry heave occasionally. And, most annoyingly, sometimes I would just randomly throw up without warning.

    One night during week 15 of pregnancy was one those nights when I found myself vomiting without any warning. Despite having officially entered the second trimester of my pregnancy (at which point I had high hopes of my morning sickness disappearing for good), my unborn daughter decided that I should suffer another indignity before heading off to bed. Not only had I spent the entire day with extreme and sometimes uncontrollable gas, but, while I was going to the bathroom once last time before going to sleep, I found myself randomly throwing up. Luckily, my aim had become pretty good, and I managed to throw up into the garbage can next to the toilet. My husband, of course (the big jerky jerk), had to laugh at my predicament, but he graciously changed the bag in the garbage can for me to prevent the smell from triggering another wave of nausea and vomiting.

    Week 15 of pregnancy is roughly the time when most women stop suffering from nausea during pregnancy. As I look back at my pregnancy journal, I now cannot help but chuckle at the note that I wrote to my daughter when my morning sickness persisted into my second trimester:

    “Listen here, my darling little fetus. I said nothing last week when you made me rush to the nearest garbage can to throw up while at work. (As a side note, I have now thrown up on all six floors of my library.) I will even gladly deal with the worst back pain imaginable; I would gladly trade my nausea for back problems. Just, please, stop with the nausea. Mommy cannot stand feel icky all day everyday anymore. Mommy is tired of randomly throwing up without warning. I must ask you to stop making Mommy feel sick all the time. Bring on the back pain. Bring on the weigh gain. Bring on the swollen feet and ankles. Just please stop with the nausea during pregnancy!”

    Did you experience morning sickness during pregnancy? When did you finally find relief from your queasiness, nausea, and vomiting?

    July 13, 2011

    As I entered week 15 of pregnancy with my daughter, I weighed 117.4 pounds, which was down from my pre-pregnancy weight of roughly 120 pounds due to my ongoing morning sickness. During the early part of my second trimester, I also found myself dealing with some dizziness as well as some increased allergy symptoms. In general though, my daughter appeared to be developing perfectly normally. At the time, I could not adequately express the great relief that I felt at hearing her tiny heartbeat for the first time during my twelve-week prenatal appointment. However, even though all signs pointed to a healthy baby, my pregnancy continued to bring me quite a few aches and pains.

    The first significant pain during pregnancy that I experience was back pain. Near the end of my second month of pregnancy, I experienced a rather painful moment when I tried to get up off the floor after playing a game on my Wii. At that time, I started experiencing some rather intense shooting pain in my lower back. From that moment through week 15 of pregnancy, I struggled with pain and soreness in my back. Because I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which makes my joints extra flexible to begin with, I expected that I would continue to deal with aches and pains in various joints of my body until after I gave birth. (As time wore on, I also suffered from joint pain months after the birth of my daughter because of my condition.) I was hoping that my hypermobility would make giving birth easier. With a labor that lasted only four and half hours, I definitely think that my overly flexible joints did work to my advantage!

    In addition to back pain during pregnancy, I also found myself experiencing more headache during pregnancy than usual. The headaches that I experienced while pregnant were much more intense than the typical headaches that I experienced every so often. My first headache during pregnancy occurred during month 3 of pregnancy. While at work one Thursday evening, I was hit by a sudden and severe pain in my head. Because I want to take as few medications as possible during my pregnancy, I tried to ignore the headache. However, the headache lasted until I finally fell asleep later that night. Not even a neck rub from my husband helped relieve all the pain. I had another similar headache one night during month 4 of pregnancy. However, my wonderful husband was able to relieve the pain by gently massaging some muscle knots out of my neck.

    During week 15 of pregnancy, I also began experiencing a new pain: abdominal pain during pregnancy. At that time, I began feeling a rather uncomfortable feeling in my abdomen. My newest pain was likely the stretching of my abdominal ligaments and muscles as my body made room for my growing baby. After all, during week 15 of pregnancy, my daughter was the size of an apple. Room must be made in my lower torso as she grew bigger and bigger. Knowing the reason for my abdominal pain during pregnancy made dealing with the achiness a little easier. And, in the end, pain during pregnancy is so worth the outcome: my precious daughter!

    Did you experience any pain during pregnancy?

    July 13, 2011

    When I was between eight and ten weeks along during my first pregnancy, I lost the baby to a miscarriage. During week 15 of pregnancy with my daughter, I experienced a moment of panic that harkened back to the loss of my first pregnancy. During yet another trip to the bathroom, I discovered that I was experiencing white discharge during pregnancy. I immediately freaked out because the loss of my first pregnancy the year before had begun with some brownish white discharge. As I know now, that particular discharge was the beginning of the miscarriage. And, even though I know that discharge during pregnancy is usually normal, any amount in any color during my pregnancy with my daughter left me feeling a little unsettled.

    As I know from my almost obsessive research on pregnancy, white discharge during pregnancy is usually completely normal. In fact, most women experience an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy. Leukorrhea — the medical term for a thick, whitish or yellowish vaginal discharge during pregnancy — occurs because of an increase in estrogen in the body. The purpose of the increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy is to protect the vagina and ultimately the uterus and developing baby from infection and other foreign substances. Thus, white discharge while pregnant is healthy as well as normal. A pregnant woman should worry only if her vaginal discharge is green or yellowish, strong smelling, and accompanied by redness or itching, all of which are signs of an infection including candidiasis, or a yeast infection.

    However, my knowledge of the purpose and importance of white discharge during pregnancy did little to lessen my worries in the heat of the moment. For example, once while visiting the bathroom yet again (pregnancy increases the need to urinate due to hormones and an expanding uterus), I was startled to discover a blob of yellow-tinged white discharge. After finishing up in the bathroom and washing my hands, I ran to my husband. I was freaked out for obvious reasons but attempted to get my frantic emotions under control.

    As calmly and as unemotionally as I could, I told my wonderful husband about the white discharge during pregnancy that I had discovered during my latest trip to the bathroom. I asked him to confirm my knowledge that discharge during pregnancy is usually normal and healthy. We discussed the worrisome situation and came to some conclusions. First, because I was not experiencing any cramping, nothing was probably wrong. Second, because the discharge was white with only a slight yellow tinge, nothing was probably wrong. Third, I had been experiencing an increase in watery discharge lately (enough that I opted to use a panty liner), another increase in discharge meant that nothing was probably wrong. I was also not experiencing any other symptoms of a problem such as redness, itching, or unusual odor.

    As I know now, nothing was wrong. The white discharge during pregnancy that I experienced during week 15 of pregnancy, although a little worrisome given my unlucky history, was just the normal white discharge during pregnancy that many women experience. In fact, as I later learned after doing a little more research, my most recent increase in vaginal discharge was a good sign. My body was doing her best to protect the precious baby growing inside me. Ultimately, I just need to learn to relax should I have discovered (and I did) any more white discharge during pregnancy.

    Did you experience an increase in discharge during pregnancy?

    Week 16

    July 17, 2011

    In addition to the usual stresses associated with pregnancy, I was also dealing with the stress of working during pregnancy. Because of the free tuition I received through my employment at the library at my university, working during pregnancy was a must for me. At the time, I was currently working on finishing my second master’s degree. I had finished my first master’s degree in library and information science in May 2009. During the summer of my pregnancy with my daughter, I was working on my last class for my degree in English studies with a concentration in linguistics as well as writing my master’s thesis.

    To retain my tuition waiver, I had to remain a working mom-to-be. (Plus, I did want to keep my job because I enjoyed and still do enjoy my job outside the home.) Although I did not have any other children to care for because my daughter was my first baby, working while pregnant was no walk in park. (A walk in the park while pregnant, maybe. I did find myself getting super tired from walking even just a little ways as my pregnancy progressed.) Furthermore, working full time while going to graduate school part time was even harder. How did I manage to minimize the stress of working during pregnancy?

    For the most part, I simply tried to ignore any political bureaucracy at work during my pregnancy. As I said, I like my job and do plan to continue working at my library for quite a while. However, work definitely took a backseat in my life during my pregnancy, especially around week 16. Between dealing with the aches and pains of pregnancy and finishing up my degree, I did not have enough energy left to care about much more. I got up in the morning, went to work, did my assigned tasks, and came home. I did my job well but did not put in any effort above and beyond like I usually would. Putting my job in the backseat of priorities, however, significantly reduced some of the stress in my life from working during pregnancy.

    For me, working during pregnancy also meant attending graduate school. Not only was I taking a class during summer of my pregnancy, but I was also working on writing my master’s thesis. To minimize the stress of school, I tried my best to stay ahead of schedule with my schoolwork. The first two chapters of my thesis were not due to my advisor until September 2 and September 16 that year. However, by the beginning of July, I had already turned in the first draft of both chapters. I had also even finished the revisions on my second chapter. With my third chapter not due until September 30, I was way ahead of schedule. I was also reducing the stress of being a working mom by keeping up or ahead in my class. For example, I had already finished the homework due the next week and had started on my big project for the class. I also began studying for the final weeks in advance. Taking classes and working while pregnant was much easier when I stayed on top of things.

    Another way to minimize the stress of working during pregnancy was to focus on my baby. On July 22 during week 16 of pregnancy, I had another appointment with my midwife. When she measured my belly, I was happy to learn that the height of my fundus was 14 centimeters, which was right on track. I also got to hear my daughter’s heartbeat again. Her little heart was healthily beating at 144 beat per minute. Although I thought that she was going to be a boy up until the moment she was born, her quick heartbeat did match the old wives’ tale that says girls have heartbeats faster than 140. In any case, hearing that heartbeat definitely helped put any stress from work or school out of my mind.

    Even though working during pregnancy was required of me, I did my best to minimize the stress of both a full time job and part time graduate school. Stress is so bad for a developing baby. I focused my attention on reducing my stress levels to give my baby the best start possible.

    How did you minimize stress during pregnancy? Were you a working mom while pregnant?

    July 20, 2011

    I woke up this morning at 8:15. I prefer to sleep in until noon or even later. Now, most mothers and mothers-to-be reading this blog post might be thinking, “Then why are you a tired mom-to-be? You get to sleep in so late. Sometimes I have to be up before the crack of dawn.” The reason that I am a tired mother expecting her first child is my work schedule. Plus, combine the usual fatigue during early pregnancy with a whacky sleep schedule, and you are bound to get one tired mom.

    My usual work schedule is Sunday through Thursday from 4:30 in the afternoon until 1:00 in the morning. Unfortunately, however, my usual schedule applies only to the spring and fall academic semesters at my university. During breaks and summer vacation, my library closes early. Therefore, I must adjust both my work schedule and my sleep schedule. Cue the tired mom. During the semester, I get to sleep in until noon or sometimes later. However, once summer rolls around, I have to be at work at 9:00 in morning for a week. Then, during the rest of the summer, I typically work from 12:00 noon until 8:00 in the evening. Let me tell you: Going from sleeping until noon to having to get up at least four hours earlier makes for one tired mother.

    In addition to the usual changes in my work schedule, my sleep schedule has gotten even more thrown off this summer because of a graduate class that I am taking during the day. Starting on July 11, I have to be at work at 10:00 in the morning to make up for the time I lose while at class in the afternoons on Monday through Friday. Talk about a tired mom-to-be. Just thinking about being away from home for eleven hours a day plus my job plus my school work plus the general fatigue during early pregnancy leaves me feeling exhausted!

    So, how am I coping with being a tired mom-to-be? First, I am sleeping in as much as I can during the weekends to combat the general feeling of fatigue during early pregnancy. I also nap on the weekends when I need to. As for the weekdays, I am trying get about eight hours of sleep per night so that I do not end up being a grouchy and tired mother-to-be while at work. If I get to bed by midnight, I can usually get enough sleep. However, some days are worse than others. This morning, for instance, I woke up and just felt sleepy still. So, try my hardest, some days I am just a tired mom-to-be!

    Did you experience fatigue during pregnancy?

    July 20, 2011

    During week 16 of pregnancy, I still weighed only 120.7, which was respectable but a little unusual. Because of my continuing morning sickness, I had lost about six pounds during the first half of my pregnancy. By the fourth month of pregnancy, I had finally gained the weight that I had lost back. My waist measured 35 inches around. I will still experiencing back aches and headaches, which I would continue to deal with until the birth of my daughter. In addition to the typical aches and pains, I was also dealing with increased emotions, mood swings, and anxiety during week 16 of pregnancy.

    My husband is a trooper. I cannot even imagine how he is handling my crazy emotions during pregnancy. And, boy, he is handling his big crazy family well. See, I am an emotional person to begin with. Good or bad, my feelings sometimes get blown way out of proportion. When I am in a good mood about something, I am in a really good mood. When I am in a bad mood, watch out because I am in a really bad mood. When I get happy or excited over something, I am super happy or excited. And when I get stress out or upset about something, I am over-the-top stressed out or upset. Being pregnant sure is not helping my extreme emotions. No, on the contrary, my emotions during pregnancy have crossed into a new realm of crazy.

    Just this afternoon, my emotions during pregnancy got the best of me. I was going over some financial spreadsheets while taking a break at work. At this time, I realized that I had either not recorded some payments correctly or that I had not received the payment at all. I had no idea which. So, I called my wonderful husband and asked him to find some check stubs that I would have left on the desk or the couch. When he told me that he could not find the check stubs, his family suddenly went from a sweet, logical wife to one big crazy family. I completely freaked out. My hyperactive emotions during pregnancy sent me into an emotional frenzy.

    Once my husband was able to get a word in edgewise, he calmly reminded me that my emotions during pregnancy were leading me to sound completely emotional without a hint of logic. Upset, I started blubbering about how I could not remember anything anymore and how I could not keep anything straight in my mind anymore. The wonderful man that he is, my husband reassured me that I just had pregnancy brain. (For those who do not know, pregnancy brain is the term for the forgetfulness and general loss of mental function that many expectant mothers experience.) He told me to stop worrying because I sounded like I was going to cry. He told me that he would take care of the problem.

    I cannot fathom how my husband is handling my over-the-top emotions during pregnancy. Yes, he is used to my extreme emotions; however, I have recently reached a new level in the world of the big crazy family. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful and loving husband who understands my pregnancy brain and is able to talk me down from the edge. God bless him!

    Did you experience any crazy emotions while pregnant?

    July 20, 2011

    Prior to having children, my husband and I usually shared our bed at night. Sometimes he would snore, and I would kick him out of the room to go sleep on the couch. But, for the most part, I loved sharing a bed with him. I loved the feeling of knowing he was right next to me during the night. When I had a bad dream, I knew that he was there to wake me up and calm me down. If I got cold, I could cuddle up against him for warmth. I also felt safer knowing that my husband was right next to me all night.

    My pregnancy with my daughter put a definite kink in sharing a bed with my husband. When she was born, the only way that anyone got any sleep in our house was for my daughter to sleep with me on the bed. My husband spent his nights on the living room couch. After a while, he moved into the backroom, which doubles as his office. With my bed-sharing with my daughter and my husband working weird hours, sleeping in separate rooms definitely worked for us. However, sleeping in separate rooms actually started when I was pregnant.

    Because my husband snored (and still does snore) and because I tossed and turned a lot all night during my pregnancy, for us to sleep in the same bed, let alone the same room, became a definite problem. Earplugs generally solved the snoring problem for me (although I sometimes still had to wake him up because he was snoring so loudly that I could hear him through the earplugs). As long as I was not rolling around too frantically in the bed, my husband also could usually sleep through my nighttime acrobatics. We were thus able to share a bed comfortably together up until a few weeks into my pregnancy.

    By week 16 of pregnancy, I definitely needed my sleep. Growing a whole other person requires a lot of energy. However, despite the need for more sleep while pregnant, pregnancy sometimes makes sleeping quite difficult for an expectant mother. I was no exception. First, I started snoring because of a combination of allergies and congestion (for which I could take nothing more than plain old Benadryl). Because I could not safely take my preferred allergy medications, I became extremely sniffly and snuffly at night. With all the mucus in my nose, I end up snoring. My husband and I thus parted ways at bedtime around week 6 of pregnancy.

    In addition to my new snoring, I was also tossing and turning a lot more usual. I generally move around a lot in my sleep (something that my daughter apparently inherited from me). By week 16 of pregnancy, my husband and I could definitely no longer share a bed because I moved around too much in an attempt to get comfortable. I had to have a pillow on either side of me to put between my legs. I also needed a lot of pillows under my head to keep myself propped up. As I am generally a stomach sleeper, having to adjust my sleep position ended up making me sleep less well. Any other interruptions to my sleep such as my husband snoring were out of the question.

    Thus, my poor but wonderful husband was consigned to the couch from almost the start of my pregnancy. He is still sleeping on the couch. However, our sleep situation works for us for now. I am happy in the bed with our daughter. He is cool with sleeping on the couch with the dogs. As someone who grew up in a family in which my mother usually slept on the bed in the bedroom and my father usually ended up falling asleep on the living room couch, sleeping separately is definitely not weird. Most importantly, our sleep arrangement works for us.

    Did you have to adjust your sleeping arrangement during or after your pregnancy?

    July 21, 2011

    Baby Onesie Pregnancy AnnouncementSaturday marks the end of week 16 of pregnancy. As of this weekend, I will officially be four months pregnant. So far, my husband and I have told very few people. My parents, his aunt and uncle, some of my family know. A few of our friends and coworkers also know. A couple of people who have asked me if I am expecting also know. Because of the loss of our first pregnancy, however, we have been apprehensive about sharing the news with the rest of the world. However, because my second trimester fetus has been making his or her own announcement to the world in the form of a baby bump, the time has come to announce to the rest of our friends, family, and coworkers that I am with child.

    For the most part, I have been able to hide my baby bump up until the 16th week of pregnancy. This week, however, my second trimester fetus has been shouting about his or her existence to the world. On Tuesday, while in class, a classmate asked me when I was due. He must have been pretty sure that I was expecting because most guys are apprehensive about pointing out a chubby tummy on a woman. Today, too, two people asked me if I were pregnant. In other words, the end of the 16th week of pregnancy marks the official end of being able to successfully hide my ever-expanding stomach.

    And, so, tomorrow after our second appointment with the midwife, my husband and I plan to make an announcement on Facebook. During a recent business trip to Las Vegas, my husband brought back an adorable little Las Vegas onesie. I plan to hold the onesie up over my second trimester fetus and take a picture. That photo will become my profile picture and my way of sharing the end of my 16th week of pregnancy with the world. I am also thinking about baking blue and pink cupcakes with pink and blue icing to bring to work on Monday to share my good news with my coworkers.

    Even though I am still extremely nervous about losing another pregnancy, the 16th week of pregnancy is a pretty good time to share my wonderful news with the world. As long as my second trimester fetus has a good strong heartbeat tomorrow, I will be ready (or at least able) to make an announcement to my family, friends, and coworkers. Or, of course, I could just wait and let the baby tell everyone him- or herself come January!

    When and how did you announce your pregnancy?

    July 21, 2011

    Eating a proper diet during pregnancy means eating for two, right? Yes, but not literally. For most women carrying single babies, a healthy pregnancy diet guide includes only about three hundred extra calories. For me, therefore, a healthy calorie intake means approximately 2,060 to 2,250 calories per day. Unfortunately, due to a combination of morning sickness, queasiness, and my general disposition towards food, I have been struggling to eat enough each and every day. However, I have found a few ways of adding some much needed calories to my pregnancy diet guide.

    Because my biggest problem with eating a proper diet during pregnancy is calorie intake, I have adjusted some of my favorite foods. I love dairy products. Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream—I will eat them all. And, so, to increase the number of calories I am eating, I have added whole milk yogurt and cream as part of my pregnancy diet guide. Most mornings when I wake up, I fix myself about a cup of whole milk yogurt. (Greek yogurt is my favorite, but I enjoy regular yogurt at well.) To the whole milk yogurt, I add about six tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, three tablespoons of local honey, and one-fourth of a cup of uncooked oatmeal. A delicious and healthy way to start my day! At between five hundred and six hundred calories and full of protein, calcium, and whole grains, my yogurt breakfast is a great addition to my pregnancy diet guide.

    During week 16 of pregnancy, I have also made another slight change to my diet that has increased my calorie intake. Before I conceived, I had been drinking whole milk. However, because of my nausea, I had to stop drinking the whole milk. Instead, I have started drink a few tablespoons of heavy cream mixed with 2% milk. Two cups gives me about three hundred calories plus protein and calcium.

    In addition to adding whole milk products and cream to my diet, I have also bettered my proper diet during pregnancy by eating baby food. Because I have a number of food allergies, I am unable to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables like bananas and carrots raw. Baby food is heated enough that I can safely eat all my fruits and veggies. Furthermore, because baby food is cooked, I do not have to worry about foodborne illness like I would with fresh produce. Baby food, therefore, is another great addition to a pregnancy diet guide.

    And, so, with a few easy changes to my diet, I have been able to increase my calorie intake while still eating healthy. Now that my pregnancy diet guide includes whole milk products, heavy cream, and baby food, I am starting to gain weight. Sometimes eating during pregnancy is hard. I have figured out a few trips to make eating a little easier.

    How did you ensure that you ate right during pregnancy?

    Week 17

    July 24, 2011

    I have mommy brain big time! I keep asking my husband, “Where has my mind gone? I want my old brain back. Will I ever be the same again?” Pregnancy is really taking a toll on my cognitive abilities. Forgetfulness during pregnancy is hitting me hard. I can barely remember what I did five minutes ago. Just the other day at work, I kept checking the clock because I was afraid I was going to be late for class. However, as soon as I would check, I would forget what time it was and have to check again. Pregnancy brain during week 17 is killing me. I just want my mind back!

    As someone who prides herself on her ability to multitask and to remember a lot of information at once, the forgetfulness during pregnancy caused by the infamous mommy brain is driving me absolutely crazy. The other day while I was at work, I called my husband, freaking out about some checks that I thought I had lost. I could not for the life of me remember if I had ever deposited the money into my checking account or not. Pregnancy brain had struck again!

    I am having a particularly difficult time dealing with the forgetfulness of mommy brain because of all the things that I absolutely must remember at the moment. Because I am taking a rather intense four week class this summer (my very last graduate class, woohoo!), I have to save some of my memory for the information I learn. If I am not able to retain what I am learning about the structure of the English language and linguistics in general because of my pregnancy brain, I will fail the final exam and the big language project and be forced to take the class again this fall. I absolutely refuse to allow my mommy brain to mess with my December 2011 graduate date.

    My husband keeps assuring me that, after the baby is born, my pregnancy brain will ease up a bit. Of course, I will probably continue to lose my cognitive abilities as sleep deprivation sets in. And, then, when we try for the next baby, my pregnancy brain is just going to get worse again, but, by then, I will be less worried about forgetfulness during pregnancy. Mommy brain can hit me as hard as it wants. After I am finished with my second master’s degree. Until then, please, oh, please, just let me remember where I am and what the heck I am supposed to be doing!

    Did you have mommy brain during pregnancy?

    July 24, 2011

    My allergies are driving me absolutely batty today during week 17 of pregnancy. I have had to borrow a box of Kleenex to keep with me at the Circulation Desk just so I can stop getting up every five minutes to blow my nose. Frankly, dealing with seasonal allergies during pregnancy feels like I am fighting a losing battle. Most seasonal allergy treatments are not safe for a developing baby. Moreover, even the safest medications leave me feeling a little wary. To be honest, I would rather suffer from seasonal allergies during pregnancy than risk the possibility of my baby being the one developing fetus that reacts badly to an allergy medication such as Flonase. And, so, I am therefore mostly putting up with the drippy, stuffy nose that I get every year because of my allergies.

    In general, Benadryl and other antihistamines are considered safe seasonal allergy treatments during pregnancy. Although I wish to avoid as many medications as possible while pregnant, I have found myself taking a Benadryl almost every night before to temper my seasonal allergies during pregnancy. As soon as I go from a vertical to a horizontal position, my sinuses fill with mucus and I can no longer breathe well. And, even though I would rather not take any medications while pregnant, not breathing is really the bigger risk in this case. I just have to remind myself that oxygen deprivation is definitely bad for the baby but that Benadryl is most likely safe.

    I am also dealing with my seasonal allergies during pregnancy this summer by keeping the air conditioning on in my house most of the time. Even though I love a fresh summer breeze, I do not like the airborne allergens that usually accompany said breeze. So, in addition to the horrendous heat that makes me want to never be pregnant during the summer again (tongue in cheek, I am super happy to be pregnant with Poppy right now), I am keeping my house closed up this summer to help reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies during pregnancy.

    And, although I complain sometimes about the lack of safe seasonal allergy treatments, I honestly am more than happy to suffer a little for the sake of my baby-to-be. Being a little stuffy and drippy now is well worth holding my baby in my arms come January. After all, I am completely used to not being able to breathe through my nose well. I honestly cannot remember a time in my life when I was not plagued by allergies. And, so, I will continue to put up with my seasonal allergies during pregnancy. What other choice do I have? The answer is none but oh so worth the slight annoyance.

    Did you experience worsened seasonal allergies during pregnancy?

    July 24, 2011

    During week 17 of pregnancy, I still weigh only 119.6 pounds due to my ongoing morning sickness, but my waist now measures 36 inches around. My biggest complaints are nasal congestion as well as the continuing nausea. I am still also dealing with some pregnancy fears. Back in September of last year, my miscarriage began with bleeding during pregnancy. Now that I am pregnant again, my biggest of pregnancy fears is losing this baby to another miscarriage. I am so freaked out that, every time I go to the bathroom, I am afraid to look for fear of discovering that I am bleeding again.

    So far, my pregnancy has been completely normal. Unlike with my first pregnancy, I have had a significant number of symptoms. For example, I have had quite a bit of morning sickness, or, as my husband says, morning, noon, night, and all day sickness. I have also been fortunate enough not to have had to deal with spotting during pregnancy. In other words, my risk of bleeding during pregnancy now that I am in the beginning of my seventeenth week is extremely low. I should be able to put my pregnancy fears aside.

    However, having lost my first baby has left me feeling a little on edge. With every trip to the bathroom, I find myself checking for bleeding during pregnancy. When I feel any sensation of moisture in my vaginal area, I automatically check for blood. The increase in vaginal discharge that accompanies most healthy pregnancy is also not helping to alleviate my greatest of pregnancy fears. Instead, I find myself running to the bathroom more often than not to check my panties. I know full well that I am likely to find leukorrhea, not blood, but I check anyway.

    Any time I feel any sort of sensation in my abdomen, I find myself worrying about bleeding during pregnancy too. In my mind, I know that I am going to continue feeling aches and pains in my abdominal region as my body grows and changes to make room for baby. I also know that some of the poking and fluttering sensations I have been feeling are actually the baby moving around in his or her private watery world. Nevertheless, my pregnancy fears keep sending me to check for bleeding during pregnancy.

    At my sixteen week check up with my midwife on Friday, I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the second time (144 beats per minute this time). Again, I know that after confirming cardiac activity, my chances of a miscarriage decrease to about 10%. After the twelve-week mark, my chances decrease even further to between 1 out of 200 and 1 out of 300. In other words, my chances are incredibly low now.

    Logical, however, does nothing to quell pregnancy fears. I know that I am going to continue checking for bleeding during pregnancy until this baby is born. I also know that I am going to feel a little less insecure once I can feel the baby kicking and once I can hear his or her heartbeat with my fetoscope. Nevertheless, my fear of bleeding during pregnancy trumps all logic. I am still fearful of discovering that I am bleeding again.

    Did you have any fears during pregnancy?

    July 25, 2011

    Cerebral Toxoplasmosis BradyzoitesDuring week 17 of pregnancy, I discovered that I needed to be extra careful about toxoplasmosis during pregnancy because my cat had tested positive for the disease. Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a single-celled microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. In most cases, people catch toxoplasmosis from animal feces and undercooked meat from an animal infected with Toxoplasma gondii. For most people, toxoplasmosis is not something to worry about. Most people are infected at some point in their lives. Symptoms are similar to the flu including slight fever, swollen glands, muscle ache, mild fatigue, sore throat, and rash. Once infected, a person usually becomes immune to further infections.

    Although not usually deadly for most people, toxoplasmosis during pregnancy can be a serious problem. The expectant mother is at little risk; however, toxoplasmosis can be debilitating or even fatal for an unborn baby. Complications during pregnancy that arise as a result of toxoplasmosis include miscarriage and stillbirth, long-term structural and neurological damage, and other devastating effects including death soon after birth. In other words, a woman who is pregnant or who plans to become pregnant should do everything in her power to avoid contracting toxoplasmosis during pregnancy and even immediately before conceiving.

    Fortunately, though, avoiding toxoplasmosis during pregnancy and thus avoiding the complications during pregnancy that can result from the infection is easy. First, pregnant women should avoid undercooked meat and unpasteurized dairy products. Dried meats such as jerky should also be avoided. All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed before eating to remove any animal feces that the food has come into contact with. A pregnant woman should always wash her hands after handling uncooked foods such as raw meat.

    Second, although cats get a bad rap for causing toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, an expectant mother need not reject her furry family member from her life. Toxoplasmosis is not spread through touching the cat, only through touching infected feces. Therefore, pregnant women can avoid toxoplasmosis during pregnancy by staying away from the litter box and other areas in which the cat might poop. A husband or partner should take over little box duties for a while. If she must change the litter, a mother-to-be should wear gloves and wash her hands immediately after handling the litter.

    Avoiding becoming infected with toxoplasmosis during pregnancy is easy. I am particularly concerned about the potential complications during pregnancy arising from toxoplasmosis because my cat was recently diagnosed as possibly having the parasite. Fortunately for my baby, my husband has been cleaning her litter box for the past year. The closest I get is walking past the box on my way out of the house. So, although hearing that my beloved kitty might have toxoplasmosis, I am remaining as unconcerned about catching toxoplasmosis during pregnancy because I know that I have done everything in my power to avoid coming in contact with the parasite in the first place.

    Did you have any concerns about toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?

    July 28, 2011

    Experiencing excessive gas is almost inevitable during pregnancy. At the beginning of pregnancy, hormonal changes can cause gas in the stomach and the intestines. As the digestive system slows down, gassiness is often the result. Gas pains during pregnancy can also occur making the mother-to-be feel extremely uncomfortable. Unfortunately, gas and bloating during pregnancy are completely normal as are the ensuing burps and farts.

    Recently in my pregnancy as I approach the week eighteen mark, I have been experiencing more frequent gas pains during pregnancy. The other day while at work, I texted my husband to tell him that I felt like a balloon that has been blown up too much. Not only did I feel like an over-inflated balloon, but my gas and bloating during pregnancy was also making me look like I had shoved an actual balloon under my shirt. Needless to say, the stretching feel in my abdominal region due to gas pains during pregnancy was making me quite uncomfortable.

    This morning during week 17 of pregnancy, too, I woke up with gas pains during pregnancy. I felt fine as I laid in bed for a few extra minutes, but, as soon as I stood up, the discomfort of gas and bloating during pregnancy hit me. At first, I thought I just really had to pee. However, even after my trip to the bathroom, I was still experiencing gas pains during pregnancy. I seriously felt like someone had hooked a bicycle pump up to my belly button and had filled my abdomen up with air. I also knew I was having gas pains during pregnancy and not cramps because the pain and pressure was constant.

    Crying to my husband about my gas pains during pregnancy, I decided to lie back down in bed. For some reason, lying on my side relieved the gas pains during pregnancy that I was feeling. I told my husband that all that watermelon that I ate last night at dinner must have been the culprit. Fruit can cause gas, and I had eaten a lot of watermelon yesterday evening. (Upon discovering that I am no longer allergic to watermelon, I have been eating as much as I can get my hands on!)

    Because I had to get ready for work today, I forced myself out of bed again. Standing in the hallway, I called to my husband to complain some more about my gas and bloating during pregnancy. My husband, the smart aleck that he can sometimes be, came into the hallway and said, “Give me a hug, my gassy planet.” Thanks. Not only am I full of gas pains during pregnancy, but the ensuing bloating is making me as big as a planet. Gas and bloating during pregnancy is inevitable. I can do without the “cute” commentary from my husband.

    Did you suffer from gas during pregnancy?

    Week 18

    August 3, 2011

    Now in week 18 of pregnancy, I still weigh 120.7 pounds with a waist that measures 35.5 inches around. The library that I work at is currently working on a huge project involving a couple thousand books from the stacks to storage. I had been volunteered to help with the project, which I am absolutely happy to do. I am not, however, exactly over the moon about how much exercise during pregnancy that my part of this project is giving me. Frankly, my current work-related prenatal exercise routine makes me just want to sit down.

    Exercise during pregnancy is very important for the mama-to-be. Not only does a good prenatal exercise routine keep the expectant mother healthy, but exercise prior to labor and delivery can make the whole birth process go smoother. Not engaging in exercise during pregnancy is like not training for a marathon.

    In general, my non-pregnancy exercise routine involves a lot of walking. While on the job, I find myself walking about the library a lot. On the weekends, my husband and I will go to the mall and just walk around. Walking is a great exercise during pregnancy because walking is low impact and not intense. Therefore, I generally feel pretty good about my prenatal exercise routine.

    The last three weeks at work, however, have brought my prenatal exercise routine to a whole new level. The first part of this huge project involved marking the books that were going to move into storage with paper flags. Therefore, in addition to walking around the library a lot like normal, I added climbing up and down and step stool and squatting a lot as a new exercise during pregnancy. A little more rigorous, yes, but squatting is also a very good exercise to do prior to labor and delivery. In fact, getting my body used to squatting now will help me during my labor and birth come January.

    Today, however, brought a whole new level of intensity to my prenatal exercise routine during week 18. Today I had to help move all the flagged books to the ends of shelf rows for easier removal. Thus, in addition to climbing and squatting, I also had to lift book upon book upon book. To make the task go faster, I found myself grabbing groups of a handful of books at a time. Talk about an arm workout!

    After two hours of this new exercise during pregnancy, I was exhausted. Fortunately, the flagging and rearranging part of this huge project is now complete. I am glad to have helped. However, I must reiterate, after exercise during pregnancy, I just want to sit down!

    How did you get enough exercise during pregnancy?

    Week 19

    August 12, 2011

    During week 19 of pregnancy with my daughter, my midwife called one evening to inform me that my iron levels during pregnancy were bordering on low. The Friday before, I had gone to a little clinic to have my blood drawn to obtain a routine baseline of my levels. When my midwife received the results of the blood test, she noticed that my iron levels were a little on the low side. She therefore called me one evening to tell me that I had low iron during pregnancy, not low enough to panic but low enough to need to take action. At the same time, my midwife also told me that my low iron levels could have been indicative of a high blood dilution rather than anemia, meaning that I was not anemic but rather just very hydrated at the time that my blood was drawn. However, I decided not to take any risks and agreed to make some changes to my diet.

    According to the March of Dimes, low iron levels are a common pregnancy complication because a pregnant woman needs to have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen both around her own body and to her baby. This increased need for and subsequent increased production of blood often results in anemia. Although common, however, low iron levels during pregnancy should be taken seriously. Anemia during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of preterm birth and an increased risk of low birth weight. Both prematurity and low birth weight carry increased risks for the baby.

    The two most common solutions for low iron levels during pregnancy include eating more iron-rich foods and a taking a prenatal iron supplement. Therefore, in addition to my regular prenatal vitamin, I could also have taken an additional prenatal iron supplement. Alternatively, I could have added more iron-rich foods to my diet to help improve my low iron levels more naturally.

    I was absolutely not opposed to taking a prenatal iron supplement in addition to my regular prenatal vitamin during week 19. Prior to conceiving my daughter, I already took a multi-vitamin, a calcium with vitamin D supplement, a vitamin B-complex supplement, and an omega 3 with DHA and EPA supplement. Adding an additional supplement to my regime would have been no problem. However, the plan that my midwife and I initially laid out in an effort to improve my low iron during pregnancy was for me to eat more iron-rich foods. Specifically, I was going to try to include more buffalo in my diet. Buffalo meat is not only low in fat and high in protein but is also extremely high in iron. In fact, a bison burger has more iron but fewer calories and less fat than regular beef hamburger. One of my favorite ways to serve buffalo during my pregnancy was buffalo chili. All I did was substitute some ground buffalo for the ground beef.

    Other foods that I tried to eat more of to improve my low iron levels during pregnancy included dark meat poultry; dried apricots, prunes, figs, raisins, dates; oatmeal and other whole grains; spinach, broccoli, kale, and other dark green leafy vegetables; baked potatoes with the skin; and beans and peas. For example, one night when I was craving meat, my husband browned some ground sirloin and added a little bit of chili powder for flavor for me as a snack. I also told my husband that we would have to go to my favorite local steakhouse more often for one of my favorite meals: filet mignon and a baked potato.

    Did you suffer from low iron levels during pregnancy? How did you ensure that you and your baby got enough iron every day?

    Week 20

    August 15, 2011

    I have three big concerns about my prenatal diet. When it comes to eating a healthy diet during pregnancy, sometimes choosing the right combinations of foods is more difficult than it seems. For example, I somehow need to balance calorie intake with calcium intake and iron intake. Finding the right balance in the juggling act that is a good prenatal diet is more taxing than I first thought.

    During the first trimester of my pregnancy, my biggest prenatal diet concern involved consuming enough calories. Because I had had morning sickness for almost all of the first sixteen weeks of my pregnancy, keeping any food down, not just eating enough calories, was my biggest struggle towards eating a healthy diet during pregnancy. I just did not want to eat. And, when I did eat, I often threw up all my meal a few minutes later. No wonder I was having trouble gaining weight. As my nausea eventually decreased, however, I was able to start adding some higher calorie foods to my prenatal diet. My favorite was whole milk Greek yogurt mixed with a few tablespoons of heavy whipping cream and a few teaspoons of local honey. Yummy, high in calories, high in protein, high in calcium, and high in good fats! Now that I am back on track with my weight gain, however, I have developed two new prenatal diet concerns.

    Because of my early pregnancy morning sickness, my prenatal diet calcium intake was suffering greatly. I am usually one to drink four to eight cups of milk per day. Nausea, however, made even the thought of dairy products intolerable. I tried to make sure that I took a calcium supplement in addition to my regular prenatal vitamin every day, but I often threw up my vitamins. My healthy diet during pregnancy was really suffering because of my nausea. Fortunately, as my morning sickness lessened, I was able to drink more milk. I am now back to my pre-pregnancy milk intake. I also found that the chocolate chewy calcium supplements were easier for me to stomach. Neither my baby nor myself will suffer a calcium deficiency!

    My newest concern about a healthy diet during pregnancy is low iron levels. Last week my midwife called to tell me the results of my routine baseline blood test. My iron levels were on the low side. Because low iron levels have been linked to low birth weight and premature birth, I wanted to kick up my iron intake in my prenatal diet. The plan was for me to eat more iron-rich foods, specifically bison. However, because I drink so much milk, I fear that my iron intake is still suffering because calcium interferes with iron absorption.

    Eating a healthy prenatal diet is turning out to be harder than it seems. Not only do I need to worry about eating enough calories for a healthy diet during pregnancy, but I also have to worry about which nutrients are interfering with other nutrients. As of right now, all I can do is eat as best I can and talk to my midwife again at my appointment on Friday.

    Did you have any concerns with your diet during pregnancy?

    August 16, 2011

    Throughout my pregnancy and continuing into week 20 of pregnancy, I have had some concerns about healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Unlike a lot of expectant women who are worried about too much weight gained during pregnancy, I am worried about not gaining enough. I have always had an easier time losing weight than gaining. Succeeding at healthy weight gain during pregnancy is the same story.

    Before I conceived this April, I weighed about 120 pounds, which is a good weight for my height and body type. However, because of some rather annoying morning sickness, by the twelfth week of my pregnancy, I had lost a few pounds. At my first check up with my midwife, I weighed only about 118 pounds. Although healthy weight gain during pregnancy during the first trimester often means no weight gain, I had actually lost a few pounds. And I was not happy.

    My goal over the next four weeks for weight gained during pregnancy was to increase my weight by two pounds. I almost succeeded. By adding high calorie but healthy foods such as whole milk Greek yogurt with heavy whipping cream and honey to my diet, healthy weight gain during pregnancy meant that I now weighed about 119 pounds. Although I had wanted to gain one more pound, I was happy that I had gained any weight at all.

    For my twentieth week check up, my goal for healthy weight gain during pregnancy was to weight 124 pounds. At nineteen weeks and three days, how I am doing? Well, the weight gained during pregnancy so far puts me right at around 124 pounds. Eating enough healthy foods and keeping that food down has definitely been a struggle. However, I was serious about healthy weight gain during pregnancy. My seriousness helped me to succeed. By the time I go to my appointment on Friday, I will hopefully still weigh as much as I had hoped to weigh.

    My biggest concern about my weight gained during pregnancy is that I am eating enough to help my baby grow to his or her full potential. With the recent news that I possibly have low iron levels, I am worried about low birth weight as well as premature birth. Therefore, I have recently become even more serious about healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Because I am a small mama-to-be, that my baby will be naturally small too is not unlikely. However, I do not want my lack of a healthy diet to be a contributing factor. If my baby is going to be born small, so be it. However, I will not let a lack of weight gained during pregnancy determine whether or not my baby is born at a low birth weight.

    Although my husband thinks my tummy has gotten huge, I disagree. My doula also told me yesterday that she did not think I was all that big. Fortunately, many first time mommies take a while to show. I am really hoping that my small amount of weight gained during pregnancy is not the reason that I am not all that big at twenty weeks. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy here I come! In the next few weeks, I will look at big as I feel!

    How much weight did you gain during pregnancy?

    August 17, 2011

    I cannot believe that my precious little Poppy is already a 20 week fetus! At nineteen weeks and four days, I am already in my twentieth week of pregnancy, meaning I am half way to my due date of January 7. In approximately five months (give or take a week or two), my first baby will be on his or her way to my loving arms. To commemorate the half way mark of my pregnancy, I thought that I would take a moment to recap my pregnancy symptoms week to week.

    I discovered that I was pregnant with my now 20 week fetus on April 25. I was only nine days post ovulation, so, at first, I did not believe that the home pregnancy test was actually positive. Not until a few days later did I finally accept for certain that I had conceived again. And boy was I terrified. After losing my first baby to a miscarriage, I was freaked out that I would also lose my little Poppy. I am so happy that my wiggly, healthy 20 week fetus has proved me otherwise.

    Then came the pregnancy symptoms. Week four found me full of emotions. And, just ask my husband, those emotions were sometimes uncontrollable. I was on a rollercoaster ride of feelings. To make matters worse, I was also extremely tired, so the little emotion seemed to be amplified a million times over. My 20 week fetus continues to bring me along on a whirlwind of feelings. Sometimes my husband has to remind me that my exaggerated emotions are a result of all the pregnancy hormones flooding my body.

    Pregnancy symptoms week five included extremely dry skin. My chest, stomach, and abdomen were extremely flaky and itchy. No matter how much lotion I slathered on after my shower in the evening, I was still dry and itchy. Now carrying a 20 week fetus in my ever-expanding belly, I am still suffering from dry skin. Even my legs, arms, and face are getting in on the action. The only solution that I have found is to put lotion on immediately after showering. Luckily for me, my wonderful husband helps me put lotion on my feet and legs since bending over is getting a little difficult.

    Pregnancy symptoms week seven saw the beginning of morning sickness. I felt queasy almost all the time. I also found myself throwing up more and more. I even lost a few pounds because I was having trouble eating and, when I could eat, keeping the food down. I am happy to report that my 20 week fetus has eased up on making mommy feel sick. Good thing for him or her, too! My little Poppy needs the nutrients that I consume to grow big and strong. I am happy to report that I am now on track for my weight gain goals.

    At twenty weeks, most of my early symptoms have eased up. I still have try itchy skin and get emotional at times. I also still feel nauseated occasionally. However, for the most part, my 20 week fetus and I are living together quite comfortably. My only complaint now is back aches and pains. Pregnancy symptoms week eight found me suffering from some rather severe back pain. For the past twelve weeks, I have continued to put up with such aches and pains. Because I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the usual stretching and pulling of pregnancy is multiplied for me. However, I am more than happy to put up with a little (or a lot) of discomfort all for my precious 20 week fetus. My 20 week fetus sure is amazing. And so is the barrage of pregnancy symptoms!

    What symptoms did you experience during week 20 of pregnancy?

    Week 21

    August 21, 2011

    For the past couple of weeks, I have been experiencing some abdominal pain during pregnancy. At first I was completely freaked out. Having lost my first pregnancy to a miscarriage that started with cramping, I was sure that I was losing my precious little Poppy. However, this belly pain during pregnancy felt different than the cramps that I was used to with my menstrual period. So, after a few tense moments of panic, I began to wonder if my abdominal pain during pregnancy was just another perfectly normal symptom. Much to my relief, just like the back pain I had started feeling during week eight of my pregnancy, abdominal pain during pregnancy is also a common symptom of which many expectant mothers complain.

    A quick Google search immediately brought my fears of another miscarriage to rest. Mild abdominal pain during pregnancy is a result of implantation cramping at the beginning of pregnancy, ligament stretching in early pregnancy, and uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions in later pregnancy. A webpage entitled “Common Discomforts and Body Changes During Pregnancy” on the University of Maryland Medical Center website similarly confirms that mild belly pain during pregnancy is perfectly normal. Abdominal pain during the middle part of pregnancy is usually caused by the stretching of the ligaments and muscles that support the uterus and is usually felt on one side or the other

    Because I am in my second trimester, my belly pain during pregnancy is most likely the result of ligament stretching. First, the pain is not constant like cramping would be. I suffer from dysmenorrhea, so I am all too familiar with the sensations associated with cramps. The abdominal pain during pregnancy that I have been experiencing is nothing like cramps, more like pulled muscles. Second, my belly pain during pregnancy is usually limited to one place on my abdomen. One day the pain will be on my left side; the next the pain will be on my right side. Also, sometimes I can move around and stretch just right to make the pain go away or lessen for a while.

    So, although frightening at first, abdominal pain during pregnancy is perfectly normal. So long as the pain is not accompanied by bleeding or is so severe that I can no longer talk, I just have to keep reminding myself that my body is changing. Abdominal discomfort and pain during week 21 is just another lovely symptom of a perfectly normal pregnancy.

    Did you experience abdominal pain or discomfort during pregnancy?

    August 25, 2011

    Yesterday afternoon during week 21 of pregnancy, I had an emotional breakdown over maternity outfits while trying to get ready for work. After I got up, I opened my dresser drawers in an attempt to get dressed. At that moment I realized that most of my pre-pregnancy clothing no longer fit me. I was so sad. Not about getting a bigger belly, necessarily, but about not having enough clothes to get me through the work week. I called to my husband who found me standing in the middle of our bedroom about ready to cry. After giving me a consoling hug, he asked me what was wrong. I told him that none of my clothes fit. The wonderful man that he is, he then asked if it were time to go to Motherhood Maternity to start buying maternity clothes and maternity outfits for the fall.

    I work in an academic library, so I need to wear a certain level of clothing. I am also a very small woman at just a little over five feet tall, so my maternity outfits not only need to be big enough to fit my growing belly but also need to be short enough to fit my tiny little frame. Fortunately for me, Motherhood Maternity has a great section of petite maternity clothing. I already own four pairs of petite dress pants that I bought at the store. As soon as the cooler weather of autumn sets in, I will be more than ready to dress my bottom half. I also already own two maternity skirts, two maternity capris, and one pair of casual maternity pants that I bought a few weeks ago when I realized that I already need to start buying maternity clothes.

    As far as maternity outfits go, I will be able to get by on the bottoms I already own. All I really need to buy now are a few pairs of maternity tights because I love wearing skirts in the fall and winter. Shirts are another story. I do already own a few maternity shirts, and, luckily for me, the fashion for regular clothes right now is loose fitting tops. Many of my skirts have done well going from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy wear. Not so much anymore. At twenty weeks and five days along in my pregnancy, my belly is expanding past the point of non-maternity shirts. Just the other night, the belt that I was wearing around a shirt kept popping open because it was stretched to the max.

    So, to prevent any more morning meltdowns due to a lack of maternity outfits, I agree with my husband that now is the time to start buying maternity clothes, specifically maternity shirts. As soon as we pay off our current credit card bill, you will find me at Motherhood Maternity adding a few maternity pieces to my wardrobe.

    When did you start buying maternity clothing?

    Week 22

    August 30, 2011

    At twenty-one weeks and three days pregnant, I am happy to say that I am finally feeling baby kick. I weigh 125.9 pounds, and my waist measures 37.5 inches around. On August 26, my husband and I saw our midwife for another prenatal appointment. My daughter’s heart beat measured 160 beats per minute (probably due to the marshmallow vanilla Coke that I drank on the drive up.) My fundus measured 17.5 centimeters. Although I thought I might have been able to feel baby moving for a few weeks now, I was unsure for certain. After all, pregnancy makes a mama-to-be rather gassy at times, so I was unwilling to believe that I was feeling baby kick instead of just feeling gas bubbles. However, after today, I am pleased as punch to say that I have for sure felt my precious little Poppy moving around in my belly.

    I bought a fetoscope a few weeks ago. A fetoscope is special stethoscope made especially for listening to fetal heartbeats. I have been trying to find Poppy’s heartbeat since week eighteen. Until today, however, I have been unsuccessful. Although some women are able to find the baby’s heartbeat sooner with a fetoscope, a suspected anterior placenta is probably to blame for my inability to hear Poppy’s heartbeat sooner. An anterior placenta also explains my lack of feeling baby kick for certain before now. Medically indifferent, an anterior placenta, by the way, is the term for a placenta attached to the front of the uterus rather than the back.

    Today while playing with my fetoscope, I could definitely feel baby moving around in my tummy. When I pressed the fetoscope to my abdomen, I immediately found Poppy’s heartbeat. The quick thud thud thud of my baby’s heartbeat right behind the slower thud thud of my own heart. Even more excitingly, I was able to find Poppy’s heartbeat multiple times, meaning that my husband could listen even after I had gotten up and walked around for a bit.

    In addition to hearing the heartbeat, I was also feeling baby kick. My little Poppy is a wiggly little baby. Two weeks ago when my doula came for a visit, we used her Doppler to listen to the heartbeat. Not only did we hear the heartbeat loud and clear, but we also got to hear Poppy kick at the Doppler. Right next to the quick thud thud thud was a firm whomp from a kick. Apparently my baby does not like being poked and prodded with the Doppler.

    My precious little Poppy also does not appreciate being poked with the fetoscope. While I was listening to the heartbeat today, I heard a few distinct kicks. Even though I know I was probably annoying my baby, I stilled enjoyed feeling baby kick. Sorry, Poppy, but your mama is going to keep poking at you to make sure you are still alive and well!

    Now that I am certain I am feeling baby kick during week 22, I am also certain that I have been able to feel baby moving before. The other night while standing in my kitchen near bedtime, I started giggling because I felt like I had been tickled from the inside. I now know for sure that the little tickling sensation I felt was Poppy moving around inside me. There have also been a few other moments when I felt like I was being tickled from inside my abdomen. I am now willing to believe that I have actually been feeling baby kick. And I am so excited about feeling baby moving around more and more as he or she grows bigger!

    When did you first feel baby kick?

    Week 23

    September 5, 2011

    Belly Ring During Week 23 of PregnancyThe other night while showering during week 23 of pregnancy, I took a look at the changes in my belly button during pregnancy. My waist now measures 38 inches around, and I now weigh 126 pounds. I have had my belly button pierced for the last eight years. I must confess that I pierced my belly button myself. Twice. After the first time, I decided to do the piercing over again to make the fleshy area between the two holes wider. So, between the two holes is a little leftover scar from the initial piercing.

    I am determined to maintain my pierced belly button during pregnancy. As my body changes during pregnancy, I have been paying close attention to my belly button. The two most noticeable changes to belly during pregnancy are an ever-expanding waistline and a belly button that will most likely pop out at some point. So far the only change to my innie belly button during pregnancy has been that my belly button has gotten a little shallower. I have gained about four inches around my waist, but otherwise my belly button during pregnancy had not changed very much. The only big challenge with my belly button piercing is that, as my stomach has expanded, my belly ring catches more on my clothing and other objects I brush my belly against.

    The other night, however, while inspecting for changes in my belly button during pregnancy, I noticed that the little scar between my two current piercing holes was a little red. As my body changes during pregnancy, so does the skin around my belly button. My belly during pregnancy has certainly popped over the past couple of weeks. Complete strangers who do not know me can now tell that I am expecting. As the skin on my belly has stretched, the tiny bit of scar tissue on my belly button has also stretched. As a result, the little area between the two balls of my belly button ring looks a little red.

    Had I not been actively paying attention to my body changes during pregnancy, I probably would have never noticed the little red spot in the center of my belly button piercing. Although inflamed, my belly button does not hurt at all. To be sure that I was not developing an infection, I did take out my belly button ring and thoroughly cleaned my piercing with soap and warm water. I even dipped my belly ring in tea tree oil before putting the ring back in.

    As my belly during pregnancy continues to change during and after week 23 of pregnancy, so too will my belly button piercing. I have already purchased some special pregnancy belly button rings that are made of plastic instead of metal. The plastic is supposed to be more comfortable should my innie eventually become an outie. However, because my belly button has been pierced for so long, I should have no real problems with my belly button during pregnancy. Really, the biggest challenge I need to look out for is not catching my belly ring on something. Otherwise I will just continue to care for my piercing as usual.

    How did your belly button change during pregnancy?

    Week 24

    September 12, 2011

    When I found out that I had low iron levels during pregnancy, I was a little freaked out. Low iron levels during pregnancy are linked to low birth weight and premature birth. I was willing to do anything to improve my iron levels to keep my precious little Poppy healthy. My initial plan was to eat more iron-rich foods, specifically buffalo. I would also consider a prenatal iron supplement. I was still healthy at 128.6 pounds with a 38.5 inch waist, but I still needed to get my iron levels up to ensure the best outcome for my baby as possible.

    Unfortunately, after attempting to incorporate more red meat like buffalo into my diet for about a week, I decided that I should probably take a prenatal iron supplement during week 24 of pregnancy in addition to my other vitamins to help improve my iron levels during pregnancy. Although I did love a good filet mignon or juicy bison burger with a side of spinach salad or a baked potato with the skin, I simply could not eat as much iron-rich food as I needed to keep my daughter and myself healthy.

    I therefore decided to start taking a prenatal iron supplement called Floradix. My doula had recommended Floradix, which is a liquid iron supplement, to me. A friend who also suffered from low iron levels during pregnancy also spoke very highly of her experience with Floradix. Thus, once a day, usually before I head off to work, my husband mixed me a dose of my prenatal iron supplement with a glass of orange juice or some cranberry juice. Although I was skeptical at first, the Floradix tasted pretty good. Plus, the vitamin C in the juice helped my body absorb the iron more efficiently. My daughter also always went wild for all the fruity sugar. She always started moving around like crazy whenever I had a glass of juice!

    At my first visit to my midwife after having my blood drawn, my low iron levels during week 24 of pregnancy had already improved. In addition to Floradix, I had also found an improvement in my iron levels by eating more iron-rich foods, specifically bison. With the cooler weather of the fall approaching, I could definitely see myself eating more and more buffalo chili as I continude to work on my iron levels during pregnancy. I would do anything to keep my precious little Poppy healthy. Low iron levels while pregnant are a common but easily treatable pregnancy complication.

    Did you take an iron supplement during pregnancy?

    September 13, 2011

    During week 24 of pregnancy, I weigh 128.6 pounds, and my waist measures 38.5 inches around. Now that I am feeling fetal movement during pregnancy on a daily basis, I find myself much calmer about the little person growing inside my belly. Having lost my first pregnancy to miscarriage less than a year ago, I was a nervous wreck about losing my second baby. My biggest pregnancy fear was another miscarriage. As the second trimester approached, I promised my husband that I would feel better once I started feeling Baby kick. He, of course, warned me that, once fetal movement during pregnancy started, I would eventually regret my desire to feel my precious little Poppy kicking all the time. So far, I disagree.

    Even after hearing the heartbeat for the first time at my twelve week appointment with my midwife, I was still a nervous wreck. I wanted to feel fetal movement during pregnancy as much as possible to know that my baby was still alive and well inside me. Soon after, I started feeling little bubbles. At first I dismissed the bubbling feeling in my tummy as gas. However, by twenty-one weeks and three days pregnant, I could definitely say for sure that I was finally feeling baby kick!

    I decided to buy myself a fetoscope so that I could eventually listen to Poppy’s heartbeat whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted. (Since a Doppler uses sound waves like an ultrasound, I wanted to avoid unnecessary exposure and opted for a non-invasive fetoscope instead.) During the twenty-second week of my pregnancy, I was convinced that I was finally feeling fetal movement during pregnancy. When I pressed the fetoscope to my belly, Poppy pressed back with a few good whomps.

    Now whenever I listen to his or her heartbeat with my fetoscope, Poppy always gives me a little poke to let me know he or she is aware that I am listening. Feeling Baby kick is simply the greatest feeling in world. Sometimes when I gently poke at my belly, Poppy also pokes back. He or she even pokes at my dog when he leans too hard on my tummy.

    Other triggers also evoke fetal movement during pregnancy. Because I need to watch my iron levels, I am currently taking Floradix fixed with orange juice. Poppy loves the sugary sweetness of my OJ-iron concoction. As soon as I drink a few sips, I start feeling Baby kick. Poppy also goes wild for Coke, specifically vanilla coke with marshmallow from my favorite little soda shop. Laying on my right side also seems to bring about a few good kicks more often than not.

    I love feeling fetal movement during pregnancy. Feeling Baby kick inside my belly brings me comfort. Knowing that my baby is wiggling around inside me has finally brought me calm during my pregnancy. I know what your daddy warned me, dear Poppy, but keep up with the fetal movement during pregnancy. Mama needs the reassurance!

    How did experiencing fetal movement make you feel?

    Week 25

    September 20, 2011

    As I sit in front of my computer, I am happy and relieved to say that my precious little Poppy is happily kicking away inside my belly. I had not felt any fetal movement since yesterday afternoon, so I was getting a little paranoid. Yes, I know that unborn babies sometimes go through periods of inactivity. As my husband pointed out, I had not been sleeping well, so I was most likely keeping the baby awake with my tossing and turning and general unease. Nevertheless, I still freak out when Poppy goes for a while without turning my uterus into his or her own personal jungle gym.

    I have a good reason for worrying when Poppy decides to take a chill pill for a while. This pregnancy is not my first pregnancy. I actually lost my first baby to a miscarriage a little over a year ago. I was around eight weeks along. I never got to feel any movement or even hear the heartbeat. I also did not have very many pregnancy symptoms expect for some fatigue and sore breasts. Because I lost my first pregnancy to a miscarriage, I have been a little on edge for the past twenty-five weeks of my current pregnancy.

    Feeling my baby kicks brings me a great sense of relief. As long as I can feel him or her kicking, punching, poking, and somersaulting around inside me, I know that my precious little Poppy is okay. When I had gone for almost twenty-four hours without feeling any movement, I pulled out my worried card.

    Because I work second shift, Poppy is most active beginning in the early hours of night through the early hours of the morning. I love sitting at the desk at work, feeling and watching my baby kicking inside my belly. I also take comfort in feeling him or her poking me as I fall to sleep.

    Poppy was being an absolute stinker yesterday. I did not feel him all night yesterday at work. When I got home, James tried talking to him or her, which usually results in a few good kicks. (Poppy loves Daddy!) Not even our dog leaning against my belly could get Poppy to make a peep. When I still had not felt any movement when I woke up, I pulled out my fetoscope, which is a special stethoscope made especially for hearing a baby’s heartbeat inside the womb. I poked around for a bit, which usually results in some pokes back. I have to admit I was getting a little frantic. Finally, however, James found the heartbeat. The little stinker was just lying around!

    Tonight while sitting at the desk again, I finally started feeling Poppy kicking. I cannot say how relieved I am to feel my baby moving around inside me again. Seriously, I wonder if Poppy is going to be a difficult child. I give him or her permission to kick me all the time, and what does he or she do? Goes to sleep! My dear Poppy, I beg of you, keep kicking Mommy! Otherwise, I might go a little insane.

    Did you ever worry when you did not feel a lot of fetal movement?

    Week 26

    September 27, 2011

    During week 26 of pregnancy, I weighed a respectable 130 pounds. After losing about six pounds during my first trimester, I had finally gained back the lost weight and had even added a healthy additional 10 pounds. My belly also measured 40 inches around. The little bit of weight that I had gained was definitely all Poppy. (She was born on the full term but early side at 36 weeks and 2 days but still weighed a healthy 7 pounds 5 ounces.)

    As I wrote in my pregnancy journal for the week, the biggest event during week 26 of pregnancy for me was feeling baby kick. I even wrote down that, one night while sleeping, I dreams that Poppy was kicking me. When I wrote up from my dream, Poppy was actually kicking me. For the rest of my pregnancy, Poppy would often wake me up by kicking at me in the middle of the night. James likes to joke that she was practicing for her escape. I have to agree. She was born in just four and a half hours. My water broke (while I was sleeping, of course), and then she basically just popped out!

    Did you ever dream about your baby during your pregnancy?

    How did you feel during your second trimester?


    Common Discomforts and Body Changes During Pregnancy:
    Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy:

    Image Credits

    The Second Trimester of My First Pregnancy © 2011 Heather Johnson
    The Second Trimester of My First Pregnancy © 2011 James and Heather Johnson
    Baby Onesie Pregnancy Announcement © 2011 James Johnson
    Cerebral Toxoplasmosis Bradyzoites:
    Belly Ring During Week 23 of Pregnancy © 2011 Heather Johnson

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