As I wind down in what I think is the final week of my pregnancy with my second child, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the experience.
Being 11 years older, I had a lot of trepidation when I found out I was pregnant. I had just started a new job with much increased responsibility. I was in a fairly new relationship too with my fiancé Mark who is an older first time father at 52. I became worried about having a healthy pregnancy. I think most women worry about this throughout the pregnancy to a degree. When you are creating a life and nurturing it, you feel a sense of responsibility for the outcome, more so than the father I believe. You wonder how everything you do could negatively or positively affect the baby and with so much data available, it can be overwhelming.
One of the hardest things about being pregnant is not being able to predict how you will feel from day to day. It seems like every side effect is normal. No one can understand what you are going through and if you tell them, you count on them believing that it could really be that bad all of the time. I remember when I first got pregnant, my oldest sister described how she imagined that pregnancy was a blissful experience for most women - I promptly told her that's not the case for MOST women. I tried not to complain all the time - that would have gotten old and I just hoped that the time would fly by...longest 40 weeks ever!!!!
Here are some of the effects of pregnancy that I experienced:
Fatigue - This was the toughest part of being pregnant. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was in the middle of leading a team in negotiating a $500M contract. I couldn't show weakness or inability to do my job and the fatigue nearly consumed me in the first trimester. I didn't want anyone to doubt my ability to do my job and when we were at the finish line at work with that negotiation, I finally admitted that I was pregnant. There were days where I felt that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I wasn't used to slowing down and the sheer lack of any energy made me move at a snail's pace mentally and physically. Even a short walk into my office consumed my entire being.
Blurry vision - One day I was at my son's basketball game and when I looked across the court, I realized that I couldn't clearly make out every player. Yep, pregnancy affects vision too! Many pregnant women retain fluids which can change the thickness and shape of your cornea leading to blurred vision.
Nausea - It was hard to make it through many meals due to the nausea but I didn't suffer from the incessant vomiting that accompanied my first pregnancy.
Gas - Due to my higher levels of progesterone, I had my full share of burping and flatulence. My son discovered that girls do both! I told him it's just the baby and that most girls don't make a habit of farting and burping for no reason. Progesterone relaxes smooth muscle tissue throughout your body, including your gastrointestinal tract.
Constipation - When you're used to frequent bowel movements, you feel like you're stuffing yourself full of poop when you only go once or twice a week. At times, I wondered how much of my weight gain was poop and how much was really baby. I know which one will be easier to lose! Increased progesterone slows the movement of food through your digestive tract and the pressure of your growing uterus on your butt doesn't help either. Elevating my feet for about 20 minutes a day helped increase my bowel movements.
Nosebleeds - The whole winter, I woke up with a bloody nose - even with the use of a humidifier, the bedroom still felt like it was full of extremely dry air. Pregnancy can cause the blood vessels in your nose to expand, and your increased blood supply puts more pressure on those delicate vessels, making them rupture more easily.
Lost sense of need to urinate - Early on, I realized that I no longer knew that I needed to urinate. I didn't proceed to involuntarily urinate on myself, but I did have to make a conscious effort to empty my bladder from time to time when I began to feel uncomfortable. I did not suffer from having to urinate frequently at all.
Low iron - Whew - by the third trimester, my iron was extremely low. I took iron tablets for a little while, but I am horrible at remembering to take pills and at taking them consistently so my regimen tapered off after a while and the fatigue associated with low iron returned late in my third trimester as a result.
Healthy hair growth - I think I lost 10 strands of hair the whole pregnancy. The gray hairs came in nice and thick and I am sure the standard hair loss will resume soon after delivery.
Leg Cramps and Restless Leg Syndrome - During sleep, I often experienced painful leg cramps and even had restless leg syndrome a few nights. This could have been due to low calcium or magnesium levels. I was not good at taking my prenatal vitamins throughout the pregnancy.
Backache - Increased progesterone and relaxin loosens joints and ligaments in preparation for birth. When the ligaments around the spine relax, extra strain is put on the back and hips. Two pregnancy massages were very nice to get during the pregnancy. Near the end of the pregnancy I couldn't really comfortably turn over in bed.
Sore belly - I was all belly during the pregnancy, so towards the end, my belly became quite sore around my belly button from all the stretching out. I didn't exercise at all the entire pregnancy. After the extreme fatigue I experienced in the first 12 weeks, I decided that I would just take a break from any working out during this pregnancy. I was simply too tired for exercise.
With all of these effects, it was hard for me to get excited about being pregnant. Luckily, the excitement of my friends and family began to rub off towards the middle of my second trimester when my energy began to pick up for a few weeks. I began to like some pink things (I don't own very many pink things for myself and I'm not a "girly girl".).
My son's excitement about getting a sibling also helped me to be excited about the pregnancy. When we finally told him that I was expecting, then we had to wait to find out the gender. He wanted to know why I hadn't shared the news prior to the second trimester and I had to explain that sometimes the baby doesn't survive the first trimester. In the back of my head the whole pregnancy, I remained concerned about how he would respond if something did in fact happen to the baby or if the baby wasn't healthy at birth.
Now I am three days away from my due date and feeling ready to be done! I finally signed up for teleworking which is a blessing. I am feeling really nervous about going into labor and although we all know that's temporary, it doesn't make the anticipation or anxiety go away. As I am typing, I am having a contraction. I had the Braxton Hicks throughout the third trimester and now I am hoping to start having the real contractions.
This pregnancy, I began to do some research about post-partum depression. For some reason, I thought I would be more susceptible to it after this pregnancy. My extreme fatigue during my pregnancy combined with all the other effects of the pregnancy had made me mentally exhausted at times and frustrated with my ability to feel alert and focused. Thinking about the lack of sleep experienced by breastfeeding moms in the first few months combined with thoughts of the physical recovery from childbirth made a feeling of helplessness begin to set in.
I wanted to be proactive about my approach.
One of the potential solutions I discovered was placenta encapsulation so I am planning to give it a try.
The placenta is the organ that surrounds the fetus in the womb and allows for the exchange of nutrients, blood, and waste with the mother. After childbirth, a woman expels or delivers her placenta. Placental encapsulation is the consumption of the placenta after it is steamed, dehydrated, ground and placed into pill form.
First, I had to find someone who would encapsulate my placenta. The average cost is $250 - $300 for the service. After I located a specialist, she delivered some basic supplies to me - a cooler and some zip lock bags basically. I will request the placenta from the hospital and then put it on ice. The placenta will stay refrigerated until I return home from the hospital at which time the specialist will come and encapsulate it over the course of two days at my home.
Some of the claimed benefits are hormone balancing, reduction in post-natal bleeding, increased energy, increased iron levels, milk production, CRH levels (stress reducing hormone), increased oxytocin levels and decrease in post-partum depression.
I did take the placenta pills for about 90 days until I ran out. When I was taking them, I had tons of energy and my milk production was amazing! Physically, I felt amazing! I was never tired even though I was up all the time nursing or pumping. After I ran out, then I began to really move slower and did feel some of the physical side effects of having a baby as far as just moving slower than I had since I had the baby. I also felt really positive after having the baby so no PPD. I highly recommend trying this! If you don't experience the same positive things, then you can always stop taking it - but give it a try!
Most people go through each day in consistent and complete distraction because it is the easy way to live. Being distracted means you never stop and focus on yourself. To think about who you are is often hard and uncomfortable. The result is that we then cannot let go of people, experiences, and possessions because that is what we have become or we are afraid of what will be left.
Without these things, we feel alone and afraid. Fear sets in. We can't listen to our own thoughts even for five minutes. We must pick up the phone. We must turn away from the show that makes us think about struggle and hardship. We must find the bar. We must watch the sports game. We must eat the food. We must work late. We must avoid ourselves.
I personally have learned to enjoy the isolation because I am introverted and I like myself. I have realized that I am struggling with connecting back to people, possessions and experiences.
I know my truth but now I protect myself from others.
What am I protecting myself from? Sometimes I think that if you are not even vulnerable with you, then we should not be vulnerable together.
The story of Patricia Davies struck me deeply. Peter Davies, now Patricia Davies, was a World War II veteran who lived a life publicly as a male for 90 years and privately as a male for 60 years. At the age of 90, she finally, after 87 years of secrecy, decided to publicly admit her transgender status.
How long will it take you to admit who you really are?
Do we live in a society that influences us to nearly die with our truths? Do our religions facilitate this closed mindset? Or is it our inherent selfishness that doesn't allow us to simply be happy for someone who has an unusual truth? What made people so uncomfortable with the idea of transgender for so long?
What is happiness worth to you? What are the truths that define your core identity?
Read more about Patricia, my hero, at https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3204144/world-war-2-hero-transgender-ninety/.
Ms. Bhakti Mary
I am an optimistic, positive, generous and driven author who is passionate about self-improvement.
The essence of who you are does not lie in the past. What matters is what you are willing to do NOW. You are the presence.