So I went to the hospital on Thursday. Let me back up. On Wednesday night, I had some cramping which I chalked up to eating Dominos pizza with my best friend Matt. I knew Dominos would feel like instant food poisoning but pizza is pizza. So I was uncomfortable that night with some slight abdominal pain. I climbed into bed and said "Something's not right" then off I went to sleep. I woke up at 6am for work and felt a stabbing pain in my lower left abdomen, just below my bellybutton. And of course, since I had eaten Dominos, I assumed it was just a horrible bout of pregnancy gas (#sorrynotsorry).
Like most working pregnant women in the U.S., I cannot afford to miss a bunch of work days simply because I feel like crap. I am trying to hold on to my few remaining vacation days to ease the burden of loss of income when I am on maternity leave and taking a sick day because I had a random pain didn't seem like a good enough reason to me. I have been trying really hard over the past months to not freak out when I am feeling physically uncomfortable. My reasoning? Everything hurts when you're pregnant.
There was an accident on my commute to work so I sat in the car for an hour and a half and noticed the pain getting progressively worse. Like most people, even with my insurance, I avoid going to the doctor as much as possible because who knows how much it is going to cost. But being pregnant means there may be a problem with the baby, not just me, so I called my doctor's office and left a voicemail. They called back at 10:30am and by now, it hurt to stand up, sit, and walk. I don't know how to explain it. Just a nonstop pinching, throbbing, increasing pain in my lower left abdomen that was super tender to the touch. My doctor was not in the office that day but his nurse had texted him and he advised me to go to Labor and Delivery at the hospital I would be delivering at in October. Cue the nervous tears.
I was seen quickly at the hospital by a nurse who strapped a heart monitor on my abdomen to track the baby's heartbeat. To say I was relieved to hear his heartbeat is an understatement. Something about going to a hospital increases the meter on the worrying scale. The doctor I saw ordered an ultrasound to check my kidneys but everything looked fine. The tech moved the ultrasound right over the source of pain. "Oh look, the baby's hands are right there!" The doctor explained it most likely was round ligament pain...and (get a load of this) the baby was pressing his fists right up against it. The doctor told me this pain was something many women come in for between 24 and 28 weeks and to just rest and they discharged me. It was a mix of relief and frustration. Relief because nothing was seriously wrong. Frustration because nothing could be done to make this better.
Essentially, you have two round ligaments in your pelvis. One on either side of your uterus. Their job is to stretch and support the uterus as it grows during pregnancy. I read on a couple blogs that the round ligament stretches from 2 inches to 12 inches during pregnancy- no wonder it hurts! Everything I read online says the pain should only last a few seconds to minutes. Lucky me: I am on day 4. Last night, I woke up in so much pain that I could barely get out of bed to make my way to the bathroom. I have tried a heating pad, a warm shower, cat and cow stretches, and laying still for hours. Nothing has helped. I began crying from the pain last night and asked my unborn child to please, for the love, learn to share the space with me a bit more. Oh right- I haven't mentioned this part yet. I can feel him move and then BOOM! It literally feels like I am being stabbed in the sore spot. The constant pain is one thing. The unpredictable movements of my baby, who clearly is destined to be a future MMA fighter, brings on a severe and sudden pain that makes me temporarily see stars.
Today feels slightly better. Maybe last night was so awful that it could only get better from here. There is still pain but I can walk without doubling over or holding the walls for support. I don't know why my pain is so severe and after much googling, I have discovered I am not the only woman to suffer from this as badly as I am. I plan on calling my doctor again tomorrow to check in and see if there is anything I can do. How is it possible that I have felt pain nonstop for 4 days now in one spot? Maybe there is nothing I can do besides rest but for such an active person, I already feel a bit like I am losing my mind. Here's to hoping the severity is temporary and I can go back to being mildly miserable as I enter the third trimester!!
Let's have some real talk about the first trimester. In general, I have been very lucky to (so far) have an uncomplicated, by the books, run of the mill pregnancy. But that does not mean it has been enjoyable or that I am going to sugar coat those miserable three months. I promised to write a blog about the shitty parts of pregnancy. Well, here we go.
1) I was nauseous all the time. ALL.THE.TIME. It was like being hungover 24/7 without anything to make it better. I drank so much ginger ale that I started to just auto puke it after swallowing. I cannot bear to even think about looking at Saltines or Ritz crackers for the next 800 years. I was also one of those lucky women who had an inexplicable constant sour taste in her mouth. GROSS.
2) Actually, there was one thing that made me not feel nauseous. It was when I ate. Literally, if I was eating food, I felt better. The minute I stopped, here we go again. And just like being hungover 24/7, fast food and carbs was what made me feel better. I gained about a pound a week, setting me up for too much weight gain before this baby is here.
3) But don't you worry- I did puke. A ton! And nope, that did nothing to curb my weight gain. The grossest pregnancy moment I have had to date was laying on the couch watching The Golden Girls. Out of nowhere, truly no warning, I puked all over myself. I rolled onto my side and finished puking on the living room floor. I was disgusted with myself and my dog looked pretty horrified too. I walked to the bathroom, cleaned myself up, cleaned up the living room floor, and then ate a bowl of Oreo ice cream because remember what made me feel better? That's right. Eating. I was a complete shitshow.
4) I was emotional. SO EMOTIONAL. The truth is, I was very emotional before getting pregnant. The influx of hormones in addition to my own internal struggles with weight gain and anxiety created a shitstorm of tears. I cried all the time. I also endured a tragic loss in my family during that time and being pregnant felt like the most overwhelming thing in the world then. I was sad and I was scared. It really really sucked.
5) I have never been so tired in my whole life. I used to work 16 hour days with long commutes and I had never felt this sort of exhaustion before. All I did was eat, cry, or sleep. I felt sort of like a bear prepping for hibernation. My husband would come home from work every night to find me with a string of drool hanging from my mouth on the couch.
6) All those times when I had sore boobs before a period and thought "oh no, am I pregnant?" HA! I laugh at those times now. Because those sore boobs are nothing compared to first trimester boob pain. There were nights where I slept in a sports bra because taking it off would shoot fiery pains through my body.
BUT GUESS WHAT? Even after 3 full months of all of that in addition to heartburn, diarrhea, and headaches, I survived. Were there good parts of the first trimester too? Sure. The excitement of pregnancy, telling family and close friends secretly before public announcements, the first ultrasound were all moments that made it worth it. But do not let anyone try to fool you- growing a human being is no joke and most likely your body will LOSE IT'S SHIT for the first few months. I am sure there are mamas out there with similar, or worse, stories than mine and all I can do is commend each one of them for making it through. I used to pick my head up from the toilet, look at my husband with tears in my eyes, and say "I have no idea why any woman would ever do this to herself again." So for you moms with more than one kids, I give you an extra round of applause. Ultimately, the first trimester taught me that women are warriors. Gassy, tired, emotional, pukey warriors.
Every year, our family takes an annual camping trip in the summer. My husband LOVES camping. To say I would rather do anything else is an understatement. To clarify: I love hiking outdoors, seeing nature, campfires, and the peace and quiet nature can bring. I just want to experience all of these things with a real bed, bathroom, shower, and air conditioning at the end of the day. My husband is a "dig a hole in the ground and poop in the woods" sort of camper (are we bears??) I'm a "Pinterest how to make your own tent air conditioning" sort of camper. When we first discussed camping together, I figured we should probably break up instead of me taking a poop in the woods. When my mother found out I would be camping, she was in shock. "You must really love this guy." Luckily, we have learned to compromise so I am not in complete misery and he still feels like we are turning into filthy mountain creatures on our trips. Campsites with bathrooms, a sleeping pad, and an abundance of baby wipes to give the illusion of cleanliness.
At the beginning of February, we booked a site for late June at Dorst Creek in the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. Two weeks later, we found out I was pregnant. Dread set in. Camping at almost 6 months pregnant sounded like a horrible idea. I was probably going to opt out. But as the trip got closer, the more compelled I felt to go. I really wanted to see those massive Redwoods and Sequoias. I wanted to disconnect from the city and quiet my mind. I got the go ahead from my doctor and he even informed me that I could use bug spray containing DEET. Most importantly, there were flush toilets at the site. I could do this!
We set out on our camping trip. We had to make a few bathroom stops along the way for my bladder but I survived. The first night of sleep was torture. Our site was on a slant. I kept sliding down the hill and trying to inchworm my way up in my sleeping bag with all my new extra weight was a real bitch. I had to get up and pee twice. Headlamp on, I was convinced I would be eaten by a bear on my way to the bathroom. (Pro tip: my husband lined a path to the bathroom with glow sticks to help me find my way at night. Brilliant.)
The next day, we set out for a hike. 4 miles down was easy and I was cruising. The scenery was gorgeous and we stopped for several pictures along the way. I had to pop a squat a couple times along the trail. My bare ass pressed against a tree trying not to pee on my pants was not my most dignified moment but since I've been pregnant, I've cared a little less about dignity and more about what's necessary. There was a ton of shade from the gorgeous trees and I felt so happy to be surrounded by such beauty.
The 4 miles back was almost all uphill and I was not as happy. I was sweating and my thighs felt like they were on fire. I attribute not dying on that hike to a few things: 1) my husband paced me and offered solid advice and encouragement, 2) I wrapped this incredible cooling towel around my neck to keep from overheating, and 3) I had continued working out through my pregnancy. If I had not done that, there is no way I would have been able to manage a hike like this. Your heart pumps harder and faster when you're pregnant. Add in the heightened elevation and I was breathing like I was sprinting uphill for hours. My fingers swelled up so much I couldn't feel them. My 9 year old stepson said he didn't think he could do the hike anymore but I told him there was a pizza place on the way back to camp and to adopt my workout mantra: "DO IT FOR THE PIZZA." We repeated that mantra a few times along the way and finally made it to the top. I felt like a frigging warrior and you best believe we ate pizza after that.
That night, my father in law unboxed an air mattress and pump for me. The pump didn't work so my husband and brother in law blew the damn thing up by mouth. HEROES DO EXIST, Y'ALL. I slept like a frigging princess the next two nights of our trip. The next day, we went swimming at Hume Lake, surrounded by massive dragonflies and a family of ducks. Later on, we went to visit the General Sherman Tree, the world's largest living tree. I was in awe of how incredible it was to see in person. After that, we explored a trail lined by trees and meadows. We went back to our campsite that night and practiced tying knots and made S'mores over the fire. The next morning, we returned back home and I can honestly say I was so happy I didn't talk myself out of this trip just because I was pregnant. Was it a bit more difficult than if I wasn't pregnant? Yes. Was it a bummer to not drink a beer by the campfire at night? Sure. Did it suck having to get up in the middle of the night every night and hope a bear didn't eat me so I could pee? You bet. But was it worth it to not let my pregnancy hold me back and still explore some of the beauty California has to offer? Without a doubt.
So if you are planning on camping when pregnant, I say go for it. Of course, you should always ask your doctor beforehand as we are all different. And if he/she gives you the go ahead, I suggest the following to make your trip more pleasant: air mattress, headlamp for late night bathroom trips, glow sticks to illuminate paths in the dark, and a Camelbak for constant hydration during activities. Also, be honest with yourself about your fitness level and remember that your pregnant body is not the same as it was before- everything will be harder. If I had not kept working out through my pregnancy, I would have been in a real bind on that strenuous hike. There are so many options for you out there that no matter what your level of fitness, you can still be active. Just be smart about it. Probably doesn't need to be said but as someone who needs reminders to not overdo it sometimes, I feel it's worth sharing. Lastly, bring a camera to document your baby's first camping trip. I bet they will be impressed with their mama when they look at the pictures later in life. Happy Trails!!