The pregnancy hand you’re dealt

13 weeks pregnant
Me at 13 weeks thinking I had a bump. LOLOLOLOL/sob.

Still unpacking from the move (and anticipate I’ll be doing this until we get through the big giant  yard sale we have to have and get our new floors installed… so, maybe I’ll be able to take a full breath without panicking sometime in July.) Anyway, still unpacking. I came across my pregnancy journal, and while I left behind the topic of pregnancy for several months, it’s been a year since I found out I was pregnant and I’m starting to get a little nostalgic for that crazy and brand-new time in my life, so I thought I’d look back on how it went.

When you read pregnancy books, they provide an exhaustive list of pregnancy symptoms and side effects, some benign and some devastating, and most falling somewhere around “incredibly uncomfortable” on that spectrum.

Early on in my pregnancy, before I had a bump to speak of, before I could feel kicks, I consumed pregnancy information as though it were the elixir that would keep this one going. All this reading led me to expect I would run into every single symptom in the books, almost like mile markers on a journey.

But, my special snowflakes, just as every person is different, every pregnancy is different. I think a better metaphor for pregnancy is a game of cards – there’s a deck of about 500 symptoms you can get, and everyone gets dealt their hand.

Let’s see, a pair of hemorrhoids, a straight flush of heartburn, three losses of bladder control…
Photo: Nayuki from Toronto, Canada (A hand of cards) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
 Here’s the hand I was dealt, along with some of the symptoms I dodged.

[Here’s your TMI warning, people who don’t want to know about my bodily functions. Who don’t you instead read this post about how we decorated the nursery? There, isn’t that trauma free?] 

  • Constantly  having to pee. Both times I was pregnant, the very day I could take a pregnancy test I already had this symptom (having to pee about every 20 minutes… sort of like having a UTI but without the accompanying pain.) When I was pregnant with The Baby, I decided to take a pregnancy test at about 5:50 a.m. I struggled with when to take it because you get the best results with your “first morning urine,” but I had been getting up to pee continually since about 2 a.m., so… Yeah. That lasted several weeks, I think?
  • “Pregnancy brain” and moodiness. I was a little forgetful and cried once or twice. This one barely registers and I blame it on exhaustion more than anything. The one time I do remember crying, I was standing in front of the open refrigerator sniffling because I was too tired to cook dinner.
  • Sore boobs. This was another early indicator. It felt almost like the burning sensation you can get from pulling a muscle, on top of a bruise. They also got huge for a little bit, but then things calmed down (or at least they quit growing, and also lost the race with my belly) as I approached the second trimester.
  • Food aversions. Here’s a list of my favorite foods during the first trimester: Cereal. The end. I never vomited or had real morning sickness, but I hated vegetables, meat, anything garlicky or oniony, I didn’t miss beer one bit (which I was surprised by), and I basically lived off Honey Nut Cheerios for the first trimester.
  • Nosebleeds. I got two of these. Nothing crazy.
  • Insane dreams. I have always been a vivid dreamer, but my dreams during pregnancy were NUTS. They rarely had anything to do with babies (and then not until I approached childbirth), and were usually flop-sweat inducing nightmares. Which was great, because I was sleeping so effing much, because I had…
  • Unbelievable fatigue. There were times in the first trimester I went to bed at 6:30 p.m. I rarely made it past 7:30 or 8. I luxuriated in weekend naps. I think early pregnancy sleep is the best sleep I ever got. (Or at least the last good sleep I ever got, ha!) We took a vacation to Asheville NC when I was about 15 weeks along, expecting that I’d be through the fatigue by then, but I still didn’t see a sunset the whole trip. I finally came out of this by about 18 weeks, at least for a little while.
  • Heartburn. If I had to pick the worst symptom of pregnancy, it would be the heartburn and acid reflux I grew so acquainted with starting early in my second trimester. I lived on Tums for as long as I could, and ended up eventually conceding that I needed stronger medication as the pregnancy wore on, because I couldn’t eat anything – drinking water even triggered it. There were several nights I woke from a sound sleep choking on stomach acid that had crawled up my throat. I guess that’s what you get when your hormones loosen every closure in your body and your stomach shoves all your organs up to your armpits.
  • Hip pain. As I got bigger and had to stick to side-lying at night, hip pain started to become another source of bad sleep on top of always having to pee and acid reflux and waking up from nightmares. I think I started to develop hip bursitis in pregnancy (this pain got worse/followed me postpartum, and is finally starting to feel like it is fading). I bought one of those stupid, giant pregnancy pillows and slowly took over the entire bed.
  • Linea nigra. I did get a darkish line up my belly. (I’m 4.5 months postpartum and it’s about gone.) I was happy to dodge the “mask of pregnancy” that I fully expected to get, since my most recent hormonal birth control resulted in a cute little melasma mustache. I wore sunscreen like it was my JOB throughout the pregnancy just in case.

I think that pretty much covers the gamut. I dodged any serious morning sickness, hemorrhoids/constipation (eat your fiber and drink your water, ladies!), swollen hands/feet (just a tiny bit the last week or so),  any really troubling emotional meltdowns/moodiness, pants-peeing, or too much trouble breathing. Now that I’m looking at it though, it is a pretty long list…

Word of advice, new moms: If you’re ever feeling nostalgic about pregnancy, just think back through all the queasiness and pain and exhaustion you endured. That’ll settle it right down for you.

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The pregnancy hand you’re dealt

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