Dizziness and a Trip to the Hospital

It’s well known that pregnancy makes you constipated. Iron supplements also make you constipated. When you are constipated you don’t really want to eat much. And you get dizzy when you don’t eat much. So what do you think happens when you add being pregnant on top of all that? A lovely trip to Labor and Delivery.

Jack and I are both fine, it was just a precaution. I had a counselor appointment yesterday morning . I had a light breakfast because my stomach hurt from being constipated. I also had a light dinner the night before for the same reason. My appointment was going well when all the sudden I felt hot and dizzy (nothing new, it’s happened a bunch and it not that uncommon of a pregnancy symptom). I asked for a glass of water, but it did not improve. So the counselor altered the front desk, who much to my embarrassment called a code blue. That usually means all medical staff drop what they are doing and rush to help a critical patient. Everyone came to me instantly. They checked my blood pressure and decided to have me lay down because it was very low. They took my blood sugar next, which was low too. All my other vitals were fine though. Jack’s heart rate was fine, but the doctor urged me to go to the hospital just to be safe.

Michael luckily came with me to this appointment. The poor guy was was shoved into the hall way while they checked on me, but he quickly came in to comfort me when they finished. He brought the car the to front of the clinic and they brought me out in a wheelchair (straight through the waiting room, which was also kind of embarrassing) as a precaution.

Because I am over 20 weeks, I had to go to Labor and Delivery. They checked my vitals and compared them to ones reported earlier at the clinic. They also hooked me up to a fetal heart rate monitor and said Jack was perfectly fine. No signs of labor or distress. They determined that I had low blood sugar, causing my blood pressure to drop and made me dizzy. Plus being anemic on top of it didn’t help. They brought me juice and some snacks to munch on.  After an hour, they discharged me with orders to rest and prescription for Colace to help ease my constipation.

So what did I learn from this slightly embarrassing ordeal? I am not quiet sure. All the things they told me about  nutrition and anemia I already knew. They said it’s not my fault I am anemic, it’s a chronic condition that is being exacerbated by pregnancy. I talked to Michael about how frustrating all this is. At first I was told I was gaining too much weight so I started really watching what I ate (while still ensuring I was eating the required calories and nutrients). Now I am being told I need to eat more and more often!

People keep telling me I should eat meat, and I know they mean well, but it’s really pissing me off. I do not believe that meat is going to magically cure my anemia. It’s a chronic problem, my body does not know how to maintain iron in the long run. Not to mention I really hate the taste and texture of meat.

I admit I should being eating more frequently, and I am going to talk to my doctor about increasing my iron. But other than that, I do not think I am doing anything wrong. I eat very healthy, exercise daily, and drink tons of water.  My husband reminded me that our son is growing fine and overall my pregnancy has no major complications. Pregnant women get dizzy, they get anemic, and they need to eat more. I just need to keeping doing what my body is telling me to do and stay calm.

On the plus side, we know we can get to the hospital in 15 minutes if there is no traffic. And we know where to park and where Labor & Delivery is now.

Glucose Screening and Anemia

I had my glucose screen last week. I was apprehensive about doing it because things never go well when I need to have blood drawn.

My appointment was first thing in the morning, so I fasted the night before. I wasn’t that hungry in the morning so that didn’t bother me. But, like I said, I have ever been good at getting my blood drawn. I am not afraid of blood or needles. I have tiny veins that like to jump around. This makes it hard for most phlebotomists/nurses to find a good vein, so I end up getting getting poked several times and have the needle wiggled around a lot. It usually takes so long that I get dizzy and nauseous. Now I just ask to lay down from the start to make it easier for everyone. When I got to the clinic, they sent me right over to the lab for my first blood draw. I laid down and everything went well. She got a vein on the first try.

It wasn’t that bad.

Then she gave me the drink and said I had 5 minutes to finish it. It tasted like really sweet, flat Sprite. It was not that bad, but don’t like really sugary things so I don’t think I could have drank much more than that small bottle.

Then I went back over to waiting room and was called in for my doctor appointment. She said Jack looks great and I am doing just fine. She was happy my weight gain slowed dramatically (only a half pound gain, see my last post) and loved that I was drinking more water.

Then I went back to the waiting room to wait. I was playing on my phone when all the sudden I got really dizzy.  So I got  some water, hoping that would help but nothing improved. I asked to lay down and the lab tech quickly found an open room for me. She got me more water and told me to just wait there until the next blood draw.

She came back in a bit for the second draw, but it did not go as well as the first. She tried a different vein on the same arm, and it instantly ceased up. It hurt so bad that I actually yelped and asked her to stop. So she had to go back to the first vein, but a different spot. It hurt but she got it quickly so I just bared with it.

I just stayed laying down until the last draw in an hour. I was feeling fine, but decided that was probably the best option. She came back in an hour and it went horrible again. She tried a different spot on the same vein, and it ceased up too. So she moved to my other arm and I ended up yelping again. She  finally got a smaller needle and after some wiggling, finally got it.

It hurt to bend my arms to drive home.

At this point I was starving, dizzy, and in pain.  She gave me another glass of water and let me rest of few more minutes. Once my dizziness was gone, I booked it out of there, got some pad thai (tofu and no egg) and went home. I already took the whole day off (knowing that the blood draw would not go well), so I snuggled up on the couch and inhaled my food. Then I took a nice nap with my cats and woke up feeling much better. My arms were sore 3 days later. And I got a mini track mark. Very attractive.

Track mark the next morning.

The doctor said I would receive a call in 3 days only if something was wrong. I assumed they would call first thing in the morning, so when I heard nothing by noon on the third day, I figured it was all good. Then that night 5 minutes before the clinic closed, I got a phone call. “Please hold for the OB/GYN nurse,” I just about burst into tears. Something must be horribly wrong or else they wouldn’t be calling me so late. They must want me to rush straight to the hospital. Michael isn’t even home, he went out with his boys and it’s going to take him at least 30 minutes to come get me. 

After what felt like an eternity, the nurse comes on the phone. She says my hemoglobin levels are very low. The doctor prescribed me a higher dose of iron and it should be waiting for me at the pharmacy.

Iron pills! source

I was so relieved! I’ve had anemia on and off since I was 12 so not surprised Jack is stealing what little iron I have. And no, it has nothing to do with being vegan. I had way before I went vegan, my body just naturally does not know how to maintain enough iron. I happily picked up my prescription and started it right away.

Anemia is common in pregnancy and can be easily treated. There are 3 types of anemia, but all of them result not enough red blood cells. There is iron deficiency, folate deficiency, and B-12 deficiency. I have iron deficiency, so that is what I am going to talk about next.

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Iron deficiency anemia means you do not have enough hemoglobin (a blood protein). Hemoglobin carries oxygen all throughout your body, so low hemoglobin means your body and your baby are not getting enough oxygen.

Even though anemia is not necessarily fatal, it can affect the growth of your baby in the long run. Low birth weight, preterm labor and of course the baby can be born with anemia as well. And let me tell you, anemia can suck. Extreme tiredness, dizziness, weakness, and confusion. Plus the very attractive pale skin and sunken complexion. The weird thing is a few weeks ago I had all those symptoms and they told me I did not have anemia. Now I am feeling better and have the lowest iron ever in my life.

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Like I said, it is easily treated. You can take an iron supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamin. Also, you can eat iron-rich food like: lentils, brussel sprouts, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, tofu, black strap molasses, black-eyed peas, kale, and spinach.

Did you notice I didn’t list any meat? You can be a vegan and overcome anemia. Just eat a balanced and healthy diet. You won’t even have to think about it, most plants have plenty of iron. I think I became anemic again because I was  too nauseous in my first trimester to eat well.

As unpleasant (and painful) as my glucose screening was, I am glad I do not have gestational diabetes and my anemia is treatable.