My Second Trimester

I am officially done with my second trimester. I am both happy and sad about it. Happy because it means I am closer to kissing my son sweet little face. Sad because I know that my pregnancy is going to get more uncomfortable now.

Overall my second trimester went well. Just some mild drama and discomfort. I love feeling him kick and move all the time now. And I am in love with my gorgeous, thick beauty queen hair! However I am not a fan of the nightly heartburn. Or the horrible round ligament pain every time I cough, laugh, or stretch. And the thing I hate the most? Having to wear a panty liner all the time now because my bladder leaks slightly. Did I mention that peed myself a few weeks ago when I sneezed? Yeah, that seriously happened.

So I thought I would do a similar post to my First Trimester one. The things I would again and the things I would do differently.

Things I would do again:

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  • Prenatal Massage: My husband bought me a prenatal massage from Massage Envy when I was 22 weeks. I cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am for it. It felt amazing and helped my sore back. And the massage therapists advice helped me lessen my discomfort over all (see my Fluid Retention and Weight Gain post).
  • Support Wedge/ Maternity Pillow: Around 19 weeks, it started to get very uncomfortable to sleep. I was annoyed I couldn’t sleep on my stomach or back. I didn’t like sleeping on my sides. My belly was in the way, my back hurt, painful heartburn, and leg cramps. I woke up crying one night because my back hurt so much. I got very little sleep each night, and all my tossing and turning woke Michael up. I bought a maternity pillow first. I could hug it and place it between my knees, which supported my belly and lower back. But I was still uncomfortable, I want to be propped up more to alleviate heartburn and relax my upper back. I wanted a big wedge pillow, but the ones we could find were insanely expensive. Michael brought me to two smaller ones instead. They helped tremendously. With all these pillows, I am now supported and cradled all around.
  • Not Giving in to Insane Cravings: I have been lucky so far with no really ridiculously cravings (my mom told me she craved raw zucchini with peanut butter, ick). And I have not wanted to eat an insane quantity of food either really (and my stomach feels so squished I am not sure I could). I do get cravings for some pretty unhealthy foods though, mainly carbs. I indulge a little bit, but don’t over do it. I wanted a big burger Red Robin a few weeks ago. I got my fave burger with a vegan Boca patty, no cheese, no mayo and side salad instead. It was very nice, but responsible treat. I do have one craving I will not indulge in no matter what: a Baskin Robins ice cream cake. I don’t even care which flavor, I just keep thinking of one in general. And I do not want just one slice—I want the whole thing. It’s not vegan or even remotely healthy, so it is not happening. There is a difference between a nice treat and insanity.
  • Stretch Mark Cream:  I refuse to have insane stretch marks. I know some are inevitable, but I do not want to be one of those women with the permanent, deep purple marks all over their stomach. I slather myself daily—and I mean slather—in hopes of preventing them. I had few existing ones that got a little more defined, but nothing else so far. I switch between two products, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Lotion and Bio-Oil. I try to massage it in well all over my belly, sides, boobs, thighs, and butt. It’s nice bonding time with my son, plus I smell great and feel very soft after. Michael says I smell like a doughnut after the Cocoa Butter.
Things I would do differently:

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  • Drink More Water All Along: If you didn’t check out my Fluid Retention and Weight Gain post yet, please do. Drinking more water really helped me not only feel more comfortable, but also helped me control my weight gain. I know the recommended 8-12 glass a day during pregnancy seems like a lot, but trust me it is worth it. I wish I did this from the start. Next baby, even if I throw it up, I am going to make myself drink tons of water.
  • Getting My Husband More Informed: You know that blank look men give you ask them a question? The one that says “I have no idea what you are talking about, but I love you so please don’t get mad at me when I say something stupid.” I was getting a lot of those looks in recent weeks. For example, his sister brought up that we should get a car seat that is also a carrier. I said we don’t need one. Michael then says we probably should get one, and my blood instantly boiled. I told him weeks ago that it is better for the baby’s spine and head to be held in your arms or in a sling facing towards you. Later that night I had a hormonal crying fit about it. He comforted me, but didn’t understand why I was upset. He then reminded me that I have cared for babies before, and he hasn’t. He is very excited to be a dad, but has no idea what to do. It isn’t fair for me to get mad at him like that. When I told him about the spine and head stuff, he had no idea why I mentioned it. I calmed down and explained that I do not want the car seat carrier because of the spine and head concerns. He understood and agreed. So from now, when it comes to making any decision,  I make sure he understands the background information and why I feel the way I do about it, then we discuss it openly. I am also looking in to parenting classes or DVD’s for the both of us.
  • Buy Comfy Shoes Sooner: I have a desk job, but I do get up to look for things often. Plus my 10 trips to the bathroom a day. I quickly ditched my heels (though I wear them for special occasions still). My flats do not have enough support for me right now either. And my sneakers do not match my work clothes. I have a comfy pair of no-slip shoes from when I was waitress, but they are open on the top so my feet get cold. I wanted something comfy, warm, and easy to get on (getting harder to bend down easily). Michael bought me a pair of slide-on sneakers from H&M that work great. And my mom got me vegan UGG-like boots for Christmas. Both are great and I wish I had them all along. When your feet hurt, you get grumpy. And being pregnant makes you a little grumpy anyways. No ones like an extra grumpy pregnant lady!
  • Taking a Fiber Supplement Everyday: There is no polite way to discuss this, but it’s vital. You will probably get constipated while pregnant at some point. All the hormones and the baby pushing on your intestines, bound to back you up. And if you develop anemia and have to take iron supplements, it will only get worse. And to quote my best friend about the subject “It’s funny how people get so irritated when they can’t poo.” You feel so bloated and uncomfortable that you just want to punch everyone. I had no issues with it until about 2 weeks after starting my iron pills. After about 3 days of nothing, I began to panic. I ended up trying a whole bunch of different things, but at that point I was so backed up that it took a few more days for it all to start working. I wish I just took a basic fiber supplement all along like Metamucil to keep it from ever becoming a problem.
Things I am not sure about:

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  • Getting the Nursery Together So Soon: It is a relief to know that if Jack came early, that the nursery is mostly together. The walls are painted and the crib is together. We have some clothes, diapers, and other stuff too. I want everything as perfect as can be for him, so I started planning stuff early. But I realized recently that it pretty much just going to sit there empty for 4 more months. And I still have my baby shower coming up, so there is no point in planning on getting much more stuff right now. Plus my mom told me she already bought stuff and so did my sister-in-law. It’s a relief for a first time mom, but not sure it was worth the hassle so soon.
  • Preliminary Birth Plan: I was once thinking about being a neonatal or OB/GYN nurse, so I knew some stuff about giving birth before. I decided to make a preliminary birth plan, just in case I went into labor early. All these options came up on that I did not know about. Do you want to try a birthing stool? Do you want to be constantly monitored or intermittently? Do you want an epidural or to try other pain management techniques. Do you want a mirror to see the baby come out? Do you want your partner to catch the baby? Do you want to tear naturally? Do you want skin-to-skin contact immediately? I had no idea! I began researching all this and more, and sharing the info with Michael. We slowly started to make informed decisions and came up with a preliminary birth plan. But we still need to take the hospital tour and some baby classes, so thing may change. Though it’s nice to know we have a plan, it was overwhelming to work on by ourselves. It might have been nice to have waited till we had the tour and the classes.

Low Blood Pressure: So That’s Why I Keep Almost Fainting….

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I went to my nutritionist the day after my whole embarrassing Labor & Delivery ordeal. I had a much better experience this time, no crying in my car afterwards!

I explained how I got dizzy during my counseling appointment and that was not the first time that has happened. I explained how my doctor thought it was low blood sugar, and the doctor at L&D thinks my anemia was a factor too. She took the time to actually listen to me and look over all my lab work. Yes, my blood sugar was lower when I felt dizzy, but not actually out of the normal range. And yes, my blood work from my glucose screening 3 weeks ago said I had anemic iron levels, but the ones taken the at the hospital yesterday were within normal (meaning my iron supplements are working). So she was not convinced either one was the reason for feeling so faint.

Then she say my blood pressure readings and asked if I had naturally low blood pressure. The last pre-pregnancy blood pressure I can remember was from last May, and it was something like 104/75. It’s normal but on the lower side (here to learn how to read blood pressure). At the appointment to confirm my pregnancy, it was something like 102/80, still lower but normal. I couldn’t see the rest of the numbers on my chart, but the one from almost fainting was 91/71 and at L&D it went up to 94/75.

It’s normal for your blood pressure to drop in the first and second trimester, which is normally not a that big of a deal, just some minor dizziness. However, since I have blood pressure naturally, dropping 10+ points in just a few weeks makes it’s worse. I am do not have hypotension because I am still in the normal range though. And since my baby is doing fine and I have no other complaints, she does not think I have an underlying condition causing it.

She loved my diet and said there is no reason why I cannot continue being vegan. My weight gain is perfect, she said I could have one more snack a day if I wanted actually. She loved that my husband and I go for walks daily on our break. Her only suggest was maybe a few extra walks a week to help increase my blood pressure. She made a note for my doctor to follow up on it at my appointment on Friday too.

So I am going to keep doing what I am doing, take a few extra walks, and be grateful that I do not have hypertension or preeclampsia. Between high blood pressure that runs the risk of needing an emergency c-section before I have a stroke and low blood pressure that makes me almost faint, I’ll take the slight inconvenience of being faint.

Anyways, here is a recent pic of my bump. Twenty-six weeks and 2 days here.

Go Niners!

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.

Fluid Retention and Weight Gain

In addition to the counselor I mentioned in my last post, my OB/GYN also offers a nutritionist. She was fine with my vegan diet and said my blood work was the best she has seen in awhile. And my exercise routine was adequate. However, then she became concerned I gained 6 lbs before week 11. It is one more pound than normal, so a lectured ensued. I felt like she was accusing me of lying about my diet and exercise. Afterwards, I cried in my car. She made me feel like a horrible mom already for gaining one more pound than I should have. As a teenager I really struggled with my weight and worked really hard to get healthy. All my former fat insecurities just came flooding back.

14 weeks here, looking back I can totally see how bloated I was.
I told my husband about it that night, and he told me to ignore her. He said I am still beautiful and, more importantly, I am supposed to gain weight to make a baby. And it’s one pound. The appointment was in the afternoon so it could have just been from eating lunch and drinking water all day. I decided he was right. I just brushed it all off and continue what I was doing since the baby and I were both healthy.
At my 20 weeks appointment I had gained 7 more pounds, which the doctor said that was perfectly fine. The gain didn’t bother me, but I was just confused how I gained that much in 5 weeks. I did not think I was eating that much. My belly had really popped and I couldn’t eat much at all without it hurting.

The next week my lower back and hips really started to ache. Michael was very nice and bought me a prenatal massage. The message therapist told me I was retaining a lot fluid and toxins around my hips, which was probably causing all my discomfort. She worked the area well to get the fluids moving again. She also told me to up my water intake by at least 3 glasses.

Michael bought me a pink one so I’d stop stealing his.
Are you kidding me? I already drink 3 refills of my pink water bottle at work, plus one glass when I wake up, one with dinner, and some before bed! And I pee like 10 times day! How can I possibly drink more!/?!/!?
The day after the massage, a huge difference.
I am not all puffy and my belly looks reasonable for 21 weeks

When I got home after the massage, I peed for what felt like an eternity. And right after that, all my back/hip pain was gone. I realized that maybe she was right. For whatever reason I was retaining a lot of fluid. So I decided to give drinking more water a shot.

Over the next 3 days I upped my water intake to 5-6 refills of my water bottle at work. Saturday morning I weighed myself and was surprised to see I lost 3 pounds. I had not changed my caloric intake (we even ate out one night) or exercise, and I somehow lost weight. I weighed myself the next day and it was still the same. I had really only gained 11 pounds, not the confusing 14. I guess I really was retaining fluids!
So I asked my mom. She said that water really does flush out your system and helps you maintain a healthy weight. And that it’s a probably a very good thing I caught my water retention early. She worries that I will develop Toxemia or Preeclampsia like she did while pregnant.
 I am now 23 weeks, and still eating the required calories a day and getting my exercise. I have only gained one more pound. I am not concerned about not gaining a pound a week like I am supposed to. I think my body is still trying to get out all the excess fluid. From now on I will try to be more on track with it though.
23 weeks and feeling A LOT better.
No bloat and no crazy weight gain.
I am also in love with sweater from H &M.

What is the lesson from all this? DRINK WATER! AND DRINK LOTS OF IT!!!

I admit I did not drink that much water in my first trimester because I was so nauseous. I should have followed the advice I used to give my college friends when they drank too much and I was taking care of them all night, “Drink this cup of water, even if you throw it all up again. It’s better it was in you for a little bit than never at all.”

I also want to stressed that my fluid retention was minor and I had no other symptoms. If you are gaining weight quickly without a reasonable explanation, have swelling of the limps or face, difficulty breathing, or fainting often, you may have a serious medical condition like Preeclampsia and need medical attention right away.

Here are some links about the stuff I mentioned in the post:

Drink Enough Water, from WebMD, talks about the importance of drinking enough water all the time, not during pregnancy.

Drink Enough Water During Pregnancy, from What to Expect, explains why water is especially important while pregnant.

Symptoms of Fluid Retention, a link from Dr. Oz, explains what to look for if you think you are retaining fluid.

How to Minimize Water-Retention and Swelling, from Bable, things you can do during pregnancy to minimize fluid retention.

Lastly, info on Preeclampsia.