So, ladies, you know I am all about positivity. But that is not to say that there won’t be hardship during this, our pregnancy experience. I know it won’t be all rainbows and roses… and pretending that’s the case is not what I mean when I say I want to keep the perspective positive.
I really like the framework of an adventure. An adventure is something that, I believe, has purely positive connotations—who doesn’t like the idea of embarking on a grand adventure! But, a true adventure cannot be so without a degree of struggle. There needs to be hardship to garner that great reward. Climbing a mountain takes extreme work and perseverance before you reach the peak and those breathtaking views! Indiana Jones had to battle Nazis and snakes and giant rolling boulders before he could get his treasure.
A real adventure requires strength—of both the body and the mind—and it requires perseverance. But, at the end, it will still have been a positive experience! One that you will look back on with such fondness.
That is how I am looking at pregnancy. This will be the greatest adventure I have ever embarked upon; the most intense challenge that I will ever have endured. So when I say I want to keep a positive perspective, it’s not to say that some days won’t be rough, because they will. It’s not say that some days I won’t curse the mountain I am climbing. But, that is what makes an adventure all the more rewarding! And, at the end, I will have my treasure and it will have all been worth it.
So, with that in mind, there has been one symptom that I have been experiencing with some relative intensity: cramping. It’s most likely my uterus expanding to make room for the baby. As I mentioned in a previous post, it has grown to the size of a grapefruit. It’s funny for me because “growing pains” are something that I have never experienced in my life (I’m pretty short) but I guess I have finally joined the club!
Most of the time, the cramps are similar to those of a really bad period. They come and they go, and sometimes I’m laid up on the couch all day with my heating pad. They’ve kept me up some nights and made me miss work others. Occasionally, they are extremely one-sided, and other days spread evenly across my midsection or lower back. And, of course, there are other days I don’t have any cramps at all!
My midwife told me that every woman is different. And, similarly with periods, some women have terrible cramps, others none at all, and of course there’s a whole spectrum in between. She said, “Some people just have very excitable (crabby) talkative and sensitive uteruses and some people never feel anything—no cramps with cycles and no growing pains in pregnancy.”
So I just have an incredibly crabby uterus! Which is why my husband and I have affectionately named it Sebastian, after the crab in Little Mermaid. Obviously a ridiculous little joke, one that pretty much no one but us finds funny…but making light of things helps.
Unfortunately, with this cold I’ve been fighting off, it’s been hard for me to differentiate between pregnancy symptoms and regular cold symptoms. For the past week, pretty much every day I wake up feeling like I have the flu. I am exhausted, my whole body aches, I’m nauseous, and I feel feverish… I’ve missed a lot of work. But, I’m hopeful that most of these symptoms are as a result of whatever virus I’m fighting off (it’s winter, after all, and there’s plenty of bugs going around.) If they are not, and this is just what the rest of my first trimester will be like, then I will cope. But I’m hoping it’s not!
I’d be curious to hear if anyone else has had similar experiences to mine? Did you have any cramping, if so, how severe? Did you feel like you had the flu?
To share hardship together and compare our experiences is not in defiance of the positive space I’d like to create here with my blog. As I mentioned above, I’m not trying to create some massive lie in which there will be no struggle—because pregnancy is an adventure and that takes hard work! But there’s a specific pessimism that I’m referencing when I say that I want to steer away from all the online negativity. And that’s the kind that actually creates anxiety, the kind that puts fear into the hearts of women who already have enough of that on their plate. I will talk about this in more detail in my next post (otherwise this one will be far too long!)
So for now, I’m signing off. I hope the analogy of an adventure is as fitting for you as it is for me. It fills me with a great sense of purpose and reward and it comforts me on the days that are a bit more of a struggle. Together, we adventurers soldier on! As always, please do share in the comments below or with the contact form above.
So I am supposedly most of the way through my 8th week now. I made the appointment yesterday for my first ultrasound, which I am incredibly excited for! I can't wait to find out just how far along I ACTUALLY am and to see that everything is developing as it should. Unfortunately, it’s not until January 9th—which I feel is such a long time to wait!! But, then again, patience has never really been one of my main virtues…
I have read that the embryo is now about the size of a raspberry (why do they always relate it to the size of a fruit?) Last week the baby had begun forming the small knobs that would develop into its arms and legs and ears. This week, it has begun to develop webbed hands and feet, and its tiny fingers and toes are beginning to differentiate. Also, its little heart have now formed! I had hoped that I’d be able to buy a stethoscope and listen to the heartbeat myself, but I guess you won’t be able to hear that for quite a while yet.
While I know it is still very early into my pregnancy, so these symptoms might still develop, I have not experienced any morning sickness. I’ve had moments of nausea, but nothing severe. They are easily remedied with some peppermint and/or ginger tea and capsules. I have, however, begun to feel FAR more lethargic. In part this is because I have been fighting off a nasty cold. But, I also know that it’s because my body needs so much more energy now; I am growing a life, after all, and it takes a lot of juice!
Sleeping in late is something I really struggle with, but I’ve been forcing myself to concede. I work evenings, so going to bed early isn’t really an option for my lifestyle unfortunately. But I’ve been making sure I get at least 10 hours. I was told my by midwife that women in their first trimester, on average, get about 12 hours of sleep. But, honestly, I’d have no time to LIVE if I did that! So, for now, I’m settling for 10 hours and, if need be, I’ll take naps.
My exercise routine has certainly suffered as of late due to the cold and the decreased energy levels. But I try to do what I can, when I can, and not kick myself about the times that I’m not up for it. We need to be kind to ourselves in the coming months and accept the things we cannot change.
I always knew that my exercise would need adjusting as I progressed further into pregnancy, so that’s why I am glad that I hit it into overdrive when I had the energy!
My uterus has grown to the size of a small grapefruit (again with the fruit analogies!) and, as such, I have found that my pants are becoming increasingly tighter. My midwife suggested that instead of buying a bigger size pair of pants, that I try these elastic belly bands instead. They go around the waistband of your pants and hold them in place so that you don’t have to fasten any buttons or zippers. I was skeptical at first, but they actually work great and are quite comfortable! I highly recommend! And, especially since I know maternity pants are not so far off in the horizon, it makes sense to save my money now and not buy more pants that I know I will soon grow out of.
So, ladies, that’s what my 8th week has been like, for the most part. I found that my 7th and 8th weeks were pretty similar, though markedly different from my 6th. What was yours like? Please feel free to share in the comment section below or with my contact form on the separate page.
“Have you never heard anyone speak positively about labor or birth before? If so, you are not alone,”
Ina May Gaskin writes in her AMAZING book Guide to Childbirth.
“There is extraordinary psychological benefit to belonging to a group of women who have positive stories to tell about their birthing experiences.”
That is what I want to create here. A sisterhood where we can share our positive stories.
If you are like me, you were raised on the back-foot of decades of terrifying depictions of labor in movies and other forms of pop culture. Women screaming in pain, red-faced in anguish, on the brink of death, crying, moaning… in the most excruciating pain of their lives.
I grew up on stories from my mother, detailing her 36 hour labors that would end in C-sections… and as a child, I used to (half) joke:
"I'm going to wait until medicine is advanced enough that they can just knock me out and then wake me up and hand me my baby." And when I was told that this actually used to happen, back in the days of ether, and that it was very dangerous and unhealthy, I would say, "Let's go back to that time. It sounds great!"
As I got a little older, I began thinking that a C-section sounded much better. "Just cut the baby out; what's wrong with that? Nice little scar across the tummy and my vagina will be perfectly in tact." (Of course, eventually when I had my gallbladder removed and I realized how difficult abdominal surgery actually is on the body--and that was just after a very simple, non-invasive laparoscopic surgery!--my opinion definitely changed!)
And, eventually, I decided that I'd much prefer adoption. Which is a sentiment I have heard countless friends of mine and other girls echo for the same reasons, to spare themselves the anguish of labor. Of course, I still love the idea--but for very different motivations! My husband and I might yet adopt one day, to give a child already born a loving home. But, not because I am scared of what childbirth will do to my body.
These decade-long catalogues of horrifying stories and fictional depictions that we were all exposed to are, I'm sure, based on truth. Plenty of women have had excruciating, awful labors. There’s a reason it is rightly called “labor” and not a synonym for “walk in the park”—it’s going to be the toughest challenge that we as women face (well, before the challenge of motherhood, that is.) But that does not mean that they are the only stories to tell.
I just bought this book by Ina May Gaskin and it is singing my song!! I could not recommend her any more highly--and I am only a couple of pages in! Already she writes, “So many horror stories circulate about birth--especially in the United States—that it can be difficult for women to believe that labor and birth can be a beneficial experience. If you have been pregnant for a while”—or in my case only 7 weeks!—“you’ve probably already heard some scary birth stories from friends or relatives. This is especially true if you live in a culture in which telling pregnant women gory stories has become acceptable.”
She goes on to quote a line from a Stephen King novella, “Believe me: if you are told that some experience is going to hurt, it will hurt. Much of pain is in the mind, and when a woman absorbs the idea that the act of giving birth is excruciatingly painful—when she gets this information from her mother, her sisters, her married friends, and her physician—that woman has been mentally prepared to feel great agony.”
Ina May writes, “The best way I know to counter the effects of frightening stories is to hear and read empowering ones.”
Ina May Gaskin, you are a wise woman!! Let us all take a page from your book!
So far, pretty much nothing. I haven’t experienced any real “symptoms” yet. I read that it’s common to feel lethargic and like you have no energy, but so far I feel great! Kind of the opposite, really, I feel like I have a ton of energy!
My boobs are becoming increasingly tender. And my husband and I feel like we can notice a slight difference in volume. So I've bought a few more supportive bras and that's helped with the soreness.
The only other difference I have experienced thus far is how often I am hungry! It’s like how I feel just before I get my period,but times that by ten! I don't have any cravings for specific things so far. It's just how often I need to eat. I can eat a meal and be hungry again in an hour. So I have been eating every couple of hours instead of having only 3 meals a day.
I have read that you actually aren’t meant to increase your calorie-intake by all that much. So instead of “eating for two” what I am attempting to do is eat smaller meals, but more frequently. I've adopted the grazing mentality. And I track my food intake on a calorie-counting app to make sure that I am getting enough nutrients.
As I mentioned before, I am a relatively active person. I exercise daily. So, while I have the flexibility and energy that I do now, I am kicking that into overdrive. Nothing too extreme, don’t worry all you who might message me with warnings. I’m not out there doing cross-fit. But I am increasing the amount of time on my exercise bike. Increasing the number of reps for pushups and sit-ups and other arm exercises. As well as the amount of time I spend stretching so that I can maintain my flexibility for as along as possible. I am a big fan of these low-impact, no-jumping HIIT workout tutorials on YouTube. So I do several of those a day, each one targeting different muscle groups, in addition to my exercise bike. They are amazing because the moves themselves are easy to do, but boy do you feel the results!
I know that there are a lot of people online who seem to be of the opinion that you shouldn't exercise while pregnant as it might be harmful for the baby. But, honestly, I don't buy into any of that. On the contrary, I think that staying active is vital. And I contribute it, in large part, to my increased energy levels.
I am fully prepared for the fact that my ability to do these exercises will change. The types of exercise I do will surely have to be adjusted. But I will continue to stay active and keep my body strong because that is what is going to help me through labor and also after.
And, of course, Kegel exercises, ladies ;)
That’s all for now folks. Stay tuned for further updates. And, as usual, I promise to keep it all positive!
Okay, so I just found out I’m pregnant. I’m, at best guess, about six weeks in. I’m 28 years old and this will be my first child.
I am by no means a fitness fanatic, but I exercise daily and I take care of my physical appearance and physique. I don’t like to think of myself as a vain person. But, like many, I find myself worrying about the changes my body will endure post-pregnancy. So, to reassure myself, I decided to search online for some uplifting, positive post-baby articles.
Man, was I disappointed! BIG MISTAKE!!!
I discovered that not only were there no positive post-labor stories for me to read, there were no positive pregnancy experiences either! It seems that every woman who has had a difficult labor or pregnancy wants to share their horror stories with you. I was met with article after article after article of horrific details! And when it came specifically to body-after-baby, these women wanted me to know that I will forever piss myself when I sneeze, how my boobs will eternally sag, and my stomach will be ruined with stretchmarks. These are not my words, but theirs.
What negative framework!!
I, of course, expect life to never be the same—but in a good way! A child is the most beautiful kind of change.
But these women wanted me to know that I would forever struggle with body-image issues. As if women don’t have enough of that pressure already!!
So I have decided to put some positivity out there into the internet-verse.
Be the change you wish you see in the world, right? Well I am going to try and be the positive light that I had hoped to find in the dark abyss that is the internet.
Misery does NOT love company!! But you know what does? Happiness!
Okay. So I am sure some of you mothers will read this and be like, “Ha! You are so naïve. You haven’t even had your first child. Just you wait…”
And perhaps you are right? But, perspective is everything. And I am convinced that with the right perspective and framework that I will be able to find some positivity to share. Not exclusively in regards to body-image, but about the whole pregnancy experience altogether.
And that’s what new mothers really need.
NO ONE WANTS TO READ ABOUT YOUR STORIES OF TEARING AND STITCHES!!!! Especially new mothers! We are already so scared, why give us that extra anxiety and fear? It seems so spiteful and, frankly, malicious for these women to dump all their misery on us like a garbage-truck.
Anxiety and fear aren’t good for you, full stop, period… I’d imagine they aren’t good for my unborn baby either.
So let’s flood the internet with happiness! With positivity! And warmth!
Please, share your UPLIFITING, REASSURING, HAPPY, AND POSITIIVE pregnancy, labor, and post-labor stories here!
And I will continue to share my experience as it evolves. But I promise that, even when there is hardship, as I know there will be, I will always frame it in the most positive light possible.
There is enough negativity in the world! Let’s let in the light!
I'm Kelsey! Proud Iowan native, world traveler, writer, wife to the most incredible husband, and now soon to be mother