halfway there

When I was pregnant with Quinn, I often wrote about the day-to-day dealings of my pregnancy on my old running blog. Those poor readers. They came there to read about running shoes and marathon training and instead they got to hear me ramble on about breast pumps, nursery décor and how many strollers I reasonably thought I might need.

They were good sports, cheering me on for 9 months through a rough pregnancy and sending me many happy congratulatory messages on the day Quinn was born – the last time I ever posted on that blog.

Since then, I have only had time for one writing outlet, so I come here. It’s funny, a lot of parents read this blog but I have rambled more about running here than I have about this pregnancy. I guess now that it’s halfway done, I should probably document a few things before I forget them.

Poor kiddo. Already suffering from “Baby Two Syndrome”.

We found out we were pregnant in Florida during our Christmas vacation. Our loosely thought-out plan was to try for a few months to get pregnant after the fall marathon season was over (November). If it didn’t work after about 6 months, we would reevaluate having a second baby and see if we wanted to continue or not. At the end of the day, we were totally fine with the idea of just having one child together, but worried that later on, that may be a decision we would regret. Probably when we were vacationing in Europe with all of the extra money we had from having less kids, but whatever.

We had planned our annual 2-week trip to Florida for months, so we also knew we should wait until January to start trying. I didn’t want to worry about being exhausted and plagued with morning sickness while I was down there. I just wanted to let loose and enjoy my vacation.

But as most people know, especially when it comes to kids and starting a family, "life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans."

One night in November, about 4 days after I ran the Philadelphia Marathon, we decided to be a little less careful than we normally are, because hey, I’m 37, he’s 42 and more than likely, we wouldn’t get pregnant after one unprotected night. 6 weeks later, I was standing in my parent’s steamy guest bathroom showing a positive pregnancy test to Jeremy from behind a shower curtain.

Up until that point, I was in total denial. Two weeks before I took that test, I woke up on a Saturday morning as Quinn came to snuggle with me in bed. Jeremy was gone traveling and it was just the two of us lying there, soaking in the filtered, winter sun shining down from the bedroom window. While I laid in bed with her, for absolutely no reason, it suddenly dawned on me I should take a pregnancy test. I hadn’t been thinking of it at all. I had no symptoms, and at that point, hadn’t even missed my period, but something quickly came over me. In that moment, snuggled with my daughter, I knew I was pregnant. I had tests in the bathroom, but I couldn’t bring myself to dig them out. I decided I would wait until there was a reason to test. I knew in my heart, but my head didn’t want to listen.

Two weeks later in Florida, as Jeremy and I watched the sunset and I sipped on what would be one my last beers for a very long time, I mentioned that my period was late. He just looked at me, then my beer, then back at me.

“Mmmhhh. I was going to ask you about that. But, don’t you think you should take that pregnancy test you packed in your suitcase before we decide if we should go out for another drink?”

 I was in denial. “I know it’s late, but I have NO symptoms. I had so many more symptoms with Quinn at this point.” I said, not even believing the words as they fumbled out of my mouth. It wasn’t that I wanted to drink. I didn’t care about that. It was more that we sort of decided we were going to “try and see” without ever really making that final decision that yes, we really wanted another child. But it seemed as though suddenly, things had moved into warp speed. I was worried that the decision had already been made for us and I was freaking out.

But most importantly, taking a pregnancy test and seeing the results in black and white made it all too real. I mean, I knew it was real anyway. But once that pink line shows up, you become attached. And I was afraid of becoming attached to something and starting that emotional roller coaster all over again. It’s a paralyzing fear.

A couple of days later, the day before Christmas Eve, I took the test. The pink line showed up immediately. I wasn’t the least bit shocked. Jeremy wasn’t either. We both took a deep breath and hugged tightly, preparing for the onslaught of craziness that that pink line represented.

The very next day, at what would be exactly 6 weeks pregnant, I felt sick. Things tasted weird. Things smelled awful, exactly like they did with Quinn and previous pregnancies I had lost. I felt dizzy and off-balance. Air kept coming up in my throat. Everything made me gag. I had too much saliva in my mouth. All colors seemed a little more vivid than usual. I had 3 new zits on my face and one on my shoulder that resembled a second head. Up until that point, I had wondered if I really was pregnant, maybe I would escape the awful morning sickness I had experienced in the past. Women say that all the time – every pregnancy is different, right?

But as the day went on, there was no denying it. These were the symptoms that could only be attributed to a tiny human sucking the life force out of your body.

I spent the second week of my much-anticipated Florida vacation curled up in a ball in a chair in my parent’s family room. All the delicious food I look forward to every year on Christmas Eve tasted bland and chalky. We took Quinn to Bounce U one day and I had to leave the building and sit outside to try not to puke from the commotion, loud noises and smell. Smell of what? Who knows. Everything smells like death when you’re pregnant.

One afternoon, we went to see a movie- Silver Linings Playbook. I spent the entire movie in agony wishing I could just lie down. Jeremy asked me if I wanted to get lunch afterwards, but the thought of food was too much. I couldn’t eat or drink a thing. In the course of the next 2 weeks, I would lose 5lbs. Not from throwing up – which I never did- but from not eating and drinking. I just couldn’t do it. I saw a number on the scale that I hadn’t seen since my early 20’s. Who knew? The best diet secret is to just get pregnant!

I have no idea how I got through the plane ride back to Philly. We flew into a winter storm and the turbulence was terrible. Not only was I terrified for my life, I spent the entire trip in agony thinking I was going to have to actually use a barf bag.

The next 5 weeks crawled by at a snails pace. The nausea, dizziness and exhaustion were debilitating. And knowing that there was no end in sight, was harrowing.

The only way I can describe the feeling or “morning” sickness is this: imagine the absolute worst hangover of your life. Now, get on a ride that spins you around as fast as you can go and then jump on a sailboat during a thunderstorm. On top of that, imagine you are so tired that the simple act of lifting your arms makes you want to cry and amplify your sense of smell by 1000, so that every single smell on the planet, makes you gag. The smell of your husband’s cologne (or anyones’s perfume), the smell of coffee, bacon, garbage, the garlicky person sitting next to you on the train, your shampoo, your deodorant, of cooking food, meat and fresh vegetables, of pencils…even the smell of tissues. The smell of every, single thing makes your stomach churn, your eyes water and your gag reflexes go into overdrive.

I couldn’t stand the smell of my parent’s house when we were there, even though it doesn’t even smell like anything. The smell of the pillows in their guest room made me want to cry. Even of the smell of my own daughter made me sick. Imagine that? I would lie in bed at night, read her stories and just count the minutes I could get away from her, because the smell of her was making me want to puke.

And this wasn’t just in the morning, but from the moment I woke up, until the moment I fell asleep. Sometimes, I would wake up from random stomach pains in the middle of the night and feel so nauseous, I wouldn’t fall back to sleep.

Around 8 weeks, I returned to work, and it was hard. I could barely drag myself out of bed in the mornings. Sitting in a dark room and staring at a computer screen for 8 hours brought on an overwhelming dizziness that I could barely handle. One day, I decided to close my office door and lay my head down on the desk to stop the room from spinning. I woke up three hours later.

I suddenly stopped packing my normal, healthy lunches – salads, yogurt, grapefruit, leftover soups and chili and insisted on going out to Subway almost every day for a cold, 6 inch turkey sandwich with extra pickles and mustard – one of the only things I could eat. Other days I would bring in white pasta with butter, or a plain baked potato. I eat with the same group of female coworkers every day. They all had their suspicions, but didn’t say a word.

I called my midwife in tears. I needed help. I couldn’t function. She prescribed me Zofran, an anti-nausea medication approved for use in pregnancy that they normally give to cancer patients during chemo. During my pregnancy with Quinn, I barely took a Tylenol. This time, I was desperate to survive. Zofran, Dulcolax, Afrin, Tylenol, Gas X - I took anything I could (that was approved by my midwife, of course) for relief.

The Zofran worked immediately, so quickly in fact, I thought I must have been imagining it. The next two days, I felt better, but it was short lived. I spent the next 6 weeks on the medication. Some days I had to take the full dosage and it didn’t do anything. Other days, I could get by and function on half of a pill. Around 11 weeks, I slowly started to wean myself off because I wasn’t comfortable being on the drug that long and also, because I basically stopped going to the bathroom. I won’t get into those details, but it was pretty bad. Just another exciting side effect of being “with child.”

I wouldn’t have survived that time without Jeremy. I have no idea how women can deal with morning sickness when they do not have a supportive partner, especially if they have other children. Weeks 6-12 of this pregnancy, Jeremy pretty much did everything. I woke up, went to work, came home and immediately went upstairs to lay down. He would feed Quinn and himself and then they would play together before be gave her a bath. He did all the grocery shopping because I couldn’t be in a grocery store without becoming sick. He straightened up the house and did all the daycare drop offs. Really, the only thing I contributed during those weeks was bedtime with Quinn, because I could just lie with her and read. And even that was difficult because remember – the smell of her made me sick.

I managed to survive the evenings he taught night classes and it was just Quinn and I together, but I can’t recall how. And during that time, I could see Quinn becoming more attached to her daddy and slowly wanting less and less to do with me. She was ok for the most part, but it was hard on her. Honestly, I couldn’t blame her. She never saw me and when she did, I was miserable. She would see me, all pale and pathetic looking, and ask me, “Mommy, you’re tummy hurt again?” Poor kid.

Finally, around week 14, I started to sense a change. It was almost if I could feel the hormones leveling off as the days went on. The nausea and smell aversions were still there, but it felt a little less intense. And slowly, I was able to eat new things again – small portions of meat, vegetables, salads, pizza. Suddenly, there was a world of food beyond saltines, turkey sandwiches, Lucky Charms and plain pasta.

Within two weeks, I had gained back the 5lbs. And I haven’t stopped since.

I started to notice other changes as well. The color came back to my face. My skin magically cleared up and my hair looked less stringy. And even though I have suffered from two terrible colds since the nausea started to subside, an intense case of insomnia, and some annoying gastrointestinal problems I won’t get into, I am finally feeling somewhat normal again.

As I entered the 2nd trimester, not only did the nausea finally subside, but so did a lot of the worry. One of the biggest reasons for not wanting to get pregnant again, was because we didn’t want to deal with the first trimester stress and worry. Many of you know we have had multiple losses in the past for various reasons. The first 12 weeks are so difficult because you are just waiting for something bad to happen. At least, that’s how we are because we have lived it. But, so far, besides being sick, this pregnancy has been pretty drama-free (knock on wood). While the worry never really goes away, I try not to let it take over my mind. I’ve been pretty good about it this time, much better than I thought I would be.

At 21 weeks, I’m feeling great in comparison. Not normal of course, but definitely re-energized. I even started running again after 14 weeks. It’s not nearly as fast or far as I used to go, but I can make myself get out the door regularly again and slowly shuffle on down the road for 30-50 minutes about 4 times a week. It’s amazing how much better I feel on the days I get out there compared to the days I don’t, especially when I spend 8 hours sitting at my desk.

So far, I have gained 11lbs, (16 if you count gaining back the 5 I lost, but I don’t) and I feel pretty good about it. I look pregnant, but not big enough to start feeling bad about myself (which probably won’t last if I keep eating grilled mac-n-cheese sandwiches). I indulge every now and then but balance it with lots of healthy salads, veggies and snacks. I still haven’t given in to a fast food craving -one thing I was pretty proud of with my pregnancy with Quinn. Who knows though, I may have to stop for Sausage McMuffin at some point or an In-N-Out burger when we’re in California in June. But for the most part, I keep it simple. I love hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, peanuts, pickles, grapefruit and pretty much anything spicy or vinegary -nothing too bad. I’m even actually getting sick of sweets, which is probably a good thing.

This is definitely the honeymoon phase of pregnancy and I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it knowing this is the last time I will be pregnant.

Oh yeah, this is the last time I will be pregnant. No matter what happens, this is it for us. We’re shutting her down after this one, for sure.