Pregnancy

Growing life; the coolest thing ever.

I will be honest, I do think it is the most amazing thing, but I didn’t always enjoy it. I also felt very guilty that I didn’t enjoy every bit of it because it is such a miracle and blessing that I was able to carry my babies. Every journey is different and every feeling is valid. I want you to know that if you have struggled and/or are struggling with infertility or loss, I’m sending you the biggest hug and so much love. I did not walk through that journey, but it is unfathomable to me, it isn’t fair and every woman deserves to experience the journey that they have dreamt of whatever it may be. I think there are a lot of women out there that have guilt around not enjoying pregnancy, and I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to feel your feelings. You do not love your baby less because your excitement is tainted by the nausea, the heartburn and pains defeat you, or you just don’t enjoy watching your body change. I remember being around 12 weeks along with my first baby thinking wow I’m already so big and I look at the picture now, and I wasn’t even showing. It’s a mixed bag of being excited to get big and feel them move, and at the same time having negative feelings all around those changes. There are also women who love every single thing about pregnancy, and that is absolutely amazing....like any area of life, we cannot compare and/or judge; your experience is your experience. So let’s start from the beginning...

TRYING:

Isn’t making the decision to pull the goalie the most exciting thing ever?! And then you do it, and every fear and anxiety rises...Am I really ready? Are we ready? Are we financially stable enough? Am I ready to not drink for 9 months? Is everything going to change?

All of the questions and worries...Well I will tell you, you will never feel entirely ready, there will never be that perfect time because yes, someone will get married or you might miss out on something, but I can confidently tell you that you can do it, and you are far more prepared than you think. Things are going to change, but it’s just getting good, I promise. There will be tough times, but for every struggle, there will be about 10 beautiful moments that outweigh it.

With our first daughter we got pregnant the first month of trying, so there was no stress around “trying”. With my second daughter, we wanted them about two years apart so we started trying a bit early. After about 6 months of trying, I knew something was off with my cycles so I saw my doctor and requested to see a specialist. My blood work all came back normal, but I knew that I was not ovulating normally. I started taking the ovulation strips, and was getting my period around 7-10 days after ovulating which typically your new cycle begins 14 days after you ovulate. I started to stress, thinking irrationally and of course this didn’t help. I had a few complications with my first daughter’s delivery so I was worried that was affecting my fertility. I saw a fertility specialist (it was covered by benefits because my family doc referred me), and he was so great. He validated my concerns and I had a hysteroscopy performed to make sure my uterus wasn’t the issue and he noticed that my follicles were larger and I should ovulate within the next week. Due to the unknowns around my body effectively ovulating at that time, he prescribed an HCG injection (trigger shot) to force me to ovulate. Luckily, this worked for us and we got pregnant that cycle. Always advocate for yourself as you know your body, and don’t be afraid to push for further investigations. They typically don’t refer you to a specialist until 12 months of trying, but speak with your doc and keep them in the loop.

The testing period:

Oh man, that two week waiting period to find out if you are pregnant or if your period is going to come is absolutely horrid. It can feel like an eternity, but I definitely just recommend distracting yourself and waiting the two weeks before testing to avoid unnecessary disappointment! You are going to think you have pregnancy symptoms from day 1, and that is totally normal. It is normal to get super excited, and be super disappointed if it doesn’t happen. You are going to go through every emotion, and you are not alone! Feel your feelings, and talk about it; I promise you aren’t alone.

Okay, so you get a positive test...what now?

Take your prenatal vitamins if you aren’t already! Book an appointment with your family doc to confirm and ask any burning questions. If you want a midwife, get on it ASAP as they fill up fairly quickly. You can also get your referral to your OB of choice at this first appointment, or go with who your doc recommends (you won’t see an OB until about 20 weeks, whereas you see a midwife from the very beginning). I will do a post on OB vs midwife because I get asked this a lot; I had a midwife my first go and an OB my second. They will have you pee in a cup to confirm pregnancy, do your vital signs, check your weight and address any questions/concerns at that first appointment. They will send you for some bloodwork and to also confirm serum HCG levels. Sometimes they will book an early ultrasound ~8 weeks to determine dates, or they will go off of your last period and have you book an estimated 12 week ultrasound. In those first 8-12 weeks prior to the ultrasound, it can be hard. Your boobs generally will be one of the first tell tale signs- sensitive and sore! You may start getting nausea (or have it real bad), heart burn, head aches and sometimes even gas. Some women get implantation bleeding/cramping which can scare you, but it can be totally normal. I recommend seeing your doctor right away if you have any concerns...you’re never going to regret more thorough assessments. Some women also have no symptoms in the first 8 weeks, and that can be difficult too. Prior to seeing/hearing that heartbeat for the first time, you will go through every emotion. Try to stay positive and lean on your partner. Do not be afraid to talk about it. I know they recommend not sharing your news until 12 weeks, but I recommend sharing it with the people you want to support you if something were to go wrong. You want your tribe to be there for you through it all!


Ultrasounds and appointments:

12 week ultrasound: (done between 11-14 weeks)

This ultrasound is considered a genetic screening ultrasound. It is optional. You will have bloodwork within a certain time frame prior to this ultrasound to help the radiologist give you a percentile of risk for genetic anomalies and your HCG level. They test for risk of trisomy 18 and 21, so they cannot tell every possible genetic defect at this screening. You can get more in depth genetic screening bloodwork at this time or if a percentile of risk comes back high, you may do it at that time as well. The more in depth genetic bloodwork can also tell you the gender of the baby. You do have to pay for the detailed genetic bloodwork. They will give you your due date (always an estimate) and you will get a complimentary picture of your babe- they will give you an option to pay for a USB with more pics on it. Nothing can prepare you to see that baby and hear their heart beat for the first time. I always tell my friends that you forget so many things about pregnancy, birth and the newborn phase, but that you never forget.

20 week ultrasound: (18-22weeks)

This ultrasound is the thorough anatomy scan. The ultrasound tech is taking measurements of your babe, their limbs and a thorough look at their organs. They make sure the spine is developed, aligned and that the skin is covering it. They can also tell you the gender at this ultrasound if you wish to know. You get to hear the heart beat again, and if they don’t turn the volume on just ask them! They will check your placenta and amniotic fluid levels. This is a longer ultrasound than the first trimester screening (45-60 minutes vs the 30 minute first one). After this ultrasound, you often get to speak with the radiologist or they will send the results to your doctor who should see you shortly after. (This happens after that first ultrasound too, forgot to mention that). You will get a complimentary picture at this ultrasound too. If everything is all good, then you won’t have another ultrasound your entire pregnancy (crazy, right?!). I had extra ultrasounds at 37 weeks with both of my girls because they measured big (they were only 7lb 14 oz, and 7 lb 3 oz, so ultrasounds aren’t perfect haha)

Appointments:

What should you expect at your appointments? Until the second trimester, the appointments will just be you peeing in a cup, getting your weight taken (expect this your entire pregnancy) and your vitals taken. Once you reach approximately 15 weeks, your caretaker will be able to find the heartbeat by Doppler which is just the best, and so relieving! You will only see your doc to confirm pregnancy and then post 12 weeks ultrasound in the first trimester. In the second trimester you will see your doctor once a month and transition to OB care unless you’re already seeing a midwife. At 20 weeks, along with your weight, vitals, and baby’s heart beat check they will start measuring the circumference of your belly to make sure you’re measuring appropriately- it’s an estimate and if it’s off like mine was, they will send you for ultrasound to check baby’s size. Once you reach your third trimester, you will see your healthcare provider every 2 weeks; generally the visits are short and sweet but check the same things I listed above. At 36 weeks, you will be seen once a week for the remainder of the pregnancy again checking the same things. At around 38 weeks, your OB/midwife may check your cervix as well and can do a membrane sweep if you agree to it. You have to be around 1-2 cm for them to consider doing a sweep (if you want more details on this, just hit me up).

Glucose screen:

At around 28 weeks gestation you will be sent for bloodwork to check your glucose tolerance (this won’t be the first time you get bloodwork taken, but this is a more specific test). You will be given a super sweet orange drink (tastes similar to orange tang- it’s 75g of sugar) and be asked to drink it within 5 minutes. They mark the time and draw your bloodwork exactly an hour after. Bring a book or something to pass your time! If your body doesn’t metabolize the glucose effectively, you will be asked to complete a second screening which includes a fasted test. You will be given the same drink, but bloodwork will be taken 1 hour and 2 hours after completion of the drink. If this test comes back high, then your doctor will talk about gestational diabetes management. I had to go back for the second screen with both of my girls, and it ended up being fine so don’t freak out if your first screen comes back abnormal. If your testing comes back positive, it is not your fault, you are not a bad mother and everything is going to be okay! You are not alone, and your doctor will be a great support and give you so many resources.

Common symptoms you might expect:

First trimester: sore/swollen boobs, round ligament pain (closer to end of trimester and more common in first pregnancies: just things stretching out a bit- comes and goes throughout pregnancy. I actually thought it was cramping, freaked out, called my mom crying thinking it was abnormal and I might have a miscarriage and she talked me off the ledge and sent me articles all about it haha), fatigue-this is the major one for sure, nausea (I recommend taking your prenatal vitamin at night right before you go to sleep, and have all the snacks on hand), sometimes constipation, gas (expect this the whole pregnancy haha!), food cravings or aversions (I definitely only had aversions), heartburn (tends to be more in second to third trimester as babe grows), your gag reflex will be crazy! Brushing your teeth will even be a struggle a lot of days, and it is also normal for your gums to be more sensitive and bleed

Second: things seem to ease up a bit for most women, but the heart burn, constipation, cravings and aversions may stick around. Some women still have the nausea at this point but do not be afraid to ask for the meds!!!! You don’t get a hero cookie for suffering through it! You may not be a puker, but the nausea itself can be really difficult.

Third: aches and pains just from belly size (back, hips), pelvic pressure (no, the baby is not going to fall out), a bit more boob growth as milk comes in, heartburn might pick up until baby drops, some swelling from extra fluid (make sure doc is aware of amount), leg cramps- eat bananas seriously! These cramps are no joke!, fatigue comes back because sleep can be harder to get (get the pregnancy pillow! You won’t regret it! Between anxiety, adrenaline, discomfort and restless legs, sleep can be very broken so definitely don’t feel guilty taking naps throughout the day!), if you‘re going to get hemorrhoids this is probably the time (for most women, they go away postpartum), speaking of your butt lots of women get diahrrea in the final weeks (sorry haha but it’s nice to not be constipated anymore), and varicose veins (I got them in both pregnancies in my calves and they went away after! Wearing compression socks does help!), and I didnt personally experience this but my friend mentioned to me that you can get a return of morning sickness at the end and it’s totally normal (all the snacks and again do t be afraid to take the meds so you can feel human and get some rest!).

Movement:

This is the absolute coolest and weirdest part of pregnancy in my opinion. I started feeling both girls move around 17 weeks and it really just felt like gas bubbles. As it progresses, it feels like little thuds and then to elbows grinding against your ribs haha. It is absolutely the coolest feeling ever! They can flip around and change positions entirely until around 36-37 weeks so it gets wild up in there. I could see movement from the outside and Brent could feel the movement around 21 weeks. In the end, your stomach may even be lopsided or look like a bumb is sticking out on one side- it’s super wild and so fun. Your doc will give you info on tracking “Kick counts” to monitor baby’s movements in the third trimester- what this means is slowing down and paying attention to their movement for two hours straight feeling for 10 movements in that time frame. Don’t freak out if they aren’t wild in those two hours because they may be asleep...try again later. If you have any doubts, see your doctor! Your feelings and worries are always valid! It’s normal to have all the emotions and feelings through this journey.

Body changes:

Boobs- get bigger, nips get bigger and darker (it’s shocking), and you may start leaking colostrum in the end of your third trimester. You may get stretch marks if they change drastically but they fade..don’t freak out! They may look fantastic and your hubby will love them, but they will most likely be sensitive and sore and you won’t want them to be touched haha.

Rib Cage- I know it seems odd, but your rib cage will actually expand fairly significantly (I went from a 32” bra to a 36” at the end easily)...again, this will go back but make sure to have some bigger banded nursing bra/tops for the end of pregnancy

Belly- I didn’t show until about 22 weeks with my first, and with my second was more like 18 weeks. Do yourself a favor and take the progress pictures!! You will love looking back on them and show your kiddos when they’re older. It is so cool, and a beautiful reminder of how amazing your body really is. I didn’t get stretch marks with Halle until 39 weeks and they were all around my belly button. I thought I didn’t get any more with Lainey, but once the belly was gone, I noticed that I did get more at the very bottom of my stomach. They fade pretty drastically, but my skin is still looser and you can still see them for sure. It’s pretty amazing how big your belly can get, and then it can shrink back to as it was before- I missed my belly and the movement with both of my girls for quite some time. Whether you get stretch marks, loose skin or not, your body did such an amazing thing and I promise you that it is worth every mark!

Hips- your hips will widen and lots of women gain a bit of love in this area and may get stretch marks too- totally normal! Your booty will most likely flatten- it’s so weird but I promise it goes back! Maybe it just looks more pancake like because of your posture with the belly haha! This all goes back, so again, don’t freak out haha!

Feet- the ligaments in your feet relax, so your feet can gain a whole size- so crazy- they also go back for most women.

Hair and skin- this will look different for everyone. Some women’s hair grows like crazy, gets thick, gets thinner, gets curly- so wild. With the hormones, your skin may love it and have that glow or you might have more breakouts- again, just different for everyone and different in every pregnancy.

Pubic symphysis- I had pelvis issues in both pregnancies, my first worse than my second. I don’t want to scare you because this isn’t common and it may not happen to you- if you want to know more, give me a shout! Chiro was my best friend to keep my hips/pelvis aligned. Don’t be afraid to complain to your doc/midwife about pains because some pains can be avoided and treated! Prenatal massages are amazing as well!

Lotions/oils- I used bio oil and palmers oil. I think they have faded my stretch marks a bit but stretch marks are also genetic. You can apply all the cream, and you may still get them. You may not get them either, you won’t know until you get there but I promise you that they will mean nothing when you hold that sweet babe in your arms! Also, if you feel sad or angry about them, feel that. Don’t be ashamed of being upset about changes- you aren’t selfish and people can tell you that you shouldn’t be upset about it all they want, but it’s not their body. Feel your feelings and talk about it, you are definitely not alone in this department!

Mental health:

I cannot recommend more to talk...talk with your partner, mom/mother in law, your friends who have been through it, coworkers or friends that you just need to be there for you. It is so important to talk about all of the exciting things, scary moments, anxiety, or just how you’re feeling. It is NORMAL to feel crazy emotions, to have emotional swings and to need to rage sometimes haha. If you don’t feel heard or need to talk but aren’t sure how, I am always here!

Resources:

•Apps- my two favs were “what to expect” and “ovia pregnancy tracker”- they are such a wealth of info and have discussion boards from other moms at the same point in their pregnancies. They also provide you with baby size and development changes each week which is just so fun!

•Your tribe!

•Don’t be afraid to tell your healthcare professional everything! (Including your mental health) Nothing will surprise them!

•A baby and me class (it’s called birth and babies in Alberta) that you and your partner attend (I prefer the the longer class that you also attend after having baby because that’s when you bond with the other parents in the class- we made some of our best friends in ours)

•Canada.ca

•you will get a book from your doc, it’s great, read it

•I actually didn’t read any books other than the one provided by Alberta health services- I used the internet to research things as I went- use sourced, cited, reputable websites, not people’s opinions


I know that reading this can feel overwhelming, but this is not meant to scare you or deter you. Not all of this hits you at once, and you will have great days and harder days. The days can pass slowly, but somehow the pregnancy seems to fly by. If you’re like me, even though you didn’t enjoy every moment, you’ll miss parts of it. It’s one Of the coolest experiences you will ever go through and I promise there will be parts that you do love. If you’re trying, pregnant or just reminiscing, enjoy the ride. I am always here if you need to chat!


All my love,


Jen

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am beyond excited to share this journey with you all. I appreciate any and all feedback. Let me know content wise what you would like to see more or less of. I am here to support, inform, empower and learn with you. Thanks again for joining me in this beautiful chaos that is motherhood, working, and fitness with balance; momma.runs.

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