Thursday, June 28, 2012
My pregnancy symptoms had eased up a bit last week, to the point that I thought the worst was over. Well, the universe saw fit to tell me otherwise this week, lol. Acid stomach, fatigue, inability to concentrate are all back in force. Tuesday was the third worst day I've had and I almost went home sick. (I'm glad I stuck it out, though, because a coworker brought in frozen yogurt that made both my belly and my soul feel better and the social time let me fill up the day without having to take time off.) I haven't been getting quite enough sleep - I can "only" seem to find time for 8 hours a night and a 90 minute nap in the afternoon, so I'm getting really worn down. Today is a so-so day and it's going to be a rough weekend because I'm having ingrown toenails removed from both big toes tomorrow. This surgery will be harder than the others because the doctor is going to cut them down to the root so that I never have to have surgery again. And because I'm pregnant I can't have the good painkillers or any anti-inflammatories. DH said we're going to treat this weekend as a dry run for bedrest (we're planning for the worst but hoping for the best, and bedrest is a very real possibility). He's going to set me up in a nest on either the couch or the bed, whichever I prefer, and not let me get up unnecessarily. He's in charge of cooking and I am forbidden to worry about household chores. Single ladies: he does have a younger brother!
So what does this have to do with attitude? I'm not letting any of this get me down. I take it moment by moment and do the best I can. Sometimes that means I'm running at full capacity, other times that means spending the afternoon looking at lolcats and waiting for 3 p.m. so I can go home. The way I look at it, the discomfort is inevitable. But the way I manage it and deal with it are completely up to me. I've gotten over my resistance to taking pills or using medication, at least the ones that I'm currently allowed to take, and am taking as sunny an outlook as I'm capable of at any given moment. I'm also treating myself as I can: this afternoon I have a prenatal massage after work and tomorrow I'm getting a fabulous Good Dog sundae at a local lunch spot before surgery. (Fudge brownie, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and hot fudge - split with DH to minimize the quantity.) I figure that self-pity and wallowing in my misery will only make me feel worse, not better. And why inflict that on myself?
My plan seems to be working based on the fact that I make it through the day without meltdowns or undue difficulties - and the kudos I'm receiving from those around me. About every other day DH tells me how beautifully I'm handling this as he tucks me into bed. Today alone two coworkers told me that they're impressed by my attitude. The woman told me that listening to what's going on with me makes her fear pregnancy and I told her not to because it's so worth it - and the cool factor of seeing the beans in sonograms and ultrasounds and the cool factor of the expanding belly far outweigh the discomfort. I'm not sure I convinced her, but I did get a gratifying look - "I'm not sure if you're crazy, but I admire you." The guy I talked to is a retired Master Sergeant in the Army. He told me that he wishes his soldiers had always had an attitude as good as mine - I complain a lot less with a lot more real problems. High praise indeed!
Plus I'm at the tail end of the first trimester, and the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter every day. I'm looking forward to being able to eat normally and have my old energy level - and brain power! - back. In the meantime, I'm counting on my positive attitude, Tylenol, and Zantac to get me through the days.
Friday, June 08, 2012
Pregnancy is hard. Those of you who have been here know this truth firsthand, the rest of you probably secondhand from friends and loved ones. But I need to process a little bit, so I'm blogging - pretty standard operating procedure for me. :)
Pregnancy is hard for everyone. The hormones and their effects - fatigue, forgetfulness, nausea, sensitive stomach, etc - are no joke. Your sense of "normal" simply no longer exists and this is the hardest part for me. I spent over two years learning about and implementing fitness and nutrition changes and now some of that stuff is impossible and others aren't good ideas. For example, getting 5 servings of freggies a day is really tough when the slightest hint of acid makes my stomach ache and gives me dry heaves. This makes me particularly sad because my beloved strawberries are in season and will be gone by the time I can eat them again. I had to cut back my workouts because of my plantar fasciitis and now that I'm healing up I can't increase the intensity because I'm pregnant. I plan to address the workout issue with my doctor on Monday; he might have some good ideas. But honestly, most days I am so sick and tired that I can't cook dinner let alone work out.
And then there's my...expansion. I've put on 2-3 pounds, which is about where I should be now or maybe just a bit more. (Again, I'll talk to the doc on Monday.) But based on how much bigger I've gotten and the fact that I'm growing a womb, I don't think it's that much. Yes, I've gone up a pants size (thank goodness I saved all my old clothes!) but my big problem is my boobs. Plainly I'm a busty lady but right now they're RIDICULOUS - I feel like they precede me into a room by a good 10 seconds, lol. I have to sleep in a bra for my own comfort. And I got professionally fitted because I just couldn't cope with them anymore, rofl. They're also heavier - I think at least half of the weight I've gained has gone straight to my boobs. The rest is in the womb that has just barely started to pouch out a bit. But it seems like my body has gotten bigger than the amount of weight I've gained would require. Just another funny thing pregnancy does to you. :)
My point here is that this is a lot of change to take in all at once and adjust to - especially because I'm generally not feeling great. Now, I shouldn't really complain because I am having an easier time of it than a lot of women. My morning sickness is just enough to reassure me that this is a normal, healthy pregnancy and my wonderful husband picks up the slack around the house and lets me rest as much as I need to. And I'm truly grateful for both of these things. That said, some days it's hard to get it through my admittedly thick skull that it's okay to only work out once or twice a week and if my nutrition is far from perfect. And after working so hard to shrink it's sometimes hard to remember that I NEED to expand and gain weight now. The key thing is to take good care of myself and thusly the baby. Overdoing it - which takes a heck of a lot less these days than ever before - punishes me the next day with horrible acid stomach and two days of fatigue. The more sleep I get and the blander my food the better I feel. These are very, very strong inducements to skip workouts, sleep a lot, and eat whatever the heck seems like it'll go down and stay down. Chocolate milk first thing in the morning? Soda crackers at 2 a.m.? Yes, please!
And, although it's taken some mental wrangling, I'm okay with it. My first obligation right now is to my belly - both my literal stomach and the bean that utterly relies on me. Life should get easier in another six weeks and I can start getting back to pre-pregnancy normal, doctor's advice permitting. In the meantime, I'm learning important lessons in flexibility and taking it one moment at a time. Stress isn't good for me or baby and I truly believe I'm doing the right thing by letting myself off the hook and doing whatever feels best at a given moment. Besides, that's usually all I have the energy for, lol.
As you all know, I'm a worrier and a planner. That has gone into suspension for now. So very many things can go wrong with pregnancy that I'm choosing not to think about any of them - because the other alternative, given my analytical and semi-paranoid nature, is to think about all of them and launch into a panic. That doesn't do anybody any good. So I've decided that everything will be fine and I'm behaving accordingly. I have learned a lot about pregnancy and fetal development and make my decisions based on that. For example, most books advise you to avoid hot tubs and baths at all costs. The fact is that you shouldn't get your body temperature above 102 degrees. Given that we keep our hot tub at 100 degrees and I can't stand being in it for longer than 15 minutes, I'm not worried about an occasional dip.
My current mottoes are:
"Just use common sense and don't pickle your baby." - my OB (seriously!)
"Everything is 'risky' right now. But I figure that the most dangerous thing I can do is drive to work on the Beltway every day. So I'm just not that worried about it." - me to the receptionist at my massage therapy clinic upon being told that getting a massage in the first trimester is "risky." (Standard massage by a certified prenatal masseuse is about as statistically likely to cause a miscarriage as, say, crossing the street and only slightly more likely than getting hit by lightning.)
"Everything will be all right in the end. If it's not all right, it's not the end." - a new British film out whose name escapes me right now
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The past two-plus weeks have been really bad on the wellness front. They've dealt me more challenges than usual, and I haven't met them very well. Every day I try to do better than yesterday and I succeed more often than not but it's from such a low base that I know all I'm doing is inflicting less damage, not even damage control.
Let's start with the physical one: plantar fascitis. My left foot has been hurting for a while. And, like a typical stubborn Kraut, I didn't get it looked at right away. About three weeks ago a coworker noticed that I was limping while we walked to the cafeteria and gave me her podiatrist uncle's phone number. So I called him and went in. He chided me for waiting so long to see him because I was making the problem a lot worse; walking had become difficult and running impossible. Yeah, you think I would have learned better by now, but you'd be wrong. :) Anyway, he diagnosed the problem as plantar fascitis. Basically, the ligament that works in tandem with the Achilles tendon is inflamed.
The doctor gave me a pretty comprehensive treatment plan: I have to wear a wrap for a month, orthotic inserts in my shoes pretty much forever, stretch 3-4 times a day, and roll a can around on the floor as physical therapy. He also told me to take it easy in my workouts and gradually build back up to running. He forbade me from wearing flip-flops and any sandal I can't put my inserts into and suggested that high heels would ease the pain. My case isn't particularly bad but it could quickly become so if I don't do as I'm told. I am admittedly a bad patient - I'm stubborn and don't like to listen - but I'm working hard to comply this time. I've been good about wrapping my ankle and wearing my inserts; I even invested in new low-heeled shoes that work better with them (my beloved ballet flats just weren't tall enough to accommodate the inserts). The one place I overdid it was trimming back my workouts: I completely cut them out for two weeks. Talk about a counterproductive strategy! Yesterday I finally got back on the stationary bike and did very well with it. My new gym shoes - Asics gel evolution 6 - should make the elliptical doable again. And I'd like to start walking outside again. My goal is to do 3 gentle cardio workouts a week. I'll work ST back in after a week or two - they actually mess with my feet as badly as cardio does.
DH comes from a giant Catholic family and somebody is always celebrating some major life milestone. April was wedding month: we had one in South Carolina and another in Baltimore on back-to-back weekends. For me at least, that was a recipe for bad eating and skipped workouts. I tried to make sane choices and did pretty well but not nearly good enough considering that I'm not working out. I know that I've gained weight because of the way my pants fit but haven't yet been brave enough to step on the scale.
Easter, DH's birthday, and TOM all took a toll this month, too. My wonderful SIL very sweetly made us Easter baskets. Yikes, chocolate overload! And the guest bags at the weddings weren't exactly healthy, either. I could barely impose order on my eating habits during TOM this month. As if the hormones weren't enough, there's the deep disappointment of having failed to get pregnant. DH and I are trying to conceive and although it's only been two months, I'm disappointed each time my period starts. And somehow feel inadequate as a woman. Yes, I know this is irrational and a gross overstatement of reality, but there it is.
This weekend is also going to be very busy and the following we'll be in Wisconsin for my and my dad's birthdays. If previous history is any guide, I won't do a great job of eating well while I'm home; there are just too many tempting treats and family pressure to eat them. I think all I can do until we're home for a while is to focus on eating enough whole grains, freggies, and dairy, try to indulge in moderation, and get in those aforementioned 3 gentle cardio workouts. I think a more ambitious plan is doomed to failure. Sigh. But sometimes all you can do is damage control, and that's where I am right now.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
March was a month of big changes for me. The two most important were going off birth control and entering maintenance mode, both in an effort to get pregnant. I generally stuck to my nutrition framework and fitness plan, so I didn't expect to see as many changes as I did. Specifically, I:
All but cut out alcohol. I will still have an occasional drink - I'm not pregnant yet, after all, and even then most docs say the occasional drink is okay - and had more than one on St. Patrick's Day. But hey, I'm married to an Irish-American and we hosted a St. Patrick's Day bash, so a bit of indulgence was called for. :)
I dramatically cut back on my caffeine, from 3 cups a day to 2/3 in the morning and 16 ounces of green tea at lunch. The hilarious thing is that I did this faster than I intended to, without even knowing it: DH fills the coffeemaker with beans and he doubled the decaf beans without telling me. And I didn't even notice! I married a good one.
I started drinking homemade smoothies every afternoon. I need the extra calories to maintain my weight and the extra nutrition to prep for baby. The smoothies fit the bill perfectly. I modified Coach Nicole's chocolate-covered smoothie recipe from the Spark cookbook - I hated the taste of banana in my smoothie, so I substituted low-fat cherry yogurt and they are out of this world. I have a smoothie as soon as I get home from work, and they refresh me, give me more energy for the afternoon and evening, and help me make better choices at dinner because I'm not starving when we sit down to eat. Major win!
Once again I was forcibly reminded of how important my workouts are to my mental health. Twice I went several days without working out and I definitely felt the difference in my anxiety and stress levels. I could physically feel my stress dissolving and anxiety receding about six minutes into my cardio workouts. Remembering this will be important in general, but particularly when I eventually do get pregnant: the fatigue may cause me to want to skip, but I really shouldn't because I NEED my workouts. Please remind me of this when the time comes!
Possible TMI warning: my PMS was vastly easier this month. To the point that DH and I thought I might be pregnant because it was so different from usual. That proved not to be the case, but it's all good; it was too much to expect to get pregnant during my first cycle off birth control. And it gives me a little foretaste of the emotional rollercoaster ride we'll be on for the foreseeable future. But I will definitely take the easier PMS!
My energy levels have been through the roof and I've just generally been feeling great.
I've been holding even in my happy range, 171-173.
I planted the garden with very easy-to-care for plants: onions, lettuce, arugula, and spinach. The berries are doing well and the flowers are blooming. We'll have fresh salad until late May or so, and then we'll plant other low-maintenace vegetables. The garden plan this year is for ultra low maintenance because I do not want to be out in the DC heat while heavily pregnant. (Call it thinking ahead or wishful thinking; I'm fine with either. :))
Overall March was a great month. In April I'm substituting two of my prescription medications to ones that are safe for pregnancy and I'm not entirely sure how that will go but there's only one way to find out. Otherwise I plan to just stay on my current trajectory because it's working!
Monday, March 12, 2012
Sometimes cardio is utilitarian drudgery: Just do it. I'll feel better afterwards.
Sometimes cardio is intense, sweaty, push-myself-to-see-how-far-I-can-go.
Sometimes cardio is about working off stress, anger, or other emotions.
Tonight it was about breathing in the soft spring air, feeling my muscles and lungs work, noticing how my limbs move, greeting my neighbors as I passed, and noticing all the glorious new buds and growth. Yeah, that's the best: in the moment, for the love of it, connection with myself.
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