The Story Part 2: Pregnancy

There I was- 23, newly married, and pregnant, staring at the two lines on the pregnancy test. After I posted the first part of our story, Robert reminded me that after I got a positive test, I immediately made him drive back and buy another one to make sure it was right…this one was positive too. I was the first of any of my friends to get pregnant, and I had no idea what to expect. While none of my pregnancies had complications, each one was full of surprises, struggles, and what the…kind of moments.

Let me also clarify one thing- I am not complaining here. Pregnancy is awesome. So far, I have done it 3 times. But let’s be honest, bringing a new human life into the world is hard, and sometimes it just is nice to know you aren’t the only one who is riding the struggle bus. So, jump on with me while I revisit. Maybe you have experienced some (or all) of these. Maybe this is your first pregnancy and you (like me) have no idea what to expect. All I can say is we are all in this together, and Mamas, it is WORTH IT.

The Waiting Stage

Looking back, it was amazing to me how I quickly I went from terrified to being pregnant, to overjoyed, and then back to being terrified again. I saw those two lines, and immediately entered into a deep stage of panic. But ultimately, a few sobering minutes later, I wound up being in a place of complete joy and naïve excitement. Then I called my OB and found out I had to wait to have my first sonogram. What?! I had to wait almost 4 weeks to see Bethany for the first time! I wouldn’t allow myself to fully celebrate what was happening. It was a weird and hard place to be. My body was doing the most important thing it had ever done, but I was so fearful that something would go wrong. I already loved my baby so much, and just wanted to see her and know everything was OK! Just know you are not alone in the waiting. (Pro tip: that first sonogram is usually vaginal. Wish I could’ve seen the look on my face when the nurse told me because I had NO idea.)

All the Weird Food Things

I consider myself very fortunate that I have never thrown up because of a pregnancy (My sister, on the other hand, has on more than one occasion had to pull over and vomit out of her minivan). But I do get super nauseous in the first trimester. Nothing sounds good to eat, and having to cook anything but pasta for my children is a small miracle. We are taught to “listen to our bodies” but if I had done that, the Wests would have lived on bread and pasta for at least 3 months. And then there are the cravings…. Like, give me a giant, nasty movie theater pickle right now. Oh, but wait, actually I never want eat one of those again, and I’m going to get sick to my stomach if I even see one.

What is this? What are our bodies doing? We are growing a human here, so it would have been kind of nice to maybe crave some broccoli, kale, or anything that wouldn’t make me feel like I was shortchanging the little bambino in there.

Fatigue


And by this I mean total life-draining, all-consuming, day-destroying exhaustion, but “fatigue” is the nice way you describe these feelings to your in-laws and co-workers. First trimester is probably the worst. Not just because of the “fatigue”, but because you are also in the “Waiting Stage” (see point 2). You feel miserable, but no one actually knows you are pregnant. And, again, if you’re like I was, you didn’t really want anyone to know either. So, I just had to fake it. I did get a glimmer of hope in my second trimester. I was pretty textbook, and right around week 14 I got this burst of energy. I felt great. But that all came crashing down around week 30. At least at that point no one was one really questions why you may seem a little “off” (thank you giant belly). I was a kindergarten teacher for pretty much the entire duration of my pregnancy. I remember hitting a low point one Wednesday afternoon. I was so tired that during my planning period I decided to curl up and take a nap in our reading corner. I shamelessly turned off the lights, crammed pillows under my pregnant belly, and passed out on a reading rug (which let’s be honest, who knows what kinds of diseases were breeding on that thing). I don’t know how long I slept for, but I woke up to the other teacher I shared a classroom with walking in. I was so embarrassed (and also pretty nervous that I would get in trouble) that I just pretended to be asleep and hoped that he didn’t see me. To this day I have no idea if he did.

Varicose Veins

Yes, I did grow what resembled to be a giant spider web from my left hip all the way down my thigh, but I don’t even feel like I can talk about these because Becca honestly has the worst ones I have ever seen when she is pregnant.


Point proven. Don’t worry, they usually get better after you have the baby. But I still have a pretty good one on the back of my right thigh that looks like someone whacked me with a golf club.

The First Kick


Total change of pace here. But I seriously just cannot explain how awesome this was. I remember exactly where I was sitting. I was monitoring lunch in my kindergarten classroom. We made them eat with the lights dimmed for the first 15 minutes so they would actually eat. It was our one calm and quiet window during the day. I was sitting at my desk, when I felt the “flutter” I had read about. I don’t really know how else to describe it because when you feel it you know. Not that my pregnancy hadn’t felt real before that moment, but this was like WOW.

PUPPP Rash

Less commonly known as Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. If you haven’t heard of it, go ahead and do a quick Google search to familiarize yourself. I actually had a really rare case in my second pregnancy, where it started to develop at the very end of my pregnancy and continued several weeks into postpartum. You probably learned from your Google search that PUPPP Rash is most often cured with delivery. Not for me. Mine actually got worse postpartum, which I guess technically means I shouldn’t talk about it in this post. BUT a majority of women who have to endure PUPPP Rash have it during pregnancy. There was no cure. And I had to limit the use of the steroid cream my OB gave me since I was breastfeeding. It was one of the first times I just had to put my head down and endure. Ice packs on my arms and legs every night. Oat meal baths. And not knowing when it would end made it a lot harder. But, Mamas, I made it out, and all I can say is I hope I never have to go back.

Carpal tunnel


I only experienced this in my third pregnancy but COME ON. I had a 4-year-old and 2-year-old running around and my wrists slowly became more and more uncomfortable. By the 3rd trimester I could barely even pick up my 2-year-old. At first, I just endured. I am a total penny pincher, and I didn’t want to spend money on buying braces. Praise God for grandmothers, because mine couldn’t stand it anymore, went to CVS herself, and bought me some. All I can say, is that if you have been chosen to bear the carpal tunnel burden during your pregnancy, run don’t walk and get yourself a pair. It brought immediate relief. And I was kicking myself for being so stubborn for so long.


I feel like there is so much more I could share. Every pregnancy is so different (even for the same woman!) but also so unifying.

Our bodies are doing an incredible thing. An incredible thing that requires sacrifice in a lot of ways. I mean our bodies are never the same after having a baby. But we wouldn’t change it for anything, am I right? If anything, pregnancy is just getting our feet wet into the complete sacrificial love that comes with parenting. A very hard thing but also a very awesome thing.


-Alex


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