While every pregnancy is unique, today I am sharing my own personal pregnancy journey with you. I will start by saying that, compared to others, my pregnancy was relatively uneventful–which I know is something to be grateful for. We were so lucky to have experienced no major complications for mom or baby.
For me, the worst of pregnancy was swollen ankles, heartburn from everything, and the inability to bend over or touch my feet. Trust me, I am not complaining about these; I completely understand that there are so many others with much more serious issues during their pregnancies. What I will say, though, is that–despite how uneventful this pregnancy was–I do not consider myself one of those people who could claim to “love being pregnant”. For nine months, I just wanted to see and hold my baby. It made me smile when I felt her kicks and her hiccups, but it didn’t feel real to me until she was here.
To me, pregnancy felt more or less like an out of body experience. For nine months, things happened to my body that I had absolutely no control over.
I couldn’t fit into my clothes. I couldn’t walk up stairs without getting out of breath. I couldn’t get in and out of my car, and I most certainly couldn’t put on my socks and shoes in under 15 minutes. Even though I knew my body was doing something so important, there was a part of my brain that kept telling me I could continue to do all the things I was used to doing before getting pregnant. I often found myself frustrated to feel so tired, out of breath, or like I needed to be within 3 feet of a restroom at all times.
My Pregnancy Journey:
Besides avoiding caffeine, unpasteurized cheeses, and cold cuts, I maintained the same diet I had pre-pregnancy. During the first trimester, there was the nauseous/hungry feeling for a few weeks–which I was able to combat with dry cereal next to my bed and ginger tea. Beyond the first trimester though, I found it more difficult to eat larger portions, and instead ate many smaller portions throughout the day: I made a slightly larger version of these bistro boxes for my lunches. They were great for work because they didn’t require heating and didn’t cause that overly full and uncomfortable feeling that a heavier meal would. Generally, I included yogurt with protein granola, carrots and hummus, hard-boiled egg, cheese and wheat crackers, and some fruit.
Full disclosure: I have a pretty bad sweet tooth, so I found that if sweets were in our home, I didn’t have the willpower to avoid them. That just meant that they had to remain a “treat” for outside the home. On weekends, I enjoyed my fair share of cinnamon rolls, donuts, and croissants. And since I was pregnant during the holidays, I can’t say I limited the number of holiday cookies I ate either. (Did I mention I have very little willpower?)
All in all, I gained about 26 pounds by the time I delivered. For women of healthy weight, the expected range is 25-35 pounds, so I was right on the low end of that scale. In general, I would say that I just ate when I was hungry. I didn’t deprive myself of any certain foods, but tried to eat mostly natural/unprocessed foods for my breakfasts and lunches. Depending on my work schedule, my dinners consisted of fast food more often that I care to admit, but that allowed me to eat on my way home from work and go to bed almost as soon as I got home.
My primary focus through pregnancy was keeping my stress levels low. As a Type A overachiever, I knew that would be a challenge for me, but I maintained a level of calmness during the majority of my pregnancy that surprised even me.
More than stress, especially towards the end, I felt a lot of fear. I’m sure I’m not the only mom who feels this way, but I knew if anything happened to this baby, I would blame myself. For nine months I just prayed constantly that my baby would be healthy. I had several dreams along the way, especially in the third trimester, that something happened during childbirth or before and I lost the baby, and those thoughts would tear me apart. Being pregnant is an emotional rollercoaster–the most important job I’ve ever had–and I don’t think a lot of women explain the fear aspect. There’s a lot of pressure in creating a human, and I wanted to do everything I could to make sure she was okay.
This is easily where I failed to follow the recommendations. Before getting pregnant, I was in a pretty good routine of TRX classes and yoga a few days a week but, during the first trimester, I was so tired after my days at work (most of which were at least 10 hours long). By the time I got home, I would eat dinner and go straight to bed–usually somewhere around 8:30. Even once I got my energy back, I never did get back into a workout routine. The most exercise I got through pregnancy was some light walking–but I can’t call it consistent. If I’m lucky enough to experience another pregnancy, this is something I would work harder on the next time around.
Looking back on the time, I understand and appreciate everything that my body was doing in order to prepare for our little girl. I truly am in awe of the way women are built to bring a living being into the world. I will say that, especially once I go back to work, it’ll be difficult to not have her with me every moment of my days. Despite all of the little inconveniences and frustrations, there’s something so special about knowing that your son or daughter is always there with you, wherever you go.