Chronically Pregnant – Week 29

29

Pelvic, freaking, girdle pain – Are you kidding me right now?! Not only do I have to deal with the rest of my body being dysfunctional but now I get to feel intense pain and pressure in my nether region for the rest of my pregnancy?! What is this nonsense? I didn’t have this with any of my other pregnancies. At any given time you may see me just walking around holding myself like a little kid who needs to pee real bad just trying to hoist up some of the pressure off my lady parts or rocking back and forth on my hands and knees like a birthing cow but we do what we have to do right!?
So, what is Pelvic Girdle Pain? Well, I hope that none of you EVER have to experience but since it’s apparently not terribly uncommon in pregnancy, we’ll chat about it. It’s an umbrella term used to describe pain in the hips and pubis. (Well duh). PGP can be caused when your, already semi-dysfunctional pre-pregnancy hips, are not well supported in pregnancy due to the release of the hormone Relaxin. (They should call it the “Not relaxed at all Hormone” ) While almost anything you do can make the pain worse (going from sitting to standing, turning over in bed, freaking sneezing the wrong way), I have found that it’s been difficult to treat. I’ve been to Physical Therapy and have tried other various methods to relieve the pressure, such as soaking in the tub or pool, and sitting on a donut pillow (mmmmmm donuts) but, for me, it’s just not been much help. I attribute that mostly to the fact that my core and my legs are already compromised due to Transverse Myelitis, and pelvic floor exercises are not quite adequate because of the atrophy I have.
Oh how I hate to sound like such a Debbie Downer about this but I felt it only fair to forewarn you that this very well be, yet another, issue you face during pregnancy. IF you come across this ridiculous burden, I pray that the following advisable steps to help alleviate the pain will be of much more help to you than to me.

Pelvic Girdle Pain Relief Suggestions:

  1. Go to a Physical Therapist – Your PT specialist can show you exercises to help relieve the pain and also show you how to best protect your hips during your pregnancy.
  2. Get in the water – A pool is ideal but if you don’t have access to one, then take a bath every day. It really can help to relieve pressure, and also gives you an excuse to relax!
  3. Sit Wisely – Avoid hard surfaces (no shame in bringing a pillow to sit on!) and don’t sit for too long. I usually find that if I sit for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time, the pain gets worse. Even though the pain is really at it’s worst when I go from sitting to standing, I find that getting up and trying to walk around a bit helps.

Chronically Pregnant – Week 28

28

(Photo Creds to my 8 year old who was playing with my iPhone and got this photo)

I’d had this vacation planned for months before we actually went. We were going to Tennessee and, at the time that we had planned the trip, I was feeling pretty well. I wanted to take my kids to Dollywood, maybe catch a walk on a nature trail, and do all sorts of fun things. My body had different plans for me. By the time our vacation day had arrived, I’d been restricted to bed rest and even the idea of a road trip scared me because my body has been so unpredictable. Determined to go, even if it just meant me sitting in the cabin for days, we left. I carried with me guilt because I didn’t want to drag down the rest of my family and our good family friends that were vacationing with us.

It was that all to familiar feeling of “Great, once again this chronic illness is holding everyone back.” I knew it was the Transverse Myelitis and not just the pregnancy itself because with my four other (pre-TM) pregnancies, I was fully active right up until labor day. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, to feel sorry for myself, and to feel like I’m such a heavy burden on others. As always, everyone had to work around “Lisa’s issues.” That was my own insecurity speaking, of course, but it didn’t negate the fact that I felt fed up with my body and bad for my family.

As it turns out, being a big inconvenience to myself was exactly what I needed for that weekend. We arrived at our cabin and I was forced to sit; just sit and do nothing. My amazing friend and wonderful honey took the kids on all of the adventures I wasn’t able to go on. They rode roller coasters and stayed out late and had the best time. I didn’t feel guilty for long because I knew that if I had tried to go along with them, they wouldn’t have had the freedom to just be carefree and go on their terms. I spent the weekend, reading, sitting in the hot tub (Don’t freak out! I turned the temps way down as not to boil the baby so it was more like the “Lukewarm Tub.”) I didn’t feel obligated to do anything but rest and IT WAS AMAZING! I learned so much from this family vacation.

A few lessons this week:
1. Now is a great time for a weekend getaway. You don’t even have to leave the state! Go stay at a hotel in another town, or get a cabin! Whether you go with your children or just go with your significant other, go. Allow yourself to just do absolutely nothing for a couple of days. Allow your spouse to adventure with your children without feeling guilty for not trucking along.
2. Stop beating yourself up. We are the WORST about this aren’t we?! I mean, seriously, how much time do you spend wishing you were a better (fill in the blank). Everyone on our trip had a wonderful time. I loved getting to hear all the stories from everyone’s day and see the excitement in my kids’ eyes. I didn’t have to be right by their side to experience the joy of their vacation.
3. I needed the break. I didn’t even realize how badly I needed the break until I was there taking it. Give yourself a break from your physical and emotional self. It was good for me and good for the baby. When Mamma is less stressed, so is our little womb-mate.

Chronically Pregnant – Week 27

27

Oh the dreaded Glucose Tolerance Test… Making any pregnant woman fast for more than 30 minutes should be outlawed and viewed as just plain abusive. The things we do for our sweet babies, right?! I could swear they make these bottles bigger than they used to.

All sarcasm aside, I was actually a bit nervous about this test. While I’ve never had Gestational Diabetes in the past, I have been spilling a lot of glucose into my urine, I’ve gained 15 more pounds at week 27 than I had by week 38 with my other pregnancies, and I know the medications I take can cause an increased risk of GT. Hours after my test was completed, and I was feeling thoroughly sick, I got a call from the OB nurse. Her exact words, “I’m afraid you’ve failed your test. Well, let’s just face the facts, you completely bombed it!!!” That’s never a good thing to hear, right?

March forward a few days and I was back to fasting again, but this time for a 3 hour study. (SOOOO HUNGRY!!!!). In my mind I was already panicking and plotting. Insulin, sugar free food, 17lb babies, a diet of celery and rice cakes for the remainder of my pregnancy all where whirling through my anxiety-ridden mind. Of course, all of that is maybe slightly melodramatic, but really the though of no Dunkin Donuts is what really had me going.

Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones who passed my 3 hour GTT. I cried, of course, because that’s what I always do now. I was thankful that I would not have to endure trying to battle Gestational Diabetes on top of the complications I already have with my existing chronic condition. This did, however, make me think very long and hard about my diet and some changes I need to make. (Yes, I know I’m beating a dead horse here. We’ve already talked about nutrition…but here are some additional changes I am making to help with Baby Jax and Mommy)

Amping Up the Preggo Diet:

  1. WaterWaterWaterWaterWaterWater…. Yes, I already drink enough water to give competition to a camel but I’m adding more! (especially now that I’m having to take an extra iron tablet because I’ve developed anemia. Like I wasn’t constipated enough!)
  2. Portion Control! As much as I want to feel justified for taking extra helpings on, it’s time to face reality… Baby Jaxson doesn’t need two platefuls of pasta.
  3. I’ve traded my morning bowl of cereal for oatmeal. My midnight snack of whatever fancies me, I’ve traded for apples and peanut butter or a banana.

It’s still ok to have the occasional donut ūüėČ

Chronically Pregnant – Week 26

26

I’ve spent a good majority of the last week sleeping. I find that I’m able to get up and be active in short spurts (and by short I mean 30 minutes max) but then it takes me two hours to recover. Blow drying my hair feels like running a marathon so enjoy the last picture you may ever see me with my hair not in a messy bun! I’ve learned to sit while I do anything and have even been faithfully using the store scooter if I have to go out. I’ve also learned of WalMart Pick Up!!! OMG ya’ll, I could have cried when I discovered I could do all of my grocery shopping online, go to the store, and have it all loaded into my car! I love Amazon Prime Pantry but that left me still going to the store for refridgerated items and produce. NOT ANYMORE!

I’m learning to adapt to my condition, as I always do. It’s not been easy but I’m still a fighter! I still want to take as much burden off of my family as possible during this time so I’ve learned to be creative. While I miss going to work at the Urgent Care, my bread and butter job I do from home. This I discovered after initial onset of TM but that’s a whole other story. I’m able to work from bed so that’s been amazing. I also invested in a heart rate monitor and pedometer so I can keep myself in check. I know I need to stay under “X” amount of steps per day as not to push my body too hard, but I also use it to make sure that I’m getting “X” amount of steps per day so I don’t start losing muscle tone.

Here are¬†a few extra adaptions I’ve made that may help you too!

  1. I make myself a check off list of what I’d like to get done in a day. This may include household chores, laundry, meal prep, running errands, etc. I make sure that all of my activity will last me no longer than 20-30 minutes at a time. For example, I break up housework over the course of a week. On Monday, I may commit to cleaning one bathroom, on Tuesday, I will mop the kitchen and entry way, on Wednesday, I’ll mop the living room and dining room, etc. I’ve also got kids to help with chores so this is a huge help and they’ve really stepped it up!
  2. I only cook twice a week. I make big meals like stews or casseroles that can be spread out over 2 days. The rest of the days, we eat picnic style. While I LOVE to cook, I just don’t have the capacity to stand, or even sit, to prep meals multiple days a week.
  3. So many things can be done from bed! The kids have learned to pile on in. Here we do homework, chat about their day, play board games (My 8 year old can school me in Mancala any day of the week), and braid hair. This allows me to spend quality time with my kids while exerting little energy.

What creative ways are you learning to adapt to your body’s needs? I’d love to hear!

Chronically Pregnant – Week 25

25¬†¬†¬†¬† As I headed out to work on a cold and rainy morning, my gas light turned on. I had willed my car to just take me to work with the promise of stopping and giving her gas when I was on my way home, and it was warmer. Well, she did get me to work…but decided to throw a temper tantrum on the way home and stop working. (I was two minutes from a gas station!!!) Thankfully, my honey worked close and, surely didn’t mind leaving an important work luncheon to come help his pregnant¬†Love in distress all because I was too stubborn to get out in the cold and pump gas.

What I didn’t realize at the time this happened is that it would be my last day of work.¬†For four days¬†following this photo,¬†I had¬†severe shortness of breath with exertion and weakness, especially in my legs. I could barely walk and I was extremely fatigued. It felt like the beginnings of a major Transverse Myelitis flare up, and it was.

On day four, I took a trip to the Emergency Room. I had¬†numerous tests completeded, including a chest CT to rule out a pneumothorax (I had a bilateral pneumo back in September). After consulting the neuro team, the ER doc came back to me and told me I was having a flare up and “Expect to have a very difficult rest of your pregnancy.” He advised that I should be doing minimal activity since my body was obviously having a hard time keeping up with my pregnancy.

Bedrest?! Was this guy nuts?! I still have 3 months to go and four kids to try to keep up with! Ugh, not what I wanted to hear. The first 24 weeks of my pregnancy had gone so smoothly (considering). I had hoped that TM was giving me a break but, alas, not so much. I’ve also learned very quickly, since my little ER trip, that listening to my body is a MUST. Pushing myself leads to nights of tears and my dear honey having to dead lift me in and out of the bathtub, off the toilet, and out of bed.

At this point some, or many, of you might be in the same boat that I am. We’re thinking, “Well crap…What do we do now?!” Well, here’s a few things for starters ( I am working on following my own advice. Nobody ask my BFF or my neighbor how successful I’ve been!)

  1. While bedrest used to be commonly recommended for pregnant women, it’s not anymore. So, if your doctor is recommending, or insisting, that you go on bedrest, LISTEN.
  2. Watch what you eat! I already wasn’t getting much exercise to begin with and now I’m almost completely sedentary. This means I’m at a higher risk of gestational diabetes and extra weight gain. Before this, I was giving into more than the occasional craving for sugary snacks. Now I’m being very vigilant about eating foods that don’t have a bunch of sugar in them because I know I’m not burning any of it off!
  3. Acceptance – Oh this is a hard one for use fighters isn’t it?! Having a chronic illness means being a warrior of our affliction and we are used to fighting tooth and nail to keep our independence. BUT, as we should be doing anyways, it’s so very important to listen to our bodies. Find some good books to read, take up crochet, and binge watch Netflix. Enjoy the downtime now because in a couple of months, you won’t have any!

Chronically Pregnant – Week 24

me

Well, your baby may be the size of a small pizza but I’m feeling like maybe Baby Jax ordered a side of breadsticks and some wings. LOOK AT THIS BELLY! Half my maternity shirts don’t even fit anymore so if you see me around town sporting a Toga, you’ll know why. We had an ultrasound and our lil guy is in the 95th percentile for his weight. I’ve always had big kiddos (between 8.6-9.1 lbs) so I was happy to hear he’s right on track with the rest of his brothers and sister.

Now may be about the time when you’re ready to just throw caution to the wind and eat everything in site. I mean, you only get this one opportunity to have your cake and eat it too! I had given into this mindset for about a month, and then realized I’d gained more weight by my 24th week in this pregnancy than I had by the 38th in my others. When I was pregnant before, I didn’t have a chronic illness so I was totally that pregnant woman you’d see in the Zumba room, running around with kids, and exercising any chance I could get. This time around, my body just isn’t able to perform like it used to. I still get as much exercise as I can but it’s very modified. This means that I have to be WAY more careful about my diet! So, how am I learning to manage my cravings for cake and curb the sudden need to shovel donuts down my throat? It’s not always easy but here’s a few things that are helping:

Curb Appeal:

  1. I carry healthy snacks with me everywhere I go. This way if I get hungry on the go, I can go to my apple instead of a drive-thru.
  2. I try to practice portion control. I get it, sometimes we’re just ravenous and need to just give in to it. Most of the time, I just try to remember to eat portions that are healthy. Do I want two burgers? Yes? Do I need two burgers? Definitely not.
  3. Sometimes I just NEEEED something sweet! I’ve ditched the ice cream and traded it for frozen yogurt or whole fruit popsicles. If mamma needs chocolate, I try to reach for the dark chocolate because it’s filled with antioxidants and it’s rich in magnesium!
  4. I always try to remember that everything I eat is what is fueling my baby’s growth and development. He doesn’t get a say in what nutrients I’m giving him so I have to advocate for giving him foods rich in protein, vitamins, and goodness so he can grow healthy and strong!
  5. It’s still ok to have a donut sometimes.

Chronically Pregnant – Week 23

me23

I walked tearfully and nervously into the anesthesiologist office. Armed with materials that would support my desire for an epidural, I had hoped we could see eye to eye on my method of delivery. Because I have what is considered a spinal cord injury, it is difficult to get an anesthesiologist to agree to an epidural; even though there is not much support that an epidural would be harmful in my condition. My alternatives are an all natural labor, which increases my risk of a potentially fatal condition called “autonomic dysreflexia” or to be put under general anesthesia and have a C-Section. Both come with tremendous risks and I wasn’t prepared to accept either option, but what I was willing to accept and what was my reality were two different scenarios. I pictured myself going into labor when Baby Jax was ready, sauntering into labor and delivery, getting my epidural, and delivering him just like I’d delivered my four other babies.

That will not be the case. My birthing plan was tossed out the window as the anesthesiology team determined that general anesthesia and a C-Section will be the very safest method of delivery. My little dreams were shattered and I was overcome with a fear I’ve been battling with since the news. Although I am getting a second opinion, I don’t have high hopes that the outcome will be any different. I will not be conscious for my delivery. I will not have skin to skin contact the moment Baby Jax makes his entry into this world, and I will be having a major abdominal surgery to deliver him.

I’m sure many of you have had successful C-Sections and some of you may even prefer having a C-Section over having a vaginal delivery! I’m also certain many of you had one idea of how your births would go, only to find out that you had little control over how it actually went. I’m having to learn to cope with my anxiety and fears, like I have so many other times with this chronic illness, but what makes it worse is that now this involves, not just my life, but Jaxson’s too. This is a time when, in my personal journey, I must rely heavily on the Lord to delivery me from my fears. Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you.” has become my mantra over the years and I have to rely on His strength because I just don’t feel like I have any of my own.

Here are some things I’m learning about this journey:

  1. There are a lot of things I can control. I can eat healthy, be sure to go to all of my appointments, take my prenatal vitamins, and listen to my body. There are also a lot of things I cannot control. I cannot control when my chronic illness is going to flare up. I cannot control how I’m going to physically feel on any given day. I cannot control every aspect of my labor and delivery.
  2. I have to learn to let go of what I cannot control. Adding the stress of fear and anxiety will only make things harder on my body. I must accept that God is with me and Baby Jaxson and that His will, not my own, will be done.
  3. It’s OK to get a second opinion! I know that I will feel much more confident about my delivery if I have 3rd party validation that I’m doing what’s best for us.