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Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Pregnant

I have had a total of three pregnancies- my first ended at 28 weeks with a partial abruption and severe pre-eclampisa. She was only 1lb 11.5ozs and 13 inches long and spent a total of 8 1/2 months in NICU. She’s now a small but healthy 7 year old. My second was relatively uncomplicated but we lost her. She was born at 36 weeks due to me going into a painless labor and I wasn’t allowed by the doctors to go into labor. She died of a condition called Anencephaly (absence of the skull) and lived for 3 hours after birth.

My third was totally complication free and she was born at 37 weeks (once again, due to the complications of my oldest) and was 7lbs11ozs and 21 inches long- they told us she would have been a 9-10lb baby if she was born term.

I had each baby at 23, 25 and 27 years, I’m 30 now so I have spent almost my full adult life being called “mommy.”

I read all the books, blogs and joined all the support forums I could find. What to Expect was my bible through my first pregnancy and through her early years but nothing could prepare me for the almost 9 months of hell I was in for after having my baby.

When I was 22 and newly married, I found out I was pregnant. I was young, naive and even though I knew it was a huge sacrifice, I had a glorified image of pregnancy and motherhood. I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park and that I wouldn’t have near the freedom I had before but I still imagined taking the baby to baby and me classes, taking her out in cute little outfits with friends (since most of mine, at that time were also pregnant or new mommies) and late night cuddles. I thought of play dates and hanging out with friends would simply end up taking place at kid friendly places instead of bars. I had no idea what the dark side of pregnancy involved. I had heard of conditions like Pre-Eclampsia but the thought never crossed my mind that it could happen to me.

I decided to sit down and ask myself what 30 year old me wished 23, 25 and even 27 year old me knew. I was able to come up with a quick list of six major things I wish people had told me

  1. Take folic acid- lots of it. I didn’t realize how important it really was. I did make sure my pre-natals had it, but that was it. After dealing with Pre-E and losing another baby to Anencephaly, I joined a support group for people who lost babies to the disorder and that was when I read about folic acid and how vital it is to healthy pregnancies. I also learned about the MTHFR and after asking for a simple blood test, I found out I had a more severe form of the lesser mutation- which means my body only processes about 7% of the folic acid I eat.
  2. Swelling all over to the point where you do not look human IS NOT NORMAL. Don’t call Labor and delivery, go in to the ER to get checked- especially if swelling in the hands and face comes with headache and lightheaded or any other sign of high blood pressure. Pre-Eclampsia is serious, but can be managed if it’s caught early on.
  3. Lay off the baby books- especially if you have a preemie- seriously, cut it out. If your baby doesn’t develop by the books (either advanced or behind) they will stress you out more than help- it’s nice to know what “normal” development is, but if you start playing comparisons, it will make you lose your mind.
  4. Go ahead and complain about the morning sickness, crampy feelings, bloated feeling, headaches, mood swings, exhaustion and everything else- being pregnant sucks and it’s ok to not enjoy the symptoms- it’s the end result we all want.
  5. Do not freak out after being given the epidural. It doesn’t make all feeling go away- just the pain. With my first c section, they had to put me under as soon as she was out. I thought it was about to wear off in the middle of the c section. I always assumed that I would be totally numb and that I wouldn’t even feel the surgeon pull the baby out. My second two c sections went smoother because I knew what to expect.
  6. Enjoy the last little bit of freedom- the sleepless nights do not last long (be a few months, they WILL sleep through the night) but that small window of time in between feels like an eternity- and there will be times you will wake up freaked out in the middle of the night because your baby sighed and you thought they were choking- that is normal.

I wish I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, and possibly fix some of the things I feel I did wrong. Since I can’t change the past, I do try to share these tips when the topics come up. I’ll push the subject of folic acid or full body swelling when I’m talking to a friend who’s newly pregnant or trying to conceive. I have many other lessons I have learned in my 7 years of being mommy, but these stick out the most as the pieces of advice I wish I had listened to most.

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A few things 30 year old me wishes 22 year old newly pregnant me had known.

I have had a total of three pregnancies- my first ended at 28 weeks with a partial abruption and severe pre-eclampisa. She was only 1lb 11.5ozs and 13 inches long and spent a total of 8 1/2 months in NICU. She’s now a small but healthy 7 year old. My second was relatively uncomplicated but we lost her. She was born at 36 weeks due to me going into a painless labor and I wasn’t allowed by the doctors to go into labor. She died of a condition called Anencephaly (absence of the skull) and lived for 3 hours after birth.

My third was totally complication free and she was born at 37 weeks (once again, due to the complications of my oldest) and was 7lbs11ozs and 21 inches long- they told us she would have been a 9-10lb baby if she was born term.

I had each baby at 23, 25 and 27 years, I’m 30 now so I have spent almost my full adult life being called “mommy.”

I read all the books, blogs and joined all the support forums I could find. What to Expect was my bible through my first pregnancy and through her early years but nothing could prepare me for the almost 9 months of hell I was in for after having my baby.

When I was 22 and newly married, I found out I was pregnant. I was young, naive and even though I knew it was a huge sacrifice, I had a glorified image of pregnancy and motherhood. I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park and that I wouldn’t have near the freedom I had before but I still imagined taking the baby to baby and me classes, taking her out in cute little outfits with friends (since most of mine, at that time were also pregnant or new mommies) and late night cuddles. I thought of play dates and hanging out with friends would simply end up taking place at kid friendly places instead of bars. I had no idea what the dark side of pregnancy involved. I had heard of conditions like Pre-Eclampsia but the thought never crossed my mind that it could happen to me.

I was asked the question “What would 30 year old me go back and tell newly pregnant 22 year old me?” so here are a few pieces of advice I wish I had listened to or received when I was pregnant, especially when I was pregnant with my two older.

  1. Take folic acid- lots of it. I didn’t realize how important it really was. I did make sure my pre-natals had it, but that was it. After dealing with Pre-E and losing another baby to Anencephaly, I joined a support group for people who lost babies to the disorder and that was when I read about folic acid and how vital it is to healthy pregnancies. I also learned about the MTHFR and after asking for a simple blood test, I found out I had a more severe form of the lesser mutation- which means my body only processes about 7% of the folic acid I eat.
  2. Swelling all over to the point where you do not look human IS NOT NORMAL. Don’t call Labor and delivery, go in to the ER to get checked- especially if swelling in the hands and face comes with headache and lightheadedness or any other sign of high blood pressure. Pre-Eclampsia is serious, but can be managed if it’s caught early on.
  3. Lay off the baby books- especially if you have a preemie- seriously, cut it out. If your baby doesn’t develop by the books (either advanced or behind) they will stress you out more than help- it’s nice to know what “normal” development is, but if you start playing comparisons, it will make you lose your mind.
  4. Go ahead and complain about the morning sickness, crampy feelings, bloated feeling, headaches, mood swings, exhaustion and everything else- being pregnant sucks and it’s ok to not enjoy the symptoms- it’s the end result we all want.
  5. Do not freak out after being given the epidural. It doesn’t make all feeling go away- just the pain.
  6. Enjoy the last little bit of freedom- the sleepless nights do not last long (be a few months, they WILL sleep through the night) but that small window of time in between feels like an eternity- and there will be times you will wake up freaked out in the middle of the night because your baby sighed and you thought they were choking- that is normal.

As of right now, those first three pieces of advice are the most important things I wish I had known. I know I could never know, but I feel that if I had known to start taking folic acid before we started trying, our middle daughter would be here with us- about to turn 5.

After my kids were born, there are things I wish I had known.

1. My social life would die. I always had an active social life from college on out- but between location differences between my friends, weeding out the bad influences and age differences between our kids, I have lost touch with most of my old friends. Lack of time tends to get in the way of meeting new people in similar situations (although, working moms with working husbands and busy schedules may not be the types I’d want to meet when it comes to play dates and getting kids together). It’s not bad losing social life- If your old friends were bad influences (into drinking/drugs/etc) but it does rub off on your kids as they get older and have a lower interest in being around other kids.

2. Don’t let your kid sleep in your bed with you. Even just one night. Our 7 year old fell out of her big girl bed two times in one night when she was 3. We allowed her to sleep with us that night. She’s now 7 and we still can’t get her out of our bed (we could, but she actually panics at the thought of sleeping alone). We know she’s spoiled, but fear and anxiety is real and is a real problem when part of a child’s special needs is that they have trouble communicating with others.

3. Having special needs kids changes how you interact with all areas of your life. I’d love to take her to parties and to movies- and sometimes she does great. Other times, we will spend the full night in the bathroom with me trying to calm her down. We do not know how she will react to any given social interaction and sensory overload is a real problem. It has taken me 30 years to know and handle my own issues (loud noises- mainly, loud crowds, she has the same)

I recently read about one business starting a sensory sensitive day and I’m going to have to try taking her. I want to get her around more “normal” developing children, but other special needs kids tend to get on well with her- either way, she’s starting to take interest in socializing so we need to nurture it.

 

I may create a continuation of this post when I think of more. I know there are probably a lot of things that have slipped my mind. What are some things you wish you had known when you were newly pregnant?

 

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EDS, post 30 can your body bounce back?

I know your metabolism takes a slight hit at 30, larger hit at 35 and every 5 years or so keeps shrinking. I’m still heavier than I was pre-kids and reality is hitting me. I knew I no longer had my pre-baby body, but will I be able to go back?

I accepted the fact that pregnancy made my hips more of a problem area than they already were. I only wore a larger size (11-13 in high school) for that reason, but had an hourglass figure. When I dropped to a 14, I tried on some 17s and couldn’t get them past my hips. That was when I read that juniors and adult sizes are made different (1,3,5, etc are juniors. 2,4,6, etc are adult). Juniors are made narrow in the hips where adult jeans are made wider in the hips.

I do know that with Ehlers Danlos, collagen is affected and where it makes your skin stretchy, it seems it may be harder to just bounce back. My scars fade but they still look strange when they heal. I don’t know much else about EDS but I do have an appointment, not only with a genetic specialist, but a specialist who lives with EDS herself. But that’s in a little bit. Right now, I’ve been researching trying to find foods that can help, workouts good enough to help lose weight and tone up but also safe for Osteo and loose joints and anything else that could help me with shrinking back down.

In the past 2 years, I’m down from 220 to about 170. I’m down from a size 20 to a size 14-16. I still have 40lbs left and hoping to get down to a 6ish or 8, maybe and I have 5 years in my mind to do it. If I can get down to my goal, fix what I need to fix diet wise and perfect my ingredient reading I should be able to maintain despite my Hashimotos. I’m seeing that even thyroid isn’t as much of an excuse as people use it. I dropped 20lbs in 4 months on a good dose of thyroid medication and cutting 1 ingredient out. I’m almost 1 month back to the normal (gluten free) lifestyle and finally feeling back to how I was feeling. I just had my thyroid levels tested again and they were perfect.

Right now, I’m trying to buy less processed foods. I have quit drinking Mello Yello (but I did switch to Diet coke for the time being), I’m eating 1 grain meal a day (if that) and the rest are cooked or salad. I do need to cut condiments and I still am drinking my Starbucks double shots (1 a day), I also started to notice my sugar drops when I eat potatoes so I’m switching to sweet potatoes.

The problem is when you have multiple diagnosis’s with several recomendations for diets. Where I have obvious issues with gluten, gluten free is needed (unless I want to spend all day cramping and in the bathroom), I had the diabetic low glycemic diet recommended to me for the reactive hypoglycemia. Cutting everything that was recommended to me feels restrictive. It also makes my OCD mind feel like I’ll be depriving myself and feels like it’s a black/white situation instead of- eat this way and you’ll feel great, eat that way and feel like crap.

I’m working on disassociating food with pleasure or anything related to emotions and trying to associate it with fueling my body and nothing more. Mindfulness helps that. Taking time to savor what I eat and pay attention to it is what I’m working on. Salad tastes great, so does fruit. Sugar and snacks that are heavily processed taste like chemicals but are an addiction- I’ve read all about sugar addiction and cold turkey is the way to go with kicking it. I’ve been thinking about trying a 1 month sugar free diet to try to break it. Just not sure if I have the will power currently. I will start it at the beginning of a month this year, though. Just have to build up and do further research into it to go in armed instead of half assing it.

In my picture, I was 18. I was constantly working out but didn’t know half of what I know now. I was also healthy.

I wasn’t skinny, but I was a good 30lbs smaller than I am now.

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I never thought I’d be the type to let myself go after a marriage and these past 2 years (last year and this year) I’m getting myself back.

I have been with my husband almost 8 years now. Before he and I met, when I was younger, it would take me over an hour just to leave my house. My hair, make up, clothes and everything had to be perfect. After we had our first baby, I had an extra 60lbs (went from 125 to 198 at the end of my first- complicated- pregnancy) and I started stress eating (before that, if I was stressed, I couldn’t eat). I managed to lose 10lbs down to 180 but stuck. I did workouts sporadically but the stress turned to fatigue and even laziness.

With my second pregnancy (the one we lost) my weight stayed the same after the baby was born and I was too depressed to really work on it.

By the time I had my third, I gained up to 220- higher than I ever weighed and was a size 18. This time, I was more active but my thyroid went into hyper due to the toxic cyst and I lost 30lbs in the first 6 weeks and another 20 recently. Now that I’m down to about 170 and a size 14/16 I’m gaining the motivation to continue.

After I had my first baby, I continued with my hair, make up and skin routine but over time, lost it.

In the past few months, I’m working on changing myself. I realized a while back I let myself go so now I’m working on undoing the damage before it becomes harder.

My daily skin routine now involves pre cleanse and cleansing, sometimes exfoliating (not every day- usually 3 times a week to every other day), spraying my face with either rose water or Dermalogica’s Multi-Active toner, moisturizer, then I’ll put on a mask 1-2 times a week. That’s my evening before bedtime routine. My morning routine is the same but after the moisturizer, I’ll put my make up on. That full routine can keep my eczema from acting up too bad. I have found that to keep it down, exfoliating and moisturizing is key.

I’ve studied skin care professionally (I’m a licensed skin therapist) so keeping my skin next to perfect is key. Luckily for me, when my eczema breaks out, it’s mostly still skin colored but the itching does me in. I still get compliments on my skin on a daily basis- I get rid of zits immediately, don’t have black heads and you would have to look at my skin under a magnifying glass to see my pores- my skin has been my pride and thanks to that, I still look as young as I did when I met my husband. I’m heavier now, but I’m also working on losing that (I did make it from 130 to 220, I’m back down to 170 and working on losing the last 40lbs if possible). I’m down 50lbs from 220 to 170 from two years ago (hit my peak weight at the very end of my last pregnancy- but there will be no more pregnancies so I can focus on losing the last bit)

I’m also looking at what types of workouts are best for people with Osteo arthritis and Ehler Danlos Syndrome to try to get my body toned back up.

I’ve been working on trying to get back to how I was in college. Back then, I was active and felt great. I also looked better. I’m not sure how to handle my thinning and really dry hair (the wrong shampoos grease my hair up and make it look wet, when it dries it dries like straw. It’s hard having greasy skin in that one area of my body but then having dry hair. The thyroid issues don’t help at all.)
The selected image is what I looked like in October. I’m hoping to get back to a slightly older version of what I looked like when I met my husband. I’m not trying to look like a teen again (or very young adult) since I’ll be 30 this week, I just want to be about the same size, weight and to feel good again.

The first picture was taken right before my husband and I met (same week)

The one with the hat was shortly after we got together, before I got pregnant and the third was our first Christmas with our new baby (she was 9 months old)