Saturday, January 16, 2010

Contraction at 12 Weeks

Early on in my four pregnancies, I always intend to take pictures of my very small uterus showing itself as I lay on my back. I think I may have accomplished this with Ruby, my first pregnancy, but otherwise, the weeks come and go with me thinking first thing in the morning, "I wish I had the camera right now." I have a few things to thank for this fascinatingly obvious baby bump (it's all uterus) so early on: 1) It is morning, and my bladder is full and 2) I am having a contraction.

I finally brought the camera by my bedside so I could take this pic in the morning, because it had been several weeks that my pregnancy was noticeable in this posture (as opposed to the other weeks--er--months that standing up, I have a belly, but it is most definitely mine).

Contractions started with this pregnancy toward the end of my sixth week. About the same time as they did last pregnancy. My latest-arriving Braxton-Hicks (B.H.) were with my second pregnancy, at about 14 weeks. They arrived before 12 weeks with my first, but I didn't take note of exactly when, because I didn't know it was "not supposed to happen." (Or, by many professionals, "DOESN'T happen." Ha! Where do they get this stuff?)

Differences with this pregnancy include that my B.H. have been ever-present, yes, but not incredibly bothersome. I can tell when I'm having one, but it doesn't usually hurt (annoying at times, yes). And I have only had a few truly "crampy" days, when the contractions felt menstrual-like and late-labor-ish. These days were clustered right around the time the contractions presented: at six and seven weeks. Another nice thing is that I have not spotted once in this pregnancy, and that is a first. Something for which I'm very grateful is the fact that my back does not constantly ache like it did even from the first weeks of my last pregnancy. I have a strong suspicion that the reason is that my abdominal muscles are stronger than they were in that pregnancy, since I had a few extra months "postpartum" to get back into shape (not that I did such a thing). It has been nice to not awaken to an already-aching back.

I am now almost 15 weeks into this journey. Not sure why, but my "first trimester" is extending into the second in the nausea/exhaustion department. Perhaps it is because my family and I have been battling sickness for over a month now (colds and whatnot). Maybe my body is trying to fight off/get better so much that it has no time to tend to other issues, like paying attention to what week it is :). The worst of it was the combination of nausea/gagging and profuse drainage (I know, TMI, but this whole post is pretty much TMI, so if you've gotten this far, are you actually surprised?). Drainage is no fun anyway, but I would not wish it on a first-trimester woman I didn't like.

Smells. . . in the first trimester, these can be very tricky to deal with. Not just bad ones, but overly "good" ones can be so sickening. My friend recently told me how she got sick of the smell of lavender after making a bunch of sachets as gifts during her first trimester. This pregnancy, the worst "good" smell has got to be our fabric softener. It makes me gag. I've noticed that I'll choose my or my children's clothing for the day based on the fact that it's not fresh out of the laundry, which is a challenge, since nowadays I do not have much in the way of clothing options, and almost all my options have been recently washed.

On to brighter things: despite how it looks in the above photo, I am still able to sleep on my stomach, and I am drinking up the nights where I still have every option open to me: Left side? yes. Right side? Well, okay. Back? Indeed. Stomach? Oh, yes, please! It has to be annoying for anyone who likes all their options--pregnancy is a sacrifice of comfort in many areas. I remember in my past postpartum recoveries, being more than happy to lie on my tummy to help the involution of my uterus (Here's a bonus tidbit: my home-birth midwives do not mash on my stomach after delivery. They take the far-gentler approach of assigning sessions of tummy-lying in the days after birth, for which I am grateful, because tummy-mashing hurts like the dickens.) My stomach-sleeping window is closing quickly. I will miss you, my comfortable friend, but look forward to when we will meet again in 6 months!

Okay, since I'm getting all my frivolous little complaints out there, I will also mention a question that has perplexed me for the last 3 pregnancies. No, not, "Why does my body have to gain weight there when I'm pregnant?" (Seriously, what do those parts have to do with carrying a baby?). The question of "Why, if I will not be giving birth for the next six months, does my pelvis have to get all loosey-goosey now?"

I would say it happened overnight, because that is how suddenly it came on, but it was even more suddenly. At 13 weeks, 2 days, I sat down to rest one afternoon and got up with that "splitting chicken" feeling, and it has been with me ever since. I do not have to describe this to most pregnant women, I'm sure, especially ones who have had more than one baby, but for those who have yet to experience this, picture for a moment that you have no legs, and someone has attached ropes to the bottom of your hip bones, and has given these ropes to opposing teams in a tug-of-war match.

That is the feeling to which I refer, and it limits one's ability to move about as lightly and gracefully as she once did (Mmm-hmm:). Small things become extremely painful. Have you ever used your foot/leg to scoot something that was a little too heavy to lift? That's out. Big steps? That's out. Letting your toddler sit on your foot and gallop away on her horsey? Definitely out. Walking like a normal person? That's out. (But try to anyway, so people won't laugh at you.)

I'm getting all my "pregnancy" stuff out in this post. Haley is still nursing, but quickly losing interest. I cannot say I am disappointed. Ruby's (understandably, my first) pregnancy is the only one in which I have not nursed for at least some time. (I have logged in about a year's worth of nursing-while-prego at this writing.)

Many people think you can't or shouldn't nurse while pregnant. It isn't so much that you can't as much as it isn't very appealing to the mom-to-be to have all this stuff going on inside her body and to also then subject her body to more "abuse" on the outside. But, since my children have all been relatively young when I have gotten prego again, I have not felt right about weaning them. So, they nurse until they are no longer interested. (And that has never been five years so far--thankfully!)

Haley is now almost 20 months, which is exciting to me, because I've never nursed a baby so long before! Ruby quit around 14 months and Claire was about 16-17 months. Ruby was my earliest to wean, but, because of her closeness to Claire, was the one who nursed the farthest into pregnancy--six months. I was glad when she decided she was done, because I was getting tired of being kicked from the outside and the inside at the same time. I was caught in the middle of already-developing sibling rivalry, and more than happy to be rid of the whole business. Claire nursed the shortest time into pregnancy, at about 2-3 months. That was also welcome, because the first trimester demands so much of a body anyway . . .

So, whenever Haley is ready to give it up, I will sigh with relief and a sweet sadness of that phase with her passing, but no real grief. Breastfeeding is a blessing, and I absolutely would not consider not doing it, but there are many things about it that I do not miss when it is over. I've mentioned before that I am not one of those who just loves breastfeeding (except the fact that God is so good to make such a wonderful system of nourishing a baby--I am thankful for His provision in this), and though I am committed to it as long as my babies are interested, I am NOT a big fan of breastfeeding, personally. It is great, and it is best, and I do . . . not. . . like it.

Casey and I are getting more and more used to the idea of having four little pairs of pitter-pattering feet, and I would have to say that even though I would not describe myself as "excited" in the truest sense, I am very happy and okay with the idea of welcoming another child, and plan toward it and think of it often.

I am excited about the birth of this baby, and that probably makes me a real weirdo among women, but I can truly say that. Birth is something wonderful and special and though it happens all the time all over the world, I will only do it a select amount of times, and I am so glad I get to do it again! I can't hardly wait to see how this labor and birth will go. Very exciting!


  1. Yes! The "splitting chicken" feeling! A very good way to describe it. I felt it toward the end of E's pregnancy but right at the very beginning of M's-right after we found out. Keep posting, Sarah, this is good stuff! :) Adri

  2. I remember you older ones teasing me about my "split chicken" walking. Didn't seem so amusing at the time, but I can see it now. But this too will pass.

    Love you!

  3. Thank you so much for this blog. I seriously thought this was all normal...this is my first (I am 39 weeks today). I can remember very very early on waking up to that same picture! I was on 10 weeks of bedrest starting at about 28 weeks and was told I have an "irritable uterus" and given all kinds of drugs and labeled high risk (no longer can use midwife, had to switch to an OB)(...positive ffn and soft cervix but no dilation till 37 weeks, now holding strong at 1cm). I have constant contractions...lately they have organized a bit into the evenings and usually about 5-15 mins apart. Being that I was expecting the baby early and that I am going through this, I am getting very impatient and frustrated. So, thanks for this blog.

  4. Oh, Rachel! Hang in there! Your pregnancy journey is almost over--I'm sorry to hear all the labels and extra turmoil you've been through because of your contractions. I understand how it may be hard to readjust your expectations about when the baby will come. Keep in mind that many women go past the due date (first-time moms, more often). And welcome those contractions! They can be so challenging--especially when you just want some decent sleep--but they are great practice for you and your baby. I hope you come back and share how the birth went, Rachel!