For the past couple of years, I’ve written about gratitude during this season (here and here). This November, I have found it somewhat difficult to focus on the things I’m grateful for because my body has been constantly tugging me in the other direction. The nagging symptoms of advancing pregnancy are accumulating, and every day I just feel… sick. There is no virus, no particular illness; I just feel very run-down, not healthy, and not myself.
My legs have ballooned into swollen masses from the thighs to the feet. Every time I move them, I feel either itching, burning, or searing. They are hot and angry and don’t fit into any pants except warm-ups and scrubs (and I’m confined to only two pairs of shoes). I’m congested and don’t sleep well. I feel constant pain in my medial wrists when I lift or pinch any object due to the joint swelling that can accompany pregnancy. Every few nights I find myself in a choking fit, aspirating stomach contents after an unexpectedly large burp (actually, I don’t know why this should be unexpected as they occur quite frequently).
Although I do not meet perfect criteria for gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia at the moment, my obstetrics team is worried. I will be induced a couple of weeks earlier than my original due date to ensure that my placenta does not become dysfunctional prior to delivery. They’ve asked me to take it easy, work less, monitor my own blood pressures and fetal movement daily, and I must have formal fetal ultrasound monitoring twice a week. I have had to relinquish quite a few work days this month, which luckily my partners have been willing to cover. So a lot of what I’m doing currently involves sitting on the couch.
I had it so easy in the first two trimesters! And I feel guilty for even complaining about pregnancy symptoms when I tried so hard for so long to have a baby. So what do I do to keep my mind off of these negative things I’m experiencing consistently throughout every day? A few things:
- Getting out of the house for short errands. No more long hikes or climbing gym, we’re talking about going to the neighborhood grocery and back. But it makes me feel human, even if I do need to lie down afterwards. There are a few things to still prepare for baby’s arrival!
- Zen doodling and coloring in front of the fire. It works! Here is my most recent doodle:
- Epsom salt baths. Granted they must be lukewarm, but having my legs suspended in water is the only time that they don’t have unpleasant sensations. (Epsom salt baths are good for other times too, such as recovery from hard exercise.)
- Focusing on fetal movement. I just wrote a post for Mothers in Medicine’s “Thankful” topic week about how grateful I am to be feeling fetal movement. It has been my one focus of gratitude this month. The squirmy and strange feeling of the baby moving inside of me is a constant reminder of why I am experiencing all these unpleasant symptoms, and how my dreams of becoming a mom are about to come true!
What are you grateful for this month? Has it been easy or hard to identify things this year? The next time I write, my life and what I’m feeling will most likely be transformed. Until then…