Weeks Fifteen and Sixteen
Over the last two weeks, I've learned the hard way that pregnancy can really impact your nose and sinuses. We have been aggressively renovating our little condo, leading to a parade of new appliances, new paints, new carpet and new floors. I was totally unprepared for how sensitive I would be to all of these new (and not all-together innocent) smells. The best thing I've done during my pregnancy so far was to invest in a wonderful air purifier. This little workhorse pulled a lot of the harmful VOC and toxins from the air. I was so impressed with its instant and tangible benefits, and so grateful that we managed to dispel most of these toxins before the baby (and her delicate little lungs) arrived. I've also had our humidifier running almost full time. Between both of these magical contraptions, I have faith that I can make it through the end of winter until it's time to use my favorite air purifying device: open windows.
I'm definitely showing a bit more now! Everything is stretching internally, which can lead to a bit of discomfort and paranoia. For example, I had terrible cramping in my abdomen and instantly assumed the worst before realizing that it was just related to digestion. With an avocado-sized baby swimming around, it can be hard to tell exactly what mysterious internal organ is making things achy! My mantra for these weeks is "Slow Down." Unfortunately, that is much easier said than done. Last weekend was filled with lots of fun and activities, but I'm definitely paying for it with a bit of extra fatigue. It's so easy at this point to forget that I'm carrying around extra weight and blood volume. My body tends to remind me of this with some extra dizziness or discomfort. Tonight, I'm planning to relax with a bubble bath - the long overdue first of my pregnancy.
Weeks Seventeen, Eighteen and Nineteen
It was bound to happen, and I'm just grateful it wasn't worse! I caught a mild head cold. Sadly, when you are expecting, even a mild cold can mean absolute misery. I spent an entire minute of my life gazing longingly at a bottle of DayQuil. Somewhere at the end of Week Seventeen, I also suddenly became really aware of the weight of our baby girl. I've been showing for weeks. I often joke that my abs just gave up the minute the heard the news that I was pregnant. Still, during that time, I wasn't really aware of any weight or pressure. Then - KAPOW - it suddenly felt like I had a ten pound dumbbell in my abdomen every time I rolled over in bed. It's exciting, because I've also become aware of movement - like her shifting around or (possibly) doing those first little kicks or reflexes. It's also a little disconcerting, because I'm suddenly much more aware of the extra burden on my body, and find myself short of breath in the mornings. Short of breath + cold = one long, long week. Here is how I've been managing:
Catching A Cold While Pregnant: Survival Guide
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
I'm not even fancy. I don't even use a diffuser. I just boil a massive pot of water on the stove and keep adding drops of the oil at intervals until my partner cringes when he comes upstairs and laments that the entire house smells like Vick's Vapor Rub. When I feel desperate, I stand over the pot and breathe in the steam.
In the morning, my throat has some strong opinions. The best way to ease the scratchiness is a hot cup of lemon water with honey. I'll also take a spoonful of honey by itself to soothe irritation.
We're going old school here. I don't even mess around with supplements, particularly as my prenatal vitamins contain Vitamin C. I've been adding a little extra to my diet by eating oranges. A favorite recipe - dipping mandarin orange slices in chocolate and leaving to harden in the fridge for an hour. I recommend eating citrus earlier in the day, as it can exacerbate heartburn issues if eaten at bedtime.
Our pharmacist advised us that this was the best cough suppressant for pregnant women. This is an individual that my family has known for years and absolutely trust. However, the internet spooked me and I was petrified to take it because it has trace elements of herbs that I don't consume frequently. I limited my intake to 1-2 daily and was convinced that I was a terrible mother the entire time, despite absolutely zero scientific evidence of Ricola being harmful. It just goes to show you that even people with degrees in biology are not totally immune to the fear-mongering and misinformation campaigns that permeate the internet. My brain knew better, but my overprotective, over-analytical, mom-to-be heart was like "Why don't you just make a LISTERIA SMOOTHIE!!??"
Smoothies With Ginger
Adding fresh ginger to just about anything is a good idea when you are pregnant, as it helps with nausea and stomach discomfort. Plus, I wasn't all that hungry after feeling so sick. This was just a way to keep nutrition on track with minimal effort, and get that nice gingery-burn in my throat.
Nothing feels better than a hot shower when you can't breathe very well (and, also, have been wearing the same clothes for three days.) My love for hot showers isn't necessarily the best for the little one, so I tempered the experience by keeping the shower door open. I still ended up feeling quite light-headed when I stepped out, so this is a recommendation to be followed with a solid dose of good judgement about your personal limits for temperature.
Putting My Feet Up
I'm one of those people that tends to come home from work and immediately search my house for tasks, like a T-1000 in Terminator. I was convinced that the entire household would collapse like the fall of Rome if I just lounged on the couch in front of Netflix instead. Much to my chagrin, this did not happen. Convinced that I just got lucky this time, I'm back to nagging and wiping off counters and boiling vinegar water in microwaves and emptying lint traps.
Baby Bum Hand Sanitizer
Germ eradication in the form of a petite little spray gifted with the scent of a tropical vacation. I use their sunscreen every single day too. Please, I ask of the Corporate Powers That Be, please do not ever let them stop making these products. I'm buying this Hand Sanitizer in bulk for when the little one arrives.
To be responsible, I feel like I should add two little pointers for any first time moms who may be reading this: First, please know that it is acceptable and fine for you to consume certain medications while pregnant - acetaminophen is one of these and can really help with aches and pains from falling ill. Second, please ensure that you follow your instincts and get right into your doctor's office or urgent care if you think your cold may be taking a turn for the worse, especially if you run a fever. This is not the time to "tough it out." Having the flu (or even a severe cold) during pregnancy can have ramifications for your health and that of your little one, so don't use this experience to prove you are Superwoman.
"I have to give up WHAT?!"
The list of restrictions when you become pregnant is not short! Here are a few of the items and activities that I'm missing by now, along with my "replacements."
I miss: Ice Skating
I'm a fairly experienced ice skater, having learned at a very young age on the canals near Lake St. Clair. Still, as anyone who has ever watched Olympic-level ice skating on television can tell you: You're never so good at ice skating that you can't take a serious tumble. Especially now that I'm showing, I've also noticed that my balance is nothing to be arrogant about. My ankles have a tendency to buckle that wasn't there several pounds ago. I grudgingly stayed away from the rinks this winter and replaced this activity with Barre classes. I miss the feeling of acceleration over ice, but at least I can still enjoy some girly athletic attire and exercises that challenge my balance in a much safer way.
I miss: Bragg Fresh Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Especially in the summer, I've been known to subsist off of a mix of maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper and Bragg Fresh Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Unfortunately, it's not pasteurized so it's off the menu. Thankfully, there are plenty of pasteurized versions on the market, like Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar. However, I've used this break to be creative and make my own salad dressings. My favorite is a Citrus Tahini, which I make with a mix of lemon juice, orange zest, tahini and olive oil.
I miss: Retinols
I used to get blemishes in my late teens and early twenties, which is when I first started using prescription products on my face. Back then, retinols were so strong they would take the finish off of your car. They often left my skin red and irritated. Still, they were effective, so I stayed with them. Formulations improved so much. Eventually, I settled on prescription Tazorac for mild break-out control, preventing and treating mild melasma on my forehead, and just general "good skin hygiene." Since they speed cell turnover, as I got older these products had the dual benefit of keeping temperamental hormonal blemishes in check while also acting as an anti-aging agent. Well, I really could have used that stuff when pregnancy hormones decided to send my complexion back to seventh grade! But alas...I've been using Josie Moran Argan Oil, Dr. Gross Alpha-Hydroxy Peels, L'Oreal Paris Clay Masks and Honeydew and Chamomile Overnight Mask from CVS. Dr. Gross's products do the closest job of mimicking what an actual retinol will do. Still, these other products are worth mentioning since it's the combination of all of them that has finally brought a nice clarity and glow to my skin.
I miss: Sushi
Thankfully, there are plenty of vegetarian sushi dishes to choose from! In addition, we keep Seaweed Crisps around the house as an alternative to chips. They have just the right crunch and salty touch to help with cravings. When we are out at our favorite Sushi restaurant, I've found that they were very cool about cooking seafood through before using in a roll. It never hurts to ask.