Mr 4 has fallen asleep and I’m really tempted to nap too. It’s a cloudy, cold afternoon here in Sydney and all the weather reports are telling us to prepare for another weekend of severe storms. Nothing quite like storm weather to get me in the mood for sleep. Although really, it doesn’t take much for me to want sleep… I love sleep. Even more so now that I’m 32 weeks pregnant and probably 10 kgs heavier than the last time I wrote here.
I’m a bit bewildered (and ashamed) that it’s again taken me months to post anything new on this blog. I’ve been really active on my social media channels (anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook probably knows my whole life story) but I haven’t really written anything long form in a while. Mainly because that requires more than 5 minutes, and the ability to string more than just a few sentences together. And pregnant brain ≠ articulate / eloquent sentences.
Also, it’s because I’ve been working on a complete website overhaul and rebrand for months now, and I really thought I’d have my stuff together and have it all done by May, but then June rolled around and I’d only just started working on my new logo. But it’s coming together, and will be here soon (or, actually, at this blog’s new home: www.joyadan.com). So I’ve been putting off posting because… well, I’m really good at putting things off. Hang tight though; the new site will be live in a few weeks. ❤️
Anyway, here I am, my head just as cloudy as the skies above me, feeling a little drowsy and overwhelmed. Why? Because this pregnancy has been tough. It has been completely unlike my first pregnancy, which was – for the most part – smooth sailing and, dare I say, easy. This time around has been the complete opposite.
First it was the relentless “morning” sickness.
I got through the first pregnancy only suffering nausea during the first trimester and really only threw up a handful of times. This time around, I was vomiting daily. Actually, twice daily. And any time I was the slightest bit hungry. Or saw or smelled raw meat. And that continued through the second trimester. The (stupidly named) “morning sickness” still rears its ugly head every now and again in the third trimester. Talk about cruel.
Then I started getting stupidly bad stomach cramps
I think I was just 14 weeks pregnant when I started getting sharp stomach pain. At first it happened randomly and the cramps didn’t last long. Then they started to last for the better part of a morning. Then through the whole night. This immediately raised alarm bells. Why is my stomach hurting? Why can I barely breathe? Why do I feel like I’m going to pass out? I had an ultrasound to make sure the baby was ok (it was) but talk about stressful. We have no idea what caused the pain (I’m going to guess it was just my pathetic stomach muscles chucking a hissy fit that they were being stretched). But because I was otherwise fine (i.e. there was no bleeding, and no other negative symptoms besides the typical exhaustion and need to vomit every now and again), my doctor just told me to go home and take it easy.
Then I got diagnosed with gestational diabetes
Let’s be honest; the fact that I managed to get through my first pregnancy without being diagnosed with gestational diabetes is quite a miracle – anyone who knows me knows I love my sugar. But I was pretty devastated to get the positive diagnosis this time around, given that on the whole, my diet has improved significantly since my last pregnancy. And I’m also more active now. Sure, I love chocolate, cake and ice cream
as much as more than the next person, but since giving birth to Mr 4 and having to manage his allergies and role model good eating habits, on the whole I figured I’d be healthier during this pregnancy.
Except apparently I’m not.
In case you don’t know, gestational diabetes happens when all the extra pregnancy hormones in your body decide to block your insulin. I.e. for some unlucky women, growing a baby (or, more precisely, the placenta feeding the baby) becomes synonymous with insulin resistance, and our bodies can’t properly process / break down the sugar in our food. There are a whole bunch of factors that increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes (I tick 3 of those factors) but sometimes it’s just bad luck. Or bad genes.
Anyway, if you’re good (and your hormones participate with you), you can manage the diabetes and minimise the potential negative affects for you and your baby by controlling your diet. If you can’t, you’ll probably need insulin shots.
Controlling. My. Diet.
Let me just say, having gestational diabetes freaking sucks.
It’s like The Universe is laughing at me and saying, “You know the million things you already have to figure out or think about to get through your day? Here’s something to add to that list. Re-consider every single thing you digest. Measure it. Account for it. And test your blood 4 times a day.”
After my first endocrinologist appointment at the hospital, I sat in the car and cried. Because the endocrinologist told me off for eating rice. RICE. The staple in every goddamn Asian’s diet. But now jasmine rice is the devil. As is bread.
I thought I was doing ok; I kept my sugar levels under the limit every single time I tested, but I got lectured anyway. Do I really want to put my and my baby’s health at risk?? Evil mother. Stay away from that chocolate. Labour will be hell if you don’t control yourself. (Disclaimer: the doctor and midwife didn’t say any of those things…but that’s what it felt like they were telling me. And it sucked).
I get it. There are more pressing problems in the world. This pregnancy could have had far worse complications. And this is all for my own good and for baby’s. The fact that our public health care system tests and treats us for gestational diabetes for free is such a blessing. For that, I am grateful. The fact that health professionals care about me and my baby and are trying to do good by us is great. Really, it is.
But you know what? Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. It just makes me feel worse for feeling like shit and struggling with the diagnosis. Food is my comfort, people. It sucked the first time when I had to do the elimination diet for Mr 4’s allergies. It sucks now. Yeah, yeah it was worth it. But IT STILL SUCKS.
Did I mentioned we are living with my in-laws?
Let me just say first up, my in-laws are amazing, kind and generous people. They are showing me and my family a massive act of unconditional love by letting us live in their house while we save money for our own home. I didn’t think we’d be here for well over 18 months though and they probably didn’t either. And now that I am super pregnant, hormonal and don’t have the option of eating my way through a tub of ice cream to placate my stress or sadness, not having my own space is hard.
I feel horrible because they love Filipino food (What am I talking about? So do I ?) but… Filipino food is the worst for diabetes. The Philippines is ranked in the top 15 countries in the world for diabetes prevalence. This doesn’t come as a surprise because there is sugar in almost everything. I’m not just talking about Filipino desserts, I’m talking main meals and savoury dishes too. Brown or refined white sugar is a staple in casseroles, bread, even spaghetti. Filos have a thing for adding sugar to everything as if sugar was a superfood packed with vitamins. Except it’s not.
Case in point, I got home from the last endocrinologist appointment to dinner with a side of baked pumpkin…. doused in honey. Pumpkin is carb-loaded vegetable that is already sweet. Bake it on its own and it’ll caramelise. But there it was, covered in honey. This, after being told 2 hours earlier that jasmine rice was created by the devil.
I had to eat dinner in my bedroom because I wanted to cry. Actually, I did cry.
And I felt like the biggest brat, because I love my mother-in-law and am so, so, so grateful that she’s so thoughtful and so generous that she cooks for us almost every night (which is such a relief for me and my husband since we’re normally home late after work). We are already so spoiled. But there I was having a sook because I couldn’t eat.
So the thing is, my in-laws that are not the problem. The problem is me. Sticking to a diabetes-friendly diet in a house where almost every room has some sort of sugary snack in it is hard.
And then there’s symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)
So, as if changing my entire diet isn’t enough of a pain in the ass, my hormones (again) have decided I ought to experience pain in my pelvis too. The symphysis pubis (or pubic symphysis) is the cartilaginous joint that joins your left and right pubic bone together. For some unlucky women (yours truly), the relaxation of ligaments and excess pressure on that join during pregnancy and sometimes labour can cause a lot of pain. According to my midwife, physiotherapist, the interwebs and my experience of this God-awful condition:
Sufferers frequently experience pain in the pelvis (✓), lower back (✓), hips (✓), groin (✓), lower abdomen (✓), and legs (✓). The severity of the pain can range from mild discomfort to extreme and prolonged suffering. There have been links between SPD and depression on account of the associated physical discomfort. Sufferers may walk with a characteristic waddling gait (✓ definitely me) and have difficulty climbing stairs (✓), problems with lifting/moving legs (✓), pain when carrying out weight bearing activities (✓), difficulties carrying out everyday activities (✓), and difficulties standing (✓).
Translation: until this baby comes out, I will continue to struggle to function as a human being.
I was talking to one of my work colleagues about having kids; the fact that it’s a massive decision and one people shouldn’t just assume every woman or couple wants/is capable of. I swing between not wanting to turn off all my female friends who haven’t had kids yet and a deep desire to be completely honest about how shitty it can be.
Being pregnant is amazing and ultimately the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also really, really hard. There is no time to “switch off”. Unlike my husband, there is no option for me to compartmentalise. The moment you’re pregnant, you’re pregnant 24/7.
In many ways, though, the challenges that I’ve had make the meeting of this new human even more exciting and special. I am counting down the weeks! They also unite me with the millions of other women who’ve been through this crazy, often misunderstood and misjudged honour of bringing new life into the world.
In any case, our brains are weird because after childbirth I will probably forget how hard it was this time around in the same way I’ve forgotten the issues I experienced my first pregnancy (jeez, I even wrote it was “easy” earlier). Go figure.
What #pregnantgirlproblems have you experienced/are experiencing?