Warning: female talk ahead, proceed at your own risk.
How/when did we find out?
Well, the how is easy. I peed on a stick. I had been suspecting I was pregnant because my boobs were basically humongous all of a sudden and super sensitive and sore. I first thought something was up on my Sabra trip. We had been “trying” for a couple of months at that point so I abstained from alcohol while being wined and dined in Richmond. When I got back home, I knew I wanted to take a pregnancy test.
Background info: I’m not a newbie to pregnancy tests. I’ve taken a few because I don’t have regular periods. I never have. Ever. I’ve gone months to a year without a period at times. I’ve always been open with my GYN about this and various tests (thyroid, etc.) have always come back normal. Since I am an active person, I always figured this was the cause. I never really worried about it because in the past it was kinda awesome. But in more recent years, I started paying closer attention to my cycles (if you can even call them that). In 2010 and 2011, I had about 4-6 periods each year and they were completely random. In the beginning of 2012 Kyle and I started really planning things out and we decided to go for it around March. I had had a period in December and January, but nothing in February or March… So I started doing some research. I cut out stevia (see this page and this article) and started drinking raspberry leaf tea (see this page). Both were easy and natural things that didn’t require me to change much in my dietary routine. I also decreased my exercise intensity and dropped out of a half marathon. This was a tough thing for me because Kyle was still running it and I really wanted to do the race with him, however, I wasn’t excited about the training and I felt like I was sending my body mixed signals in terms of what I was asking it to do for me. At first I struggled with this change, but eventually I found walking to be a really great way for me to get my endorphins while still honoring what I was trying to do (get pregnant).
I never did get a period after January…I took the pee test on June 7th, it came back positive and the rest is history. By the way, I was so anxious the night before I took the test (they say to use morning urine because it’s more concentrated) that I ended up taking the test at 3 am. Kyle knew I was planning to take it the next morning, but was pretty shocked when I crawled back into bed at 3 am and told him I was pregnant. Neither of us went back to sleep after that…we just laid in bed in a state of giddy disbelief.
What steps did you take before you conceived?
As I mentioned above, I stopped using stevia, reduced my exercise intensity, and starting drinking raspberry leaf tea. The tea was by Traditional Medicinals. I don’t know if these things can be credited with causing me to get pregnant, but I did have success (after a lifetime of irregular periods) so that counts for something, right?
I also had scheduled an appointment for acupuncture, but I had to go through the process of getting a referral from my MD first, so by the time I had done all that I was already pregnant. I also downloaded an app that tracks your cycles, but I never had a regular period or cycle while using it, so I have no clue if it’s a good tool or not.
At one point, I considered taking my basal body temps, but our thermometer was so ghetto it took forever to read my temperature…upon waking I have to pee nearly immediately, and the point is to lie in bed without doing any activity so you get a reliable reading. Well, I was often done going to the bathroom by the time the thermometer gave it’s reading, so I stopped after only a few mornings. If you are irregular (and have a good thermometer), this is definitely a very helpful method to track your ovulation though. Looking back, the days I did take my temp were higher than normal and it was because I was already pregnant.
The other steps I took before I conceived are unrelated to fertility, but just as important. I started taking prenatal vitamins several months (maybe even a year?) ago. According to my doctor, any woman of child bearing age should be. So why not? I also read a study that linked prenatal vitamin use prior to pregnancy to a reduced chance of having a child with autism. Who knows – it doesn’t hurt. I also switched to only organic. Not just the dirty dozen, everything. It’s more expensive but the effects of chemicals and pesticides are way more detrimental in the undeveloped organs of a fetus or child. Plus there are a million and one studies linking pesticide exposure to ADHD, autism, and cancer. I’m not saying there’s a direct causative link, but it’s something I can do, so I am going to do it. I also stopped drinking, but that was because I had no way of knowing when I was or wasn’t pregnant, so I went with the better-be-safe-than-sorry motto.
Did you have morning sickness?
Yes. I was nauseous from week 6 through week 11 with lingering moments afterwards. Saltine crackers helped a lot. I only threw up twice (in hindsight, this may have been from food poisoning in Mexico rather than actual pregnancy related symptoms, but it was horrible nonetheless). Having an empty stomach was what triggered it, but food was so unappealing it was a total Catch 22 situation. The worst part was, I have a food blog!!! I didn’t even want to think about food during those weeks so it’s a miracle I got anything posted. As you my recall, I never did recap our Cabo vacation. Maybe one day…
Have you had any cravings?
In the beginning I didn’t have any cravings. It was mostly aversions. And it seemed like it was to everything. Later on, it became more clear. I liked really cold/frozen things. I didn’t want anything hot, especially coffee/tea. Around the end of the first trimester/beginning of the first I started noticing a clear desire for all things tomato. Marinara. Lasagna. Tomato soup. Tomatoes in any and every way. That’s still a thing, but I’m pretty much eating how I normally eat now with the exception of my savory breakfasts. Eggs are my absolute favorite thing to eat in the AM. They hold my appetite over better than anything else. They don’t make me sick. They just work.
Other changes I have noticed is how quickly I become full. And on the other hand, how often I need food. I feel nauseous if I eat too much so I have to have small meals frequently. Grazing. And yet, it’s still amazing how instantly I go from fine to STARRRRVING. If I don’t eat right away, I feel as though I will pass out. Sometimes this makes prenatal yoga hard. Or working.
How did you tell your family/friends?
We were going to wait to tell both sets of parents at Kyle’s graduation dinner, but I was so nauseous when my mom was visiting a day early that I basically had to tell her. She knew one day before everyone else, but then Kyle announced it to the four parents at dinner. We didn’t tell anyone else for a long time because we wanted to wait until our first appointment at least, but then we went to Cabo with my Aunt and Uncle and it was again pretty obvious something was up when I was sick and not drinking the whole vacation.
After our first appointment (during which we found out we were 8 weeks) we told my sisters. Every time we told someone we recorded the conversation so we have them all on video. It’s really fun to watch back.
After we hit the end of the first trimester, we told everyone. We wanted to tell as many people as possible in person, face to face. Luckily, we had a wedding that very weekend that all our friends were in town for. It was perfect. That was also the point of this dinner party as well as this one.
How has your exercise routine changed since becoming pregnant?
At first, I had zero energy so my exercise routine was non-existent. Around week 11, I started going to prenatal yoga with my friend (she’s pregnant as well). I also started walking again. Around week 13, I started feeling up for some light jogging. Since I was so out of shape (still am), I stop periodically to catch my breath and let my heart rate go back down. I’m playing it very safe, but I know it’s good for me and the baby if I continue to exercise, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve already noticed my fitness level improve a bit, although it’s still far from where it once was. I’m okay with it though. It actually doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it would (because I’m not longer my priority).
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for my body image. It’s odd how I am so uncomfortable with something that’s so expected, but it’s just weird to me. When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t even recognize myself. I think the main reason it’s so bizarre is because I’m not really showing yet, so I’m just getting bigger without any evidence of a baby. It’s hard to describe, and I’m really not verbalizing it very well because (believe me) I’m very okay with gaining weight during pregnancy. It’s just not something I’m used to seeing. I really just want to get a big belly so it’s clear to all (including myself) that I’m pregnant.
Has it been hard to work? What about night shift?
Work was difficult during the first trimester and I called in sick kinda a lot. I was hardly in a state to take care of myself though, so I definitely wasn’t able to care for other patients.
My job is SUPER accommodating for pregnant nurses. As soon as I found out I told my boss and the charge nurses, so that I wouldn’t get any inappropriate patients (people with shingles, chemo drugs, radiation seeds, etc.). Since then, they have been super at helping me, supporting me, and just making sure I’m doing okay throughout the day. It’s wonderful.
I still have hard days where I wish I could rest more often (instead of being on my feet 12 hours in a row), but it’s my job.
I’ve been doing more night shifts on purpose because they are lighter in general. I’m not getting patients in and out of bed all the time or racing all over the unit trying to get everything done. The bummer is that I can no longer ride my bike to work, so I have to deal with the hideous LA traffic.
What has surprised you the most about being pregnant?
Honestly, whenever I thought about being pregnant, I always thought it would be a time of gluttonous fun, in which I’d gorge myself with the excuse of “eating for two”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, since getting pregnant I’ve started paying WAY better attention to everything, including the amounts of each macro and micro nutrient, vitamin and mineral. I’ve never been more picky with my calories! In addition to taking my prenatals, folate, and DHA, I’m taking extra B12 about twice a week. I’m eating exclusively organic (when I’m shopping for and/or preparing the food). And in general, I’m just much more diligent with tracking everything so I make sure this baby gets everything it needs to thrive from the get go. So much for lounging on the couch eating bon bons and ice cream all day.
Is there anything in your pre-pregnancy vegan diet that you can’t have now (due to be pregnant, not due to nausea/intolerance)?
I think most people know the main things to void – alcohol, sushi (raw fish), unpasteurized products, and soft cheeses. Most of these aren’t too hard for vegans/vegetarians.
Caffeine should also be limited to fewer than 200 mg per day during pregnancy, which wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be since I was repulsed by coffee from the very beginning of my pregnancy. Starting at week 12, I began to drink very weak iced tea with almond milk and maple syrup.
Soft cheeses and unpasteurized milk are obviously non-issues for me since I don’t do dairy. Same goes for deli meat and raw meat, which carry the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, listeria and salmonella.
Raw fish (like in sushi) and uncooked shellfish can also be contaminated with listeria bacteria or other seafood-borne illness. Uncooked shellfish are a risk for everyone, not just pregnant women, but I never eat raw oysters or anything like that, so it’s no loss for me. Sushi on the other hand is a bummer to go without. I satisfy the cravings with vegetable rolls, veggie rice paper/spring rolls, and seaweed salad. I suppose you could do cooked sushi too, but I haven’t. There’s also the mercury issue in cooked fish, so it’s best to avoid any of the predatory fish that will have high levels of mercury. Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish are the major players in this category. Also, canned, chunk light tuna generally has a lower amount of mercury than other tuna, but still should only be eaten in moderation. I think it’s probably best to just limit fish altogether. Mercury is definitely toxic, especially for the fetus, and mercury consumed during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. Here’s a good site for info about mercury in fish.
The only thing that’s relevant for vegans is possible bacteria on fruits and veggies. If you have a garden and a cat, there’s the toxoplasmosis thing. As long as you wash your produce well, you should be fine.
So I guess the short answer to this question is no, there’s not much I can’t eat now that I ate before. I ate sushi infrequently and only crave it when others are eating it near me. Aside from that, I have no problem abstaining from alcohol, reducing my caffeine intake, and washing my produce.
What is the status on the dizzy spells?
I’m still having them. They are very common in pregnancy and I told my doctor about them and he wasn’t too worried. I’ve always had low blood pressure (systolic in the 90s-110s) so it’s not atypical to get dizzy during pregnancy when my fluid volume is doubling. It still freaks me out because I feel completely out of control of my body and I hate it.
It’s usually triggered by heat and as long as I get cool, I am okay. I drink a TON of water, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference. Once it reaches the point of no return, and I’m too overheated, I can’t stop the symptoms from coming…I feel faint, diaphoretic (sweaty), my head aches, and I feel like I’m either going to throw up or pass out. The only thing I can do is lie down and try my best to get cool. Sometimes cold fruit or juice helps. And ice packs. Eventually it passes, but it’s miserable in the meantime. It’s often when I’m cooking or just back from a run. But it did happen once in a patient’s room (that was hot). Scary!
You look the same, have you even gained weight?
Bless you. Yes, I have. I’m gaining at the recommended rate…so far 6 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight (which is actually a few lbs up from my pre-pregnancy effort weight). Hopefully I’ll continue to gain in the same fashion.
Can you share your vitamin and other supplementation regimen?
I take folate and DHA in the morning, every morning. I use Doctor’s Best brand. Spectrum and Deva make vegan DHA, among other brands (sourced from algae rather than fish). These don’t cause me and GI upset and since they are capsules they are easy to take. I usually take them with breakfast, but I’ve taken them on an empty stomach too and it wasn’t an issue.
In the afternoon/evening I take my prenatals. I have to take these later in the day because I need to have a lot of food in my stomach to prevent nausea. I try and wait until I’m eating my biggest meal, but it’s hard with my new mini-meal approach to eating. Basically I put it off all day and then choke them down with dinner. I couldn’t tolerate the huge nasty pills, so I am taking Rainbow Light’s prenatal petites. I take three mini tabs rather than one big one. I take those daily as well – hidden in something puree like in texture (ie yogurt, hummus, oatmeal, smoothie, etc.). I am really bad at taking pills (and they smell/taste SO gross) so it’s definitely a chore for me, but I figure it’s one of many million sacrifices I will be making over the course of my life for this kid. Happy to do it.
Every once in a while I take vitafusion’s prenatal gummies. I got them on amazon after my friend mentioned them to me (since I was whining about how horrible of a time I have with my prenatals). They probably would have been way more useful earlier on, but I didn’t discover them until my second trimester. I don’t take them more than once a week though because I don’t feel like they are “real” or as effective as non-gummy prenatals. I’m basing this off the fact that my pee is neon colored after my petite prenatals, but not after the gummies. Another thing to note is that the gummies don’t have iron, so I have to take iron separately on the days I take the gummies. For that reason, I really only have them as a backup…so when it’s late at night and I’ve forgotten to take the petites and I don’t want to eat any more I can just take the gummies.
I don’t (yet) supplement with additional iron because my levels have been good so far. However, from what I understand it’s only a matter of time before those dip, so I may end up adding extra iron in. For now, I take iron on the days I take gummies. I use Nature Made brand. It doesn’t seem to upset my stomach as long as I have some food in it (unlike the prenatals). I’ve taken floradix in the past (a liquid form of iron) too, which is good for those who have constipation or GI upset from iron in pill form.
I also take B-12 about 2-3 times a week. Sometimes I take it more if I haven’t had any eggs. I’ve used the same 365 powder forever and I like it. It’s vegan and slightly orange flavored, but I still mix it with orange juice when I drink it.
I don’t take additional calcium supplements, but that’s because there’s calcium in my prenatals and I’m also taking in a significant amount in my food. Contrary to what the USDA wants us to believe, dairy is not the only way to get calcium. I won’t go there. I will just say Almond Breeze’s almond milk has double the amount of cow’s milk (which I have multiple times a day) and I eat a lot of foods high in calcium (like spinach and other greens). I’m not saying I won’t consider taking a supplement in the future, but for now I am not. Calcium is known to be very constipating, so if I can keep my levels high with food, I prefer that. In the event I do need to add in more, calcium citrate is less constipating than calcium carbonate.
Aside from that, I really just try to eat a balanced and diverse diet. There are several guides that I’ve found helpful – this is a good site and there is a whole chapter in What to Expect that address nutrition (including various allergies and dietary preferences like lactose intolerance and vegetarianism/veganism).
How has IBS affected your pregnancy? Do you still have your symptoms, such as bloating, constipation etc? Is it worst or easier and how do you handle this?
At first it was pretty bad. Bloating, constipation, the works. Quitting coffee didn’t help because that helped me “go” (if you know what I mean). Add to that my hormonal changes (which basically stops the gut’s peristalsis), my non-FODMAPs eating habits, and my complete lack of exercise, and I was basically feeling pretty disgusting. I think I looked more pregnant during the first trimester than I do now simply because I had such bad morning sickness that I was eating without any regard to FODMAPs. I’ve definitely noticed a heightened response to wheat while being pregnant. Now that I’m in the second trimester and don’t have the strong food aversions I had initially, I’m feeling way better (dare I say normal?).
Drinking lots of fluids (lemon water, fizzy water, iced tea, etc.) and eating fruit like melon and watermelon are the main ways I’ve managed to avoid getting really constipated. Getting back into running has helped too. There’s definitely a change from my previous norm, but I’m starting to get the hang of it and it hasn’t been as terrible as I was thinking it was going to be. I’m learning to be more patient with my body.
Are you going to find out if it’s a boy or girl?
Yes. We found out at week 16…we’re having a BOY!! We both had a hunch he was going to be a boy. Even though all the silly tests people do on you when you’re pregnant said he would be a girl, Kyle and I each had boy dreams. [The name is also decided but will remain a secret until he is born]
That’s all for now…if you don’t see your question yet, I will get to it! Continue to ask questions in the comments section and I will answer them.