When I first found out I was pregnant I naively believed that my eyes were wide open to the nature of pregnancy and labour after completing a year of my midwifery degree before being struck down by chronic illness. To a degree I was right, so far I have been aware of what to expect and when, but I had no idea just how normal everyday pregnancy symptoms would impact my health.
- Morning Sickness
I knew my mum had suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum in all four of her pregnancies. So, I was prepared for the worst and wasn’t surprised when I too received the diagnosis. What I didn’t expect was that none, and I mean none, of the anti-sickness tablets or injections would help; some even made it worse as many were coated in lactose, which I am severely intolerant to. On average I found myself throwing up 30 odd times a day, this would have been bad enough on its own, however the force of my sickness was causing my jaw to dislocate almost every single time. I can cope with sickness and dislocations on their own, but combined with little in the way of pain relief made getting through each day hard. On more than one occasion my partner would come into the bathroom with a glass of water and rub my back whilst I warned him we wouldn’t be doing this pregnancy lark again (I’ll admit now I like the idea of more…in several years).
Fatigue in the first trimester is something that many women experience. I have read countless blogs with pregnant women struggling to make it through the working day due to the extreme levels of tiredness. Chronic illness and pain has been part of my life for four years now, and tiredness is a big part of this. To counteract this I pace and make sure I am plenty rested. I had presumed at the start of my pregnancy that this method would be enough to ensure I coped with the tiredness levels that came with pregnancy. Boy was I wrong. For the first 16 weeks, all I was capable of each day was attending my lectures, shuffling down to the Drs so they could monitor me and then collapsing in a heap on my bed until the next day.
- The Glow
I’m pretty sure this one applies to any pregnant woman whether they are ill or not. We’ve all heard about the glow that women supposedly get in the second trimester. I don’t know about you, but I have certainly enviously looked at pregnant women in the high street and thought ‘Wow doesn’t she look amazing’. Several family members and friends have repeatedly told me that I’m looking great, and I’m sure they mean it, however there is always that annoying voice in the back of my head saying ‘yeah that glow is a sheen of sweat caused by a hot flush and sickness’. But hey let’s just roll with the compliment.
- Energy in the second trimester
At time of writing this blog post I am 22 weeks and 3 days pregnant and in bed on Drs orders. In all honesty, even without the prescribed bed rest, I feel that I would be having to take naps throughout the day. At first being so fatigued upset me but now I can see the positives. It is not as extreme as the first trimester though still pretty bad, and considering I have come off of all my medications I’m doing incredibly well. Though I am still hoping my dose of Duracell bunny style energy is just late coming to the party.
- Immunity goes out the window
I have several health conditions that all deteriorate if I catch even the slightest bug. Throw pregnancy into the matter and it seems that my immune system has decided to take a nine-month vacation.
Whilst this make all sound negative, and I’m not going to lie coping with pregnancy and chronic illness is hard, I am enjoying my pregnancy. Now that I can feel my little boy kicking away I have a constant reminder of the miracle waiting for me in May.