Things No One Tells You About Being Pregnant

And probably because if they did, you’d think a little harder about whether you wanted to do this. I probably still would have, but more of a warning would have been nice. You read all sorts of things about other sports, hitting the wall in the marathon, open water swim panic, but there is no one there to tell you about the things your body will do while pregnant.

I definitely am not a pro. I’m a first time mom (FTM lingo for all the baby boards I’m now subbed to), but STILL.

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  • It might just be my doctor, but every time there’s a new complaint the answer is not ibuprofen, drink water, and change your socks as I’ve been conditioned to expect by the Army, but instead “let’s do some labs” which means I get to go down and wait in the lab for them to draw more blood and sometimes provide a urine sample. I’m in the third trimester, I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen my “undercarriage” except in a mirror. The other day I had to provide a urine sample, no big because I pee every 10 minutes anyway, but since I couldn’t see what I was doing, I also peed all over my hand. PREGNANCY.

 

  •  Speaking of pee, I’ve been religiously doing my kegels and anything remotely rumored to help. It didn’t stop me from peeing a little when I sneezed a couple months ago.

 

  • Do you know what GBS is? I sure didn’t. Apparently it’s Group B strep. Why this matters is because something like 25% of all women have it. It’s no big except it can kill your baby, and also the way they test for this is to swab your vagina and/or rectum. Since this is the Army, you can guess what they swab.

 

  • I really think there’s a crew of vampires employed by the hospital with all the blood tests they require. Right off the bat I think I provided something like five vials of blood, for what, I have no idea but they didn’t tell me the baby’s sex which would have made it all worth it. And then I still had to get more labs done for a HIV test even though I have an updated one from two years ago and the only person I’m making babies with is my husband who you know, also has an updated HIV test. But you know what? I did it again because in the State of Georgia there is apparently a HIV threat and if your baby comes out with any sort of possible illness, they will immediately start that baby on antiretrovirals. Of course, it’s entirely possible I could somehow get HIV between that test and my baby’s birth, but we won’t talk about that.

 

  • How about no one warns you about the lack of sleep WHILE pregnant? I love sleep. I miss sleep. I expected this after the baby but not while she’s still cooking. This would be fine except I can’t chug coffee like I used to.

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  • Pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome is a thing and it sucks. I work with computers for a living but also you sort of need hands to do every day things like pull covers up, do your hair, wipe yourself after using the toilet.

 

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  • On the plus side, I feel like universally everyone is just nicer to pregnant ladies. I like the parking spaces up front at stores and how people are just generally kinder to pregnant women. I was craving a tall juice from Panera one day at breakfast after drinking all my hot cocoa and the cashier just let me have it for free. Day. Made. At this point, I am also appreciative of people letting me have a seat when space is limited and moving out of my way in narrow spaces because I don’t have much proprioception anymore, judging by the bruises on my thighs and also all the food that gets dropped on my shirt on a daily basis.

 

  • It’s hard to tell but I could also swear that my pets love me more. I say it’s hard to tell because due to my shift work, I’m able to spend more time with them than I used to and they seem to be slightly preferring me over my husband (with the exception of my cat who can’t help that he’s a jerk because he’s a cat). Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming but mostly I love having extra-cuddly dogs.

All in all, it’s not the worst thing ever but I really don’t think I fully understood what I was signing up for along the way. I don’t think it would have stopped me from wanting to have kids, but I think I could have been better informed.

Spinning Babies?

I wrote a couple of entries ago about some of the more labor-focused exercises my doula was having me do. She also referred me to a site called Spinning Babies, which is not at all like the Exorcist scene I pictured of babies with their heads spinning around. Instead, it’s a compendium of exercises designed to position babies optimally for labor as well as help strengthen the pelvic floor for birth.

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For me, I’m interested in it because it claims that it can help ease back labor, avoid c-sections, and decrease the labor time even for first time moms. Possibly best of all hardly any of the exercises require any equipment and mostly use bodyweight to achieve its goals. I also really like workouts with point to them – one of the reasons I have a hard time with free form cardio workouts as opposed to lifting.

The site goes over all the exercises with clear pictures, but they also offer videos for a fee if workout videos are more of your thing. I feel pretty comfortable with my current range of exercises, but it’s fun to read about others and what else I can do even in late pregnancy to help my baby get into an optimal birthing position and also reduce fatigue for myself in labor.

 

2018 Goals

I love setting goals and also making lists just so I can check things off of them. It’s so satisfying. Resolution goals are really my jam. Over the years I’ve gotten better at goal-setting and making things intentional and realistic as opposed to just saying I’ll do more of something or less of something else.

For 2018, my goals are a little different than in years past.

ONE // I want to try to make it to breastfeeding for six months

A year would be better, but I’m not even remotely in control of my work schedule and there’s a chance I might be on a long work trip this time next year, so I’m trying to make flexible goals as well. I really would like to meet this one, if only because breastmilk is free and formula is so expensive.

TWO // Pass my postpartum APFT

I have six months after giving birth to take the Army Physical Fitness Test which I’ve never had an issue passing before, but I’ve also never given birth before and never weighed as much as I do now. I already feel slightly stressed and panicky at the thought of trying to drop all this baby weight and get back into shape in six short months.

THREE // Study for and pass the CompTIA CISSP exam

Every year I try to do something to professionally improve myself. I almost failed in 2017 because I got busy with a major training exercise at the beginning of the year and then moving and learning an entire new job, bur fortunately my job enrolled me in a two-week course so I got some professional training I otherwise would not have gotten. I’ve been respectful of the CISSP test for years and a little intimidated by the breadth of knowledge it tests which also makes it difficult to study for.

FOUR // Finish the Augusta Ironman 70.3

This is a rollover from 2017 because I wasn’t comfortable cycling while pregnant. Looking back, I feel like I was overly concerned and probably would have been just fine, but it’s my first rodeo so I’m trying to be forgiving of myself as well. I’m also hoping this will give me some motivation for passing the APFT as well.

FIVE // Get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight

I don’t actually know if I can do this in a year, but I want to put this down because it is still a goal. I was at a healthy weight before I got pregnant but my body really loves being pregnant and was more than happy to pack on the pounds, so much so that we thought I might actually have gestational diabetes (I didn’t, which was both a relief and a discouragement because then at least I’d have a reason for why I blew up so much). This is also probably my vainest goal of the bunch so I won’t be too hard on myself if I don’t achieve it by the end of 2018 as long as I’ve made some progress in dropping the weight.

2017 Favorite Moments

I’d be a little sadder to close the chapter on this year if I wasn’t so excited for this next one to start. I love crossing things off lists, but I also love starting new things.

To help wish 2017 goodbye, I thought I’d count down my five favorite moments from it.

5. Buying our second house

As much as I like calling it our “second home” it’s our first single-family home together. About a week after we found out we were moving to Georgia, we flew down to go house hunting. 11 months prior we had closed on our houses in Alaska so it felt very familiar (and a little nuts) to be buying a second house less than a year after our first. We bought our first as an investment property and although this one we still bought as an investment, we’ve spent more time making it our own than we did with the Alaska houses. I’m also not sure if it was because our ducks were still in a row or if it was our realtor who made all the difference, but buying our Georgia house was night and day from our Alaska experience. We had an accepted offer and completed home inspection in less than a week – and it’s a good thing, too because the houses in our neighborhood are now selling for 10-20k more than what we bought ours at.

4. Leaving Alaska

I liked living in Alaska, but I realized last summer or fall that I was ready to leave and go do something different. I also knew I wanted to take the ferry and drive cross-country again and do some sight-seeing. Although it was the same way I came up to Alaska, it was so different going back. The Alaska Marine Highway system had gone through a lot of changes, I had two dogs with me and was traveling alone, and I felt like I was different as a person, too. I had a great trip and loved it but I was more than ready to get to work on some small renovations in our house when I finally got to Georgia.

3. Rev3 Triathlon

I also wanted to get back into triathlon since living in Georgia where I had options for racing and training was a lot easier. I signed up for a whole mess of races around the state and then as my travel race I registered for the Rev3 Olympic Triathlon in Williamsburg, pretty much right before I found out I was pregnant. I still felt comfortable and strong but dropped all my goals other than to see how it went and finish and had a great time. I don’t know if I’ll make it out to any other Rev3 races this coming year because I’m also going to be juggling a baby, but I’d really love to see if I could swing it.

2. Visiting my brother sister and two of my closest friends

One of the best things about moving around is all the people I get to meet and new experiences I get to have, but I also miss my family and friends when living so far away. I managed to visit both of my siblings as well as two of my best friends from college all in the same year, which is just more impressive to me when I think about how none of them live near each other.

1. Baby!

By far the best part of 2017 was finding out that we were expecting. I had mentally settled in for a long course of trying to conceive when I found out we had, actually. I was a little flustered initially in trying to research just what I could still do as far as training and racing and ultimately decided to pull out of a lot of late-season things I’d signed up for because I couldn’t maintain the training level for it to be a safe idea. As it stands, I’m seven months along now and in a few days I’ll be able to say that my baby is due next month.

Pregnancy Exercises

I completed a “Confidence in Childbirth” class through my hospital recently and while it was a definite commitment, 2.5 hours a class and five classes spread over six weeks, I learned so much. One of the things the instructor really emphasized was doing your exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor and make space by doing kegels and also squats. Lots and lots of squats.

She recommended two an hour. Well, I work full time and I already feel a bit like a balloon with two legs and feel even sillier trying to do squats at work, so I’ve really been neglecting those even though I know I’ll pay for it later with interest.

We had our first doula prenatal meeting last week and one of the things she went over was also exercises including, you guessed it, squats. Lots and lots of squats. But also pelvic hip thrusts, standing lunges, and exercise ball hip openers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m paying for a doula and the birth class was free, or if just hearing it again from another person, but I’ve been doing a lot better with my exercises.

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Awkward pelvic thrusts made more awkward by the near-constant dog presence

I’m supposed to do three sets a day so I do one set when I wake up and before I eat, one around lunchtime, and one before I leave for work. I broke my squats down into two big sets so I get those done before I leave for work as well. This also doesn’t excuse me from my normal exercise so I still need to get in some light weight lifting (light only because my strength seems to have taken a hiatus) and low-impact cardio. Running officially sucks too much to try anymore so I’ve switched to an elliptical-like running machine at my gym that hurts less but still makes me feel tired.

I’m also supposed to spend some time sitting on the floor in different positions. I’m not really sure how these help prepare me for labor, but it’s not too uncomfortable and my dogs think it’s fun when I’m down on their level.

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I’ve got about two months to go so I’m ready to put in the work and see how it benefits the labor process and also recovery.

Framing Bathroom Mirror – Easy DIY

Both of my bathrooms were gifted with enormous, beautiful mirrors held up by clips. I knew I wanted to frame them and looked up a couple of online tutorials to see how I wanted to do it.

I opted not to do a miter joint because I’m not all that handy with a saw and I thought a more casual frame would go nicer with my style and decor.

I picked up my materials at Lowe’s. In all, I used 6 (4 were needed, but I miscalculated and wasted two) 8-foot molding strips plus 2 8-foot sections of paneling for the sides of the mirrors to keep the mirror edges from being visible. If my mirrors were sandwiched between walls I wouldn’t have bothered.

Plus, a caulking gun (no idea where mine went), some Liquid Nails, some paintable caulk, and I still had plenty of high gloss white trim paint leftover. I didn’t buy a saw because we have something like 3, but they had little miter saws for sale for about $20 that would get the job done.

I used the miter saw to cut the edges and then used blue painters tape to tape the pieces up on the mirror to make sure I liked how it looked before I committed. That’s how I figured out I needed the center pieces to be about and inch longer – back to the store for more molding.

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I tend to hang my swimsuits in this bathroom to dry.

The backs of the molding was primed light so I just glued them on with the Liquid Nails and let dry. I had to tape some pieces up and brace them to make sure they wouldn’t wiggle out of place as they dried.

Once dried, I caulked up the seams and smoothed them as best as I could. Once that had dried, I painted two coats of Sherwin Williams high gloss Ultra White before removing the painters tape and using a razor to scrape off any paint spatters on the mirrors.

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No swimsuits, just microfiber towels for drying the cars.

You can see some of the Liquid Nails if you peer into the corners, but overall the mirrors look great and I’m happy with how much fresher the bathroom looks with this easy update.

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Playing it by Ear

Around this time each year is when I start planning my race season for the following year. Mainly because it’s fun but also because it keeps me motivated through the winter (which was really important living in Alaska’s Golden Heart of Darkness). I started doing the same thing again recently when I got a shot of reality from a fitness and pregnancy group I follow.

Namely, I may not be able to bounce right back like I naively think I can. What if I have a c-section? That’s six weeks at least just to be able to heal not to mention the lack of sleep and if I’m able to breastfeed, having to feed her frequently.

And if there’s other factors as well, I have to take that time off to let my body heal without straining it or injuring it further by trying to push it too soon. I’ve recovered from marathons but this is something totally different. I’ve never recovered from birth before, plus I have no idea how different my life is going to be. It’s sort of like traveling – even though I can read all the guidebooks, it’s still going to be different experiencing something for the first time.

It’s hard to hold back from registering for a bunch of races, but even if I lose out on early bird discounts, it’s still better than having to choose to not start and feeling like a failure for it. I registered for a lot of races this fall and winter because I didn’t really think I would get pregnant and now even though it’s dumb, I feel like I’m failing myself by not doing the races.

So instead, I’m going to focus my efforts on keeping myself active and healthy through pregnancy, taking the time and put in the work to recover safely, and stay involved in sports through volunteering. That way I can still be a part of the race and honestly, races and events rely so much on volunteer support.

Holiday Gift Guide – Active Pregnant Ladies

I thought it’d be fun to do sort of a different take on holiday gift guides than most of what I’ve seen. Now that I’m in the third trimester (holy cow, already?) I’m looking forward to our baby getting here, getting to know her, getting used to our new life, and also getting back into shape and racing next summer. I work full-time and I like being active so I thought it’d be good to share some of the things I’ve found that really work for me.

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  1. BaoBei Belly Support Band// $64 // The one pictured is mesh but mine is solid all the way around. The best way I can describe it is like a sports bra (but a comfortable one) for your bump. It doesn’t relieve back pain but it does help keep me feeling like I’m more put together and not just hanging out. Plus it keeps you from showing more skin that you’d like if your shirt rides up.
  2. Oiselle Lux Track Pants// $84 // These are currently on sale for 20% off with the code BOOMBOOM. These are a pre-pregnancy favorite that I now love even more, which I didn’t think possible. They are warm, soft and the coziest thing you can wear. I love Oiselle’s lux line and am thankful that these have been able to transition through pregnancy with me with their wonderful waistband.
  3. Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite Circle Cardigan// $116 // These were on Oprah’s list of favorites last year and I have to say Oprah has really good taste (or at least her shoppers do). Hoodies and most sweaters don’t fit anymore and the weather down here is chilly in the mornings but warm in the afternoons, so an open cardigan is perfect for the weather. This one, although pricey, is so flexible with so many different styles that it’s become a staple.
  4. Blanqi Tights // $64 // So these are currently sold out but the postpartum ones are still available at the same price. They were selling them at 50% off the week of Thanksgiving so I bought a pair, they came, and I bought a second pair. I likely would have bought more but two pairs of black leggings seems like enough. They fit like a firm, warm hug and I like that they come up over the bump and amazingly, do not slip down unlike every other pair of maternity bottoms out there. The way the fabric is knit reminds me a little of Spanx, but these are definitely nicer-looking and you can wear them alone (I am one of those people who wears leggings as pants; I don’t care).
  5. GlowBodyPT 12-week Post Pregnancy Plan // $99 // I got into GlowBodyPT during my month of yoga because I started getting a little bored of the prenatal yoga plans out there and saw she had a prenatal yoga designed to strengthen the muscles used for labor. She offers a completely free prenatal routine as well. Although I’ve still got a few months left being pregnant, I’m already looking forward to being able to get back into work. I liked that the prenatal program really only requires a set of dumbbells, which I have at home, and that there’s videos for every workout in case you need to see the movement performed.
  6. SOAS Racing Biggie Tanks // $45 // I admit I liked their Kona design this year because of the pineapples because pineapples are a thing here in the South, but I’m a big fan of their biggie tank because not only is it cute and comfortable to wear, it’s loose enough that I’m still wearing it. I also like that the front doesn’t go super low and that it covers all the important pieces.
  7. Ashley Horner Losing The Bump // $50 // I’ve been a huge fan of Ashley Horner’s programs since I discovered them while deployed. Not only did I get stronger and faster, but I was able to do my very first pull ups ever. Also, I met Ashley last fall and she is super nice and warm in person which just makes me admire her even more. Her programs are challenging and tough, but get results. Most of them need a training facility to complete the workouts, though, so I may hold off on getting into this until we have our baby in childcare and she’s a little older so I can workout more easily.

 

 

November Yoga Challenge

Well, it’s December which means my self challenge of 30 days of yoga is over. So how did it go? For starters, I am so glad I didn’t promise myself that I’d do full practices or even commit to a set amount of time because freeing myself up meant I was free to do as much or as little as I wanted or needed.

I started off doing full workouts from Youtube prenatal yoga videos. Then I looked for the shortest ones. Then I modified even further and just did the poses I felt like I needed. About halfway through the month I started having a lot of back pain. It wasn’t very severe, but it was uncomfortable and I felt like I was out of alignment so I did a lot of cat and cow and thread the needle poses to try to relieve some of the pressure.

This span of doing a few poses was most of the month, honestly. Towards the end I did feel up to lengthier work and videos, but if I’d tried to do 30 days of yoga that way I’d definitely have failed.

As it is I could have done better, but I could have done worse. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because most of the time I was either raggedy from just waking up or raggedy from a full day of work.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite yoga videos from the month.


I liked this one because it focused on back and shoulders, which is where I’m sorest lately.


I love, love, loved this one because it was challenging but also just fun to do.

 

So what’s up for December? Pretty much just getting through the holidays still working on working out and walking my dogs and trying really hard not to eat all the cookies I’m offered.

 

I went to a baby shower

I typically maintain low expectations for most things Army, that way I’m seldom disappointed and can be pleasantly surprised when things are better than expected. As I mentioned before, I’m also pretty laid back which couples well with the first. So far, though, I have been beyond pleased with all my experiences with the New Parent Support Program and also the Cradle Club classes offered at my local hospital.

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The NPSP hosted an educational baby shower for us recently for a few hours on a Saturday morning. We had speakers and demonstrations on baby wearing, breastfeeding, and an informational session on WIC. We also played games and won prizes and were treated to a healthy cooking session (plus lunch!) by a chef who works on post for the Child and Youth Services.

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Finally, they gave us all a gift bag to take home filled with useful things for a new parents, plus tons of information to read through.

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It was a really good experience and I got even more information on groups and resources in the area that I’m looking forward to putting to good use.