Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Redefining Normal

It’s been a little over three months since Jonathan and I found out we were expecting. As most parents know, and we are learning, everything that used to define “normal” changes dramatically.

The beginning of the redefinition
Like most pregnant women in their first trimester, I was exhausted. For the first time in my life, I took naps and went to bed around 7 pm. In mid-May, we met with our OB/GYN at 10 weeks, and realized that she also delivered our ring bearer. :) Small world. During that appt, we discovered that my blood pressure had shot up rapidly due to the pregnancy. So much so that they immediately put me on blood pressure medication to help regulate things. The medication slowed me down even more (I couldn’t believe that was possible!) and I went from being 100% productive to about 15%.

Under Dr. Gage’s direction, I cut back my hours at the office, and slowed photography to almost a stand still. I slept between 12-16 hours a day. Two or three naps became the norm. It became a pretty significant accomplishment just to do one load of wash or clean the bathroom. Multi-tasking felt like a thing of the past.

Most of June and July were spent sleeping and with my feet up. Relay was a distinct challenge this year, given the 93 degrees and my complete lack of energy.

Normal was redefined as a “slower pace of life”.

I can't eat what?!?
Part of the treatment for the high blood pressure was a radical way of changing the food I eat – removing dairy and wheat from my diet. I love both of them. Any and every type of cheese, homemade bread, milk, ice cream…all on the “off limits” list. Never mind the fact that I started craving frosted flakes with milk. I cut back nearly all my caffeine, down to a can a day of a diet pop. Most artificial stuff is gone from my diet, and I’ve learned about the joy of real food – very little non-fat or low-fat. If I am going to eat something, I get to eat the real thing and love it. The artificial stuff used in non-fat and low-fat foods can sometimes be worse than the original.

Normal was redefined as lots of veggies and meats, chicken breasts and fish. Sorbet. A ton of ice water. Fresh fruit and oats and brown sugar in the oven. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve actually lost weight during the pregnancy. Jonathan’s been so patient as I’ve changed our diets over completely…we’re probably about 75% dairy and wheat free now.

In the last three weeks, my hobbit-like feet and ever-tightening wedding band signaled that I was starting to retain fluids. It wasn’t surprising that I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome (which evidently affects about 25% of pregnant women). It’s caused my hands and left arm to go numb, especially at night. Jonathan and I finally switched places in bed, because I kept smacking him in the head when I’d try to shake out the numbness in my sleep. Ice packs have helped considerably…and sleeping splints are probably in the future!

We had a pretty significant scare last week…which had us both up around midnight for an hour or so on Tuesday night. Severe cramping and 24 hours of “digestive trauma” which had me in the doc’s office for the 3rd week in a row. Flashbacks to the famous norovirus (also known as the cruise virus) that our whole family had in 2002…where we renamed our place in Hawaii as the pukapupa suite. It wasn’t pretty.

It was a scary experience…I kept wanting to call 911. Jonathan kept reminding me that I would get someone just like him (he’s an EMT for the Tenino Fire Dept) and I should just be happy with him. We laughed later when we realized what we must have sounded like (especially me, when I was screaming hysterically and not making much sense for about half that time and Jonathan was trying to understand just what I was saying in my panic and at midnight, he didn't speak crazy-woman-ese very well) since the windows to the house were wide open.

After we got the test results back this week, I learned I do not have celiac disease (a complete wheat allergy). However, the tests showed I am wheat-sensitive, and the sandwich I had the night of the cramping probably led to the digestive problems.

Let’s have a moment of silence for all the bread and baked goods that I will have to cut back on in life. They will find happy homes in someone else's tummy.

The silver lining in last week’s sickness? When I became dehydrated, all the fluids that caused the carpal tunnel drained out of my hands and arms. They didn’t go numb for two days! Honestly, I was pretty happy when they went numb again…it meant that things were working themselves out digestively!

Things I’ve learned

  • I learned that morning sickness isn’t just in the morning, and that 43 miles each way is a long commute if you have it.
  • I learned that everything is tolerable, even if it is uncomfortable.
  • I learned that things improve when you enter the second trimester. You go from about 15% productivity to about 25%.
  • I learned that my husband is extremely patient and loving and willing to get up with me late at night if I don’t feel good or if I accidentally hit him with an ice pack while he is trying to sleep. (Jonathan added this, but it is definitely true)
  • I learned, while we are speaking of Jonathan, what an angel he truly is. Picking up all the slack from stuff I couldn't do as efficiently (laundry, dishes, cleaning the house) and not complaining. Sometimes he would remind me that I can say "thank you" more...but that's about it.
  • I learned that it’s okay to slow down. A lot. To the point you almost feel like you’re going backwards. And it's okay.
  • I learned that normal is more a state of mind.
  • I learned that people will step in to help if you just ask...from Relay to the house to work to photography to redefining normal.
  • I learned that through some of the scariest moments, you simply have to trust that God has His hand in it, even if nothing makes sense at the time.
  • I learned that hearing Angus’s heartbeat is the best remedy for a week’s worth of not sleeping.
  • I learned that I still have a lot to learn.


Elizabeth Ann said...

What a beautiful post- the love you feel for your husband and child is so obvious!
Much love, hugs, and prayers go from me to you.
You are going to make such a fantastic mom!

Unknown said...

Amen, my pregnant sister. These are all things I'm learning too. I needed this wisdom today. Thank you, Shelley!

Anonymous said...

hi shelley!! i'm so glad that you are writing about your pregnancy as well. i'm about 2-3 weeks from being out of this first trimester & i am EXHAUSTED!! all the time. i feel so lazy, but i'm so thankful that my hubby is understanding. i love reading this & knowing that i am not the only one. thanks for sharing! :)

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