This pregnancy has been filled with highs and lows. It has been just a little over a week since we first found out that I was a) pregnant and b) 6 months along. And while we have been greeted at every turn with smiles, hugs and congratulations - it took us 4 full days on own our before we could find a truly happy moment. Finding out I was pregnant tested my faith, my courage, my conceptions of my value, my capabilities as a woman, my strength as a supportive partner, my insecurities, and my love for a life that I helped to create.
PRIOR TO MARCH 2019:
Work had been stressful. School had been stressful. Life had been stressful. Stress is bad for your health and it makes the body do weird things. This is what I chalked up every uneasiness I had about my health for the past few months. Lesson learned: don't put your health aside - that must always come first. I hadn't been sleeping the best or eating the right things. I would sit for too long, not make enough effort to move about and indulge in way too many sweets. But that meant when things were going a bit funny with my health, I didn't bat an eye. That's what you get for treating yourself poorly Jara, some days just won't be as good - my eternal conclusion. And I foolishly found peace in that. Even when I had a pretty bad cold in January (I even had to take 2 sick days off of work which isn't common for me) I home remedied myself and decided rest was all I needed.
MISSING CLUES AND IGNORED SIGNS
Some might be curious about my time of the month and ask how I could not have seen that as a sign of pregnancy. Health wise, irregular periods have been a part of my womanhood story from the very beginning. There were times when it would be gone for months and I couldn't naturally produce one. Some years were better than others and in my recent years, it had levelled out better as I aged. But that doesn't mean it was perfect and there's nothing like more stress and poor lifestyle choices to throw it out of whack once in a while. I had a late period in Sept 2018 and another in early November 2018. To me, I was late but not pregnant because it did eventually come. In fact, I experienced what I believed to be another period in Decemeber. Again, there were times in my life that my average cycle was more in the 30 - 40 days range instead of the healthier 28 - 30 days. January had some irregularity but it didn't go entirely missing. However, by the time February and March rolled around my suspicions grew and clued in that something just wasn't right. The lesson learned is that the missed one in October 2018 was my one small sign - all it takes is just one and I too casually brushed it aside.
I also often get asked about whether I experienced morning sickness, food cravings or aversions to certain foods. I was lucky enough to either ignore or minimally be affected by most of these. As a lactose sensitive person who doesn't live a dairy free life, I often indulged and was faced with the consequences of my decisions after. So anytime I was a little nauseated, I concluded I must have eatten a little dairy recently and that explains my sickness. In fact, it reached a point where I started using lactose pills to compensate for my food choices, clearly not realizing that this might be related to something more. My interest in pizza was mildly strengthened for a while but ultimately, I wouldn't have considered it a true pregnancy craving and more of a 'I eat poorly during this stressful time' craving.
There were some physical signs that I found curious but again, not important enough to address. My memory slowly became a little more foggy. I had a harder time keeping work straight and my focus was challenged. I even had a colleague joke to me a few weeks prior if I was pregnant and experiencing 'baby brain' because my attention level just wasn't up to par. I, of course, laughed it off and just summarized the work stress I had been under. But there was no denying that my sharp memory took a nosedive as this pregnancy progressed.
I frequently remarked to David an eventual classic line of 'My uterus hurts'. I would say this as I felt cramps, often blurted out randomly such as getting out of the car, walking through the grocery store, sitting on the couch. It became a small running joke between us. We would laugh at my complaints, sometimes he would encourage me to get myself checked out but I reassured us both that it was related to period cramping and that it wouldn't last for long. I tagged on 'My vagina hurts' as well whenever I felt, what I later learned to be, pelvic pressure. All jokes in the moment but signs that we now reflect on and hit ourselves on the head for not considering more seriously.
My bladder control was also diminishing - as in, I would pee myself when I sneezed or had a harder time holding it in. This sign was likely one of the only ones that persisted long enough that it eventually became concerning and led me to consider a diabetic self-diagnosis that jump started my final initiative to get medical help. So while horribly delayed in clueing in to this one, it was eventually the catalyst to this journey.
My activity level hadn't increased but I felt like I wasn't eating quite as much in the earlier months of the year. So while it wasn't healthy, my initial weight loss was encouraging. Then, at a certain point despite added efforts, I couldn't lose any more weight. In addition, I felt like I couldn't hold my stomach in any further and my clothes started to get tighter despite no significant weight gain. This confused me but didn't alarm me as my weight loss journey has always had its ups and downs. Obviously by the time these factors stood out in my mind, I was well into my hidden pregnancy and it explained the body changes I was going through. By far the tipping point from a physial perspective was the appearance of the linea nigra. Foolishly even with that becoming more apparant, I knew that it was a indicator found on pregnant women but was in continual denial that I had become that very same preganant woman. It was just an oddity that I summarized as coincidental.
All in all, if I had listened to my body a little more closely, there were enough signs stacked together to have hit the alarm in my brain a little sooner. Maybe I wouldn't have tested right after my missed period in October but I want to believe that in another world, I would have clued in at the beginning of the year if I had paid attention to my own self. It has highlighted to me the importance of care for my body - what I eat, what activity I partake in, and what changes I experience. I use my story now as a learning moment for my future self and for other women who too casually run through young adult working life to give themselves pause. I certainly won't be soo blind to it all should I get a second chance at this someday.
*Sigh* the things you tell yourself...