Friday, October 7, 2011
As the second trimester turned into the third, I slowly started noticing more fatigue, low energy, and more frequent days feeling 'run down.' I finally was able to quit my cleaning job and go back to Trader Joe's full time. However, I don't think I've been able to complete a single full week because there's always been something popping up- feeling unwell here and there and needing to come in late or go home early or stay home all day, coming in late for upset stomach, dizziness, or even because of restlessness the night before, leaving early for appointments, or (most frequently, irritatingly, and painfully) leaving early due to intense back pain.
I started feeling lower and middle back pain pretty early on in my pregnancy and corrected it by adding extra pillows here and there at night. But a couple months ago, I started getting this pain in the middle of my back to the right of my spine. The best way to correct it was to lie down with my growing belly propped up with a small pillow, or with a small portion of my Boppy pregnancy body pillow. But this pain didn't only occur at night. It started happening more and more frequently and growing more intense. I started noticing the many things that triggered the pain- lifting, bending, carrying anything (especially in my right hand), walking my dog, standing or sitting too long, writing (and doing any artwork at work, especially since I usually bend forward when creating signs) and driving. I finally went to a physical therapist who discovered it was actually my rib! This boosted my confidence in my intuition, because I had initially thought it could be my rib!
It turns out the rib just under my breast was loose, and putting pressure on the back of the rib. He explained how the hormones meant to relax a pregnant mother's joints and ligaments in order to loosen up for birth were causing my rib to easily pop out of alignment, especially as I grow bigger. He was able to put the rib back in place, and sent me home with some cautionary measures- I have to ice my rib once a day when the pain acts up, I have to wear a stretchy belt around my ribs, just under my breasts (especially at work) to help keep them properly in place, I have to be careful about lifting or carrying anything, especially when using my right arm, I have to walk my dog with my left arm, I have to squat instead of bend to pick things up, and I have to get up and walk around or lie on my side if I start hurting after sitting too long. Despite these precautions, I still have had the rib come loose, and have had to re-visit him a couple of times. He also says the farther along I go, the harder it will be to keep that rib in place!
This has been a real struggle while at work! Everything I do is with my right arm! I quickly discontinued work at the register (no standing too long or lifting those heavy milk gallons!), started asking for help when I drop something, need to reach something, lift something, or assist a customer in a way that requires lifting or moving heavy boxes. I took up my fellow sign artist Sharon's offer to push my cart and load my groceries into my car after work when I need to buy some things, which was a real life saver! But even so, I still can't avoid irritating my rib completely, especially since I use my right arm to make signs at my desk, which is all I have left to my abilities, and even that hurts after too long!
I started to realize I needed to set a date for my last day, sooner rather than later. I was happy that I had managed to stay as long as I had, and since my OB wasn't giving me any recommendations on when to take leave, I decided upon October 7th...well, that's today! It's just about a month before my due date, and the next two days I'll be at a childbirth education class, so it seemed like the perfect time to take leave. Unfortunately, I wasn't even able to make it to my last day of work! This morning, while I was walking my dog, I suddenly got this sharp pain in the left middle of my back, which grew more intense upon inhalation. It was hard to make it back home, and continued to be painful during inhalation, even after lying on my side for awhile. I remember a similar occurrence just before my right side back pain started acting up, so I wonder if that was the feeling of the rib on the other side coming loose, and my lungs pushing it out and causing the pain! After going back to bed for a couple hours, and then taking it easy throughout today, my back pain has subsided. The pain with breathing has subsided as well, although it lasted quite a bit longer than it did when this occurred on my right side. Strange!
So enough about my rib and pains, what else is new?
Well, I have retried my 'fort' oddly enough (if you remember from this post) and am now sleeping on a folded up comforter on top of the mattress with just my boppy body pillow that I take with me as I roll from one side to the other throughout the night (my hips still hurt regularly each night) and my memory foam pillow under my head, propped up by a small pillow. The 'fort' was the only thing making me comfortable during my second trimester, but as I've gotten bigger over the past couple months, it's become more difficult to get in and out of bed when surrounded by a mountain of pillows. This new set up is also easier on my rib when I get in and out of bed, and when I roll over.
I got my first stretch marks this trimester! Can you see them in the picture below?
And speaking of growing and stretching, I find that I fit into less and less of my clothing every day. Oddly enough, I still fit into a few larger non-pregnancy shirts, stretch pants, and pajamas, but have had to retire two of my three maternity jeans! In the warmer weather, it was easy to wear flowy dresses. But now that it's fall and getting quite chilly, my clothing of choice is stretchy jammies while I'm at home, or stretchy pull-on (non-maternity) jeggings, t-shirt, and sweater on the rare occasion that I go out somewhere. I have to admit, as an over-heated pregnant lady, I'm really happy to see fall! I usually despise cold weather, but I'm running much warmer than ever before, and the idea of bundling up all snug sounds wonderful!
I've become a lot more emotional this trimester. I don't think I did much crying during the first two. I had dips in my mood, and felt bummed out or just low on emotional energy, but this trimester I've had full-on crying spells! I was so stressed out and in pain one day when I first started getting that rib pain. It was the day after my OB told me physical pain was no means for her to recommend me a day in the future to take leave, and I came in to work and was inconsolable after only an hour! I called it an emotional breakdown, and went home for the day to relax, breathe, meditate, journal, and work out my fears, anxieties, and angers. That was when I made my decision to select a day to take leave myself. I felt a lot better about work after this, and much more in control of my situation. However, since then I've been easily upset and cry when I'm under a lot of stress or start feeling anxious. But I guess that's normal! I'm a pregnant, hormonal lady, I guess I shouldn't expect much else!
Baby is still just as squirmy as ever! She's no longer doing flips and somersaults, but she still squirms, kicks, and even hiccups! The bigger she gets, the crazier her movements feel! She gets hiccups about 4 times a day, and must not like them because that is when she squirms around the most! I can always feel the weight of her little body just under my skin, and can even feel her tiny foot kick out (and yes, into my ribs on occasion!). Good news: according to our last ultrasound about a week ago, she is head-down and in position for birth!
And I've recently started feeling Braxton Hicks contractions. They were hard for me to notice at first, because I just thought it was the baby moving. But as they've grown stronger (and after a recent non-stress test confirmed that I am indeed having contractions) I've been able to tell the difference. They feel like a sudden weight and pressure growing stronger and stronger in my lower uterus, and then the rest of my belly gets really hard. They don't happen too regularly, except for when I'm in the car. For some reason being in the car makes me contract about every 10 minutes! My OB assured me that's ok, since my non-stress test had very healthy results, and the contractions don't hurt and do eventually stop.
I do feel much better about them now that I'm actually on leave! Now if I am worried about contracting too much, or if they seem to be getting too strong, I can lie on my side whenever I need to. And if that horrible rib pain acts up, I can lie down for that as well! I have a lot I want to get done during my month of leave before baby arrives- lots of books to read, lots of 'nesting' to do (I've already been participating in quite a bit of nesting already!), and lots of preparing and relaxing. It's hard to believe that in just 2 more weeks, baby will be full term! And in just over 4 weeks, we will be at her due date!