I’m pregnant with baby #2… and IT’S A GIRL!
We shared the news on Halloween (see below), when I was 13 weeks pregnant.
I found out I was pregnant on August 27th when I took a home pregnancy test. I couldn’t believe my eyes to see two lines! It was three days before I was expecting my period so I don’t know what compelled me to take a test, (well, I take that back- if you’ve ever been “trying” then you know the waiting game is so tough). The second line on the test was very faint, but it was there! When Ryan got home that day, he was playing a puzzle game with Laurel on the floor in our living room. I sat down across from them and said, “So today I did a thing.” Ryan looked at me and said “You took a pregnancy test?” and I just stared at him with a goofy smile as tears welled up in both of our eyes. He asked, “It was positive?” and I said “Yes!” We both stood up and gave each other the biggest hug.
I called my doctor the next day and she ordered blood work which I had done that day. It was confirmed, I was pregnant! I went back two days later to make sure my HCG levels were rising appropriately and, to our relief, they were. Phew. I was pregnant and it was an incredible feeling.
TMI Details If you're currently trying to get pregnant, you'll appreciate these TMI details. If you're not sure why I'm sharing this information or you're thinking to yourself, "This is TMI" then go ahead and skip on to the next section. I want to add that I'm not a doctor, I'm just sharing my personal experience in hopes that it can be helpful for someone trying to get pregnant. I was testing for ovulation using these strips and got a positive on CD15, (which means that I likely ovulated 24-48 hours following that positive). I assumed that I ovulated the next day, on CD16, which was "normal" for me since my cycles are typically 30 days. I want to note here that the fertility app I was using did not accurately predict when I ovulated, which is something to keep in mind if you've been trying for a while. Toward the end of the month, (CD27, 11DPO and 3 days before my projected period), I took a pregnancy test and got a positive, a very very faint positive but nonetheless, it was positive! The next day (CD28, 12DPO, 2 days before my projected period) I had my HCG level checked and it was 26. Although an HCG of 26 technically meant pregnant, it was on the lower end, which made me very nervous. My HCG was checked again 48 hours later and it was up to 92! This was a great sign since you typically want to see it double every 48 hours. I continued to take pregnancy tests almost daily (overkill, I know) until I was 4 weeks + 5 days pregnant, since that day the test strip on the pregnancy test was finally as dark as the control line. The lines were progressively getting darker each day (a good sign that HCG is rising) but had never actually matched the control and it was driving me crazy. CD = cycle day DPO = days past ovulation HCG = the "pregnancy" hormone
(Warning: I write about my previous miscarriage which might be a trigger for some people)
You might be wondering why my doctor ordered an HCG level to confirm my pregnancy. HCG is the “pregnancy hormone” (a level of 25 = pregnant) and you want to see it double about every 48 hours. You’re probably thinking, my doctor didn’t check that. So what’s the deal? Well, in March of this year I found out I was pregnant! Ryan and I were ecstatic, as it was a baby conceived the first month after my period returned from giving birth to Laurel (about 10 months postpartum). We were actually in Aruba at the time so we joked that we might have to name the baby Aruba, chuckle. Anyways, this was truly a miracle because we had traveled a long, stressful road to conceive Laurel. Needless to say, we felt very lucky this time around.
Our luck took a turn for the worst when I went in to have blood work done, they checked my HCG, and I received a call from my doctor four days later telling me that the numbers weren’t looking good and I would likely miscarry. Heart. Broken. From that day on, I was in and out of the doctor’s office almost every other day for more blood work and ultrasounds. Oddly, my blood work wasn’t reassuring but it was also keeping hope alive, which put me in a really weird place emotionally. I didn’t know whether to feel sad or happy, hopeful or hopeless. You see, my HCG levels were rising, but not as fast or as high as they should have been. We couldn’t really see anything on the ultrasound but my doctor kept telling me it was probably just too early. Until one of the last ultrasounds, we actually saw a gestational sac, a very good sign! That hope was crushed the next day when I started bleeding, at 7 1/2 weeks pregnant. I knew what this bleeding meant. Although I bled in the first trimester with Laurel, when I started bleeding this time, it felt different.
That miscarriage really rocked my world. At that time and the time following it, I felt that I didn’t properly grieve my loss. I was numb during the weeks in and out of the doctor’s office since I truly didn’t know how to feel. I wanted to just allow myself to be happy and hopeful, but I couldn’t help but guard my heart from potential bad news. It hurts me to type this now, but I don’t know how else to explain the feeling of, dare I say, relief, when I started bleeding and I was no longer in this emotional limbo. I was able to just let go of the hope. Because I went from being emotionally numb to then relieved, I felt this looming grief that I didn’t know how to deal with. It wasn’t until I received a gift in the mail, a gift more meaningful than I can really explain, that I was able to purge my emotions and confront my feelings head on. I’ll explain more about this gift in another post.
Baby #2 is due May 8th 2019, (12 days after Laurel turns 2!)
4-5 weeks: I would feel a dull ache in my lower abdomen that was pretty constant. This ache was different than cramps, as it wasn’t painful. I also felt slightly bloated in that same area, sort of like an “impending period” feeling. I would wake up in the middle of the night some nights wide awake. I’m not sure if this was due to excitement or the pregnancy, is pregnancy insomnia a thing?
6-12 weeks: When I opened my eyes the morning of week 6, I felt nauseous. The nausea was constant, 24/7 for the next 6 weeks. It was ironic because I remember complaining to Ryan when we first found out I was pregnant that “I didn’t feel anything.” Boy would I soon eat my words. I basically felt like I was in a constant state of being hungover, minus the fun stories from the night before. The nausea subsided during week 12 and it was a miraculous feeling.
We had our first ultrasound when I was 6 weeks + 5 days pregnant and we were able to see and hear the baby’s heartbeat! It was magical and healthy at 136 bpm. This ultrasound wasn’t standard but my doctor agreed to get me in early for reassurance, given my history of the miscarriage. I was so so thankful for this.
Our next ultrasound was when I was 10 weeks + 1 day pregnant and we saw a squirmy little baby wiggle and stretch his/her legs. Laurel seemed to be watching the ultrasound screen and know that we were looking at a baby. We have the ultrasound picture on our fridge and she constantly points to it and announces, “Baby!”
At 12 weeks, I received the results of some blood work I had done, which also revealed the sex of our baby! Keeping this information secret all day until Ryan got home was hard but his reaction to the news was priceless. He was genuinely happy to hear that we are having another little girl and it melted my heart to see him so excited.
I take a prenatal vitamin, a prenatal fish oil supplement, and a Vitamin D supplement. I used these same supplements before, during, and after my pregnancy with Laurel, so I will continue to take them now. I take them with my breakfast, since taking vitamins on an empty stomach can cause nausea. I’ll likely continue to take them throughout breastfeeding and beyond. Remember that it’s important to take prenatal vitamins even if you eat a healthy diet. With increased needs during pregnancy, it can be difficult to get all of the micronutrients you need, especially if you’re experiencing fatigue, nausea, or vomiting. Although it’s never too late to start a supplement regimen, ideally you’d start these before you get pregnant.
Foods I’m Eating
This pregnancy has thrown me for a loop because I am actually craving things this time around. How cliche – I’ve been loving pickles! Since most of this trimester I’ve been feeling like I’m constantly hungover, I want anything and everything greasy or fried, which I know is the opposite of what would make me feel better. I’ve definitely indulged more this time around, which makes me feel a little guilty, but I remind myself that it’s temporary. Once the nausea started getting less intense around week 11, I was consistently incorporating salads back into my diet. Before that, even though I was feeling ick, I would make smoothies with veggies like cauliflower and spinach, since drinking them was easier than eating them! Simple berry smoothies were my go-to, a spin off from my smoothie bowl.
Although I’m not typically one to count calories, I remind myself that I don’t actually need extra calories in the first trimester. Instead my focus is more on making sure I’m eating foods rich in calcium (nuts and cheese), folate (brussels sprouts and broccoli), Vitamin D (eggs), probiotics (yogurt), and omega 3’s (salmon and skipjack tuna). I’m also focusing on drinking extra water throughout the day. I find that cooler weather leaves me less thirsty, so I make sure to always have my water bottle with me as a reminder to drink. As I come into my second trimester, I’ll add an extra 350ish calories to my day, which is a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit. Third trimester calls for an extra 450ish calories per day, just when your belly gets big enough to make eating extra difficult 🙂 I gained 35 pounds total during my pregnancy with Laurel, and so far I’ve gained about 5 pounds. I’m curious to see how this pregnancy will be similar and different from my last one!
Foods I’m Avoiding
Once I found out I was pregnant, I made sure I was avoiding the foods not recommended during pregnancy, to include alcohol, excessive caffeine, high mercury seafood, under-cooked eggs, raw seafood, and cold cuts (all of which are favorites of mine!)
Alcohol: Because doing a randomized control trial on pregnant women looking at the effects of varying levels of alcohol intake on their fetus is unethical, there’s no research that says “x amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe.” I personally don’t think it’s worth the risk, so I avoid it completely and that’s what I recommend. If I’m going to a gathering, I’ll bring flavored sparkling water so I can still have a festive drink with my friends. You can also order a “mocktail” when out at a bar or restaurant, especially if you’re not ready to share your news and you don’t want people getting suspicious!
Excessive caffeine: Non-pregnant me has one cup of coffee in the morning. With Laurel, I avoided coffee during my first trimester and had 1/2-1 cup in the morning after that. This time around, I limit my coffee to about 1/2 cup in the morning and fill the rest of my mug with frothed whole milk, yum! As the weather has been cooling down, I’ll drink hot tea in the evenings. I’ll choose herbal teas without caffeine, like Earth Mama Red Raspberry Leaf tea or Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Tea, both of which are delicious, safe during pregnancy, and contain Raspberry Leaf which is nourishing to the uterus.
High mercury seafood: During pregnancy, you’ll want to avoid high mercury seafood like shark, swordfish, ahi and albacore tuna, and king mackerel. Mercury can build up in your body and become toxic to your growing baby. Therefore, choosing low mercury alternatives like skipjack or chunk light tuna, tilapia, salmon, shrimp, scallops, crab, and others make for a safer choice. Remember that low-mercury seafood is an incredibly healthy protein choice for you and your baby!
Under-cooked or raw eggs/meat/seafood: You want to avoid under-cooked or raw foods that have a high risk of contamination, such as eggs and meats. Imagine how awful it is to get food poisoning, now imagine that while you’re pregnant. Not only is it extremely uncomfortable for you, but it’s deadly for a fetus. Again, not worth the risk. You can still eat sushi if you order cooked options (like a baked scallop roll or shrimp tempura roll) and avoid the ahi tuna (due to the mercury). You can ask the waiter if they would make you a custom roll since you’re pregnant, and they’ll likely oblige. I usually substitute cooked salmon or shrimp where raw tuna might be. Also, choose pasteurized eggs or cook them all the way through to avoid illness from salmonella. Did you know that hens lay eggs out of the same hole they poop from? Sorry for the visual, but that’s why it’s important to cook your eggs when you’re pregnant!
Cold cuts/hot dogs: For the same reasons you want to avoid raw and under-cooked meats during pregnancy, you’ll want to avoid cold cuts and hot dogs. You can, however, heat up your cold cuts in the microwave until steaming (about 15 seconds) then throw together a sandwich headed to the panini press. My favorite is a hot turkey “Reuben” with sauerkraut, avocado, and muenster cheese on an everything bagel.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women exercise for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. I highly encourage women to continue exercising if they were before getting pregnant and to start if they weren’t active before. Most women can safely adopt a walking regimen during pregnancy, after of course talking to their doctor beforehand.
Before I found out that I was pregnant, I signed up for a relay race with the workout group that I’m a member of. I ended up running my leg of the race (4.6 miles) while almost 9 weeks pregnant and it felt great. I won’t lie, training was very difficult because I was feeling consistently nauseous at that time. I basically swore to myself that I would never run again after the rely was over. I was never really “a runner” before I started training for that race. I’m not sure if I consider myself one now, as I would definitely prefer a spin class or yoga session over running.
For now, I workout 3-4 days per week, mostly with the group I mentioned earlier. Workouts include cardio and strength training, as well as yoga. I also take Laurel for walks around the city most days. It feels so good to move and get the blood flowing when you’re pregnant. I know from my pregnancy with Laurel that exercising helped me to prevent the common aches and pains that women often complain about. It helps combat constipation and it can even help you sleep better. There really is no down-side to staying active, pregnant or not!