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10 Worst Pregnancy Symptoms, and weight gain isn’t even one of them.

by Juliemara
09.21.12
This post is LONG over due, I started writing it  about 4 months post pardom, it was about half done. Then my phone crashed (died, whatever you want to call that technical annoyance when your phone no longer works properly and looses all it’s stored data at the worst possible time, I guess any time is the worst possible time to loose everything in your phone). I really wanted to write these things down because they were such a huge part of my pregnancy, and hearing from other women who were experiencing the same thing made me feel better and gave me will power to get through the tough parts. I want to pass on the support, but honestly at 11months pp, I’m not sure I can remember all the detail of all ten, and there is no doubt I’d do it all over again one day.twin_pregnancy_3

Top ten worst pregnancy symptoms
(And weight gains not even on the list)In this order …

1)Bell’s palsy

2)Carpal tunnel

3)Puppps

4)Nasal congestion
5)Acid reflux
6)Morning sickness
7)Abdominal separation
8)Swelling
9)Skin issues (other than pupps)
10)Forgetfulness

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#1Bells Palsy
Bells Palsy  is the diagnosis you receive when you have unexplained facial paralysis. Five days pp, my first morning back home with our newly expanded family I was eating a breakfast of cereal and strawberries with milk when I noticed my lips felt awkward as I took each bite. First I looked at my reflection  in my spoon and saw that the right side of my face seemed to droop. I knew that a droopy face was a symptom of a stroke so I was scared, I asked my husband if he thought my face looked strange, he did. I ran to get clothes on and we got in the car to go back to the hospital, it was 8:45am. I wasn’t taking any chances, a stroke left untreated can cause permanent damage. The babies stayed home with the baby nurse we had staying with us for a few weeks.

On the way to the hospital I got in touch with my doctor who told me to go back to labor and delivery, there was a nurse waiting for me, she looked at my face and told me to go to the ER, we did, quickly. The doctor came and saw me quickly and eliminated the diagnosis of a stroke, and said it was most likely Bell’s palsy. The facial paralysis caused by this disorder make it impossible to smile with that side of your face or close your eye. I could still open my eye but not re-close it unless I did it manually, as in push my lid down with my finger.  The cause of Bell’s palsy is mostly unknown but many people get it after childbirth, particularly C-sections or any trauma with high blood loss. Some say it’s brought on by stress, I had all three. They kept me for observation all day, until about 4pm. I was so frustrated, I wanted to be home feeding my babies. They did every test in the world and gave me a prescription for Prednisone. I was told to use eye drops to keep my eye moisturized since I was unable to blink, wear my glasses and wait. My mom  had friends who had Bell’s palsy and had taken a round of Valtrex since Bell’s Palsy is in the same family, the next day I started this medication and I waited. Bells palsy is not painful, but the emotional toll it takes is indescribable. Not being able to smile when you feel happy only makes you sadder, not knowing when it will end is frustrating to say the least. I read online some facial exercises that some people say helped them and that taking vitamin b complex could help, I did both of these. I hated taking photos, I hated that I hated taking photos since these were my babies first days. I hated looking at the photos. I found a few online groups of people suffering from Bel’ls Palsy, some people just told their story and asked for encouragement, some gave suggestions, others told stories of recovery. It was uplifting to read stories of recovery. I just had to hope that like the carpal tunnel this too would reverse it’s self. Four weeks later I started to see improvement and after five weeks I was completely recovered, like nothing had ever happened. But that is a time that I will never forget. I don’t know what made it go away, some doctors say that the faster you start the medications after it’s onset the faster and more  likely a complete recovery is, so if you or anyone you knows gets this get Prednisone, Valtrex and vitamin B-12 complex  (available at health food stores ASAP).

Carpal_tunnel_pregnancy
#2 Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel  is caused by the median nerve that runs through your wrist being constricted by swelling(see pregnancy symptom #9). It started out as a numbness in my pointer finger, around my fifth month. I could feel my finger but I couldn’t feel textures when I touched things,  over a few days it spread to my thumb and middle finger. At night my hands would go numb, I would wake up from the pain. I was advised to wear wrist guards at night to help keep my wrists straight to keep the blood flowing. Some doctors recommend to wear the wrist guards all the time and some say only at night, wearing them during the day doesn’t help. I found that some days it help and some days they didn’t. The numb sensation tuned into more of hyper sensitivity to textures, brushing crumbs from a counter felt like sand paper, running my finger through my hair felt like scraping them across razors. Quickly the uncomfortableness in my fingers turned to throbbing pain in my hands, mostly my right, but eventually my left just as badly. Imagine your hand in a vice all day and all night.  I found that holding frozen ice packs wrapped in a paper towel helped to relive the pain, I had about 10 that I would rotate throughout the day. At first I would alternate hands, but by my seventh month the pain was too much. I could no longer hold anything but ice packs, in both hands, all the time. I even slept with ice packs or frozen water bottles at night, I would wake up from the pain when they were no longer cold.After the girls were born the symptoms quickly started to reverse them selves. By the second day pp I no longer needed the ice packs, the pain subsided after about a week, and within two months all the normal sensation came back to my fingers. My hands and wrists still ache sometimes more than others but it is no more than sore shoulders or an achy back.
 fetal_monitoring
#3 Puppps
Puppps is Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy  or in layman’s terms itchy itchy red rash of pregnancy. It is most common in women pregnant with boys, I was pregnant with two girls, lucky me. I first heard about this condition through my online moms of twins facebook group. A woman in England talked about it and how uncomfortable it was. She posted pictures of what it looked like. So when I woke up one day in my 7th month with itchy forearms I wondered if I had it too, little did I know that would be the last night I slept at all during this pregnancy. I had a OB appointment that day so I asked my doctor about it. She said it wasn’t Puppps because Puppps would be all over my body. By the end of that day, it was all over my body, barely red and itchy beyond comprehension. My perinatologist confirmed later that week that it was Puppps and prescribed me Prednisone (or a weaker, safe for pregnancy version of it), it didn’t help.  I would spend hours scratching, my legs, belly, back, arms. I tried every itch remedy Benadryl spray, oatmeal bath, Eucerin calming body wash, nothing helped.  The worst was once I was in the hospital, I had to be hooked up to fetal monitors which had elastic belts that hugged my belly, three of them, they made me even itchier and yet made it impossible for me to scratch my belly, because every time I did I would move the monitor and they would have to readjust them, which only made the itch worse.
Once I had my epidural I no longer felt the itch and by the time the epidural wore off, the itch was gone. Just like that. About two weeks later, once I was home and recovering the itch started again, this time I called my dermatologist. They gave me a prescription for another round of Prednisone and Oleux.  Oleux is a topical mouse which made the itch subside almost immediately, I didn’t even have to use the whole bottle. Looking back I would have called my dermatologist right away. I don’t know if Oleux is safe for during pregnancy, but that stuff was a lifesaver. Puppps can last up to several months after pregnancy. I think the reason it went away and then came back was due to me taking the round of Prednisone for the Bell’s palsy. Puppps can affect anyone, it may reoccur with every pregnancy or only once, there is no way to know or to prevent it.
#4 Nasal Congestion
So this one doesn’t seam so bad until the medications that you can take don’t work at all to help. The nasal congestion during pregnancy is caused by the swelling of the nasal passages. Just like everything else in your body swells while you are pregnant (see #9) so do the blood vessels in your nose. Difficulty breathing leads to difficulty sleeping, and not being able to sleep is awful when you are pregnant. Here again I tried all the approved medicines – they didn’t work, a Netty pot – just gross, steam showers – they made me itch more and the hot water hurt my hands. Toward the very end, two or three weeks out I started using Affrin nasal spray . I don’t think it’s the best things to use while pregnant , because it is habit forming, but I would use it twice a day as needed and only one or one and half sprays in each nose hole. It helped tremendously! As soon as the babies were here there was no more stuffiness, ahh the miracle of childbirth.
#5 Acid reflux
This symptom was one of the first to set in, probably in month two. At first I kept it at bay by popping Tums one or two six to eight times a day. Them my OB told me that the calcium in them can cause other issues  and I should just take a daily Prilosec. So I did, I tried to take the Prilosec every other day. And when I tried to go more than one day without, whoa, not good.
#6 Morning Sickness
My morning sickness  set in about week four and was a daily battle though about week 16. I would feel the sickest in the morning but it could come back at any time during the day or night if I didn’t eat the right foods at the right time. In the morning I would have to wake up about 4am and eat a large bowl of hearty cereal with fruit and nuts and milk then I could go back to sleep. If I didn’t get up to eat this food before I got hungry in the morning the whole day was a bust. I was lucky with this one, after the first trimester I didn’t have any more morning sickness, just a truckload of other ailments.
 fit_pregnancy
#7 Abdominal separation
I was in pretty good shape when  got pregnant. I probably had 5-10 extra pounds I could have done without but I was strong and energetic. Around month four I had a lot of sharp pains down the center of my belly, I still don’t know exactly what this was from, but I think it was my ab muscles stretching out and apart.  Once the babies were born and my swelling (see #9) went down I still had a very pregnant looking pooch. When I consulted my online twins group I heard the word diastasis recti  for the first time. It is the separation of the right and left abdominal muscles. Diastasis recti is present in babies, but their abdominal muscles close as part of their natural development after some time (maybe a year, but I’m not sure). It’s caused by all sorts of exercise including gymnastics, rowing or paddling even swimming and can be made worse with most ab exercise meant to help tighten your abs.   There are some body builders who try to achieve abdominal separation because of how it makes the abs look stronger despite it’s negative effects on the body, for example back pain, intestinal issues and poor posture and compromised protection of the organs in the lower torso. I know I have this because I did the finger test to check. When I lay on my back and relax my abdomen a crater is formed down the center of my torso. It is wide enough just above my belly button to fit three fingers in side by side and into my abdominal cavity few inches.  There is not much information about this condition or how to fix it other than when you get a tummy tuck get your abs sewn back together.  I recently found a regimen online that has some very positive review and am considering trying it out. When I do I promise I’ll share my progress. It’s called the Tupler technique.
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#8 Forgetfulness
When you become pregnant your body increases its blood supply by about 20%, but a lot of the blood that your body already had also goes to work growing and supporting the baby. Which means that there is less blood available to your brain for use. SO “mommy brain” as it is called is a real thing. I had it bad. I would constantly forget things. I use to be able to remember lists in my head, no more. If I didn’t write it down forget about it, literally. I would be told something and later on swear on my life that no one ever told me that very thing.  The problem with “mommy brain” it doesn’t go away after pregnancy, at least not for me. The after pregnancy part of mommy brain I believe is due more to having a million things to think about, like feeding schedules and who had their diaper changed last, than blood working elsewhere. Either way I’m sure my husband isn’t the only one who wonders how I remember which way is up.
 twin_sling
#9 Swelling
I thought I had gained a lot of weight while I was pregnant. When they weighed me at my last Drs appointment I had gained 62 lbs, about 5 pounds over my recommended weight gain.  But as it turns out most of my bulk and weight was swelling and water because within two months after having the babies I weighed 133lbs! That was less than I did when I got pregnant. It was great, I hadn’t been that thin in years. My clothes were fitting great and I felt skinny, which was a nice feeling after feeling and looking like a whale for so long. But while I looked skinny my body felt like a wreak. All that added weight put a lot of strain on my nerves and joints. I lost a lot of feeling in the nerves in my legs, particularly the sides of my knees all the way down to my big toe. To this day I don’t have much sensation in the side of my big toe! Also A few weeks post pardom while my ligaments and joints were working themselves back into place something happened to my hip which made it very painful to apply any pressure on my right foot. It was so hard to hear your baby screaming down the hall and have to walk at a snails pace to get to her in order not to double over in pain. That lasted about two weeks then like everything else just reversed itself.
  twin_pregnancy_2
#10 Skin issues (other than the Puppps)
Being pregnant gave me little red dots all over my arms and chest, the dermatologist said they were tiny blood vessel ends due to the increased blood volume in my body and that they would go away after pregnancy. They did and they weren’t painful, just ugly.

I was not one of those women who just loved being pregnant.  Being pregnant was an uncomfortable nightmare. I even said to my sister that if I had to be pregnant for every kid I wanted two would be the limit.  I didn’t forget all the aliments and pain as soon as the girls were born, I don’t think I ever will. But I would do it all over again in a heartbeat for my two little peanuts. I wonder what another pregnancy will be like, just as bad, I hope not. I just hope, if it is, I have twins again!

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Shani permalink
    September 21, 2012

    A few months ago, at lunch, you were telling me about how you wanted to post this but couldn’t find it because your phone had crashed. I implored you for some details and very happily took your advice home. Though you didn’t know it, I was beginning my battle with morning sickness and your advice helped me tremendously!

    For that I thank you. It’s also good to know what I have in store. Thanks for the links!

    I hope others will benefit from your wise words.

    With love,

  2. creative pixie permalink
    September 21, 2012

    A lovely post that brought back memories of my 2 pregnancies. Some people have a rose tinted view of pregnancy so it’s it’s good to hear someone tell it like it is.

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