That Elusive Pregnancy Glow

Let’s take a moment and go back. We’ll go back to before we grew up, back when we believed that acne went away once you grew out of puberty, back when we thought there were only two or three positions for sex, before we knew about cover-ups, and tampons, and all the other harsh realities that seemed to attack us women all at once.

Are you going back? Okay, let me know when you reach that part of your brain where you thought all pregnant women had this glow. Their hair was thick and vibrant and seemed like they were starring in shampoo commercials, their skin was flawless and dewy, all their weight went to their bellies and they were smiling and dancing and glamorous.

Stop there.

The wonderful, mystical pregnancy glow that transforms all of us women into unicorns. I’ve seen the movies, read the articles in the magazines, I have seen the commercials. What I haven’t seen, is this glow in my own pregnancy.

Considering the first symptoms of my pregnancy were constant and obnoxious gas and an abundance of acne. The bloating made me feel like I was showing until the constipation passed and then I realized my baby was a backed up food baby and not my actual baby showing. All of these things made me feel like this glow that they kept mentioning was like trying to spot Big Foot. I had heard the rumours, but had never seen the proof and at this point, it was beginning to feel more like a myth than anything else.

So, I get it ladies. You are reading through this, pregnant, feeling a little swollen and blue and wondering Girl what the hell and I reading this for? Well, I have a secret.

As elusive as that glow is, it is attainable!

Scrap what you thought it was. Throw away all those articles that tell you the hormones will do it all for you and all you have to do is sit back and marvel at your new beauty. Give up on hopes of just rolling out of bed and suddenly looking and feeling like a super model.

That pregnancy glow is all a state of mind. It’s what happens when you stop frowning at that ginormous pimple that has sprouted right between your eyes. It’s what happens when you take off the track pants and put on a bodycon dress that shapes your body and shows off that beautiful little (or big, depending on where you are) bump. It’s what happens when you fart on your husband/partner and then laugh about it. It’s what happens when your partner pushes out his belly and you take matching pictures. The glow happens… when you feel it!

One day you will push through that uncomfortable feeling, all those imperfections you were so focused on suddenly blur, and you will see yourself as this superwoman. You will push and strive for strength because suddenly you will realize that you want to be the kind of woman your baby will look up to. You want to be the kind of woman your child believes can shake and move the world.

That glow is what happens when you realize what you are made of, and each one of us is made up of more than we can ever imagine! There is no strength on this earth as powerful as a confident and determined woman!

The problem is, so many of us are blind to our strength, our eyes only glued on our weaknesses. We wait for validation, we wait for permission, we wait for the glow to come to us.

I feel like a lot of us are so overwhelmed in pregnancy. There is all this information we have to take in, all these tests we have to take, all this little worries and fears that creep into our minds about our unborn babies, we forget about ourselves. We forget that our happiness is as important to the growth and development of our babies as so much else. We forget our strength and fall to our weaknesses.

I’ve pretended to have strength, just as often as I’ve pretended to know what I am doing. I pretend I am okay on days when I feel like I am going to break down. I pretend I have all the answers when I am not even sure I fully understand the questions.

Don’t we all?

Fall into your strengths, maybe it will make all the pretending we do a little bit easier, make that glow a little more attainable.

1st Doctor’s Appointment

So, you’ve taken the pregnancy test and gotten your YES, what now?

The first thing I did after taking my at home pregnancy test, even before I decided to tell my husband the good news about finally getting pregnant after months of trying, was make a doctor’s appointment. I had experienced the disappointment of not being pregnant for several months now, but it didn’t seem as real for my husband. I didn’t want to tell him I was pregnant in all my excitement and then have to go back and tell him it was a false alarm.

No use in us both being miserable if that turned out to be the case.

At the doctor’s appointment, it is pretty much like doing the test at home. You pee in a cup, the doctor comes in, he tests your urine and tells you pretty much right away. No waiting for results, no biting your fingernails. Easy as pie (which isn’t as easy as it once was).

Now, the doctor will give you a smile and a once over (as I look like I am more seventeen than twenty-six) and he will tell you that you are in fact pregnant. There will be a pause as he looks over your paperwork and then he will ask you about your cycle, if you know when your first day of your last period was, and such things to determine how far along you are.

Something that I didn’t know before trying to get pregnant is that they count the pregnancy from your first day of your last pregnancy. I was thinking I was two weeks pregnant based on my ovulation, but they would count that as six weeks pregnant. It is all a little bit confusing, but this is how they have done it for countless years, so who am I to question the scientific reasons behind it?

After you find out how far along you are, you will be sent for blood work to ensure everything is good and so they can assess your needs through your pregnancy. Then he will ask you the question that always has my mind going completely blank: “Do you have any questions?”

I of course stared at him for a few minutes before smiling and shaking my head. I drew a complete blank of course. However when I got home, I sat there kicking myself as a list started to write itself in the back of my mind.

“Can I still drink coffee?”

I am an avid coffee drinker. As a writer who typically has several short stories and novels in the works, I tend to be up late, brainstorming, writing down thoughts. This means that before I got pregnant, I was drinking three, maybe even four cups of coffee a day. The thought of giving it up entirely made my knees weak and had me chomping on my lower lip.

Yes, if you are a coffee drinker you can still have 200mg of caffeine a day. This is the equivalent of a small order of coffee a day. If you have a coffee at home, a mug is fine. If you are like me and love the frozen coffees in the summer a large Ice Cap from Tim Horton’s only has 150mg of caffeine in it. Their ice coffee is 160mg in a large.

I decided in the long run to cut out coffee while I was pregnant all together. Life as a mother is all about sacrifices and I could surely sacrifice my cup of Joe for the baby I have been working hard to get. Now before you turn your nose up at me, I have my reasons. One, you can get a cup of decaf that taste surprisingly just like coffee. Unfortunately I can’t get any cold coffee beverages out as they don’t come in decaf, but I made the choice because I realized just how many other every day things I consume have caffeine in them.

Iced tea, teas, chocolates and anything else with chocolate in it. That was probably the thing that made me go “Uh-oh. I have to cut out caffeine somewhere then.” No chocolate chip cookies, brownies, muffins. All the little things start to add up, and fast.

Is there anything I can’t eat?

Almost anything is fine in moderation. The one red flag that seems to go up is pre-packaged sandwich meats and hot dogs. Now the main reason these are shied away from is because of Listeria, which is really rare but you are more likely to get it when you are pregnant. I don’t think this would be as much of a problem if there hadn’t been that recall a few years back. These things are fine to eat if you heat them up to a temperature that kills the bacteria causing listeria. For me, I just skipped the sandwich meats and made sure to cook my hot dogs until they were practically bursting.

Is there anything physically I can’t do that I was doing before?

In the first trimester, your little poppy seed is so protected in there that you can carry on with your life as though you’re not even pregnant at all. You can lift, jump, run, whatever your heart desires. I even fell down the stairs at my moms townhouse, rode down about fifteen steps all the way on my bottom and the baby was none the wiser.

How much weight am I supposed to gain?

In the first trimester you aren’t supposed to gain any weight. You are supposed to keep your calorie intake the same as it was pre-pregnancy. This was something I didn’t know and I had to look into. My first trimester was pretty rough and I ate very little because I spent most of my time doubled over my toilet. Every day I was worried the baby wasn’t getting enough. Had I known this, I would have avoided a lot of stress.

How much throwing up is normal?

Unfortunately the term Morning Sickness is called that for some unknown reason because if you are like I was, it will happen around the clock, all the time. Basically, as long as you stay hydrated you are fine. I was trying to force myself to eat something, but no matter what I put in it came back up.

I started drinking lots of Gatorade and Powerade. It kept my electrolytes up and kept me hydrated.

A new question pops up every single day, and I have come to the conclusion that we can’t know all the answers. Our parents had babies with a lot less information, and their parents before that. Even though I feel like I know nothing, I know a lot more than my mother did, just like my doctors know more than hers. Every day we learn something new.

Even if you don’t have all the answers, chances are, you will be fine and hopefully nine months from now, you will have a healthy, happy baby.

But if you’re like me, and a bit of an over-worrier make a list. Write down all your thoughts and bring it to you to your doctors appointment.

Big Fat Positive

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If you have ever been trying to get pregnant, I am sure you think of the pregnancy test as a nemesis of sorts. It’s you, a full bladder early in the morning, and a test that can either make all your hopes and dreams become a reality, or can shatter them yet again for another month.

The amount of nervous energy vibrating through your body is enough to power an electric car for a cross country road trip. Your heart is racing and you tell yourself that this is it, this is the test that will change everything. You’re so sure of it, you can feel it in your bones. Yet, there is that voice of doubt in the back of your mind, whispering that these thoughts are ones you’ve had before.

Taking a deep breath, you take the test. There is no use prolonging the inevitable, and for all those nerves you are feeling, your bladder could care less. It’s about to burst and if you let it, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow for another chance at the test.

Personally, I waited a whole week past my scheduled period before I took my fourth pregnancy test. There were a few reasons why. First, I was feeling more than a little defeated. After the first month, my body was changing due to the stress and anxiety that trying to conceive was causing me. All my hours were spent thinking about it, planning for it, hoping for it. Naturally the second month, I took the test the day after my expected period… or at least attempted to. As soon as I sat down on the toilet, took the wrapper off the test, I felt it and with it the immediate sadness that at the time seemed so overwhelming.

The third month I waited four days. Again, I got an unexpected visit from my dreadful Aunt.

By the time the fourth month came around, I had lost a good dose of my positive attitude. Even though I was already a week late, the negativa voice was so much louder.

I think a lot of the things we see in movies about pregnancy, a lot of the talk about pregnancy that makes it into the storybooks and onto the screen leaves out a lot of the depression and heartache that plagues you. They leave out a lot of the struggle, the dark moments that make you just want to fade away into the shadows of your mind where the shimmer of hope can’t reach you.

Why? Seeing these things would be so relatable and I feel like it would help a lot of us as women, feel like getting pregnant isn’t always easy, and it’s okay to struggle, it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to tell your partner and your friends how sad it all makes you sometimes. These things don’t make you any less of a woman, and they won’t take anything away from you when you finally do become a mom.

The helplessness you feel that sometimes overcomes you, it eats away at you a little bit. It breaks you down in a way that makes you wonder if you lack the strength you will need to be a mom, and maybe that’s why you haven’t been given that YES you so desperately want.

I’m here to tell you I went through it, I experienced it all and I am still here. And I can promise you that whatever comes later, I will push through that too, just like a lot of you will.

The day will come where you get that big fat positive test result, or you get that letter telling you a baby is waiting for you. The day will come when you become a mom and no matter how small or weak you felt during the journey to get to that moment, you will never feel more strong.

Nothing worthwhile in life ever comes easy. And the joy and happiness you feel from the moment you know you are going to be a mom will be enough to make you forget all of that darkness.

No one really tells you how to get through the hard times in your life. All they really ever seem to tell you, is that eventually you will get through it. We all pretend we know what we are doing. We pretend to know the way, to hold the map of the years we have left behind us. In truth, most of us are amazed we got here in the first place.

I can’t give you any tips on how to increase your chances of getting pregnant. I’ve been through it, and honestly, I couldn’t tell you what it was that finally got us that positive test result we had been hoping for. It’s like I stumbled through it all blind and have finally broken through this thickness of trees and can see a beautiful view of what’s ahead.

Will I pretend to know what’s in store for me? Isn’t that all part of the gig?