Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Minor Inconvenience of Early Pregnancy

(Note: this was written on July 24th 2009, but I've delayed posting until I told all my friends and family about the new baby, since my "annonymity" here is extremely suspect! And in fact this excuse is now a poor one too - what can I say - life happens!)

With both little one, and now little one number 2 (expected this spring) I have suffered from what most people would call minor morning sickness for most of the first trimester. First time around this started around week 7 and went on until week 14 or so, and comprised mostly severe sensitivity to smells (no malls, grocery stores, or takeout were possible, and walking down the street was exciting!), constant mild nausea, increased motion sickness, and vomiting 3-4 mornings every week (for 7 weeks!). I remember clearly being so miserable around week 8 that I begged the doctor to see me, sure there was something wrong. She had nothing useful to say, but showed me an ultrasound image of little one's heart beating, and told me that it was OK to live off potato chips for weeks if that was all I could keep down. The baby would take all the useful nutrients she said, and I could cope with a few weeks of poor nutrition! That all made me feel much better, and is something I'm keeping with me.

This time around everything started much earlier. Almost as soon as we found out I was pregnant the vomiting started. So far I've had less issues with motion sickness, but I had a couple of weeks when I vomited every morning, and occasionally during the day. I've been very worried that it's still so early too - imagining the horrors ahead of me. The worst of the vomit coincided with little one having stomach flu, so I may have had a bit of both - I think the only time I'll ever be even slightly happy that little one was vomiting! Things came to a head one evening of our recent trip away where I struggled through dinner and then vomited spectacularly outside the restaurant. Not good form! Since then I've been feeling much better. Yesterday (8 weeks exactly) was a bad day - vomit both in the morning, and evening (following a smelly bus ride home), and today I feel quite ropey, but no vomit yet.

The point of blogging about this though is to comment on the impact this has on my work. It's very hard to get the energy together to "mess around" with astronomy when all this is going on. I've been doing much better this time than I did the first time when it was all such a shock that being pregnant - before I was supposed to even tell anyone - would make be feel so bad. Most books describe all this as a "minor inconvenience" of early pregnancy. There is also in general very little sympathy. Either you hide it because you don't want people to know, or they're so happy to learn you're pregnant that the fact that you're green and can't eat isn't noticed. Somehow you're not supposed to complain because "it will pass", and after all you're making a baby. The only helpful reading I've found on the subject is in the book "Pregnancy Sucks" (Amazon Link) which I happened across by accident during this period in my first pregnancy. This book is funny, and will probably make you feel better.

After many weeks of dealing with this I can now also give my advice. Accupressure travel bands really seem to work. It might be in my head - but I'll take it. Also if I eat bread sticks (or crackers) and cheese before getting out of bed in the morning that seems to help a lot - and anyway vomiting recently chewed plain food is much more pleasant than vomiting on an empty stomach. I suggest avoiding crepes with nutella and banana, and cherry tomatos. These are not fun coming in other direction. In fact avoid anything acidic or with much of a flavour. And it will pass. Venting about it online might help too...

August 26th Update: I'm just now about 14 weeks, and this pretty much seems to have passed. I've actually even had a couple of mostly nausea free weeks (but not vomit free - this time I have had some odd spells of "stealth vomit" where without warning I just throw up. That was new!). I've even been managing to get a lot of work done. A couple of papers (finally) at the submission stage, and some other very interesting projects going well.

Jan 5th Update: Now just a few weeks from my due date and I have to say this pregnancy has been *much* more productive than the last one. I have submitted 3 papers (still working their way through the referee process) and have another close to submission. I'm really hoping for a few more weeks to finish stuff up a bit more before taking my leave.

And one last update: AstroMaman and AstronomyMommy are both busy with their adorable babies now roughly 6 and 8 months old respectively.

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