So, I’m pregnant again. Surprise!
And as excited as I want to be, all I can do is fight through each day trying not to vomit in my purse or fall asleep while driving. It’s great. Most people wait until the second trimester to tell people, but in my case there’s no waiting because I can’t make up countless lies about why I can’t get out of bed, why I quit singing at church, why I dropped out of kickboxing, and why I have been basically out of life for the last month and a half. I’m one of those unfortunate people that gets ill and stays ill for about six out of the nine months of pregnancy. Everyone has heard “eat small meals more often” and “keep crackers nearby,” but what happens when those don’t work? If you’re anything like me, you need some tips that you might not have heard elsewhere.
1. Fruit is your friend
There are a two reasons for this:
- It’s sweet and tastes refreshing and citrus fruit especially has a scent that is not noxious to your new bloodhound nose.
- It feels okay coming back up.
Unfortunately, with most things I eat I have to ask myself, “what is this going to feel like on the way back up?” I learned that the hard way during pregnancy number 1 when I ate something heavy and it hadn’t digested before it came racing back up on me. The last thing you want when you have your head in a toilet is to also injure your throat in the process. Think soft fruit, watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, grapes, fruit yogurt… it’s gross to think about but this is now my life (and I’m sure some of you are having the same problem.) Fruit is also high in nutrients that are good for you and the baby and it’s easy to eat with no preparation time.
2. Healthy shmealthy
All the pregnancy magazines and advice columns go on and on about getting the proper nutrients. Well, that would be great if I could choke them down without projectile vomiting! Thanks for that totally useless advice! We all know moms suffer from guilt naturally so when you’re pregnant you’re terrified you’re going to ingest the wrong thing or not enough of the right thing and…right on cue… there the media is to make you feel like crap!
My baby is going to have three heads because I couldn’t eat spinach! Forget that.
Don’t even read those magazines. Nutrition is important and you can focus on it after you get out of the “morning sickness” stage (which is really all-day-long sickness.) During first trimester Hell, simply eat what tastes good, if you can find anything. Even if it’s boxed macaroni and cheese or chocolate shakes for breakfast. Whatever you can keep down is great, not to mention a great excuse to blow that diet and eat whatever the heck you want for a few weeks. If you can’t do it when you’re sick as a dog and miserable, when can you? I’ve been making banana shakes in the morning with frozen bananas, milk and chocolate powder. They’re awesome. Try it.
3. Don’t leave home without candy
For some reason, sour things seems to take the edge off the nausea. There are these things called Preggie Pop Drops and they’re very good but very spendy. Jolly Ranchers work just as well. I bought a huge bag and keep them in my purse. Everything is “off” during pregnancy from saliva production to hormones and sweat gland weirdness and often I get a bad taste in my mouth I can’t get rid of which leads to gagging. That’s when the candy comes in handy. It also is a pleasant reminder of childhood when I actually would have given my right arm for a Jolly Rancher. Now that I’m an adult I can have as many as I want and that makes me feel good.
4. Take a hot bath
Don’t listen to people who freak out about hot water. It takes a really long time sitting in really hot water to change your internal temperature. And if your bathtub is anything like mine, your belly doesn’t even submerge when full. A bath is not going to hurt you or your baby. I wouldn’t suggest scalding yourself, but make it how you like it and enjoy. You’re not going to boil your baby. Taking a bath will just make you feel good and in the first trimester of suck, good is hard to find.
5. Ask for help
Pregnancy isn’t like sickness so sometimes no one offers to help because they think you’re fine or they don’t know. People often wait too long to announce for fear of miscarriage. It’s a personal choice but I always side with just let it out! Having a miscarriage doesn’t make your pregnancy any less real or the symptoms any better. Fearing having to announce a miscarriage can keep you from getting the help you need.
In my case, I can’t cook anymore. I can’t take the smells, I cannot stand chicken anymore at all, and I’ve been feeding my kids frozen waffles and raw carrots for dinner (no joke. Enter me for “Mom of the Year”!) Chances are, if you tell your friends how bad it is, they’ll ask if they can help. Don’t be afraid to say “feed my kids please.” In the past week four of my friends dropped by with frozen treats, chocolate milk, snacks, casseroles and today, my chef friends came and cooked gourmet burgers and baked macaroni and cheese for us. Your friends want to bless you so allow it to happen and don’t try to do it all by yourself or you’ll just feel worse.
6. Bed is the best place on earth
It really is okay to crawl into bed in the middle of the day and sleep. (If you’re a working mom all I can say is I don’t know how you do it. Maybe your boss will let you nap in the break room at lunch?) The laundry can wait. Dora is a pretty good babysitter. Everything will be fine for an hour or so while you snooze. And if you have a baby who still naps, take him to bed with you. Everyone could use more sleep. I find that laying down, all my nausea feelings subside and I feel much better almost instantly.
Do not believe people who say “exercise” will make you feel better. There are lies and then there are damned lies. This stupid advice is the latter. Exercise is good for you and when you’re not barfing in a bag anymore try it. For now, all it’s going to do for you is make you dizzy and sick. (And I worked out hardcore 4 to 5 days a week pre-pregnancy so I know of what I speak. Exercise makes you feel great when you’re not pregnant.) If you do need to move around, try yoga, light stretching and drink lots of water. But my advice is stretch in bed while watching your favorite Netflix marathon. (I’m watching The Vampire Diaries and loving every minute of it in spite of how cheesy and high school it is.) It is important to give yourself a break. Stop feeling like you’re useless and just take a nap. It won’t make you feel any better by overdoing it. In fact, it will just get worse.
7. Don’t forget to thank your husband
Mr. Fox has been really terrific and helpful, cleaning the house, doing laundry, taking down all the Christmas decorations solo, filling up my water and pretending not to notice that sometimes I just don’t get out of bed. Even if your husband doesn’t help out as much, don’t forget that feeling the way you do, you’re probably no picnic to be around right now. Don’t forget to be sweet. It’ll make you feel better.
8. Don’t be a hero
If none of the above works and you’re still gagging and heaving uncontrollably, get some drugs. There’s this miracle pill called Zofran (ask your doctor about it) and it takes away nausea and vomiting. For some people it only stops the vomiting, but for me it actually took away all of it. I finally broke down after suffering for 12 weeks because my symptoms usually last 6 months or more. (Lucky me!) I got instant relief and have been able to function normally again. Modern medicine really is a miraculous and wonderful thing when used correctly. Zofran is safe for pregnancy and there’s no shame in taking it. I know you want to tough it out, but there’s only so far you can go before you crack. Don’t crack, just call the doctor and ask for medicinal relief. It’s that simple.
Hang in there, Sister. This too shall pass.