Pregnancy, often depicted as a serene and joyous journey, certainly has its unique twists and turns for me. As I embrace the anticipation of becoming a mother for our second child, little did I know that this adventure would be sprinkled with unexpected quirks that added a touch of unpredictability to the canvas of my pregnancy experience. Although these are super minor as compared to my first pregnancy, they’re still not usual vs. the “not pregnant” me.
Here are some of the things I experienced now that I didn’t go through during my first pregnancy:
1. Persistent Coughing
When you’re pregnant, your immune system becomes a bit of a drama queen. It gets all sensitive to germs and allergens but decides to take a little break, too. With the whole pandemic thing, doctors are like, “Hey, let’s be extra careful, okay?” Even a simple cold can turn into a coughing marathon during pregnancy.
The first few weeks of pregnancy brought with it a persistent cough that seemed to have its own agenda, maybe because of pregnancy hormones throwing a party in the body. It lasted for three weeks. The sad thing was that I couldn’t take antibiotics. I just had to endure it by drinking lemon water most of the time for hydration and medicine prescribed by my doctor.
2. Body Acne
As my body embraced the miraculous task of growing another human being, it also underwent some unexpected changes. Body acne, especially on my chest area, became a gentle reminder of the intricate dance of hormones within. Rather than viewing it as a challenge, I found solace in adapting my skincare routine and appreciating the ever-evolving landscape of my changing body.
3. Pimples and Facial Breakouts (aw!)
The mirror became a storyteller, reflecting not only the external changes but also the internal metamorphosis that was taking place. Pimples and facial breakouts became part of the narrative, teaching me the importance of self-love and acceptance. I discovered the beauty in imperfections, recognizing that these changes were transient and were markers of the incredible journey unfolding within me.
4. Vaginal Pressure and Leg Pains
In the late second trimester, as my body adjusted to the growing life inside, I experienced vaginal and leg pain especially every time I stand up from a long seating time or when I get up from bed and every time I walk even short distances.
Because of this, I decided to take an early maternity leave (from the 37th week of pregnancy) because I don’t like driving to work anymore (one way drive to the office from home takes about 1.5 hours) or just walking from the car parking area of the office building to my workstation.
I then learned from my OB-GYNE that experiencing vaginal pressure during pregnancy is a common occurrence, with women having diverse sensations ranging from intense pressure in the vagina to a general ache in the pelvis or a feeling of weight on the lower body. While the baby’s weight becomes a prevalent factor in the later stages of pregnancy, various other factors contribute to pelvic pressure throughout different trimesters.
During the first trimester, it is uncommon for weight gain to cause vaginal pressure. Instead, the hormone relaxin, which peaks in early pregnancy, plays a significant role. This hormone aids muscle relaxation, facilitating the baby’s passage through the pelvic area during birth. However, high levels of relaxin can lead to muscle pain, including in the vaginal region, and may weaken the ligaments supporting the pelvis, causing a sensation of pressure.
In the second and third trimesters, a combination of a weakening pelvic floor and increased weight exerting pressure on the pelvis contributes to vaginal pressure. The pelvic floor, a muscular sling supporting pelvic organs, can be weakened by pregnancy, and women who have given birth previously may experience further weakening with subsequent pregnancies. The added weight becomes more noticeable in the second trimester, with the growing uterus exerting increased pressure on the lower body.
As pregnancy progresses, some women may experience a feeling of fullness in the vagina or generalized pain and pressure in the hips and pelvis due to the weakened pelvic floor. In later stages, pelvic pressure might serve as an early sign of labor, especially when accompanied by stomach cramping or a sensation of something pressing down on the uterus, indicating an impending birth.
Just when I thought I had the hang of this pregnancy thing, another surprising hurdle arrived – shingles. The unexpected nature of this challenge taught me adaptability and resilience. It took about a month for the shingles blisters to heal and about 2-3 months before the tingling sensation of the nerves acting to completely go away.
I requested from my boss to work from home for a week because it was harder to move about, and shingles may be contagious to those who haven’t had chicken pox yet.
Having had chickenpox during my childhood, I recently learned that there’s a slight possibility of developing shingles during pregnancy, although it’s considered uncommon. The reassuring aspect is that, even though shingles can bring about uncomfortable symptoms, my doctor said that it doesn’t pose a threat to the well-being of the baby growing within.
While managing the discomfort, I discovered a newfound strength within myself. It was a reminder that life’s surprises, even during pregnancy, are opportunities for growth and learning.
As I reflect on the journey of my second pregnancy, I am reminded that the imperfections were not stumbling blocks but rather delightful detours in this beautiful adventure. The bumps along the way added depth and character to the narrative, transforming challenges into opportunities for growth and self-discovery. With a heart full of gratitude and anticipation, I eagerly await the arrival of our little one, knowing that every twist and turn has woven a tapestry of resilience, love, and the extraordinary beauty of motherhood.