Call me Lemony Snicket because this last trimester has been a series of unfortunate events.
I probably should’ve known better as my second trimester was fairly glorious. Yes, I had acne breakouts on my face, neck and legs to rival that of any pubescent teen (or 2 or 3), and developed eczema which made the skin on my hands and wrists a better fit for a denizen of “Jurassic World.” But I had regained my appetite and was feeling more energetic, so whatevs.
Then during the 28th week of my pregnancy, my first gestational diabetes test (aka the glucose challenge) came back a little high. The next day I had 4 needles stuck in alternating arms over the course of 4 HOURS to determine if I did indeed have gestational diabetes. Thankfully I did not (probably due to the intense bouts of exercise, cutting out of sugar and loads of water I drank the night before) but I was left with 2 big purple bruises on the insides of my elbows as a nice reminder of the experience.
Right after that, and I mean right after, I was informed that I had a UTI (urinary tract infection) and should take an antibiotic. As soon as I took the antibiotic, I was sick with a severe cold, complete with hacking cough and phlegm, for about 2 weeks.
Then came the intense backache that led to a late night trip to the ER. You can read Bjorn’s vivid account of it here: http://daddybjorn.com/late-last-night-we-ended-up-in-a-bangkok-emergency-room.
And let me not forget the return of fatigue, to such a degree that I can only do one Big Activity a day for about 3 hours before becoming exhausted and needing to sleep the rest of the day. (To give you an idea of the scale of such an activity: a trip to the mall/hanging out with friends for 3 hours or less is considered a “Big Activity.”)
Then came this past Friday night. I had awoken at midnight because of course, I have also developed extreme discomfort that makes uninterrupted sleep nigh impossible (I literally get pains in my butt and the baby has apparently decided that my bladder is her favorite pillow.) Since I was up and feeling peckish, I decided to have 2 mangosteens as a snack. Thirty minutes later, I felt the first twinges of pain in my upper abdomen.
I thought if I lay down the pain might pass, but at 1 a.m. I was grasping at Bjorn in extreme agony. He got up with me and we made a circuit around our apartment, Bjorn even setting up obstacles to make it more fun. But while the walking did seem to distract me, it didn’t stop the pain, and every few minutes I would have to stop and clutch at the wall or a piece of furniture because of the stabbing sensations in my stomach.
Fifteen minutes later, I had my first bout of diarrhea. Thus was established a pattern that would last for the next 44 hours: Shuffle/walk. PAIN. Shuffle/walk. Diarrhea. Repeat. For the next 44 hours. Yes, 44 HOURS.
I really did think I had food poisoning and not pre-term labor contractions, although I wasn’t vomiting and I managed to hold down small amounts of food — although anything I ate was greeted with pain in my stomach and a swift exit out the backside. I was more worried about the effects of food poisoning on the baby than going into labor, especially as I hadn’t had any bleeding or discharge.
“Braxton Hicks,” my sister said immediately when I talked to her on Sunday morning.
I had totally ruled out Braxton Hicks contractions because I had read that they were usually painless and just consisted of a tightening of the abdomen. The entry on Braxton Hicks from wikihow.com even says, “Most doctors say that although some women describe Braxton Hicks contractions as being very painful, the majority of these women are first time mothers who have not experienced labor pains yet.” (In other words: “You are dumb if you think these are painful, because you haven’t really experienced pain yet.”)
“Oh Jammie,” my sister said, “did you really think yours were going to be painless with your pregnancy?”
But still, nothing I read associated Braxton Hicks with diarrhea, so we bumped up my doctor’s appointment a couple of days to Monday. I walked into my doctor’s office, full of my tale of woe, going into detail about the awful pain and the bouts of diarrhea that had lasted for 44 hours.
And she was delighted.
“This is a good sign!” she said cheerfully. But the diarrhea? Totally normal. She said it was the body’s way of detoxifying and that the contractions and diarrhea meant that it was looking good for me to have a natural delivery.
“Or it could be a reaction to your T-dap vaccine,” she added.
Wait, what?? I had received my shot last Wednesday, and besides making my arm sore for 4 days, it had also imparted that little gift??
And, I was even given somewhat of a reprimand for taking activated charcoal during my “food poisoning” and was advised to stop taking it as my doctor said it could lead to constipation.
Still, I know better than to look a gift horse in the mouth. The baby was healthy and fatter, which was the important thing. And now I know: sharp, shooting pains in the stomach and diarrhea can be a good thing in pregnancy.
Even if it does last for 44 hours.