Monday, August 31, 2009

Paranoia … join the cause!

Okay, so I’m relatively paranoid about germs anyway. However, this swine flu issue has started to push me over the edge. Let’s face it. People are dirty. They spread their germs everywhere. Some of the most disgusting places include grocery stores, schools, hotels, and air planes, all of which are places I have to be on a regular basis. I’m feeling a little fortunate that my doctor has advised me not to fly for the remainder of my pregnancy. That means I can legitimately avoid airports, planes, and rental cars. The other places, not so much! What’s really frustrating me, though, is all of the questionable information surrounding the swine flu. For example, my doctor’s office is recommending the vaccine so strongly that they’re almost requiring their pregnant patients to get it. On the other hand, another OB/GYN office is refusing to give the vaccine because it has apparently caused paralysis in pregnant women. I’ve also heard, but not confirmed, that the virus can live on paper money for up to two weeks. While I primarily live on credit/debit cards these days, it’s still a disconcerting thought. And, just think about how many people touch that little pen you use to electronically sign your name after swiping your credit card! Gross. I wash my hands and use anti-bacterial gels all the time … excessively, my husband would say. However, he also informs me that the anti-bacterial gels are not effective against the swine flu. It’s viral, not bacterial.

After considering all of these things and trying not to literally freak out about how I’m going to start visiting college campuses next week, I called my doctor’s office. I didn’t really care what they told me one way or the other. I was looking for either reassurance that this is just an overreaction, or I wanted them to officially advise me (and my employer) to avoid public places like schools. I just wanted a definitive answer. So what did they tell me? They told me that I should wash my hands frequently, avoid crowded places, and wear a mask if I can’t avoid places that are swarming with germy people. However, they’re not allowed to officially advise against these ‘activities’ because it could induce panic. Imagine if they started telling people not to go to school. In reality, I’m thinking … sure, wearing a surgical mask is going to go over great for a sales rep. Telling people I’d rather not shake their hand will win me tons of points. And, avoiding them all together will really boost sales.

I really have no revelation or inspired conclusion here. This is more of a rant than a thoughtful posting, but feel free to join my cause! It couldn’t hurt to increase paranoia, and hopefully boost awareness. WASH YOUR HANDS!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Now we're cookin'

After writing yesterday, I realized that I really have been passing many ‘milestones’ lately. In addition to my month-long hiatus from the bathroom floor, I also had two other pretty significant accomplishments … visiting the meat counter at the grocery store and cooking my first meal in months! I was pleasantly surprised during one of my first (and rare) solo trips to HEB this week when I courageously ventured down the raw meat aisle. Not only was I able to make several selections, I actually did it with my eyes open and without reaching for my ever-present sick bag. It’s true that all of this adventure wore me out and I felt pretty sick when I got home. I took a nap, however, and actually ended up feeling well enough to attempt cooking. Real cooking. Not microwaving. Not pouring a bowl of cereal. But, real cooking. I actually used multiple ingredients, seasonings, and meat! This may not sound like much to anyone else, but it’s a huge achievement for me. And, Brian was pretty happy about it too! He’s spent months surviving on fast food and peanut butter sandwiches. I can’t say this will be an every-day occurrence as I was definitely exhausted afterwards. However, we may have just turned a new page in this pregnancy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Major Milestone

As the month of August comes to an end, it has occurred to me that I have almost completed my first month of pregnancy that has remotely resembled normal human life! Morning sickness hit around Week 6 of my pregnancy and lasted well into the second trimester when I was finally diagnosed with mild hyperemesis gravidarum (www.hyperemisis.org). The short definition is that this is a condition with morning sickness-like symptoms that can last anywhere from 20 to 40 weeks during pregnancy…and it feels more like never-ending morning sickness combined with the flu and the worst hangover of your life. Unfortunately, the solutions for morning sickness (e.g., eating bland foods, etc.) do little or nothing to relieve the misery. I tried several combinations of medications (oral and IV-pump) and even visited the chemo ward a few times to receive hydration fluids by IV. I finally found a medicine that ‘worked’ the best for my body, and I’ve been able to stave off being physically sick for about a month now. However, the nausea remains. Some days I still have a lot of anxiety, irrational though it may be, that the nausea will never go away even after I give birth. All that said, I only had a mild case of this condition! Some women lose extreme amounts of weight, take 2-3 times as many medications as I do, or even spend extended stays in the hospital to receive nutrition through feeding tubes. The extraordinary thing about this condition, though, is that it generally seems to affect only the mothers. We may be miserable, but our babies are fine. It’s been a surreal realization today for me to count back weeks, not hours or minutes, since I was praying for death on my bathroom floor.

I know for a fact that I would not have survived the last six months without my wonderful husband, who has been nothing short of a miracle. Aside from completely taking over the mundane day-to-day tasks, he also made midnight trips to the drug store for benadryl when I had a bad reaction to the IV medicine (it made my legs twitch!) and he even let me stick him with needles when I was too scared to do it to myself for the first time. One thing I’ve said from the very beginning is that the human race would cease to exist if we told other women what you actually endure in pregnancy. I am absolutely positive that I would do this all over again in a heartbeat for the baby I’m currently carrying. My confidence is much lower when I consider whether I will ever do it again. People smile and tell me to wait and see … perhaps they’re right, but I have a condition that less than 2% of pregnant women ever experience (and I’m almost guaranteed to get it again in any subsequent pregnancies). Ah, the miracle of life …

Monday, August 24, 2009

Baby Steps

In my 26th week of pregnancy, I’m learning that the term ‘baby steps’ has many different meanings in my life. In the very literal sense, all of the ‘stepping’ (and kicking!) my baby girl has been doing with her 1-inch feet inside my belly has been surprising, sometimes uncomfortable, and really amazing. On the other hand, I’ve had to learn to take more baby steps in my own life. Physically, battling constant nausea and decreasing mobility has caused me to slow down quite a bit. Mentally, I’ve had to adjust to being on somebody else’s time. Considering that patience is not one of my strengths, it’s been difficult to relinquish control over many different aspects of my life – everything from knowing what’s really going on with my body to the ridiculously long delivery time for baby furniture (12-16 weeks!). Until this point in time, each passing day has felt excruciatingly long, perhaps because I’ve been so sick until recently. However, realizing that this is the final week of my second trimester has come as a complete shock! Before I know it, Avery Grace will be here, my maternity leave will be over, and I’ll be back at work (in heels, of course). Just thinking about everything that must be accomplished before the baby arrives is a little intimidating … contemplating what it will mean to become a working mom is completely daunting! I guess we will see what the coming weeks and months will bring.