How I found out
I had my #omgiampregnant moment at around 5 weeks of pregnancy. I had been feeling out of sorts that week, was frequently parched (highly unusual as I'm pretty much a camel), felt bloated even before meals and was just plain tired no matter how well I slept the night before.
Those strange symptoms occurred around the time I should be expecting my period.
So I held my breath and peed on a pregnancy test kit on the morning of my missing period. The world seemed to come to a standstill as one blue line made its way on the kit... followed by another faint one, forming the miraculous positive plus.
"We're going to be parents!" I broke the surreal news to my barely-awake husband. Any blues and sleepiness he had that morning gave way to unadulterated happiness.
The next few days however got me worried. I was experiencing shooting pain, which could be normal due to the stretching of uterus, or an indicator of something more ominous like an ectopic pregnancy.
I was too early in my pregnancy to secure an appointment with an obstetrician-gynecologist (obgyn), so I saw my primary care practitioner who performed a pelvic examination. She reported with a reassuring smile that my cervix looked closed and ordered a HCG blood test to confirm that my pregnancy was viable.
For a normal pregnancy, the HCG level should double every few days. I was a ball of nerves as my blood was drawn a few times over the course of the week.
Thankfully, the numbers went up. An abnormal pregnancy was ruled out though I was told to monitor the cramping.
Being worse for wear with time
The cramps got better as the weeks passed and my fears dissipated. However the discomfort from cramps was soon replaced by another abhorrent pregnancy symptom - a disgusting taste in my mouth. It was a hard-to-describe taste, like a peculiar mix between a rusty metallic coin and milk gone bad. Even swallowing of my own saliva was vile. To top it off, there was this lump that seemed stuck in my throat, a consequence of heartburn.
Poor appetite ensued and soon, I was averse to even the taste of plain water. The aversion escalated quickly and I started gagging at the sight of food or smell of something cooking. My husband was banned from making meals in the kitchen. I couldn't even stand the smell of the dish detergent, so cleaning of dishes was prohibited at home. A take-out routine for the next three months began for my husband.
With nausea as my faithful companion, it was difficult keeping food down every meal. From the few mouthfuls I could manage at mealtimes, my intake whittled down to crumbs and grains. That didn't deter the relentless vomiting, to the point bile came right up and scorched my throat. I puked into the bathroom sink so often that I actually clogged it up thrice in a month and required urgent plumbing service.
Daytime was mostly spent listlessly moping around or trying to sleep. Sleep became my escape from the constant sick-in-my-stomach feeling. I could never feel well-rested however. No matter how many hours I put into sleeping and resting in the day, I was still bone weary.
Nighttime wasn't easy too. I had a bad case of heartburn, and couldn't be comfortable in a lying down position. Most nights I slept sitting up with a self-created pillow throne. Sleep was as restorative as a nap on a plane ride could get.
I think I experienced every known pregnancy symptom in the textbook. Nosebleeds, check. Unexplainable chills, check. Headaches, check. Horrible mood swings, check. Unannounced deep sadness, check. I refused to take medication for fear of harming my little growing bean. It was a wretched feeling knowing that the medicine cabinet was so near yet inaccessible to me.
I started losing weight in my first trimester. Mentally, I wasn't in good shape either.
It was a vulnerable time so I kept mum about being pregnant. The very few people who were privy to The Secret were largely unable to relate to how I felt. No one seemed to have experienced sickness this extreme. Even my mother, who said she hadn't experienced any form of sickness with me or my two brothers. It felt isolating to be the only one who had it so bad.
"Oh it'll get better."
I soon grew tired of hearing such well-meaning words. Instead of feeling consoled or encouraged, I felt they were dismissive of how terrible I was feeling and carried an undertone of you-should-suck-it-up-for-your-baby.
It's true. How could I complain when all this suffering meant that my HCG level was strong and kept my pregnancy healthy? How could I whine when others trying to conceive would gladly step into my shoes without a moment's hesitation?
I was so conflicted and confused about how I should feel. It didn't help that my hormones made me very weepy. I was an emotional wreck.
This too shall pass
Contrary to popular consolation, the severe nausea did not disappear like the switch of a button in my second trimester.
It was only towards the end of my second trimester that I no longer felt nauseated after a meal. Food started looking more welcoming and desirable. Oh how I missed the joy of eating. It had been so easy to take eating for granted until one day I was denied the happiness of it.
With food becoming more appealing and life getting back to "normal", my energy and mojo also returned. I didn't have to sleep 18 hours a day and could resume my work and hobbies. I started to enjoy being pregnant and marvel at the gradual changes my body was undergoing to grow the little life within me.
Suffering was temporal
Looking back, my pregnancy was a unforgettable experience because of how much it tested my limits and very nearly pushed me over the edge. It was also a unique and empowering one because it made me feel like a survivor.
Finally, it taught me that as with all things in life, nothing is permanent.
Every ache, every pain, every nauseated moment, every sad emotion, every clogged sink, every sleepless night, every terrible thought.
All of these will pass.
(Special note to any mama to be reading this: If you're going through a tough pregnancy ordeal, hang in there! You're not alone.)
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.