Oh, The Symptoms

Pregnancy has its moments. And some of them aren’t fun. You get sick. You barf. You’re tired all the time. Your emotions are out of whack and you’re no fun to be around. You get winded just eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.

Okay, maybe that last one is just me.

But still, pregnancy symptoms are no fun. And to the women who don’t get them and just coast along through your pregnancy with your glow and your jolly demeanor like Mary Freaking Poppins, I’m very happy for you and all, but I kind of hate you.

For me, it was fun for the first five weeks. I was excited. I was healthy. I was sticking with my gym routine as usual. Before I found out I was pregnant, I podiumed at a Crossfit competition. The week I found out I was pregnant, I competed in a liftoff. I was gonna go about business as usual until my body told me I couldn’t. All would be well.

I started puking at 4 weeks and feeling dead tired, but I was powering through because I was sure that things would be different this time.

I rolled with the punches for 5-and-a-half weeks. I remember I started my day at the gym. I power lifted.

Then I went home and argued with the husband about taking too long to feed me. You know, normal pregnant chick things. Then, I noticed I was spotting.

And I haven’t been cool since.

A few things about this situation:

  1. There’s a big difference between spotting and bleeding. I did not know this. To me, bleeding was bleeding.
  2. You should call your OB before you do anything else. Not everything merits a trip to the ER.
  3. Spotting DOES NOT always mean you’re having a miscarriage. Something as simple as straining when you poop can cause spotting. In fact, I spotted again around 16 weeks for that very reason.

I turned white as a ghost and started freaking out. I used to think I’d come to terms with my miscarriages and everything that had happened to me. And by “come to terms” I mean they happened and then I never talked about them ever again.

Oh, I was so wrong.

It’s like every feeling or thought or fear I had about those losses came pouring out of me the second I saw that little spot on my toilet paper. I started sobbing and tried calling my doctor. The office was on lunch. So, I made my husband take me to the ER, where the staff kept acting all confused about why I was there and I kept saying things like, “BECAUSE I’M BLEEDING AND I’VE HAD TWO MISCARRIAGES. I’M BLEEDING!”

So extra.

Here’s what happens when you go to the ER when you’re bleeding or spotting:

  1. First, they check your cervix to make sure it’s still shut.
  2. If your cervix is still shut, you get blood drawn and get sent for an ultrasound.
  3. You get your ultrasound, which pretty much tells you nothing when you’re 5 weeks along.
  4. You wait around forever for a doctor to send you home and tell you it’s too early to tell and that you should follow up with your OB. Usually this doctor doesn’t know their ass from their elbow.
  5. You end up with a big ER bill that could have been avoided entirely if you’d just waited an hour for your OB office staff to return from lunch.

Listen, I’m no doctor. If you’re bleeding like period bleeding or bleeding heavily, by all means, get help. Or, if you’re frightened out of your mind and you just found a little spot, go get help. But here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me before I went through all that: If you’re spotting, call your OB. They’ll tell you what to do. And in my case, there was zero cause for panic or concern. I’d have saved myself a lot of aggravation and hundreds of dollars.

I wasn’t cool after that. I didn’t have a cool bone in my body. I stopped going to the gym until I could get in to see my OB. I’d just power lifted that day, and now I was too afraid to carry a basket of laundry. I hid in my house, spending my days on WebMD and waiting for my OB appointment.

Again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to know that spotting does not always mean the worst.

I continued to spiral until my appointment. I cried in my OB’s office as I told her my history and she very kindly told me to “Get over it because worrying won’t help anything.”

Cue the slow clap.

But you know, there are moments in my pregnancy where I feel cool, calm, and collected. They’re so seldom that they’re easy to remember. They happen during those few minutes when I can see my kid on an ultrasound

I was so scared to see that first ultrasound. Up until then, I’d never seen a healthy baby on an ultrasound. And now I was convinced that they didn’t exist for me. But they got in there and turned the screen on, and at a little over 7 weeks, I saw a little peanut on the screen with a little flicker.

“That’s the heartbeat.”

Wow, a beating heart. I didn’t know a little blink on a screen to make you so happy. I started crying. I’m not really a happy tears kind of girl, but I cried all the happy tears that day.

“Is it a strong heartbeat?”

“131. It’s perfect.”

Here’s the thing: Pregnancy is scary. And if you’ve had a loss, it can be really scary. And the symptoms aren’t great. The nausea. The round ligament pain. The fatigue. The weird taste in your mouth and the bleeding gums that I didn’t even know where a thing, but apparently, those things can happen too. Sometimes, you don’t poop for days.

And that takes a toll on a person. It wore on me, and I’ve not been the most pleasant to be around. I don’t glow. I sweat because I run ten degrees hotter than the average human. I love my kid, but making it is a royal pain.

But somehow, when you see your baby on a screen or hear their heart beating the way it’s supposed to, all that goes away. You sort of forget the bleeding gums and the chronic sea sickness and the fatigue and the food aversions and the constant mood swings and paranoia. Sure, it’s all there waiting for you when you leave and you resume your hormone-induced craziness, but still, that nugget on the screen keeps you going. It’s like, “No wonder I worry about you so much. You’re pretty much the greatest thing ever.”

That little heartbeat is the greatest sound in the world.

About the Author: Alicia Barksdale is the Managing Writer & Editor for Gold Anchor Publications, LLC, a freelance writing and consulting service. You can follow her on Instagram @hi_fitlicia and read her blog at AliciaBarksdale.com.

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