When "Morning Sickness" Ruins Your Life

Note: This post was written back in April.  I am feeling much better now!

Before I even get started, let's first all agree that the term "Morning Sickness" is crap.  How many pregnant people have you known who ONLY had morning sickness that was actually restricted to the morning?  My guess is zero.  So to start let's agree to use the "Pregnancy Sickness."  Or if you have other suggestions for the term, feel free to volunteer them.

My particular Pregnancy Sickness symptoms made the "morning sickness" term even more of a joke.  I felt the worst starting from around mid-afternoon through bedtime. In fact, the later in the day it was, the worst I felt.  The 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. hour was typically the worst, and I would fall into bed as soon as Evan was in his bed and basically be immobile for the rest of the evening.

It seemed to be directly related to the amount of sleep I got, but not always.  One theory is that later in the day I was more tired than first thing in the morning, and I think that certainly had something to do with it, but often even on days when I got mid-afternoon naps (nap when the toddler naps!) I still felt the same level of fatigue and exhaustion as other days.

In those early weeks I was so fatigued, tired, and sick that I left a pillow in my car and went down during my lunch hour to take a nap.  Even if I didn't always fall asleep, that time of laying down and just resting with my eyes closed was crucial to my ability to get through a day.  By around 10 weeks I was able to get through most days without my lunch time nap/rest, but I found myself having to compensate for that by eating more calories.

My waistline certainly took a hit during these early weeks.  I had a love-hate relationship with food.

On one hand, the thought of 99% of most foods and beverages would turn my stomach, but having an empty stomach made it even worse, so I usually forced myself to eat.  Often I would get my food ready and then it would sit on my desk. I would watch it, think about it, analyze it, be repulsed by it, and had to remind myself over and over that it would make me feel better.  This mental pep talk usually did the trick.  I was right.  During the few minutes that I was actually physically eating, I forgot about my sickness and just gobbled it down.  But then, literally 2 minutes after I swallowed the last bite, I would have immediate regret and feel even worse than I did before.

All rules were off when it came to vegetables, particularly green ones.  No amount of mental pep-talking could get me to even think about lettuce.  The image that immediately came to mind was when DH was in the hospital and they had to drain his stomach and we could see lettuce from 5 days earlier coming out of his stomach when clearly that should have been processed by now. Gross, right?  Can you imagine that particular image - something that I saw WITH MY OWN EYES - on top of already feeling like you were going to throw up anyway?  So yeah, no green vegetables. Sorry body, I'll make it up to you someday.

But of all the ailments, I think the acid reflux was the worst.  There was a period of about three weeks where everything I ate immediately felt like it was pushing up on the flap of my esophagus, trying to get out.  Sometimes the pressure was so intense that it was actually painful, and the burning that I felt in my chest from the stomach acid that was trying to rise was downright painful.  I tried taking Tums but that did little to nothing to help with the discomfort.  I never did figure out how to get rid of the reflux - I was just grateful when one day I no longer felt that horrible pressure or burning. 

All of the above sounds horrible enough, right?  But on top of it all, the entire Hartman family was hit HARD with a nasty, nasty stomach virus that had us all down for the count for about two full weeks.

It started with EH who was super cranky and irritable for an entire week.  He kept complaining that his throat hurt and he was so clearly not "himself," but he didn't have a fever, and there was no other visible symptoms that made us feel that calling the doctor was necessary.  On Friday of that week, while standing on the kitchen counter with DH, he turned around and projectile vomited EVERYWHERE.  The entire kitchen was covered, including DH.  I was on my way home from work at the time and come home just as DH was started to clean up.  Considering that I was on the verge of always throwing up anyway, the overwhelming smell of vomit that permeated every inch of our house at that point was nearly too much to handle, and then I had to take over the job of bathing the vomit-covered toddler, who was clearly much worse off than me.  After that episode we thought maybe he was on the downhill to recovery but then on Monday of that week I had to pick him up from day care early because he seemed so sick, and that afternoon he crawled into bed to take a nap, turned around to face me, and promptly started vomiting again.  Some weird instinct on my part told me to "catch that vomit!" so I grabbed one of his blankets and successfully capture the vast majority of it in the blanket.  We took a very unhappy boy to the doctor that afternoon, where they diagnosed him with a "stomach virus" (helpful, thanks) and sent us home with an anti-nausea medication, which thankfully did seem to help.

At some point in all of this, DH had two separate vomiting instances as well, I think Sunday night and Wednesday night.  But at that point I was so wrapped up in my own self-misery and trying to take care of a very sick toddler, than I don't remember for certain.  On Thursday of that week I left work early because I felt so sick, ate Wendy's (because, pregnant, remember? Stupid cravings...) and then went home, took a nap, woke up, and vomited immediately.  Calorie free Wendy's, as DH put it.  I had no idea if this was the stomach virus (clearly, it was) or morning sickness, but I ended up calling off the next day as well.  I didn't throw up again until Sunday night (after eating Wendy's again), and then took off Monday and Tuesday of the following week.  Even on Wednesday when I was finally back to work, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it through the day.  On Saturday night of the weekend between my vomiting episodes, DH felt so sick that he went to the emergency room, was admitted because of a feared "twisted intestine" and thus spent a night in the hospital with a tube down his nose draining his stomach.  He was miserable.  At some point, after confirming that the twisted intestine did not exist, he was sent home, only to blow an enormous blood clot out of his nose two hours later which led to copious amounts of bleeding, and another visit to the ER where they had to packed and cauterize his nose.  The entire time I was so nauseous (this was late evening, the peak time of my very worst pregnancy symptoms, and I was going to vomit that night although I obviously didn't know that at the time) that I thought maybe I was going to have to be admitted as well.

Phew.... what a lot of drama, right?  Needless to say, it's been a VERY LONG 6 or so weeks.... I think I am starting to see a light at the end of this tunnel, but who knows for sure?  What is certain that this pregnancy is SO DIFFERENT from my first that I can't even begin to comprehend it.  For a variety of reasons, I am convinced this one is a girl.  Whether or not my inclinations are true remain to be seen.  But I believe it strongly enough that I have a pang of sadness every time I "retire" EH's clothes to the "too small" bin, because I feel so strongly that I'll never have a need for boy clothes again.  Whatever the gender may be, I think it's a win win.  I like the idea of the "American dream" of having a boy and a girl, but the fiscally conservative side of me says that having a boy would be so much easier because we already have all of the "boy" stuff (namely, clothes.)  8 more weeks until we know for sure!

End Note: We know the gender! Reveal coming soon!

Have You Heard the News?

If not, EH is here to share it with you! Check out the video link below:


More details coming soon!

Making Time

I know that my presence on this site has been greatly diminished over the past few months.  While I still occasionally feel guilty about it, and I frequently wish that I was writing more, I have been focusing more on the theme of "making time."

So what have I been making time for?  I'm making time to be more present with EH - more active playing and interaction with him, instead of me trying to get him to play on his own while I catch up on the news and email on my phone.  I'm making more time to read, which I was sorely missing and is a good way for me to feel like I'm getting "me" time.  I'm making more time to cook actual meals, instead of throwing in a frozen pizza every night, and although my cooking efforts will not be anywhere near where they were a few years ago, I am trying to eat healthier and that involve cooking at home more often.  And finally - and this is the hardest one - I'm trying to make time for exercising.  This is usually the thing that is first to go.  I never seem to have the energy in the evenings, but we have a trip to Mexico booked for the summer and I want to make getting into shape more of a priority!

I certainly don't mean to imply that there aren't things going on over here!  EH is still a fascinating little seesaw of toddler emotions, going from saying the cutest, funniest things ever to full-blown toddler tantrum mode.  He's super into Legos and just started getting into playing "pretend" which I think it just too adorable.

Oh, and we're MOVING soon!  It's been a bit hush hush but this is happening sooner rather than later so I guess it's time to let the cat out of the bag!

All of this is to say that I haven't forgotten about the blog, but I am trying to balance my priorities and sadly that means that this little blog here tends to fall at the bottom of the list.  But I do hope to post more about our new house, and get some pictures of EH up - he's getting so big!

The Pittsburgh Zoo in January = Awesome

I've lived in Pittsburgh for a long time, and I never had the idea to go to the zoo in the winter.  I didn't even know if they were open year round, and besides, the zoo just seems like a summer sort of thing.

But now we have an annual membership to the zoo, and I always insist on getting my moneys worth on things like that.  We also have a toddler who frequently has pent up energy to burn off, and we always hope that running around at the zoo for a few hours will wear him out (it usually doesn't.)

So, with warnings of wind chills as low as negative 40 degrees coming up in the next two days, we decided to get some outdoor time while we still could.  I had no idea what to expect from a January 5th visit to the zoo, but I return from the experience to report that it is definitely worth it (although not without it's share of cons.)

So, here are some of the pros and cons:

PRO: Almost no one there
If you hate crowds like we do, you'll love the zoo in the winter. There were no more than 50 cars in the entire parking lot - we literally felt like we parked at the front door and waltzed right in.

CON: They're only so so on the snow clearing
The cleared sections of their parking lots, but not the section we parked in.  They also cleared the main paths within the zoo, but not all of them, so if you want to go "off the beaten path" that will mean trekking through some snow.

PRO: Easy to see the animals
Since there wasn't a crowd, we could walk up to any of the animal exhibits and not worry about EH not being able to see.  And we didn't have to worry about him getting pushed by bigger kids, or knocked over by adults who weren't paying attention.  The lions, tigers, snow leopard, red panda, sea lions, polar bear, monkeys, meerkats, snakes, and black bear were among some of the highlights.

CON: Many exhibits closed
Except for the cats mentioned above, none of the African safari animals were out.  You could see the elephants indoors, but the smell was overpowering, and EH refused to go in.  The giraffes, rhinos, ostrich, and everything else related to the safari area were not out, and were not on display indoors.  This was disappointing because EH really wanted to see the giraffe.  The deer park was also closed, and since that's the usually path to some of the other animals - like the kangaroos - we weren't able to see any of those.  The sea otters exhibit and most everything in the outdoor "waters edge" area was empty.

PRO: Fresh, crisp air
And no sweat pouring off of my skin, like it is in the summer!  It was actually really nice to be comfortable wearing a winter hat and gloves - I also get too hot when we're there in the summer!  Also there are plenty of indoor spaces (elephant house, monkey house, aquarium, etc) so if you get cold you can easily go inside and still be entertained!

CON: Most concessions not open
This actually didn't bother us since we never eat there and never buy anything in the shops, but if you enjoy this sort of convenience, nearly everything was closed.

And finally, the biggest PRO of our January trip!!!!

Penguins on Parade!
The penguins were out and about in the snow when we arrived, and it was so neat to watch them playing around.  Once kept going down on his stomach like he wanted to try to slide around.  Most just waddled around but they were all really adorable. EH was weirdly not impressed, but I was loving it - the penguins are so adorable!

So, in conclusion - even considering all of the cons listed above - we highly recommend visiting the zoo during the winter.  The entrance fee is discounted (probably because there are fewer animals out) if you don't have a membership and will be paying cash.  The animals that are out are easy to see and very entertaining.  There's no pushing or crowds, and in some sections you feel like you have the entire zoo to yourself.  It was in the mid-30s when we were there and it seemed like the perfect temperature (although DH was cold in only his sweatshirt, EH and I both felt great in our winter coats.)  The winter animals, like the penguins and the polar bear, are much more active and it's neat to see them in a climate that more resembles their natural habitat, compared to the summer when you can tell that poor polar bear is sweltering in the heat. 

We will definitely visit the zoo again this winter (although it will NOT be in the next two days, when these freezing temperatures are predicted.)  Stay warm everyone!