August 24, 2012

Pregnancy FAQ

The news of pregnancy provokes a lot of questions from many corners of one's social world. I figured for my own archival purposes I would catalog some of the details in this blog.*

Are you excited? 
Very! This is a wanted and planned life experience for both my partner and myself.

How are you feeling?
It varies. Overall, I've been very fortunate to have a relatively low-symptom pregnancy. Occasional dizzy spells during my first trimester were solved through increased protein intake and through the body just adjusting to all the new hormones and what not. In my second trimester I have had spates of sciatic nerve pain and rhinitis that are normal if not entirely comfortable. I miss sleeping on my back and I REALLY miss sleeping on my stomach. I miss being able to work out normally (the nerve pain seemed exacerbated by the elliptical so I am swimming, taking walks, stretching, and using light free weights). But I usually feel very good. I often feel very hungry. I sometimes feel really isolated.

Don't get me wrong. I have great friends and lots of support from family. I am incredibly lucky to be pregnant when I want to be. I have health benefits that cover my prenatal care and a job that offers me a generous leave. But I still have hard days during which I feel alienated from my "old" life (not that things are that different yet). I sometimes wish that I had a local and currently-pregnant pal for venting and empathetic purposes. The isolating aspects of pregnancy can be emotionally challenging for sure. Relatedly, I've noticed that I do have more emotional peaks and valleys than usual. Some seem to correspond with expected changes/developments happening. I will admit that I don't particularly enjoy feeling like my body is not my own. Trusting in my body and accepting that it is largely beyond my control during this time presents its own intellectual challenges. But I have adjusted to most of the "new normals" of this circumstance and cannot help but feel optimistic and enthused about what all these changes will eventually produce.

When are you due? What will this mean for your career?
December. It times out nicely with the end of my term. I will work up until my due date, regardless of when I give birth in order to finish the semester for my students. If necessary I am able to have someone proctor final exams for me. I can do my grading remotely and if I have to, I can Skype into class. Although academia can be somewhat unfriendly to women starting families while they're also on the tenure track, I made this choice hoping and anticipating that my workplace and my colleagues would be supportive. They have been and for that I am both grateful and lucky. I will have the Spring term off from teaching and most of my service responsibilities. Following spring is the summer, which is a flexible time in general for my schedule. I will not be taking any unpaid time off because it is not financially sensible for my family.

Regarding my research agenda, I am working diligently to wrap an article manuscript, a conference paper (that I will develop into an additional article for submission soon after), and most importantly my dissertation before I deliver. I have a few boiler plate grant proposals that are ready to be submitted when the right opportunities present themselves. It is perhaps unrealistic but I don't intend to take the spring term off from research. Academics typically have multiple projects that are in various stages of development, able to be picked up and put down as needed. Although I expect my pace will slow, especially in those early days of motherhood, I also need to continue to be productive. My institution does allow new parents to stop the tenure clock for a year but that doesn't mean I want to have gaps in my CV.

What are you having? What do you want to have?
On July 9th, I had my level II ultrasound, during which we learned the sex (it's a girl) but more importantly, we learned that everything is developing accordingly, organs are in place, etc.  More than anything, Chris and I want a healthy child.

On one particularly unremarkable day, Chris said to me that "the perfect family is the family you have." I agree with him and believe that life's expectations and goals adapt to the family you have, both in spite of and because of its component parts. (It goes without saying but, he's seriously such a good dude.)

When did you find out you were pregnant?
I found out very early into the pregnancy because I kept a lot of cyclical data and because of the technology of today's early detection tests.  The day I found out, I wore this ensemble to campus (though the post date is weeks from when I wore it). I remembered thinking to myself that when I eventually blogged the outfit, I should title the entry "Nothing can change the shape of things to come," to reference quietly my changing body through one of my favorite (overly covered) songs. (It has the best one note solo of all time!!).

My parents react to the news. And it sinks in.
The progression from happy to OMG OMG SO HAPPY made my heart grow three sizes.

When/How did you tell your families? 
We told our families over the Easter holiday. I thought about telling them around my birthday but decided Easter gave us a bit more time to ensure things were sticking. We only told immediate family and a tiny handful of close friends until around 12 weeks, after which we had an ultrasound to confirm viability and what not. 

We told Chris's parents with greeting cards (did you know they make "we're expecting!" ones?). We told my parents through an Easter gift we gave to my father. He is a musician who teaches guitar so I purchased a book of guitar tab lullabies and inscribed it to request he, "brush up for December in anticipation of the arrival of our newest family member." It took him a few seconds before the inscription's meaning made sense. (As an aside, one of my biggest regrets was not videoing their reactions. It is a moment I'll always remember and my camera has a video function. At least I got the  reaction shots!).

What were you asked the most during pregnancy? Other than the names question, I think this covers what I've been asked the most.

*I am also keeping a private paper journal at Chris's thoughtful suggestion. One of his birthday gifts to me (which I don't believe I ever shared on Consume or Consumed because most of this year's gifts were family/pregnancy themed) was a purple, leather-bound, paper journal. He knows I am a lover of information and a closet historian. And regardless of whether this pregnancy is 'one of one' or 'one of a few,' details on my symptoms, my appointments, and my general state of mind are worth cataloging to me. Who knows? Some day one of our children might want to read it. I know I would have loved to read my mother's pregnancy journal if she had kept one. I still enjoy the extremely detailed baby book she kept for me as a child.


  1. It IS funny that people ask that but I also understand that it is a polite way to express interest. I also am asked "how are you feeling" (especially from other women) which is very kind.

    Thanks for the suggestions about the pregnancy fora. I am on a few messageboards with women that have pregnancy sub-forums and that has helped. I also regularly read Baby Center and the Bump, since they show up in many google searches (and boy have I been googling up a storm about every symptom and circumstance ever...haha).

    I know the feeling of wanting to cling especially to your mom right now. I feel that for sure and am lucky she is nearby.

  2. The pictures of your parents are lovely!

    The thing I got asked the most - have you stopped running yet? Mum asked me as soon as we told them but as my pregnancy progressed (bearing in mind we didn't find out until 13 weeks in) people did eventually stop asking! I stopped at 32 weeks and started again when she was 4 weeks old. Once they realised my intention to exercise sensibly through pregnancy people were very supportive :-)


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