August 2, 2012

The worst day of my pregnancy so far...

(I looked and felt much happier by the day's end.)

The worst day of my pregnancy so far also includes one of my favorite pregnant memories.

A few months ago, Chris and I took a trip to New York. We were long overdue to visit our friends! But when I bought the tickets, I wasn't yet pregnant. When I learned I was pregnant, I feared that all officially and unofficially planned trips (to San Diego and New York in the first trimester and eventually New Orleans and Orlando for conferences) would be mired with sickness, swollen feet, and discomfort. Two trips down and we survived. But the worst day of my pregnancy so far occurred during the trip to New York.

First I should say that I have been very lucky throughout this pregnancy. I am healthy. The fetus is developing healthily. I am fortunate to have great medical care and stellar insurance. I have many blessings. I also had a pretty smooth first trimester during which I was mostly just hungry and needed to eat in order to stave off sickness. Around week 5, I experienced a few dizzy spells and quickly determined that coffee and I would need to take a hiatus, but overall I was feeling good. That was until the iron in one of the two prenatal vitamins I was alternating (to be thorough) began to sit poorly with me.

I had a system where I staved off my dizzies (which besides the coffee connection, I eventually realized occurred if I hadn't consumed enough protein and/or if I had taken my iron-rich prenatal the day prior) by propping myself up before exiting bed and munching on some saltines for a few minutes. Then once I was sure-footed, I'd eat some eggs and Greek yogurt for the protein boost. Although this system was solid and able to be maintained through most of the trip, that day I waited too long to eat. And when you're traveling your schedule isn't always in your control.

I woke up on the Friday of our trip with a lot of excitement for a bunch of plans that day. We were staying with Robina and family, as we typically do in New York. We planned to eventually meet up with friends, Jacob and Lizz to go to a museum, then round out the day with a Mets game at Citi Field. But I made the fatal mistake of not eating protein right after I woke up.

Breakfast plans were delayed and I didn't express to anyone (including Chris) that it would be to my own detriment. A headache developed along with my dizziness which transformed into nausea (something I hadn't had much of at all in the weeks prior or following).  By the time I tried eating some food, taking some medicine, and resting, it seemed like nothing could help. I was too far gone. Robina suggested some fresh air so we went to her aunt's natural food market to browse and get supplies. I wanted protein bars so that I could better manage my symptoms in the future.

We grabbed the bars and some juice and while that aspect was unremarkable, what occurred in the store has stayed with me throughout my pregnancy. I started crying (hormones and... general feelings of helpless/hopelessness over my sickness) so Robina explained to her aunt in Urdu that I was ill because of pregnancy.

Her aunt and the and the other female store clerk immediately poured out so much palpable empathy and joy that I found myself crying not only from sickness but also from the overwhelm of the moment. In that small instance I felt an intense psychic connection to each of these women wash over me... each of who had been pregnant before and each of who showered me with their happiness and commiseration. It all felt so real in an otherwise very uncertain and very abstract time of first trimester newness.

There I was sharing something both deeply personal and yet widely experienced; something both incredibly remarkable and yet entirely mundane. I felt the isolating pain of illness in the company of women who utterly understood. So there I was connecting, with two women that I barely knew and one woman who is my dear friend, in ways I hadn't previously fathomed. Suddenly, there I was feeling sick as a dog and yet somehow happy as a clam.

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