When you’ve never been pregnant before, it’s difficult to know what you “should” be feeling when you’re expecting. From that first little twinge that makes you suspect maaaaybe you’re pregnant, to that exhilarating (or possibly scary) moment you see the two little pink lines confirming your suspicions, to the following nine months that bring so many new sensations and bizarre bodily issues… you constantly wonder if the symptoms you’re experiencing could officially be pregnancy-related.
In the very beginning, I found myself constantly reading online forums about the experiences of other women during their “two week wait” that finally led to their BFP (“big fat positive”, in case you aren’t savvy in the online pregnancy lingo). I wanted to know if every little twinge was the real thing, and it became a small obsession of mine to compare every little cramp and pain I felt to the things that others were describing. After four months of this, I had finally gotten pregnant. But my worry-wart brain held me prisoner… it then became a game of googling every symptom known to man and the phrase “normal in pregnancy”, or “X amount of weeks pregnant”, to try to help assuage my fears, reassure myself that others had experienced the same symptom, and that nothing was wrong. I don’t know why I did this to myself, but I continued to do it for nearly my entire pregnancy.
So for all of you ladies out there after my own heart, I thought I’d share my symptoms with you from both of my pregnancies (the first was ectopic, the second was successful). **Disclaimer: some of the symptoms may be too “TMI” for some folks… if you’re squeamish reading about those kinds of things, then perhaps this post isn’t for you. But if you’re going to be pregnant, you may as well get over it now… pregnancy will have you facing so many weird and/or disgusting issues to the point that it very quickly won’t phase you anymore!)
First Pregnancy – Ectopic
I had a VERY heavy period, and for the following week and a half afterward, I continued to spot light brown. It was almost as if my period wanted to end, but just wouldn’t quite taper off. I also had crazy headaches (which I never did before), and awful digestive issues that had me running to the toilet constantly for days on end. I got a positive pregnancy test a full week and a half after my period was over (which is NOT normal – my first sign that something was amiss). I never experienced the pain associated with ectopic pregnancies because the embryo never developed into anything big enough to cause pain… we caught it early, I guess. (As a side note: after a D&C revealed no “products of conception” in the uterus, I ended up having to get a shot of methotrexate to end the pregnancy because the doctors suspected it was likely stuck somewhere in my fallopian tube and didn’t want to risk a possible rupture.)
Second Pregnancy – Successful
I had virtually no symptoms during my “two week wait”, so I suspected nothing. About 2 days before my period was due, I found myself incredibly tired one afternoon and took a nap… totally NOT normal for me. That made me raise an eyebrow, so I took a test. It was finally positive (yay!). Around 6 weeks (when I was in Hawaii on vacation with my husband), I had BRIGHT RED spotting one morning when I woke up, which scared the daylights out of me and sent us running to the ER. I thought I was miscarrying, or that maybe it was ectopic again. It was definitely too late to be implantation bleeding. The spotting remains unexplained to this day. Fortunately, it didn’t happen again.
For the whole first trimester, I was lucky that I never vomited, and I only got nauseous a few times. All I had to do was scarf down a few saltines to keep it at bay. What I DID have, though… were the terrible digestive issues that I experienced during my first pregnancy. I thought perhaps maybe I’d picked up a stomach bug on my trip to Hawaii somehow, but after some testing at the doc’s, everything came back normal. So it was definitely just my body reacting to the pregnancy. It basically felt like I had eaten some awful combination of food for WEEKS on end… upset stomach, diarrhea, awful gas… it was terrible and almost made me wish I was nauseous instead. It ended before my second trimester, so I consider this to have been my body’s version of morning sickness. I was also very tired all the time, and took lots of naps.
For the second trimester, I started experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions. These didn’t hurt, but they were definitely noticeable and weird… like your whole stomach getting tight all by itself. I also started getting hip pain at night, as I began side-sleeping to accommodate my bump. Even with a pregnancy pillow, it made sleep difficult. I also started having round ligament pain whenever I sneezed, which basically feels like having a charlie horse in your upper groin area. OUCH. Also, without going into too much gory detail… let’s suffice it to say that there was A LOT of discharge going on down there, to the point that I sometimes wondered if I had peed myself a little (I had not, at least not this early on, haha). I had to wear a pantiliner all the time, and it was super annoying. This continued the entire remainder of my pregnancy. Other than these few things, though, this part of the pregnancy was pretty smooth sailing.
In my third trimester…. mostly toward the end… I started experiencing back pain. Upper and lower. It made standing for any length of time a chore. Sitting down on the couch also began requiring at least two pillows to support my lumbar region, or else I’d be in even more pain. Going up the stairs also made me winded very easily… I had to go verrryyyy slow and then catch my breath at the top. My legs and feet also swelled up a bit by the end of the day if I stood for long periods of time (and as a teacher, this was every day). I actually peed a little one time when I sneezed… as I was just a few inches from getting to the toilet… not my finest moment, haha! The Braxton-Hicks contractions also continued, getting stronger and stronger right up until the end, although they were never painful. (As a side note, I also got food poisoning during my third trimester, which caused me to begin having actual contractions at 33 weeks, for which I had to be hospitalized… but this is obviously not normal, haha!)
… To sum up, lots of crazy things happened to my body that I never expected. The best advice someone ever gave me during my pregnancy was this: “Everything weird is normal.” Happy symptom spotting!
Did you have any of these pregnancy symptoms? Share your story in the comments below!