Down with the Sickness

(oh wah ah ah ah!)

Alternate Title – How Not to Get Fat During Pregnancy. 

For the first 3-4 weeks I felt normal.  Then, it came.  The nausea.  The awful, powerful urge to throw up every 30-45 minutes.  All day long.  Morning sickness is a complete misnomer.  My nausea was 24/7.  Nausea is worst on an empty stomach, therefore you are more likely to feel sick in the morning because you haven’t got any food in you yet. 

I didn’t throw up a ton, largely due to sheer willpower.  I really really Really hate throwing up.  Its the worst thing ever.  If you’re sick or hungover, you at least have the knowledge that getting whatever it is out of your system will help somewhat, so the barfing is a good thing and soon you’ll feel better.  With pregnancy?  Not so much.  That sickness could stay with you an indeterminate amount of time, and no amount of yakking will make it go away.  It was also such a struggle to get food in my mouth in the first place, I didn’t want to waste all that effort by urping it all back up again.  So I’d just say no, No, NO.  I will not throw up.  There were some mornings (does 1am count as morning?) when there was no stopping it.  My entire body convulsed.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if blood was shooting out my ears and nose and my eyeballs popped out.  Like the hand of God Himself was squeezing me like a tube of toothpaste.  No mere willpower was keeping that at bay. 

Then there’s all the inappropriate times and places to throw up, which is almost all places almost all the time.  Like, in the mall parking lot at 6pm.  Or in the bar where you went to hear a band play (not drunk!  just pregnant!  I swear!).  Or driving up I-85 at 70 miles per hour on the way to work.  (Would I be able to safely pull over?  Then I would have to drive all the way home to change my clothes?  Ewwww).  I did manage to keep all the barfing confined to my bathroom.  Ok, and bedroom floor one time.  Annnd the living room floor a couple times.  And one little time at the office, but I’ll leave that a mystery for my co-workers. 

For a month I lived like that, feeling like I had a 24 hour stomach bug (720 hour bug?).  The next time I went to the doctor I whimpered about how ill I felt All The Time and she gave me a prescription.  It helped Enormously.  I kept getting that prescription refilled well into month 5, though at about that point I did start taking it as needed rather than automatically every morning.  I still felt queasy pretty often, but it was much easier to get small amounts of carbohydrates into my mouth.  The nausea never really left me, but was eventually replaced with reflux when my stomach was shoved somewhere up into my chest cavity.

Not only did I feel ill, but my desire for food changed. The joy of food was lost.  And I love me some food.  My taste buds had changed so that almost all foods were repellent to me. I didn’t have any specific aversion, it was a broad spectrum.  Like all meat was disgusting.  Salad became hard to eat.  What’s gross about salad, you say?  Nothing, that’s just an example of how All Food was completely unappetizing.  You know what helps to alleviate the nausea?  Food.  So the stomach that hated all foods also needed food to combat the sickness, so it was a conundrum. For about a month I survived by shoving a Fig Newton in my mouth every time a new wave came on, which was approximately 30-45 minutes.  Christie theorized that I was the sole reason for Newtons going on sale at our local Publix.   

Bread and other carbohydrate cousins were usually ok, given that they were bland, and low in fat and sugar.  Saltine crackers and ginger ale were not some of these foods.  Another odd symptom that I had never heard of was a bad taste on my tongue that never went away, despite scrubbing it with a toothbrush (trying not to gag).  It was like I had been sucking on pennies all day long.  Anything sweet just made the taste worse rather than covering it up.  This included refined wheat products like saltine crackers, and sugary drinks like ginger ale.  Both left a horrible after taste.  I did discover that club soda with just a teeny bit of real soda in it was good.  So refreshing and bland. 

After checking out BabyCenter I realized I was not alone in the bad mouth taste thing.  Not much helped cover it up, except for these ginger candies sold at Trader Joe’s.  The difference between this and ginger ale is that it is Real Ginger and doesn’t have a lot of added sugar.  If you bought a jar of thin sliced ginger, the kind always served in a little lump with sushi, that would do the trick too.  But the candies are easier to keep in a desk drawer or purse. 

Foods that Helped Me Survive:

  • generic Cheerios (name brand honey-nut tasted too sweet, so go for generic or a variety with less sugar)
  • Chex mix or trail mix
  • Peanut butter.  Eating a spoonful made me feel better pretty quickly.  Pair with an apple or banana, or smear on the Newtons or Fiber Bar if you feel like saving yourself the shame of eating it straight from the jar with a spoon. 
  • Real ginger – emphasis on real.  Not a food source, but it helps the palate
  • Barely flavored beverages like club soda or La Croix.  I became addicted to Honest Ade because it was tasty without being too sweet.  My faves are Super Berry Punch (I think that’s the one with a berry wearing hipster glasses on it) or the Orange Mango. 
  • Milk.  I was practically vegetarian, but I drank milk like a fiend.  Which is good, because if you don’t get enough calcium during pregnancy that greedy lil fetus will steal it from you.  Just say no to osteoporosis. 
  • Quesadilla with black beans.  This was later on when I could handle a little more fat content from the cheese, and the beans made me feel like I was at least getting some protein.
  • Smoothies.  I didn’t do this a lot, but they kept me going at Dragon Con very well when I was 5 months preggo.

Talking to other preggos, I wondered about my protein intake since it was being fueled solely by milk and peanut butter.  I asked my doctor if I should try to drink some protein shakes.  He said, “Why would you want to do that?  Those are disgusting.”  Granted I had an older doctor who had been practicing for 30 years.  Here’s where opinions vary widely, but in my case my very unbalanced diet resulted in a healthy 8 pound baby.  I did take my vitamins with no problem the entire time.  I used VitaFusion PreNatal Gummy Vitamins.  They never tasted bad, so that’s saying something.  They don’t have iron, so I took just a normal iron vitamin, but always a couple hours later so that one didn’t interfere with the absorption of the other.  The iron became pretty important around month 5.  I had a few days where I felt like I was going to pass out, and taking iron really helped with that.  Passing out – no bueno. 

So glad I’m not there any more!  Feel free to share your horror stories or what helped you survive!




Pregnancy.  It started out with a weird stomach/ back ache that kept me from sleeping for a few nights.  Once I found out what back labor was I realized it was very similar.  I couldn’t lie down without a deep ache ringing around my entire lower abdomen.

It was so early on that the hormone levels weren’t high enough to register on the usual pee test.  I’d seen the general practice doctor and they drew some blood to make sure.  Blood tests are way more sensitive and can detect the hormone (HCG) before those home kit tests.  I got a call on a Saturday morning from the GP with the news that yes, I was pregnant.
I wasn’t happy.  I was sad and worried.  This amount of discomfort wasn’t normal from what I’d read, and the GP was concerned it could be ectopic.  And if that were the case, I wasn’t really pregnant at all.  More blood tests over the next week tracked the HCG levels.  If they went up, I was really pregnant.  If they stayed the same, I was looking at an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage situation.   Hence the worry.  However, the worry was needless as the hormone levels went up appropriately and an ultrasound showed a little splotch right where it should be.  Hello little dot!
For the first trimester, I was cautious.  I was afraid to be happy or excited because I knew that miscarriages are actually pretty common.  It took a long time to feel real.  There was no instantaneous moment when I felt like I knew for sure there was a tiny person bopping around in there, but more like a gradual dawning.  By the seventh month or so when my entire stomach was doing a dance I had pretty much come to grips with the concept.

When we found out the gender, we were thrilled.  After the ultrasound we sat in the waiting room at the doctor grinning like idiots.  I was shocked, because I was convinced it was a boy.  Most people guessed boy.  Most people were wrong.