Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pregnancy And CFS - The First Trimester

It is no secret that I have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) for a long time.  I don't often talk about it publicly but I am very open to talking about my experiences.  I therefore thought it would be worth keeping track of how I am managing the increased fatigue that comes with pregnancy and eventual motherhood.  I know that these stages are difficult for all first time parents, and adding persistent chronic fatigue and corresponding anxiety issues to the mix can make things complicated.  


Before Keith and I considered getting pregnant we talked about it with my doctor.  She was very supportive and encouraging that I would be able to handle the crazy tasks, both physically and emotionally.  Nothing about my condition prohibits me from becoming a mother.  I am also thrilled that this is one of the life goals that my disease HASN'T taken away from me.  (I am also excited to be able to say "I'm a stay-at-home Mom" when people as me what I do rather than "disabled" or "taking some time off."  Being a mom is a non-awkward explanation for not working outside the home.)  Being a stay-at-home mom was never my plan as I attended Wellesley and then completed my PhD at Harvard, and I still hope that someday in the future I will be able to work a full time teaching position.  However, I know that I will soon have a little baby who is ready to learn from me and I am so excited for the next chapter in our lives.  

Secondly, I know that it is going to be hard.  Keith is extremely supportive and we have talked about plans for dealing with the extra chores that come with parenthood.  We are aware that there are many things that will come up that you cannot plan for, but we plan on taking things one day at a time.  It is very possible that we will need to extra help, whether that comes in the form of a cleaning service, dog walker or a babysitter some afternoons.  

Pregnancy Symptoms 

I have been very lucky in the pregnancy symptom department.  (Poor Keith has dealt WONDERFULLY with my random crying and mood swings!)  Here are my experiences with some of the more common pregnancy symptoms.  
  • Morning Sickness - Between Weeks 5-7, I had some afternoon/evening sickness that I was able to manage by napping.  The nausea was very light and very manageable   I think that if I were on my feet all day rather than resting on the couch, I may have found it more burdensome  but since most days there was nothing urgent to attend to, I didn't mind it at all.  By week 8, this rarely happened.  
  • Aches and Pains - Sorry if this is TMI, but my boobs are now HUGE (not that they were ever small before.)  They are a bit tender, but that comes and goes.  The first few weeks I knew I was pregnant (weeks 4-5) I had pretty constant aches in my lower abdomen, but rarely was it more than just a slight discomfort.  Unfortunately in week 6 I started having HORRIBLE lower back pain to the point where I could not fall asleep due to being so uncomfortable in every position I found.  Thankfully this was done by week 7.  
  • Fatigue - Week 3 (before I even knew I was pregnant) I had increased fatigue to the point that it concerned me.  I was feeling so frustrated... until we got that positive pregnancy test.  Suddenly everything made sense and the frustration I was feeling evaporated.  I'm pregnant, I'm supposed to be tired!   Since then my fatigue levels have gone up and down.  I am able doing a little less physically because I am extra tired, but it is much better than it was in those really early weeks of pregnancy.  The biggest difference from pre-pregnancy is that I am now doctor encouraged (and self encouraged) to nap.   I am HOPING that my experience dealing with fatigue is helping me function and cope with this better than the average person, but we shall see.  
  • More Fatigue - Weeks 10-14 - After a brief break, the fatigue got a bit worse again.  I am sleeping around 12 hours a day (between night time and naps).  Thank goodness this is something that many pregnant women experience, and not just me!  I do tend to be a little crankier (poor Keith), but this is also somewhat related the mood swings mentioned briefly above.  
  • Cravings - I'm not sure if I'm having pregnancy cravings, but if I start thinking about a particular food it suddenly becomes very important that I get it QUICKLY.  Keith has been very supportive of this, running to the supermarket or a drive through to pick something up for me if if I'm too tired to go myself.  The thing I've been craving the most?  Steak'n'Shake burgers.  

Ultimately, I feel that my pregnancy symptoms are extremely managable, and the experience of being pregnant is pleasant!

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