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I keep saying I’m going to post here and then never do. I’ll wait for the next “big” milestone and then it’ll pass and I’ll forget to post and the time won’t be right. So on this totally insignificant day, I will update things here.
Things that have happened since the last update:
Getting ready developments:
Things I need to do (written here mostly for my own satisfaction):
And most importantly…BREATHE
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What is it like to be pregnant while fat?
I have been working on this post for a long time in my head. Both consciously and subconsciously, I have been making a list of those things that make me different from the “average” pregnant woman just because of my starting size. Given that I’m pregnant with twins after infertility and IVF, my experience may be different from others…but that’s all I intended on expressing is my experience. Yours may differ. In some ways, I hope it does.
More than that, I hope by sharing this, that others find strength in learning that fat is not a death sentence and that you can be healthy—pregnant or not—while fat.
A Quick Note on the Word “Fat”
Before I get started, I think it’s important for those outside of the Health At Every Size (TM) (“HAES”), fat acceptance and size acceptance communities to understand why I choose to use the term “fat” as opposed to “overweight,” “plus size,” or the dreaded “obese.” First, overweight and obese are medical terms and are not very good descriptors outside of medicine. Second, overweight and obese are often stigmatizing concepts for large people. Third, I prefer fat because if it is used properly, it’s not at all stigmatizing to me. I am fat. I have been fat for the bulk of my life. I accept it. So should you.
For other good resources on why you should use fat instead of other descriptors, see here.
Infertility, IVF and Being Fat
This could be a post and an entire series of posts onto itself. I’ve dealt with it some here before, but I’ve tried to not let myself be defined by my fat or my size. At least not here. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was an issue with infertility and IVF in particular. Not because I made it one, because modern medicine has made it one—despite the fact that women much larger than me have been getting pregnant without problems and having babies without problems for centuries. (For great information on this, see The Well-Rounded Mama’s blog.)
When you go through infertility treatments, including IVF, the first thing any doctor will tell you to do is to lose weight. Or to try to. Or some code words for that like “healthy diet” and “increased activity.” Those things in and of themselves aren’t bad, but when thy are being measured by the number on the scale, they are because that number is so deceiving and ultimately irrelevant to one’s health if they remain relatively stable. So, the first battle was finding a doctor who didn’t push this too much I have no problems eating healthier or increasing my activity. I do have problems if the medical professional I am seeing chooses to use the scale as a measurement of my willingness to do these things or my ability to conceive.
Being Pregnant with Twins and Being Fat
Many women who are pregnant with multiples are considered “high risk” off the bat. This is not necessary for many women with twins, as many twin pregnancies are not high risk. But when you add in my size and the fact that I went through IVF to become pregnant, you get labeled high-risk pretty quickly anyhow. I did not fight this descriptor. I went to see the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor and even he agreed that without any other complications, my regular OB/GYN could handle the pregnancy. I only note the high risk factor here because I was told by my infertility doctor, my OB and the MFM that I was high risk specifically because of my size…something that has not been scientifically proven.
Many women might do one of two things: (1) revolt against the distinction and seek out alternative medical care; or (2) accept size-shaming in the form of a high risk diagnosis simply because of their size. Despite the fact that I saw the MFM, I did not accept the high risk diagnosis based on size alone. If size were my only complicating factor (and it’s not even one based on the research out there), then I’d probably fall into the first category. But I do have other health issues that make me high risk (that are separate from my size) and I would rather take the extra care involved with a high risk pregnancy than regret it later. I do this, though, knowing that my doctors are open to things such as a vaginal birth for twins and limited medical interventions where desired.
First Trimester Weight Loss…or any Weight Loss at All
It is not uncommon for women to lose weight in their first trimester. If you can get food down (which I couldn’t), you often lose it one way or another before it gets absorbed. The growing fetus (or fetuses in my case) get all of the good things first and you get whatever is left over. This makes for a real treat in the energy department.
I lost over 30 pounds in my first trimester. I do not track my weight regularly, but I was losing before I even saw the OB/GYN for the first time. The only reason I know this because they do weigh me at the allergist’s office to adjust my medications as necessary and they noticed a big drop in weight. By time I got to the OB’s office for the first time, I had already lost 15+ lbs.
Now, I know for a fact that as a fat woman I was treated differently from other women who lose weight in the first trimester. It’s not that the doctor didn’t seem to care too much. Many women lose weight regardless of size and are fine. It’s that the doctor didn’t care too much and I was carrying twins and barely able to eat a snack, let alone a meal. If I were a thin pregnant-with-multiples woman saying to my doctor that I was losing weight at that pace, there might not have been an alarm rung, but it would have been taken more seriously.
Outside of the medical realm, the biggest thing that irritated me was the people that thought that it was “good” that I was losing weight, including my own parents. Listen, if losing weight is good, why did I feel like hell? Probably because I was only losing it by failing to eat properly, if at all. That’s not healthy on any scale of health. It was highly bothersome that people didn’t seem to get this.
The only upside was that because of this lost weight, I got to put off buying maternity clothes for longer than most women, especially women pregnant with twins. There are still some of my regular clothes that fit fine. In fact, in the legs and arms of things, I’m swimming in my clothes. The downside to this is that I have no clue what size I will be when this is all said and done, so I might be in need of a new wardrobe.
Take these facts: I started out fat. I lost weight at the beginning.
You get this result: Barely anyone can tell that I’m pregnant.
Now, in some ways this helped. I didn’t have to tell certain people in my life until I was ready to do so. Having gone through pregnancy loss before, this is a huge thing. I was free to live on both sides of the fence until I felt ready. I also had the bonus clothes situation.
But there are also some drawbacks to this, especially when you’ve waited to be pregnant for as long as I have. Whereas other pregnant women are asked about their pregnancy, given much needed seats on busy city buses and so on, a fat woman is not given these things while pregnant because no one knows she is pregnant. Or at least they’re not sure. I didn’t know this would affect me so much until the lady in front of me at the grocery store check out line fawned all over the pregnant cashier and here I was, 25 weeks pregnant with twins and no attention was paid to me. It’s childish, but it’s something that comes with a bigger twinge of disdain when you’ve gone through infertility. I get to get away with people not asking to touch my belly, but I also don’t get the joyful attention that others do. Double edged sword to say the least.
Plus, I always have this fear that people are judging me when I tell them that I am pregnant and they look at me and can’t tell. I swear I’m not lying!
The “Inevitable” Gestational Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
As a fat person that has been to my fair share of doctors, almost all of them will fill you with doom and gloom about your future and current health. According to general wisdom in the medical system, you cannot be fat and healthy. That is despite a plethora of research that shows that you can be healthy regardless of size. But not a doctor’s appointment goes by when you aren’t quizzed about your eating habits and exercise routine and then told you will eventually get diabetes and high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
I have never had diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. (I have insulin resistance, but while that affects the same organs as diabetes, is actually the opposite of it and I may never get diabetes from it, though I very well may.) Ever. In fact, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are stellar. Freaking textbook perfect. And when the doctors see that, they almost always look puzzled.
This goes double when you are pregnant.
Now, when I was early in my pregnancy I did have a bit of high blood pressure. But that was because every time I went to the doctor I was in fear that a miscarriage was on the horizon. Once I got through the first trimester, my blood pressure was perfect. In fact, when I went to another doctor’s office (the allergist, for example) my blood pressure was fine even in the first trimester. It was the idea that at any point the OB could tell me it was all over that sent my blood pressure to the low end of the high range.
Despite this, I have been told several times that I will get gestational diabetes. I have also been told that my blood pressure needs to be monitored more closely than the average pregnant woman. So far, I’ve had two gestational diabetes tests and several blood pressure tests and all is well.
I will never experience pregnancy as a slim, skinny or thin woman. I will never experience it as an average woman. I may never experience it again. But I know that being pregnant while fat is very different. Some things are looked at more skeptically, some more seriously and some not seriously enough. It’s a failing on the part of our medical care system that we do not know better about treating fat pregnant women with more dignity during their pregnancies—especially when information and resources are available to do better. But despite it not being my failing, I am the one who has to deal with it.
I do know that my next big challenge is finding a pediatrician who does not fat shame my children who, having two large parents, are likely to be fat themselves. I am hoping that, unlike my childhood, theirs is not filled with the kind of body shame that mine was.
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There’s never a dull moment in this pregnancy.
Last week, I saw a random red bump on my upper abdomen. I didn’t think much of it and it didn’t really itch that much. I thought at worst it was a bug bite. In the following days a few more small bumps popped up around it, but nothing big. Then this weekend, my skin went haywire and there were patches everywhere on my abdomen and moving to my back and neck. Sometimes they itched like crazy. Sometimes they didn’t.
Thankfully I had an OB appointment yesterday.
Not thankfully it was with the OB in the office that I don’t really care for that much. She told me it wasn’t pregnancy related and gave me a couple of names of dermatologists. Later last night, the itching intensified and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to wait very long to see someone. Thankfully, one of the names she gave me was able to get me in this morning. I think when you mention the words “pregnant with twins” people seem to find a spot a lot more quickly.
Turns out it was something I thought it might be after my Dr. Google research…pityriasis rosea. It’s not an infection. It’s the after effects of a virus. Apparently somewhere along the line I had a virus that caused this. I probably confused it with allergies. Since my immune system is low, who knows. Or perhaps it was the flu shot…just thinking of that now. Anyhow, regardless…it’s not harmful to the babies, it’s not contagious and it should go away on its own. Of course, there’s nothing to speed up the healing. Just ways to manage the irritation.
The dermatologist did a biopsy to rule out anything else. But this makes sense given the literature on it about how it starts—large “hearalding” patch that gives way to a bigger rash over the next days and weeks. Sometimes itchy, sometimes not. No other symptoms.
I probably could have gone into work this afternoon, but since I’m all itchy and had to have a patch of skin ripped off of me, I figured I’d indulge myself and keep the afternoon light. Not to mention that I kept waking up last night all itchy. Apparently stress can trigger this as well. So there’s something fun to watch out for!
Anyhow, I thought I’d post this for anyone who had similar issues. There is one Italian case study that found poor responses in pregnant women who got PR early in pregnancy—but there was no way to tell if those pregnancies were viable anyhow. Thankfully, I’m well past that point and I doubt it’s going to be an issue.
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Today marks the beginning of my 24th week of pregnancy. For those of you who are not “in the know” when it comes to pregnancy, 24 weeks is the official mark of viability. Viability is the point at which babies can live outside of the womb. Things are still not close to being done cooking, but there’s a shot at this point forward.
So yeah, I guess you could say this is getting pretty serious.
Pretty damn serious.
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Jesus H. Murphy, is it really 20 weeks and 5 days? Almost 21 weeks? As in, I’m past the half point for any pregnancy, but for mine I’m WELL past it?
And that is the constant state in which I find myself lately. Being pregnant with twins makes it that much more poignant. A singleton pregnancy normally can plan on going 38-40 weeks. I can’t make any such plans. It’s 38 at the latest, but likely not even that far.
This means that I’ve had a lot of come to Jesus meetings with myself about things I need to be doing. There are the basics about needing to go register (though I started an Amazon registry a few weeks ago, I need to do a Babys R Us one). I put the shower date into my calendar. Then there are the things that need to get done around the house as in organizing things, getting a new rug for the living room, fixing the back door from where Brooklyn tore it up last year.
It’s enough to give me an anxiety attack, so I try to mentally tackle the problems one at a time to avoid that. Mostly because I can’t take my anxiety meds right now and I know that I’d need to.
Speaking of…the ultrasound tech seemed to think both were girls at our last ultrasound. While I’m excited no matter what, we were both hoping for one of each. The Mister was concerned that girls wouldn’t like to do stuff with him. I had to reassure him that it wasn’t the case at all. In fact, I did more stuff with my dad as a kid than I did with my mom…at least that I can recall.
As I said, I’m happy no matter what the sexes are. The ultrasound tech wasn’t certain, so when we go back in a couple of weeks, they’ll confirm it. This gave The Mister some false hope, I think. But I’m pretty certain they’re girls. And as much as I’d take whatever I got, two girls seems a lot better to me than two boys.
They weren’t able to get some of the measurements of the heart and kidneys that they wanted at the ultrasound because of placement of the babies and placement of one of the placentas. Also, they kept squirming around as if they were trying to hide things. Figures. The doctor had checked off that she wanted an echocardiogram of them (which I didn’t even know was possible), but I didn’t tell them that when I called so we had to reschedule for that anyhow. They said it was too early for them to do it last week anyhow, so that’s fine. We have another scan—2 hours—scheduled for 10/9/12.
So much more I have to plan out…but much of it depends on other people or things. But I think I need to be honest with the doctor this time that I’m feeling ill equipped to handle a full workload much longer. That is one of my biggest concerns. I’d rather go on a reduced schedule now and be able to work longer overall than go out all together earlier than I’d want.
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I’ve been pretty horrible about updating this lately. Part of it is laziness. Part of it is that “I don’t want to jinx this feeling,” that I can’t let go of despite all signs pointing towards this being real.
18 weeks 4 days. Surreal in many ways. And yet common parts of my life now in many others.
Next week is the big anatomy scan. I used to think I wouldn’t find out the sexes of my future children, but I think I personally need this to more fully bond emotionally. And to feel those milestones in pregnancy that I’ll likely never feel again. That’s the other part of this—I’m acutely aware that this will likely be my last pregnancy. And while that’s fine, I still find myself wanting to do things that I might not otherwise care about because of that. Or at least things I thought I might not otherwise do. Either way, I’m getting more and more anxious and excited about the anatomy scan.
More than that, I’m just excited to get that in depth ultrasound again. To see them moving and having grown. And this time The Mister will be with me and I want to see his reaction to it all.
This weekend is my birthday. I’ll be 31. We’re spending the weekend up north, so hopefully I’ll be enjoying the last gasps of summer on our boat before that comes to a screeching halt. And the next time we enjoy a summer, it will be with a few more bodies on board.
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As of today I am 13 weeks and 4 days pregnant.
Let that sink in for a minute. Yeah, I’m having a hard time doing that as well.
I have an appointment at the regular OB’s office on Friday. I’m anxious as hell for it to get here. Between being sick and having that blood drawn last week, I just need to know that things are alright. By all accounts they should be—I’m still having stomach issues, still tired, still achey in all the right places. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous as hell.
I thought getting to the second trimester would be a relief. So far it’s been kind of nerve wracking.
I bought a doppler for at home use. This might have been a bad decision. I’m fat…I’m a size 26 fat. Hearing heartbeats through a doppler might not even be possible on a doctor’s equipment for a few more weeks. I thought I found a heartbeat the other night only to realize that it was actually mine that was being picked up through an artery. At least I’m pretty sure it was.
I had a twinge Sunday night and I almost called the doctor the next morning. It wasn’t anything bad. It was actually probably more stretching of the uterus. But I think I’m getting anxious. Until I can feel these things move around, I’m going to be anxious as all hell.
So many things going through my mind now. When to tell the general public is one of them. 13 weeks 4 days is more than adequate for most people to announce pregnancies. But is that okay for me? And if not, then when will be? And then again, many people I really care about knowing already know…so does it matter at this point?
I can usually try to calm these anxieties. I just figured I’d get them out there and see what you all thought. One day I’ll relax. It just won’t be for a very long time.
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Last week when I went to the MFM doctor, he raised a slight concern that these twins might still be identical, just that they happened to split everything very early. Knowing my experience with identical twins, he wanted an in-depth ultrasound to ensure they were fraternal.
That was this morning.
it was awesome. Yes, they are fraternal and both have their own placenta (big deal…seriously…as Joe Biden would say “this is a big fucking deal”). And best of all, they were MOVING AROUND during the ultrasound. I think we woke them up because they seemed to be a bit awnry. One even raised her/his fist at me as if to say “WHY ARE YOU IN HERE SO EARLY?!!?” Right on, kid. Right on.
According to the MFM my due date is February 8th, not 9th. Thus according to that, I will be twelve weeks on Friday. I’m in this weird state of disbelief and awe that I’ve made it this far.
But this morning…for a brief period of time…I felt like everything was going to be okay. Maybe not perfect, but okay. And I breathed out a giant sigh of relief.
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My first appointment at the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor is in two hours. I’m excited, but I’m stressed. I have a feeling this kind of nervousness is just going to be par for the course for the rest of my pregnancy. There’s not much I can do about it other than ride it out.
Also, in regard to the rash, the OB thinks it’s yeast related but is a bit baffled as to why it’s occurring in spots not prone to yeast (and those prone to it are fine). She gave me a new gel to use. Of course the pharmacy had to special order it. Ugh. But the samples she gave me seemed to help some so once I get on a regular schedule with it, I have high hopes.
Now only if my stomach would stop turning.
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Around Wednesday of last week my chronically dry pregnancy skin turned into a hot mess in places—namely on the top of my breasts. This rash didn’t itch at first, just slight irritation. Then it started itching. I e-mailed the nurse at the OB’s office and she prescribed a cream for me—Nystatin. It helps right after I put it on and it diminishes the appearance temporarily, but it does not get rid of it. In fact, it has spread some and is on my lower abdomen and (dear lord) my nipples some. It also itches like crazy now. LIKE CRAZY.
I haven’t changed anything I use on my skin and I already use products for sensitive skin anyhow.
It’s red in appearance…small red bumps that look like they’re coming out of the hair follicles.
Normally I wouldn’t be so blatant about such a sensitive issue (yeah, I know…I’ll talk about IVF all day long but it pains me to talk about a simple rash. go figure), but I’m hoping someone has a good solution. If I have to go through this for another 6 months or so, I’m going to scream. I’ll deal with it, but I’ll scream.
So my question is…has anyone had this during pregnancy and what did you do to make it better?
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