What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The Truth

Morning sickness pills and some ginger ale = my two faves.

“You are just like Princess Kate” my friend texted.

“We only have one thing in common – morning sickness” I texted back.

Then I started thinking about what else Princess Kate and I had in common and the list ended there.

This week has been quite interesting. I’m teaching online summer school so I am marking about 40 grade twelve assignments per day. You have to be on your A game as assignments are literally coming in at any time of the day.

Yet I have struggled with morning sickness.

So how do you balance work, friends, family, while having morning sickness every day? Who knows. If you could tell me, that would be great.

Also, who the hell called it “morning sickness” when it should really be called “all day sickness?”

For whatever reason my “morning sickness” hits at 12:30 p.m. It’s the weirdest thing and for the past couple of days I have checked the clock to see when it starts and every day the number 12:30 looks back at me.

For those of you incredible people who have yet to experience morning sickness let me tell you what it is like. Think of your worst hangover you have ever had. Sometimes you had the spins, sometimes you were just ready to throw up at any second, sometimes you craved certain foods while other times you had to force yourself to eat. All you wanted to do was to possibly throw up to feel better.

That is basically morning sickness. Now I must tell you that mine is not bad. My heart breaks for pregnant women constantly throwing up all day. I can’t imagine opening my eyes every morning to morning sickness.

I also remember not being pregnant and watching my friends go through morning sickness.

“They are so lucky” I thought. “At least they have a baby inside of them.”

That is so true but perspective really is everything. Yes, I am so grateful to feel this way because it means I am still pregnant but feeling hungover every day of the week can feel a bit much.

Weeks ago I was prescribed a medication from my fertility doctor, Dr. Jones. It was for Diclectin but she informed me that it would make me feel really drowsy.

“You can take up to four a day” she said. “That is a lot though so I don’t know if that will just make you way too tired. Just start with one and go from there.”

I didn’t want to take pills because a) I am stubborn and thought I could just be tough b) I was afraid of how tired I would be. I already found myself exhausted after the lamest things and was worried my marking would go to hell if I took medication.

On Thursday I went grocery shopping and my morning sickness came on. I started to curse myself because it was 11:30 a.m. and I was cutting it too close to my 12:30 morning sickness timeslot.

Despite the grocery store cranking the A.C., sweat started pouring down my face.

“I need to get out of here” I thought. My shopping was almost complete and I just needed to pay.

I stood in line and placed the top of my body over the bar on the cart. Somehow I felt that would help. Then I started taking deep breaths.

The man behind me looked puzzled.

“I just need this” I said to the clerk as I grabbed a bottle of ginger ale and chugged it like I once downed shots in University.

After paying my bill and getting out of there without throwing up (small victories), I decided it was time to fill my prescription.

The pharmacist warned me that I should just start out with one because so many people complain about being way too tired on them. Yes, yes, everyone was giving me the same warning.

On Friday, after getting nine hours of sleep the night before, I popped my first Diclectin.

Within two hours I could barely keep my eyes open and had to go for a two hour nap.

So now I wake up each morning and choose. Will today be a day of nausea and throwing up or will today be a day I spend sleeping? What a choice!

Do you remember Kourtney Kardashian when she was pregnant? She loved and embraced her pregnancy so much. She was so happy and felt as though she was “one” with her baby.

For me, pregnancy has been a bit of a gong show. It consists of days when I spot and go into hysterics thinking that I have miscarried my baby. It is also a time where I have to debate which is less likely to interfere with my day – sleep or vomiting.

That being said, pregnancy is also the best thing in the world. I legit strut down the street exposing that my stomach is becoming bigger. People have complimented and said that I am “beautiful” on the streets which has not happened in years. I am positive this is because I am no longer trying to hide my belly or my weight.

People also comment on the fact that I am “glowing” when in fact, my body is just drenched with sweat and I feel like I need to shower. It is so nice to receive compliments at a time when you think you may pass out from heat stroke.

I am also fully aware of my limits. Before becoming pregnant, I attended everything and my friends can back me up on this. I was always out and having fun. I’d often be completely exhausted though because I was doing far too much. Now, I have to slow down and have to make choices. I can’t attend everything anymore which makes me sad but I really appreciate the times that I do get to spend with friends.

I’ve also started rubbing my belly when I am anxious and have started talking to the baby. If anyone saw me, they would legit think I was crazy but I am enjoying this little bonding experience.

This week I also got my OB! His name is Dr. Snelgrove and he is at Mount Sinai. I have an appointment with him this week and was told that it will be “long.” Have no idea what it entails but my amazing sister J will be by my side.

So right now I would give my pregnancy about an 8/10. Most days are filled with joy but I do miss my wine on patios and I do miss feeling well during most days.

Still can’t believe this is happening though. Sometimes I just think “I am pregnant” and I am filled with so much joy sprinkled with a bit of fear.

Excited to see what a new week brings! How will I feel? Will the morning sickness end? Can I make it through a day without having a two hour nap? Will I leave my house and go out in the heat? Will my marking get done? Will I stop being a hermit? Will I just invest in shares of Canada Dry because I am drinking so much ginger ale? Time will tell. Sometimes you just have to laugh at all of this because it is so ridiculous.

So I may not look like Princess Kate, I may not be rich, I may not even be married to royalty (or married at all) but hats off to Kate because we do have a shared experience and morning sickness is no joke.

First Ultrasound: Not At All What I Expected

It was 9:30 a.m. and the sun was already beating down on me. I had just stepped out of my apartment and I could see my Mom rounding the corner with a huge smile on her face.

“Today is the day” she said as she gave me a hug. “How are you feeling?” she asked.

“Incredibly nervous and super excited” I said with a smile.

I ordered an Uber and we stood outside in the heat talking about what we had been up to the past couple of days. When the Uber arrived, I felt relieved to just sit down. Had no idea I’d be this nervous to go to my first ultrasound at 8 weeks. My legs felt like jelly and it was nice to just sit down and relax.

Our drive was bumpy and my Mom was telling me all about going out for dinner the other night and the server that they had.

“You know. The dinner was exceptional but I think it may have been the servers first time serving.”

I couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying. Instead I was watching the time, watching how the Uber driver was darting inbetween traffic, and I was just trying to focus on my breathing in order to stay as calm as possible.

“What would you like from Starbucks?” my sister J texted me. She was kind enough to make sure that she changed her day at the office so that she could come with us. She had been to so many appointments and it was so beautiful that she could come to this one.

“Just water” I said feeling so thirsty.

The Uber driver finally dropped us off at the fertility clinic and I was excited to show my Mom that this was the place I had been attending for almost a year. It was also a place where I went for about 30 appointments over that time.

“This is it” I proudly said to my Mom.

We went into the elevator and I pressed seven. “This is really starting to feel real” I said. “It also makes me somewhat sad as this will most likely be the last time I come to this clinic.”

When the elevator doors opened nobody was in the waiting room.

“This is so odd” I said to the receptionist. “Where is everyone? It is a weekday.”

“It is eerily quiet right now” she said with a laugh.

My Mom and I sat down for a couple minutes before I was told that I could get changed into a hospital gown. My Mom got to come with me and suddenly all of the places in the fertility clinic that I had described in my blog were coming to life for my Mom.

“This is where I sat when the women all coached me on what to do before my first ultrasound” I said.

“I am here! Where do I go?” texted my sister J.

My Mom knew she would get lost if she went to find J so I just went out in my hospital gown.

“This is so exciting” she said as she followed me into the room with the hospital gowns.

“Sarah?” asked the nurse. “Have you had a chance to use the restroom?”

“I will go right now” I said remembering that every time before an ultrasound I had to empty my bladder.

“Your family can follow me” she instructed to my Mom and sister.

“They get to actually go in?” I asked.

“Of course” she said.

It was so exciting walking into the room with the nurse, the ultrasound equipment and seeing both my Mom and sister sitting on chairs.

“Are you ready?” asked the nurse.

“Great it is an internal ultrasound” I laughed. There is nothing like something going inside of you as you look at your Mom and sister.

“Take her picture” instructed my Mom to my sister. “We need to remember this.”

“Really?” asked my sister laughing.

“Of course” I said with a smile.

The probe was inside of me and my Mom, sister and I just started catching up about various family members and how everyone was doing. I could hear that the nurse was taking pictures and it was taking a bit of time.

From what I had heard from other people regarding ultrasounds, the nurse would not say anything so I didn’t expect to hear or see anything.

“Do you want to look?” asked the nurse.

My Mom and sister stood up and came closer to the screen. I stared closely at the screen.

“Is there a baby in there?” I asked. “Please just tell me a baby is in there and that the baby is okay.”

“Look at this” said the nurse. “If you look close enough you can see the heartbeat flashing on the screen.”

I saw it.

It was beautiful but also made me feel something I did not expect – absolute and total fear.

This was not like the movies. I was supposed to have my belly out and we were supposed to hear the heatbeat. We were supposed to all scream with excitement and I was supposed to start crying tears of joy.

It wasn’t happening.

Instead, I felt this intense feeling of protection.

When I first told people that I was pregnant, they would say “congrats Mama” and I didn’t get it. Yes I had something instead of me, but I totally didn’t feel like a Mama.

Now, looking at this heartbeat I finally felt like a Mama. It was a feeling of so much joy but it also felt like all of this weight being added to my shoulders.

Things were changing.

There was no denying it. I was no longer single independent Sarah anymore. I was a Mama who was going to do anything for that little baby. My needs didn’t matter anymore because all I cared about was making sure that little one was protected. I was going to sacrifice and do anything so that I could to be the best Mama that I could to that little heartbeat.

With that image on the screen my life had completely changed. I was now responsible for something so great and now every single decision in my life would be made thinking of that little heartbeat before my own wants and needs.

“Here are the pictures” said the nurse printing out the pictures of the ultrasound.

“Thanks” I said laughing at how there was really not that much to see in the image.

Yet one thing was for certain – that tiny little seed had a heartbeat and my life was transforming infront of me. I would do absolutely anything for that little seed.

After being in the room we saw my fertility doctor and I thanked her for everything.

“You are now graduating from the clinic” she said.

“I feel like I need a graduation song” I said thinking of Vitamin C’s graduation song that plays at literally every graduation of life.

“Do you want me to play a song on my phone? “asked the other nurse in the room.

“It’s okay” I laughed. I knew that even the words by Vitamin C would be too much at that moment. It was super emotional and I knew that I’d burst into tears.

Mount Sinai Fertility made me feel at home for the past year and it made me so sad (and happy) to be leaving and graduating from the clinic. The nurses had helped answer every single question I had ever had. They had called me and given me life-changing news. My fertility doctor (Dr. Jones) was also the most compassionate, empathetic, intelligent woman. She always had this calming nature and was there to support me through everything.

As my sister, Mom, and I all left I couldn’t help but notice that the waiting room in the fertility clinic was completely full. There were hardly any seats available.

My heart sunk and I just wanted to reach out to everyone there.

I also felt guilty that I was holding pictures of an ultrasound and that other couples had been trying so hard and for so long without their pictures just yet.

“Magic happens here” I thought. “Don’t give up.”

We pressed the elevator to go down to G and I couldn’t help but become very sentimental about leaving a place that gave me so much.

Thank you Mount Sinai for everything and thank you for giving me a little heartbeat inside of me. I promise to make all decisions based on what is right for the little one and to be the best Mama that I can possibly be.

Change of Plans?

I was once someone who always needed a plan.  A plan made me feel secure and made me feel like I was doing the right thing.  Go to school, go to University, get your first job, take no time off.  As a people pleaser I did what everyone expected of me and making them happy, in turn, made me happy.

In high school I proudly wore my promise ring from my high school boyfriend of three years.  I honestly thought that I’d end up marrying him and build a life in the small town where I grew up.  My parents met in grade ten and stayed together so why would that not be my fate?

When I went to University, my high school boyfriend and I broke up.  I dated a bit in my 20’s and always remained a happy and committed partner to whomever I was dating.  When I met my ex-husband, we were great friends for about three years before we dated.  He proposed on my 30th birthday and I had a plan. Sure I had wanted to get married at the age of 25 and had a mini meltdown on my 25th birthday when I was not engaged to be married, but by 30, I knew that I was sticking to a plan. 

We moved into a beautiful house, both had jobs we loved, and even had a bulldog named Hudson.  Things were going according to plan until they weren’t.

One year after getting married, my ex-husband and I spilt and it shattered my world.  In life, if you did everything right, you would be rewarded. Right? If you created a plan and worked hard to follow that plan, everything would work out. Right?

Looking back, I can’t believe how naïve I was back then. Having a plan made me so secure but it also sent me into anxiety mode when the boxes weren’t being checked off perfectly. With a plan, I was expecting way too much of myself as well as expecting too much of everyone around me.

After my divorce, I wanted to get a tattoo so I got the word “change” on my wrist.  The purpose of the tattoo was to constantly remind myself that change was a good thing.  There was a time where anxiety filled my stomach when someone mentioned the word “change.”  In going through my divorce, I realized that change was actually a blessing. 

It’s funny how often I’ve looked at my tattoo because change has been such a prevalent part of my life. For someone so scared of it at one time, I feel as though I have really been tested to accept that change can and will occur and the best way to deal with change is to be open to it.

In fact, my tattoo of “change” has never been as meaningful as it is right now – in being seven weeks pregnant as a future Choice Mom.

There is this commercial on television for a car and when things don’t go as planned it just says “recalculating” and I have to laugh at it because I feel like this describes my life. Another person once told me to just yell “plot twist” when something unexpected happens. Instead of getting mad at myself or anxious about my life I just try to say the words “recalculating” or “plot twist” and it tends to make me feel better.

In telling people that I am pregnant, they really want to know the “plan”. When will I leave work? When will I return to work? Will I move in with my parents? Who is going to help me? Will I stay in Toronto? Where will I live? Can I afford Toronto as a single mother? Should I leave Toronto and try to get hired by a new school board?

So many questions and unfortunately, I don’t have the answers.

If a couple people ask me these questions, I can usually just breathe through the questions.  It’s almost as though I need to help their anxiety because they are worried about me and are searching for some kind of plan. 

The issue is that I don’t really have a plan.  The old Sarah, would have never have been able to deal without some sort of “plan.” I would have had a plan as well as five back-up plans and I’d be checking off lists making sure that everything was going according to plan.

When I planned to have a baby in the past, I always just assumed it would be in a detached home with two extra bedrooms – two babies (the perfect family). 

Now I live in a beautiful condo but it is small and I am not exactly sure where everything is going to fit. But it is okay. I am okay and baby will be okay.

Things are going to change.  As of right now, I think I’ll be staying in the city but I have no actual idea what will happen between now and one year from now. Do any of us, really? When I had a plan in life, nothing went according to my plan.

A couple summers ago, I went on a wine tour and about ten of us were sitting in a bus.  My friends were kind enough to humour me in a game that I always love to play.  Instead of the game “truth or dare”, I created a game called “truth 1 or truth 2.”  Truth one is full of silly questions such as “what is your favourite food?” while truth two questions are often very deep such as “what is the scariest moment you have ever had in your life?” As someone who prefers really deep questions, I always hope that someone will say that they are willing to answer a “truth 2” question.

One of my friends said they’d like to tackle a truth two question that was later open to the entire group. My question to my friends was “do you feel as though your life has gone according to plan? Did you ever think you would be where you are right now in your life?”

Every single person said “no.”

I was absolutely shocked.  On that drive I listened to friends discuss how they weren’t where they thought they’d be when it came to relationships, work, finances, children, etc. 

So my question is, if nobody’s life is really going according to plan, why do we all feel like we need to have a plan?

My “plan” is to try to bring this baby to term.  All I am trying to do right now is to have a healthy pregnancy.  Unfortuantely I can’t share the logistics of where I am living, where my baby will go to daycare, what sort of support system I am going to have, etc.  I honestly just want to live each day as it comes.

You know who has a plan? The universe.  I know that sounds a bit crazy and my sister absolutely HATES when I mention the word “universe” because she thinks it is so bizzare but I really feel like we are all being taken care of.

When you see a pregnant Mama or hear that someone is pregnant, maybe we lay off the questions because it can be too much.  Maybe we just ask “how are you feeling?”  That’s a great question to start with. Don’t get me wrong – this is the pot calling the kettle black. I ask so many questions to people but I am going to start trying to check myself.  I am going to ask myself “is this a question to help the person or is this just a question because I am nosy? Do they actually need my “help” in bringing up this question?”

Sometimes questions can just really add up and for me, it is starting to feel like a lot. I feel like I am not able to please everyone and that maybe I am doing something really wrong because I don’t have a plan. 

Then I have to stop and remind myself that I am okay. Things will work out and no matter where I live, which daycare my child will attend, or where I will work, this baby will be so loved. In the end, all that really matters is that there is a whole lot of love.

Wishing everyone a great week and if you don’t have a one, five or ten year plan, join the club! We are all just trying to get by and sometimes living without a plan can be the most rewarding thing you can do for yourself.