When most people think about the physical changes brought on by pregnancy, it's usually the obvious ones that come to mind: the immense belly and larger breasts. Even though I have already been pregnant once, those were the two that were at the forefront of my mind this second time around, probably because they have both already happened (okay, the belly isn't immense yet, but it's definitely larger than usual and growing rapidly). I had forgotten the whole slew of fun secondary physical side effects, three of which made their debut this week: pregnancy urination, Braxton-Hicks contractions, and leg cramps. The pregnancy urination came on literally overnight -- on Tuesday I didn't have it and on Wednesday it was here, and it's probably here to stay until the baby is born. Anyone who has been pregnant knows what I mean by "pregnancy urination" -- one minute you don't have to go to the bathroom at all, and the next you not only have to go -- you have to GO. The baby usually helps out at this point by pressing a foot or an arm against my bladder, making me need to go even more. And this feeling only continues to increase until I rush to the bathroom and eliminate perhaps a teaspoon of urine.
The Braxton-Hicks contractions of course only make the pregnancy urination worse. The contractions are starting earlier this time around than with Spencer, but perhaps that's just because I know now what they feel like. They are not yet painful at all -- just a tightening of the uterus -- but I can definitely feel them, and I can definitely feel that I need to go to the bathroom when they are happening as well as afterwards!
The Braxton-Hicks also remind me that I am now halfway through this pregnancy, and my body is already starting to get ready for the work it's going to need to do to bring this baby into the world. And on my part, I am already starting to get excited about meeting the baby, even though we still have a bit more than four months before this happens. One big step toward meeting this baby will hopefully happen next week at our next doctor's appointment when we're going to try to find out if it's a boy or a girl.
Back to the last pregnancy symptom that started this week, namely the leg cramps. Is there any woman who doesn't just hate these? They usually hit in the middle of the night and, for me at least, definitely feel different from the occasional normal leg cramps. The pregnancy leg cramps are much deeper and persistent and painful -- after the cramp is gone, my leg will still be sore.
In addition to the leg cramps, I also tend to get foot cramps, which I had forgotten as well. These usually strike during the day, usually at as awkward a time as possible. I was at a work cocktail party on Thursday evening wearing sandals that seemed to aggravate the cramps and ended up spending much of the evening standing in contorted poses in an effort to get comfortable. Fortunately, by definition, everyone at a school cocktail party is a parent themself and so not only understand the various bizarre side effects of pregnancy but in fact are quite pleased to discuss them with you.
The baby continues to be very active, although it seems to be suffering from performance anxiety when it comes to moving for Andrew (which I seem to remember was the case with Spencer as well). As soon as I start feeling it move when I first lie down in bed for the night (which is when it's most active), I'll put Andrew's hand on my lower stomach so that he can feel it too. And the baby has yet to cooperate -- it's almost as if it can sense that the hand on the outside of my stomach is Andrew's and not mine, and it immediately stops moving every time. Fortunately Andrew has seen the baby move on the ultrasounds, otherwise I'm worried he might think I'm just imagining it all!