Thursday, July 23, 2015

edema, apnea, and other fun things.

It's been almost a month since I last updated. I'm sorry about that, especially since so many of you have emailed and left comments to check up on me. You're so sweet and I'm a complete toad. Again: apologies.

First things first: I'm barely okay(ish), but Jellybean is perfect. And that's what matters most. To me, anyway.

I fell off the blogosphere for a bunch of reasons, but here are the main ones:

  • I was working a lot of extra hours to get ready for a weeklong business trip.
  • I wasn't sleeping well, and therefore unable to get up early enough to do any AM writing.
  • I was also so exhausted that I wasn't up to PM writing, either.
  • I felt like all I was doing was complaining, and who wants to read that shiz?
  • I left for the weeklong business trip, and it almost broke me.

But now I'm home, and I've really missed blogging. So, here's me attempting to get back into the swing of things.

The last time I updated I mentioned that I'd been snoring again and was terrified I'd developed sleep apnea again. I haven't had it in almost eight years, but I remember how awful it was. The not sleeping. The trying to sleep sitting up. The walking exhaustion. The diagnosis and treatment. The breathing machine they make you wear. Etc.

I went from only being able to sleep in bed a couple hours at a time to not being able to fall asleep in bed at all - sleeping exclusively on the couch, sitting up, in front of the TV. And I knew. I just knew that the apnea was back. It made a lot of sense - why my BP had gone crazy, why my weight was shooting up so quickly, why the swelling in my appendages seemed so much worse than normal pregnancy stuff.

I talked to Dr. Direct about this, and she told me to make an appointment with my primary to order the sleep study. It took almost a week to get that appointment. Then, it took another week to schedule the study itself. And even then, they initially told me they couldn't get me in until the end of August, at which point I played the pregnancy card and told anyone who would listen that I'd had a previous loss and I was terrified of losing this baby, too.

It worked. Turns out no one likes you insinuating that their lack of action could result in a loss of pregnancy. I got the sleep study for two days before I left for my business trip, and the apnea was bad enough that they titrated me that night. I spent the bulk of the next day crying to anyone who'd listen that I was about to get on a plane and needed my CPAP immediately so that I didn't lose my baby. It worked again; by 6:30 p.m., I was getting a lesson on how to use the new machine.

That first night, I wrestled with it. See, the way the CPAP works is by forcing air into you, so that you don't stop breathing in your sleep. I have to wear a full-face mask, too, because pregnancy has given me so much nasal congestion that the nose mask made me outright choke. So I've got this thing over my nose and mouth, and it's forcing air into me, and I feel overwhelmingly claustrophobic, like if I don't rip it off my face right that second, I'm going to die.

I think I made it 90 minutes with the mask.

On the trip, I continued to wrestle with the machine. One night I managed to get about four hours in, divided. But I couldn't just fall asleep with it on, stay asleep 7 hours, and wake up refreshed. There were a couple of nights I didn't even bother using it, but the last day of the trip I was like a zombie, so I went back to my hotel and took a 2.5 hour nap with the mask. When I woke up feeling human, I capitulated: I needed the machine, and I needed to get over my CPAP anxiety ASAP.

But then a new thing developed, and it's this: If I sleep on my left side for more than 45 minutes, my arm falls asleep. My hand goes numb. And then I wake up with pain shooting down my arm. So now, even though I'm finally getting used to the mask, I still can't stay in it long because I wake up in so much pain. Mr. Hope and I decided tonight that we'd set it up in the living room and I'd use the mask sitting up on the couch, so that I'd get quality sleep that was mostly pain-free.

Yep. This is what it's come to.

Can we talk about my hands and arms for a sec? Previously I'd reported carpal tunnel in both arms. This is still present, though the pain in my arms/wrists isn't as pronounced. No, now the problem is that my hands are swollen beyond belief. My fingers are like fat sausages. It's all fluid, too. They are so sore and stiff in the mornings that I can't even make a fist. Throughout the day they grown numb whenever I use them too much. It doesn't matter how much water I pound, I can't find relief for the hands. Not fully, anyway.

If I am on my feet for any significant amount of time, my feet and ankles swell. They look like Hobbit feet. I have pitting edema in both calves. But my favorite is the edema in my stomach. And no, that's not a typo. The lower portion of my stomach, which many plus-size women refer to as their apron, is hard with edema. The skin is so stretched that the pores are enormous. It feels leathery and looks like orange rind. And there's so much fluid collected there that my belly swings like I have weighted balls implanted, one on either side of my belly button.

The apron weight has started pulling on my back, and so now I'm getting twinges and numbness and shooting pains down my legs from time to time. I don't walk anymore so much as waddle. And I get breathless quite easily. So, really, most of the time I don't even look pregnant. I just look like a super-fat version of myself.

I look a lot like the me I was before I lost nearly 200 lbs., and it's totally fucking with my head.

When people ask me how I'm doing, I give them the real answer, which they don't really want. I will say, "As long as I get a healthy baby at the end of this, I can handle anything for a few more months." And it's true. I can.


I am miserable a lot of the time, physically and emotionally. My self-esteem is in the toilet. There have been a couple of incidences of people being not-so-nice to me that have hurt me deeply. I hate the way I look in everything. I dread leaving the house. Etc.

On the plus side, Jellybean is, as I said earlier, perfect. We had our anatomy scan a week before I left on the trip. They couldn't get every shot they wanted (more on this later), but what they saw was exactly as it should be. The relief in knowing that my many ailments wasn't harming him in the least was so overwhelming I almost cried right there on the table.

I have a few days off and I hope to write a few more posts that have been percolating in my brain. Like about the anatomy scan, and how right up until the ultrasound tech pointed out Jellybean's penis, I was still - STILL - hoping there was a girl growing inside of me. I want to write about the torture and mental gymnastics involved in building my baby registry. About my crunchy granola chiropractor whom I love, and the mean girl co-worker whom I now loathe.

And I think I want to retroactively fill in my weekly updates, since I've found those useful in documenting this pregnancy. And I do want to document it, as miserable as I am, because hopefully when all is said and done I'll be holding a fat, happy baby in my numb arms. His life will be something to celebrate, no matter how traumatic his gestation was for his poor, unlucky mama.


  1. Yay!! I am so glad you are back!! I was worried! But boo about all these side effects! That totally sucks! I hope it eases up for you, or at the very least disappears shortly after a (fingers crossed) very easy birth at full term. Jellybean doing so well is good news though! I've got to go read the rest of your new posts now!!

    1. This is what I'm holding onto - that he's okay. My OB said I'll pee, cry, and sweat for like two weeks after I give birth, since a lot of my weight gain is fluid. She doesn't think I'll go 40 weeks, though. I'm hoping for 36, but she's not sure it will be that early either. Only time will tell!

  2. I'm so glad that your little one is doing well! I'm sorry to hear, though, that you're feeling so miserable. These are the exact things that acre me so much about pregnancy. BUT, in happy to read that you're taking it in stride and know that it's all necessary for your little guy.

    I'm looking forward to your future updates!

    1. Thank you! I never thought pregnancy would be sunshine and roses but I had NO idea how hard it would be on my body. :(

  3. Ugh so sorry for all of the complications! I had bilateral carpal tunnel with my first pregnancy and it was awful, but the swelling must be making it so much worse. Hope you get used to the Cpap. Xxx

    1. The CPAP and me are getting along a lot better, but the swelling in my hands is so bad that normal everyday things are causing me pain. Like, going to the bathroom. The tendons in my hands are so sore that wiping HURTS. No joke. I can't believe I'm only 22.5 weeks. Me and pregnancy are NOT getting along.

  4. Just because you're grateful for little Jellybean doesn't mean all the physical stuff doesn't suck! Even though you are keeping the end in mind, you have every right to vent and have some self pity as a release. Every day you make it is another day of development for him. Can't wait to see how cute he'll be!!