What Actually Helps

For Acid Reflux

At some point in my pregnancy, I got a burning throat. This felt like acid under the skin that defied gravity and would occasionally find its way up and out of my mouth, once by the bucket full. Even the skin on the top of my chest began to display tiny red marks of irritation. Energetic signs of the anger within, said a yogi friend.

One night in desperation I ate a fork full of sauerkraut, normally something I reserve for eating with hot dogs. This seemed to quell the pain and yet I couldn’t get myself to eat in on the regular. After a few weeks I searched the Internet again and found that Apple Cider Vinegar seemed to do the trick for some. And so I gave it a try, two teaspoons with water on an empty stomach, which worked until the taste started getting to me a little bit too.

I got some pills from the acupuncturist that do seem to help but the only truly useful trick is reducing my carb intake to almost zero. Plus no other trigger foods, like balsamic vinegar or anything that’s been BBQed. So no toast with eggs in the morning, no sandwiches at lunch and no Doritos on the airplane, probably the hardest challenge of them all.

For Fatigue

A morning of swimming does me more good at the end of the day than any other exercise right now. Yoga is frustrating because it’s so hard to stretch around the belly and dancing leaves me out of breath and feeling like a whale. Running is altogether out, although I admire those ladies who keep up their laps around the Silver Lake Reservoir.

After an hour in the pool everything gets soft. My skin seems to smooth out and my stomach, usually like the outside of a soccer ball, gets smooshy, so much so that I can almost trace the outside of the baby’s body through my skin. The soft flesh caves and smaller parts stand out. Maybe a leg. Maybe an arm. Thin small things that are almost too delicate to want to touch.

The big payoff comes at 4pm when I am neither cranky not tired but light hearted and hungry. All the energy stays with me until 6-7 when I start preparing for bed and by 8, I’m ready to read and drift off to a full night’s sleep. The dreams these nights are off the charts and I wake up with them fresh in my mind in the morning.

For Anxiety

On nights when I don’t swim I have to drink some of this calm stuff, which tastes disgusting but really puts me out. I start doing the awake with eyes closed thing until I have to drag myself to bed and I’m pulled under by the weight of sleep. Otherwise I’m up late and then up early thinking about any old thing that will bother me and keep me agitated enough to fend off both responsibilities and rest in equal measure.

Acupuncture too, does the trick, if only to teach my body and the whole system how to shut down and let the parasympathetic part take over. It’s a similar kind of tugging, like drinking the calm, where there’s an undertow and I can’t help but leave my body behind because it’s too heavy to concern myself with anymore. Then I seem to float out of it for a bit, sometime seeing and hearing resolutions to problems I’ve been turning over somewhere deep in the back of mind.

And mediation, guided and simply staying still, helps me to remember that a state of calm is always available to me when I take the time to turn inwards. Sometimes I think of my chest as an open set of doors that I close, not to close off, but to get into a deeper more interior space. A yoga class with a strong teacher who can give me ways feel strong without getting too tired will work wonders as well.

Wellness

I kept a food journal for a week and turned it in to my practitioner the Universal Family Wellness Clinic. When she returned the journal to me it was full of yellow highlighting. The two piece of toast plus and occasional daily sweet and a who-cares-just-fuck-it piece of pizza are now off limits. In their place I am to have a protein, a fat and a vegetable or fruit at every meal, and that’s three times a day, plus two snacks – both of which should be relatively carb free.

I failed my first glucose test, and while I passed the second, I had a hint that my diet was contributing to my feelings of, well, bloating, fatigue and acid reflux like symptoms. Only, when I talked to my OBs, and I’ve had a few, I’ve gotten the same response: That’s normal. But when I talked to the acupuncturist at the clinic yesterday she said the magic words: It’s common but not normal.

Of course, I thought. That’s what I’ve been looking for this whole time. Just because a lot of women experience discomfort doesn’t mean that we all should except to go without relief or that it’s any more a natural part of pregnancy as total flatten me out fatigue or mood swings that require two hour retreats away from anyone you know well enough to snap at. It’ll take some effort to change my diet at this point but I’m willing if it means that I get to experience even one bit of the promised prenatal glow.

Remind me to rant: There are two message that pregnant women get at the same time. The first is that you will experience every symptom under the sun, including hemorrhoids and the other is that you should be enjoying this time because it’s the last bit of you that you’re going to feel for a long while. Well, how are you supposed to feel anything like YOU when you’re throwing up cups of acid into the toilet and ending up on the floor in a puddle? 

Same goes for two naps a day, meaning there’s about two hours to accomplish anything for the first six months, until the pressure to get shit ready increases so rapidly that you have to remind yourself to breath, let alone eat every two hours, as necessary. It’s no wonder you end up scarfing down a turkey burger and fries on your way to yoga and then, well, skipping yoga since you have forgotten about the actual baby in your belly. 

And as for that fat chunky feeling in your cheeks every time you eat glutton? Your friend’s are right to say that it’s OK but YOU know that rounding out your stomach is not the same as rounding out your face and it’s OK to wonder whether this isn’t an extra sensitivity to some kind of food. So even if it did take you 25 weeks to get to those two out of three most important pregnancy items on your list [acupuncture, nutrition] you can pat yourself on the back for getting there at all.