pregnancy update

Cashmere Sweater: This has been my go-to pregnancy sweater! I went two sizes up in it and it’s perfect. It’s thick enough that it hides lines. And it’s a little “swingy” with the small slide slit, making it look like it’s just a slightly oversized sweater. LOVE it, and can’t recommend it more, whether you’re pregnant or not! It’s such a steal, too! $88 for cashmere? I’ll take it! / Sparkly Necklace (Sold out, but I adore this one!) / Leggings (Not maternity. Just ordered this pair from Old Navy and this pair from Gap, though.)

Hi! Okay. The last time I really talked about my pregnancy was when I announced the news almost three weeks ago. So here’s a big personal update!

How far along I am

17.5 weeks! I’m in the second trimester. I can’t believe that it’s been over four months, but I also can’t believe I have five months left, haha. I’ll say, however, that this pregnancy seems to be going much more quickly than my last, undoubtedly because I’m running after a toddler. I seriously had to reference my calendar to calculate how many weeks pregnant I was in order to write this blog post 😂… whereas with Emma, I could immediately tell you how far along I was, down to the day. Crazy how different one pregnancy can be from another!

The health insurance debacle

Mitch and I have talked briefly about the importance of obtaining health insurance when self-employed in these recent posts: “Personal Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging” and “How We’re Saving for Emma’s College Education.” But we haven’t gone in depth about our experience with individual plans, which has been pretty terrible.

In short, Mitch and I don’t qualify for a group plan because neither of us are employed full-time by a company or have full-time employees of our own. And up until recently, my OB practice as well as Northwestern Prentice–the hospital where I had Emma when we were under Mitch’s old Chicago Public Schools group health insurance plan–didn’t accept a single individual plan. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was heartbroken about this. I mean, there were tears. Northwestern and my doctors were a dream. While I was absolutely terrified of childbirth, they were wonderfully calming and professional, and the care and hospital were top-notch. You can read about my amazing amazing experience here, but they made Emma’s birth the best day of my life.

When we found out that we were pregnant with Baby #2, we reluctantly started looking for other doctors who delivered at other hospitals since that was our only option. I’m not saying that there aren’t other practices and hospitals in Chicago that are fantastic, but the ones that we were eligible to see were scary. Routine procedures weren’t performed, mistakes were made, and the facilities were dirty. We searched high and low for a practice that was at least “okay,” but truly couldn’t find one. It was so upsetting.

Last month, though, we discovered that Northwestern had started accepting one individual plan:

BlueCross BlueShield Blue Precision HMO, Site #475 or #477. (What a mouthful! Doesn’t matter whether it’s Bronze, Silver or Gold, btw.) Since open enrollment was in effect–and still is–we switched to #475, and boom: I was back at my old OB within 2.5 weeks. So happy.

Wonderful, right?! Absolutely, and we’re beyond grateful. That said, it’s an HMO, and it comes with its fair share of limitations. (Very few other doctors–like pediatricians, general practitioners, ENTs, dermatologists, etc.–to choose from.) We obviously have no other choice, and we’ll totally deal this year because seeing my OB and delivering at Northwestern is of the utmost importance to us. But we’re deeply disappointed in how difficult and confusing the whole insurance journey has been for us as small business owners, and feel that the country’s healthcare system as a whole still needs to see major reform and change.

If you’re unhappy with your healthcare, please do something about it now! Open enrollment runs until December 15, and it’s so important to have doctors you like and trust. If you’re confused, don’t worry: most people are. My friend Johanna has a site called “Healthcare Inclined People,” and it’s a GREAT resource. This page specifically breaks down all the different plans and makes everything a lot simpler. Use it!

Morning sickness and exhaustion

BAH. Okay, here’s the thing about this one: I have enormous guilt when I talk about morning sickness because of our infertility journey. I’ve said this before, but I vividly remember my heart physically hurting when I’d hear pregnant friends complain, as all I wanted was to have my head in the toilet, too. I’m insanely grateful for Emma and for this very unexpected surprise, and I never want to lose sight of how lucky we are or make other people feel hopeless. (My goal is that sharing our story brings people hope! Against the odds, we have a family.) But I do think it’s possible to be grateful and struggling at the same time.

While I’ve actually seen tremendous improvement in the last few weeks, it was really tough for the first three months. (Note: I don’t think I had Hyperemesis Gravidrum, which is a very serious, extreme form of morning sickness that usually results in hospitalization. If you’re having trouble staying hydrated or keeping any food down whatsoever, though, call your doctor immediately!)

First of all, whoever came up with the term “morning sickness” didn’t know what he or she was talking about. ;)

Because mine was unrelenting and continual, lasting for 24 hours per day. I definitely threw up with Emma, but it was nothing like this. For a while, the most I could do was sit on the couch with a bucket at my feet, the worst part being that there was very little relief after throwing up. Like, with the flu or a stomach virus, I usually feel a bit better afterwards. With this, not so much.

While there are anti-nausea medications available for pregnant women, I decided against taking them just because I had been on both antidepressants and antibiotics when I first found out I was pregnant, and was worried. This is such a personal and individual decision for every woman. But I do think I would have explored the anti-nausea medications had the “morning” sickness lasted much longer because it had started to become debilitating. Again, I’ve luckily started to feel a lot better, though. I still have tough days, but I’d say that things started to improve when I hit the second trimester, around 14 weeks. I can now leave the house!

Equally as challenging was the extreme exhaustion.

Man, I can’t believe how tired I was during the first trimester. Makes sense, of course; again, I was growing a human, and my body was working double-time. But making it through the day took everything I had, and I fell so behind on everything as a result. (Seriously: my house fell into complete disarray, my personal life seemed to collapse, and I had to push back or pull out of nearly every work project.)

It was so hard to even keep my eyes open, let alone run my business and household–and take care of my toddler. But I did what was best for the baby and me, and slowed down and let go of that which wasn’t crucial. I’m still playing catch up (as I’m sure you’ve noticed), and my life is still kind of a mess. (It was like hitting “pause” on life for 3.5 months!) But that’s what needed to happen.

It goes without saying that despite being so sick and tired, I had it good compared to most.

Most women do not work from home, and don’t have their partners around during the day to help when all becomes too much. Mitch has been such a rockstar, taking the reigns these last few months. Honestly, I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been had I needed to go into an office every day. I think the most troubling part of it all, though, is how women are often forced to suffer in silence through the first trimester–or even longer!–in the workplace.

It’s not commonplace to announce pregnancies before the second trimester, and so it’s incredibly difficult to continue working under the same conditions pre-pregnancy. Even if you have an awesome boss you feel comfortable confiding in, meeting expectations and keeping up appearances with coworkers can take everything you have.

Worse, very little is known about morning sickness, partly because it’s normally not life-threatening. But again, it can be completely debilitating, and my hope is that awareness brings forth some much-needed research, understanding, and relief.

If you’ve battled morning sickness, what’s helped you?

I feel like I’ve tried everything in the book! Eating small, bland meals helped me a little… as did peppermint… but not much else. I know woman and every pregnancy is different. But let us know in the comment section below. Perhaps what worked for you will work for someone else!

How I’m feeling emotionally

Guys, I’m doing great!

If you’ve been reading here for a long time, you might remember this personal post about my battle with depression. When I found out I was pregnant with Baby #2, I decided to stop taking my antidepressants–in a safe and responsible manner–because I was also on antibiotics at the time for a sinus infection that I couldn’t kick and was worried. While my current (awesome) doctor tells me that staying on antidepressants is actually often encouraged, I freaked out that I was on so much at the same time, and this made me rest a little easier. I’ve been fully off them for over three months now, and I’m doing so well. That said, I’m prepared to start the medication up again if needed.

In general, I’m a lot less emotional than I was when I was pregnant with Emma, and I feel more like my old self. I still get crabby and overwhelmed, probably due to exhaustion…  But I’m not experiencing those intense nesting desires or crying spells that I did last time. Who knows why this is; I’m not going to pretend to analyze it. I’m just happy about it. :)

Also, I’m a significantly less worried than I was last time. With Emma, I overanalyzed everything, and spent a lot of time in tears, convinced something was wrong. Maybe it’s because everything turned out so great with Emma or because I don’t have very much time to sit around and think about things. But again, who knows. I am just much more positive about this pregnancy, and simply don’t fret as much–and that’s a welcomed change, to say the least!

On the flip side, I want to be real with you and say that I am a little sad about the fact that I can’t be the best version of myself right now in all the roles I play in my life. I kind of feel like I’m half-assing everything. (Pardon my French.) Like, I’m not being the best wife, the best mom, the best daughter, the best friend, the best blogger, etc. that I know I can be. I’m not a “Type A” person; just come over to my messy house and you’ll see that. ;) But I do like knowing that I’m “giving it my all.” Logically, I know that I am giving as much as I can right now. Like I keep telling myself, I’m growing a human! But sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

Still, I’m so unbelievably happy. As I said here, it almost doesn’t feel real! I can’t believe we’re going to be a family of four–and I know the best is yet to come. I think we’re all just so excited to meet the little lady or man!

Next up

This is getting super long and I’m kind of out of time, so I’ll split this post into two. Next up will be whether I think it’s a girl or boy, a bit more about how my work days have changed now that I’m pregnant. Also, how Emma’s been handling everything and what we’re doing to get her excited, and what I’m wearing. :)