Knocked Up Together: 5 Perks of A Preggo Friendship

The sun is peeking through my poorly drawn curtains, which means that somehow I made it through another sleepless night.

My lower back hurts so much that moments ago, I made the painful decision to fat girl tuck-and-roll into an upright position just so I could get some relief.

Standing at the foot of my bed in dizzy agony, I clutch my phone and begin to type.

Got up too fast, now I have lightning crotch.

I know she’ll sympathize.

It’s 6:45 a.m.

Friends Who Get Knocked Up Together, Stay Together

I met J in the fall of 2012 when fate brought us together in the form of medical office administration at one of our city’s major hospitals.

We quickly bonded over our mutual disdain for 9-5 wage slavery, fluorescent office lighting and Microsoft Outlook. Sadly, we both suffered early miscarriages a short time later, but it wasn’t until we became pregnant again only weeks apart the following year that a true friendship was born.

2014

There’s something particularly comforting and familiar about experiencing pregnancy – especially first-time pregnancy – alongside a good friend. Pregnancy can be a scary, isolating experience, especially if you’ve experienced complications and/or loss. Having someone in your corner – someone who simply gets it – can mean the world.

Two adorable toddlers, two subsequent losses, and two healthy pregnancies later, we’re both back at it, and I couldn’t be happier to share this journey with her once again.

2017

In addition to sending early-morning nonsense texts with absolute impunity, here are my top 5 perks of a preggo friendship:

1. You’re allowed to incessantly complain 24/7 without feeling the least bit sorry. As a lifelong pessimist and self-admitted chronic complainer, I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to constantly gripe and grumble to someone else without feeling like a complete and total burden. Backaches? That’s a grumblin’. No sleep again last night? That’s a grumblin’. An hour-and-a-half wait at the OB’s office? Oh you better believe that’s a grumblin’.

2. No fear is too small. I’ve written about fear before. It’s crippling, and a lot of the time, it’s far too easy to go down the rabbit hole of dark – and sometimes irrational – thoughts. No matter what we’re feeling in the moment, we always know that no fear is too small to share with one another. Sometimes, simply saying it out loud makes it all seem a little less scary, and that can make all the difference in the world.

3. Advice and experience-sharing isn’t obnoxious and condescending. Fortunately for me, J’s little girl is a few weeks older than my little boy, so whenever I have a question about behaviour or development, I simply ask about her experiences. Frankly, I’ve learned more about the subtle nuances of parenting from her than anything I could have read in a book or online. The best part? Her advice is 100% sanctimommy-free.

4. Maternity leave just got a whole lot more fun. Sometimes, simply daydreaming about spending maternity leave together is enough to pull me out of my pregnancy funk. While it’ll undoubtedly be complete and total chaos most days, I know we will both welcome it with open arms. No TPS reports until 2018 for these gals!

5. TMI is just a formality at this point. Finally, oversharing in any form simply doesn’t exist between us. We’ve literally seen and heard it all. Sometimes, as a formality, one of us will say, “TMI” in advance of sharing something gross and/or embarrassing, but we both know that truly, nothing is off the table. How liberating!

Mom Friends Postpartum Care Kits: The Hero We Deserve

[Jerry Seinfeld voice]

What’s the deal with babies getting all the stuff?

baby shower gifts

My first born was hella spoiled.

I mean, let’s be real: when it comes to getting that baby out, mom does all the work.

She nurtures it inside of her for nine long months, and when the big day finally arrives, she endures the most painful hours of her life in the form of labour or severe abdominal surgery.

And don’t even get me started on the recovery process.

Guys – this baby thing is no joke. Mom deserves something for her efforts.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

MOM FRIENDS POSTPARTUM KITS: THE HERO WE DESERVE

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Look, I’m all about showering babies with clothes and toys and RESPs, and I am so incredibly grateful for everything that I have been given.

But like the Food Shower, sometimes it’s good to give mom a little extra something. Whether that something is in the form of food or adult diapers – there isn’t a new mom I know who wouldn’t welcome it with open arms.

Speaking of adult diapers, I was fortunate enough to receive the Above & Beyond the Bump Postpartum Care Kit courtesy of Mom Friends, a Canadian company that is working to bust postpartum stigma and increase women’s access to practical information, peer support and postpartum resources.

[Frank Costanza voice]

Finally, a Tucks for the rest of us! (And a bunch of other sweet PP swag, too, so keep reading).

ABOUT MOM FRIENDS

Mom Friends was founded by three Canadian women who know a thing or two about what moms really need after giving birth. They’re moms themselves, so they’re not afraid to tell it like it is: having a baby is serious business, and women need all the support they can get.

Adult diapers? Check.

Cooling pads for your nether regions? Check.

Delicious milk chocolate to snack on while in labour? HELLA CHECK.

They know what’s really going on during that joyous postpartum period, and their kits definitely reflect it.

Don’t believe me?

Keep reading.

The Kits

Mom Friends Postpartum Kits

Currently, Mom Friends offers two postpartum care kits – Beyond the Bump ($65) and Above & Beyond the Bump ($93) – chock full of practical and essential items moms need after delivery. Click here to learn more about them from the official website, or continue reading to see what is in my very own personal kit.

ABOVE & BEYOND THE BUMP

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

I don’t know about you, but when I pack a suitcase, I fold everything poorly, cram as much as I possibly can into it, zip it up, and say a little prayer. These kits on the other hand, are clearly packaged with expert care. First impressions are everything, and Mom Friends impresses right off the bat.

Unlike me, it’s obvious that this company pays close attention to each and every detail, and that includes everything from the packaging to the products themselves. There is no cramming. There is no praying. Simply a flawless box polished with a delightful bow.

It’s basically a work of art. I almost didn’t want to open it.

Almost.

There’s a reason I’m a writer and not an entrepreneur – but enough about my failed dreams: let’s get to the good stuff.

FOR THE LADYBITS

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Mom Friends has mom covered from head to vagina – literally.

Let’s start with the latter.

We all know that for most women, labour means that their ladybits are about to have the worst day of their life.

But it doesn’t have to totally suck.

This kit has everything a woman could possibly want to ease postpartum discomfort “down there”, including:

  • Adult diapers
  • Feminine pads
  • Granny panties
  • Epsom salts
  • Tucks personal cleansing pads
  • Witch Hazel
  • Perineal spray bottle

Why this is awesome: Thanks to Mom Friends, I don’t have to look the 17-year-old Shoppers Drug Mart cashier in the eye when they ring up a sale of bulky, overpriced adult diapers and mondo pads. Also, did you know that Witch Hazel can be applied to a cesarean section scar to reduce pain and swelling? I wish someone had told me that two-and-a-half years ago.

FOR THE BOOBIES

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

To help mom out on the upper deck, this kit also contains:

  • Lanolin nipple cream
  • Disposable and reusable nursing pads

Why this is awesome: For the breastfeeding mom, there’s no greater joy than not having your expensive nursing bras stained with over-eager breastmilk. I’ll also take no cracked nipples for $100, Alex.

FOR THE MOM

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Keeping hydrated and fuelled for what could be a marathon labour is no small task.

And that’s just pre-baby challenges.

After baby comes, mom needs to be taken care of as well – both physically and otherwise. Fear not, Mom Friends once again has you covered. In the Above & Beyond kit, there is also:

  • Lip balm
  • Lactation tea
  • A soap bar
  • Chocolate and energy bars
  • A water bottle
  • Brochure on postpartum depression

Why this is awesome: While I’m tempted to list a thousand reasons why chocolate is bae, I have to give a shout-out to Mom Friends here for not shying away from the fact that postpartum mental health is important AF. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, as many as 20 per cent of new moms experience varying degrees of postpartum depression, so if you plan on bringing a new mom a savory treat when you visit her, don’t forget to also ask her how she’s doing. It may not be as delicious, but it’s a hell of a lot more sweet.

NOT AS UNFIT

As my due date looms, I’m feeling more and more prepared thanks to the incredible support system I have around me.

But many women aren’t as lucky.

If someone you know is expecting, be a friend. Don’t forget about baby, but I urge you to strongly consider a Mom Friends postpartum kit in lieu of a diaper cake and 20 pack of facecloths.

Trust me – a little extra mom love will go a long way.

Mother and newborn

Four weeks to go until I can do this again!

I’m Tired of Talking About It: Do I have Gestational Diabetes Or Not?

Are you as sick of reading about my potential gestational diabetes diagnosis as I am of writing about it?

You’re in luck, because this is the last time either of us have to endure it.

After a week of officially freaking out (mostly sulking), not sleeping (there’s a shocker) and eating healthy (barf-o-rama), I am happy–and frankly, a little shocked–to report that I do not have gestational diabetes.

Far from it, actually.

According to science, my fat, disgusting pregnant body is completely normal when it comes to insulin production and blood sugar regulation.

My Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) Results

So what gives?

Why all the unnecessary stress over nothing?

Only around 75% accurate

Last week, my midwife–rather unconvincingly–tried to assure me that the first test I spectacularly failed–the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT)–is actually only around 75% accurate.

Of course, I couldn’t take what a grown woman in overalls was telling me at face value without conducting my own research.

So I did, and it turns out she was right.

According to a study* conducted in 2012, if there are 100 women that actually have gestational diabetes, 74 will have a positive GCT test, and the other 26 won’t know that they have it. The 77% “specificity” means that if 100 random women test positive for GD, 23 of them (including me in this case) don’t actually have it.

Yo, science: listen up. There has to be a better option than putting us through this crap. On behalf of fat, disgusting pregnant women everywhere–please come up with a better plan.

I’ll leave you to it while I power through this box of Oreo thins over here.

No calls.

*Shoutout to my new friend and fellow toddler mom Sarah, who helped me make sense of the study. Women & Science, y’all. 

The Two-Hour Glucose Tolerance Test: Highlights, Lowlights and Vern

Because I’m a spectacular failure and soared well over the threshold for my one-hour Glucose Challenge Test (GCT) last week, I went back to the lab today for a second screening for gestational diabetes — the dreaded two-hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).

As predicted, to pass the time, I once again live-blogged the entire thing.

But first, a little background.

WHY THE TWO TESTS?

In Canada, there are two screens for gestational diabetes, according to Diabetes Canada: the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT) and the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).

The GCT involves drinking a sugary drink containing 50 g of glucose, and having your blood drawn an hour later to check your blood sugar level. The idea is to see how efficiently your body processes sugar.  If the reading is too high, you have to go back for a two-hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT), which involves more blood draws and a higher concentration glucose drink, to see whether you really do have gestational diabetes.

Okay, let’s do this.

8:00am: After 12 hours of fasting, my blood was just taken to establish a baseline. This is the first of three blood draws I will have this morning. I feel lightheaded already and I haven’t even choked down the glucose drink. 75 g this time, vs 50 g last time.

Cheers.

8:30am: Since I’m going to be here a while, I wasted no time in making new friends.

Meet Vern.

Vern is a year-and-a-half-old yellow lab whose likes include wandering around sniffing everyone’s crotch, whining impatiently when he’s not being directly spoken to, and delicious pocket treats generously dispensed by his human, James. I’m not sure of the specific medical reason James has for needing a service dog like Vern, but I kind of want the same diagnosis because Vern is a really, really good boy. If he wasn’t so obviously serving a legitimate medical purpose, I would be currently orchestrating an elaborate plan to kidnap him when James gets up to get his blood drawn. We’d start a new life together, Vern and I, full of frolic and fancy. Take me out of this place, Vern. Take me far away.

9:00am: It’s time for my second draw to see how I’m reacting to the early morning sugar dump into my bloodstream. If last week is any indication, my guess is not well. Vern, send me all your strength.

Wait for me on the other side, pal.

9:15am: My favourite lab tech — a no-nonsense Jamaican hurricane named Karen — is here today, and we had a good chat as she expertly stuck a needle into my bruised arm. Shortly before my name was called, an irate eastern European lady sitting across from me began to sass-mouth her and Karen was having NONE OF IT. Her professionalism shone through like the class act that she is, but I swear, she was seconds away from Lab Lady Smackdown 2017 on this horrible woman. Team Karen all the way — I’d ride with her into battle any day of the week. Vern informed me he is also on Team Karen.

9:30am: To everyone’s dismay, Vern has departed the lab, dutifully following his human, James, out the door. No one is more devastated than I am. How will I make the last leg of this journey without you, Vern?

I’m never washing these pants.

9:45am: Janet Jackson is blasting in my earphones. If this woman can dance like it’s her last day on earth and pop out a baby at 50, I can handle a secondary test for gestational diabetes at 33.

10:00am: Karen beckons. It’s time for my third and final blood draw. I’m not sure I want to do this without Vern to come back to. I’m not even sure that I can.

10:30am: It’s over, and now we wait. Special shout-out to Vern, for giving me the support I needed during this difficult time. Full disclosure — today, I’m eating like there’s no tomorrow, because in mere hours, I’ll probably have a diagnosis of gestational diabetes and it’ll be, at the very minimum, a strict diet of vegetables and chicken from now until July. This is unbelievably devastating for reasons I’m not quite ready to acknowledge, so in the meantime, I’m going to savour these Toaster Strudels like I’ve never savoured anything before.

Bon appetit.

My Glucose Challenge Test Results Are In And They Suck

Well, crap. Check out this miserable result:

Yesterday, after sitting in a stuffy, overcrowded lab on my only day off for an hour and hastily consuming an unpleasant, sugary solution that contained 50 g of sugar, my blood sugar results came back at a staggering 9.9 millimoles per liter – which indicates a possibility of gestational diabetes. As you can see, the normal threshold is 7.8 millimoles per litre, which I blew past at an astonishing rate.

I was hoping that my lab was simply pranking me on account of it being April Fool’s Day, but nobody is joking. As predicted, I have officially – and spectacularly, I might add – failed my initial Glucose Challenge Test (GCT).

The Bad News

Gestational diabetes is one of the most common health problems during pregnancy. According to Diabetes Canada, between three and 20 per cent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. This makes it one of the most common health problems during pregnancy.

THE Good NEWS

This result doesn’t necessarily mean I have GD. The GCT doesn’t diagnose the condition – rather, it is designed to identify as many women as possible who may be at risk, and who need more testing to find out for sure. According to BabyCenter, only about a third of women who test positive on the glucose screen actually have the condition.

THE BAD NEWS AGAIN

I’m going to have to take another test, called the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT). It is a longer (two hours, sometimes three), more definitive test that will tell me for sure whether or not I have GD.

THE EVEN WORSE NEWS

This follow-up test will be the literal worst. It will involve getting blood drawn to establish a baseline, then drinking yet another sugary mixture, containing either 75 g or 100 g of glucose, depending on the length of the test. My blood will then be tested again one, two, and sometimes even three hours after drinking the sugary drink.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sob into a bowl of oatmeal, BECAUSE THAT’S ALL I CAN EAT NOW.

My Fat, Disgusting Pregnant Body Was Tested for Gestational Diabetes Today, and I Live-Blogged The Entire Thing

There comes a time in every fat, disgusting pregnant woman’s life when they have to drink the Kool-Aid.

That’s right, folks: it’s Gestational Diabetes testing time!

I’m blogging to you live from Gamma Dynacare Labs here in beautiful, sunny Ottawa, Ontario. Just kidding. It’s -6 and we are expecting 15 cm of snow today. Ottawa: where happiness comes to die.

For the next hour, you’ll bear witness to my sleep-deprived, sugar-infused ramblings as I yammer on about what I can only predict to be intolerable nonsense, including, but not limited to: pregnancy grievances, general malaise, and petty insults I bestow upon my fellow unsuspecting lab-goers waiting alongside me in this stuffy, overcrowded waiting room.

I’ve been gone for a minute, after suffering an incapacitating virus and an almost inconceivable lack of sleep. But I’m back, and better than ever. (Just kidding, I had less than 4 hours of sleep last night and I’m pretty sure I blacked out on the drive over here).

What exactly is gestational diabetes?

I’m glad you asked. According to The Canadian Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes (GD) occurs when your fat, disgusting pregnant body can’t produce enough insulin to handle the effects of the growing baby and changing hormone levels. If your fat, disgusting pregnant body cannot produce enough insulin, your blood glucose levels will rise, which can pose a health risk to both you and your baby.

Before we get started, I highly recommend you head on over to my previous failed blog, Mandatory Sobriety, to get the low-down on this whole GD thing, and find out what happened to me last time. Then meet me back here.

I’ll wait.

Okay, everyone settled? Bottoms up!

Glucose drink

8:15am: Well, good news. I managed to down my glucose drink without throwing up, which is legitimately no small feat for a significant portion of the pregnant population. As I sat down to consume my sugary breakfast, I was joined by a fellow fat, disgusting pregnant woman who proceeded to challenge me to a drinking contest. Obviously, she had no idea who she was up against. Lady, I’m a former high-functioning alcoholic. You don’t stand a chance. Needless to say, I absolutely destroyed her.

8:30am: My fetus seems to be responding in a rather agitated manner to the elevated amount of sugar I’ve consumed. Frankly, I’m surprised, since a typical breakfast for me includes two Toaster Strudels, a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a bagel, cinnamon sticks, the most sugary fruit I can find and one time I even popped open a can of Coca Cola because when you’ve had less than 4 hours sleep, don’t drink coffee and work full-time, you resort to some desperate measures. My fat, disgusting pregnant compadre is playing Candy Crush.

8:45am: Have you ever had the unfortunate luck of being seated next to a crying baby on a flight? The equivalent of that has to be being seated next to a sniffling adolescent in a blood lab. This kid, who I’ve affectionally labeled Dopey, posted up next to me about 10 minutes ago and I actually counted the amount of sniffles in the span of one minute: it was a staggering 56! Dopey, dude. C’mon. Get a tissue. I’m not playing, and my compatriot over here isn’t, either. We are two pregnant ladies on a mission not to rage-throw up our glucose drink, and I will choke a teenager if that’s what it takes to get a little peace and quiet around here. The court would throw out my case. My companion has closed her eyes and seems to have slipped into a glucose coma.

9:00am: It’s getting down to the wire. My fetus appears to be freaking out, throwing punches and elbows and possibly a butt cheek or two, I don’t know. I’ve been informed that in addition to not being allowed to eat, drink, or even leave the lab for the duration of my test, I’m not even allowed to pee. On the real, if my little womb buddy continues to Riverdance on my bladder, there’s going to be a clean up in aisle 4 situation all up in this Dynacare. My pregnant partner in crime woke up from her trance, but I’ve since discovered that she does not speak English, so we’ve resorted to communicating using elaborate hand gestures and dank memes.

9:15am: What the hell is taking so long? It’s officially been an hour, Dynacare. I’m getting pretty fed up of staring at this waiting room of blank-faced sickos and breathing their contaminated air. I’ve also grown weary of my foreign friend. She seems more interested in crushing candy and less interested in playing a game of Date, Marry or Kill with me and our waiting room population. What a buzzkill.

9:20am: My name has been called! Off to get poked with a needle. PEACE OUT YOU SAD, SICK SACS. And to my fellow gestating glucose buddy, may the odds be ever in your favour.

9:30am: What better way to celebrate the successful completion of yet another gestational diabetes test than a wholesome breakfast at McDonald’s. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my GD journey, as I’m sure to have failed this initial test spectacularly.

To My Newly Pregnant Friend

Image courtesy of Babycentre.

You’ve been waiting for this for so long, and it’s finally here. It probably doesn’t even feel real at this point.

But holy crap, you’re pregnant!

I couldn’t be happier for you, and I am so thrilled you are joining me on this journey. We’ve been on this adventure together before, and we’ve had many since. There have been ups and downs, but today, everything is up. Everything is good. I want to celebrate and shout it from the rooftops. There are so many things I want to say, and there are some that I know I don’t need to.

I don’t need to tell you how exciting this is.
I know how hard it was for you to get here, to this place. How frustrating this journey was, and how much you had to sacrifice. But it paid off, and nothing can compare to that feeling: the joy of a brand new life, the simple thrill of things finally working out, and the quiet anticipation of the days ahead. Hold onto that excitement, because frankly, you are going to need it.

I don’t need to tell you how scary this is, either.
More than anyone, you know the flood of emotions that comes barrelling in the second that line turns pink. For most women, it’s a moment of pure, utter joy. But for women like us, it’s a little more complicated. After the initial shock, there’s a brief moment of happiness, which quickly melts into fear. Overwhelming, crippling fear. Will it happen again? And will I survive, if it does? Let these feelings in, but don’t let them win. Don’t let them stamp out your joy.

I don’t need to tell you that there are going to be some dark days.
Any pregnant woman will tell you that pregnancy isn’t full of sunshine and rainbows. It’s certainly not “glowing” for many of us, and it can be a long, uphill battle physically and mentally. We both know how easily the mind drifts to dark places during those first few weeks, and I won’t sit here and tell you that it won’t happen again–because it will. It will happen many times. But don’t worry — you’ve got this.

I don’t need to tell you that the darkness doesn’t last.
You’ve been down this road before, and you know just as well as I do that there will be days where you feel like you can’t face anything, or anyone. This darkness will come and go, but I promise you it won’t last. Remember that, when you’re in it. When it seems like it’ll never end, remember that it always does. You’re living proof.

I don’t need to tell you that this is going to test your relationships.
Family and friends can be your rock, but they can also make you feel like you’re sinking. It’s not their fault — often, the people who love us the most are the ones who come up short. Lean on the ones you can trust, and leave out all the rest. They will understand. And if they don’t, that’s on them.

I don’t need to tell you this might also affect your work.
At the end of the day, I know you take pride in your career, and care about doing good work. But this is going to test that. In the coming weeks, you’re going to be exhausted, preoccupied, and most of all, careless. You’re going to be frequently absent for appointments and tests, and the worst part is, you’re going to make mistakes and maybe even fall behind. Just remember to take care of yourself, and do the best you can. It’s all we can ever do.

I don’t need to tell you that nothing is guaranteed.
This one hurts the most to write, because we both know how true it is. I promise that I will never be the friend who tells you to “hang in there,” or “it will be okay,” because I don’t know for sure that it will. Nobody does. I do know, however, that today, you are pregnant. Today is a good day. Hold onto that while you wait for tomorrow to get here.

I don’t need to tell you that I get it.
I get it all–every last hope, fear, frustration and sprinkle of joy peppered in between. If anyone gets exactly what you’re feeling in this very moment, it’s me. So whether you’re scared about a loss of symptoms at 6 a.m. on a Thursday morning, or having trouble deciding on names for your new baby the day I go into labour, know that I will be there to answer the phone. I’ll always be in your corner since you’ve been in mine pretty much since the day we met.

And in a few short months, you’ll have another person to look out for.

Lucky kid.