Nausea, Bronchitis, Rib Fractures, F#$%g Prenatals, and Other Irritations

Pregnancy was pretty textbook for me, until the bronchitis. 13 days after I ovulated, I found out via urine test that I was pregnant. For another week and a half I felt pretty good except for the constipation. Whee, this is easy, I can handle being pregnant. Then, of course, I was unbearably nauseous for the next 3+ weeks, unable to eat anything that wasn’t plain yogurt or cottage cheese, unable to cook, unable to even look at or talk about food.

And then, we moved to a foreign country, to a city high, high, high in the mountains, where I spent three or four days with altitude sickness on top of the nausea. I thought I might like to die. It would be easier. Instead, I slept a lot, and when I wasn’t sleeping I was puking– even when I hadn’t eaten anything. I’m pretty sure I actually lost a few pounds in that stretch.

For a week, we stayed in a cute little apartment. By the end of the week, we were begging my husband’s school for a transfer. The stove leaked propane, and road construction left the air constantly full of fine clay dust. At the end of the week, I got bronchitis.

We moved to a new apartment, in another part of town. The apartment had no gas leak and no dust problem, and the landlady was very nice to us. But it was too late: the bronchitis had settled in for the long haul. On the plus side, I seemed to have traded out my nausea for a severe cough, so I didn’t have to deal with both at the same time. After this, the only time I puked was after taking my $%#@&^* prenatal vitamin. I KNEW I should have just got a folic acid supplement– it would have taken up so much less space in my suitcase, and been cheaper to boot. You can’t freaking find a prenatal vitamin without iron in it, and what freaking good is a prenatal vitamin, if you invariably barf it up within ten minutes of swallowing it? So I stopped taking the damn thing and now I am free of the nausea. Yay! I mean, I would love to have the awesome trace minerals and stuff, but… I wasn’t getting those even when I was taking it, so… tough luck. I’m being extra super concientious about eating lots of meat and fresh veggies, and that will have to do.

Anyway, the bronchitis. I had it. The new apartment didn’t make it better. We brought emergency antibiotics with us, but we were unable to determine if they were safe to take while pregnant. There was only one decent study on the subject (at least for azithromycin, which is what we have), it was done back in 2006, there were only 138 participants, and while it didn’t find any increase in birth defects with the use of the drug… that’s not exactly a lot of info to go on. I decided not to risk it, and just tough out the bronchitis. I’ve had it lots of times before, it wouldn’t harm the baby, and it wouldn’t kill me.

For three weeks I hacked and coughed convulsively. And then I fractured two ribs– this also has happened to me before, during my worst-ever bout of bronchitis in high school. I seem to have re-fractured them in almost exactly the same places, too. Maybe it left a weak spot. After that, the bronchitis started to let up, and now, a little over two weeks later, it’s just a little irritating throat congestion… and two fractured ribs. Those take 3-6 weeks to heal and there is not anything you can do for them except avoid stressing them further. This means trying not to cough, sneeze, lift heavy things, be hugged, sleep on the wrong side, wear a bra, or breathe too enthusiastically.

Fractured ribs are also incompatible with certain aspects of hand-washing laundry, which is how our clothes are getting clean these days. Most items don’t give me trouble, but dumping out the wash-water is tricky, and getting a heavy, wet pair of my husband’s pants wrung out is just not possible. I hang them up dripping and hope for the best. So far, we’ve had four pairs of jeans out on the line for two days. They’re still soggy.

Not being able to wear a bra (the elastic band goes right over the fractured ribs) has not really been a problem. The city we live in is constantly cloudy and chilly this time of year, so I just wear my rain jacket everywhere, and nobody can tell. It’s no great loss. Most of the bras I packed no longer fit anyway. I’m not looking forward to that aspect of my ribs healing: the part where I’ll be obliged to find new bras that fit, in a totally unfamiliar sizing system. It was hard enough in American sizes. My husband, of course, really likes my new boobs. I’m just wondering if they’ll ever go back to my “normal” size. Looking at the older women in my family who’ve already had kids: I am SOL. Not only are they never going back down, but if I have any more kids, I’ll have a nice big shelf in front where I can set my glasses down, and I’ll be able to tuck my wallet and cell phone and keys in there without making any appreciable changes to my shape. My pre-pregnancy size was bad enough. At 32D, it was already impossible to find a cute blouse that actually fit: anything that fits across the chest is two or three sizes too large in the waist and makes me look chubby, and blouses that fit in the waist are either popping buttons loose in the chest, or gaping open indecently. I was stuck with crew neck t-shirts for every occasion. Now… who knows? Maybe after the baby is born, I’ll have the protruding gut to match my bra size, and everything will fit at last. I can’t say I’m looking forward to that, either.

Maybe I’ll try the prenatal vits again when my ribs are better and I can risk the puking– right now that kind of spasm would probably kill whatever bone-mending progress I’ve made.

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