Tag: pregnancy rash

We need to have a little chat.

PUPPP.

Nope. I didn’t just fall asleep on my keyboard. I’m talking about PUPPP. It stands for (wait for it…) pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. Yeah. Sounds complicated. I bet most of you have never heard of the damn thing (unless you know me very well via this blog or have actually googled it). Before experiencing this horrible rash first hand, I would have heard such a crazy bunch of words beginning with P and I would have shrugged it off. I don’t really know what that is and who cares, it’s just some rash that I’ll never get (it is believed to only be experienced by an extremely small percentage of pregnant women).

Because hardly anyone suffers from this condition, it was very isolating and difficult to deal with. Each case can differ in how your body responds to the awfully itchy rash, meaning treatments that work for one person might not help another. Odds are, you might not even know what it is when you first show symptoms, if you should be unlucky enough to be a part of the unfortunately exclusive PUPPP club.

I had no idea. I resorted to googling (something I do not normally recommend) when the symptoms got too crazy and I was slow to get answers (partly my fault and partly due to inexperience of some of the doctors I saw early in the piece when my baby doctor was on holiday – of course!). I felt like I knew it was PUPPP, but waiting for an actual professional opinion/diagnosis (and treatment) was like agony.

I was only 20 weeks pregnant when it got bad. Normally women get it at the very end of their pregnancies, meaning there is not long to go before they can give birth (and more often than not be relieved of the symptoms immediately), or can be induced at full term if it’s bad enough.

Yeah. Unlucky.

800px-PUPPP-abdomenPic: Side view of a sufferer’s abdomen.

I spent weeks feeling alone. I couldn’t wear clothes that might itch, sweat or cling to my skin. Difficult in winter. I felt socially isolated and while it’s hard enough to get dressed when you’re big, it was even harder to feel pretty or human with PUPPP. I itched so badly that I was afraid I’d have a panic attack about it in public, so I rarely ventured out before treatment could arrive. Even then, the steroid cream prescribed to me by a dermatologist (who thankfully knew what he was talking about) was greasy and while it helped my rash to settle down a LOT, it gave me pimples too eventually.

I was paranoid about humidity of any kind and it was a huge mental and emotional burden. I never stopped loving the Little Mister who was growing inside of me, but I’d be kidding myself (and you) if I said that I wasn’t close to depression. Bawling my eyes out in a lukewarm bathtub half the day was no life.

Why am I going on about this?

I want everyone to know about this condition. While it may never happen to you (especially if you’re a male reader haha), I want you to know what it is and how to spot it. Just in case.

I also want you to be able to seek help ASAP if you think you may have PUPPP. I didn’t. I put it down to a little heat rash and let myself get worse. If I had sought diagnosis and treatment when it first got a bit uncomfortable, by the time I got answers (it takes a while when no-one’s sure what the hell it is – odds are they may not have dealt with a case first hand very often) I might have saved myself weeks of agony. It is much better to have a false alarm and deal with a doctor who thinks you’re being a little dramatic, than to suffer on your own for too long.

Also, I am writing this post because I want anyone who is friends/family/known to someone who has this condition, to know what it’s like to go through it. I want you to understand that it’s more than a little rash. It can cover half of a woman’s body, is unsightly (therefore embarrassing) and very very uncomfortable and itchy. Think extreme chicken pox (it was like that for me anyhow). Each woman may deal with it differently, but I want you to know how bad it can be. It’s really hard to go through it alone and part of my isolation was worrying that my friends didn’t understand. I couldn’t be at social occasions very often – each day was different and I felt awful and flaky. I worried that they believed I was letting a ‘little thing’ slow me down and that I wasn’t living my life just because I was pregnant. Maybe they thought that, maybe they didn’t. They were amazing friends through it all, but that worry was just something I carried. If I’d known they were able to access great information on PUPPP, I might not have felt so insecure.

It’s hard enough to feel attractive or like you’re living your life fully and actively when you’re quite up the duff. Add complications to that pregnancy and it can be very scary and lonely. I knew that the Little Mister was doing fine inside me – I knew I was blessed even in the rough times. I could have had worse issues (well, besides my gestational diabetes which can be dangerous if untreated). However, try telling a pregnant sufferer of PUPPP that when she can’t sleep AT ALL, feels so itchy she could scratch ALL OF HER SKIN BLOOD RAW,  and lives in a lukewarm bath, waiting for an appointment with a specialist.

I put on a brave face a lot. I wish someone had said, “Lady – I know what that is and you’re fooling no-one. Let me hug you – very gently – while I listen to you whinge about it.”

Also, stop asking a PUPPP sufferer (with scars) if she’s tried bio-oil. No over the counter treatments worked for me (or were permitted during pregnancy depending on ingredients). My skin was sensitive to greasy or oily things (ie the ointment was bad enough). Most of the people who asked me if I’d used bio-oil had never even tried it. The power of advertising, I guess. It’s horrible knowing that almost nothing works. It’s worse when everyone (who’s never heard of the damn condition) suggests treatments for you, which you know will do jacksh*t or even make it worse. You probably mean very well, but you don’t have to be an expert or give advice. A kind, listening ear (and encouragement to seek professional treatment if someone hasn’t already) is probably best.

I was lucky. My symptoms disappeared IMMEDIATELY once the Little Mister had vacated my body. While I had a whole lot of other issues, that was thankfully not one of them. However, the scars and the mental effects stayed for a while. I didn’t want to see another greasy, oily ointment again. I had scars on my chest, which meant I couldn’t dress nicely over summer, without feeling like I was an acne ridden teen with chest pimples (no-one wants to see those). I was sensitive to heat, mentally and physically. It took a YEAR before I felt like I could bare my upper chest without a big ol’ necklace or high neckline to hide behind. Progress can be slow.

I am very fortunate to have a very healthy, hilarious and good natured 18 month old today, who has no idea of the hell he put me through during pregnancy! I intend to let him know during his teenage years, though 😉 In all seriousness, that (him being in my life happy and healthy) is what matters most and what got me through a tough time. PUPPP is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It felt worse than the diabetes and worse than the infection that brought on my labour. It was worse than dealing with the healing from a C-section. Itching is seriously a form of torture. Some people handle it better than others and I will be the first to admit that I was not handling it, despite my best efforts.

There is help and support out there, but it’s important to start looking early. I’m not trying to scare anyone. I’m just trying to bring awareness to it.

I found a dermatologist who dealt with a lot of pregnancy cases. I highly recommend you seek out an experienced specialist and get the ball rolling with referrals etc fast. Also, know that it isn’t your fault. We are all quick to judge these days. It’s easy to believe that a woman having a tough pregnancy must just be a Negative Nancy or probably did something to cause her condition, because it makes us feel like we have control over our own circumstances, but during pregnancy all bets are off. You can do your best and still have some hurdles to deal with. Don’t let ignorant people bring you down.

Pregnancy is stressful enough.

So please, my hope is that if you have read this you will be a proactive sufferer, in order to make your time as a beautiful (you still are) pregnant woman a little easier. If you hear of a friend or relative having this condition, I hope that you will now know just how severe it can be and treat them with the extra love and care they deserve. A great support network can make the difference between a surviving some tough times, and depression.

Feel free to share this post and PLEASE do not be in denial. No-one wants to know about the crap things that can happen when you’re pregnant, but information is power and might save you a lot of suffering (I speak from experience).

Love and light,

Kez xo

If you have experienced this, please contact me or leave a comment – I would love for you to share your stories.

This post is a part of the Blog Every Day in May challenge.



Am I not SAD anymore?

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This past week or two, the wintery weather has suddenly fallen upon my little corner of the planet. The night time feels cooler, the clouds cover the sky more often than not and the rain has begun to fall a bit more regularly. The rain cover for the pram is finally being used, I’m wearing my good old trackie pants and the air conditioner is getting a rest!

I’ve never been a fan of winter. In fact, each year (other than a bit of Autumn wistfulness as new clothing hits the racks at my favourite stores) I dread it. The clouds, the wetness and the addiction to winter comfort eating have always got me down. All the songs on the radio turn into dreary commercial rock (Nickelback anyone? Shoot me) to match the weather and you have to layer up your clothing so anything cute you might have started to wear is eternally hidden under rainproof wear and those coats that strippers wear (I cannot for the life of me remember what they’re called right now – it’s been a long summer – wait they’re called trenchcoats – meh). At times I would feel just downright negatively introspective and just on the border of depression after a long bout of wind and rain. I guess I’m prone to that SAD thing (Seasonally Affected Depression/Disorder or whatever it stands for – I’m no doctor). I suppose winter also reminded me of cramming in depressing winter classes at university and feeling so damn stressed about everything life throws at you in the winter.

Last winter was so different. Last winter I was pregnant and itchy with PUPPP rash. I was also quite…warm all the time because of all the extra ‘insulation’ (I look back and think of the Little Mister’s foetus as my inbuilt hot water bottle). I had the air conditioner on constantly, as the muggy, wet weather would aggravate my rash and I suppose my husband did a good job of not arguing with me when he was probably freezing his you-know-whats off! I had to say goodbye to my leggings because the cheap fabric rubbed on my legs too much, causing me to itch. I had to wear custom altered maxi dresses from sale racks with giant scarves (to hide the rash on my neck and chest) and I had to find jackets that could hang around my giant bump without looking too strange. I felt unattractive, lonely and puffed out! I spent a lot of time on the couch, napping in my bed (when my pelvic pain would let me get in without taking half an hour just to lie down) and wandering aimlessly between the computer and the kitchen. I just couldn’t do much else – especially when soaked in the greasiest ointment you can imagine!

While it was obviously no picnic (bloody oath!), I was grateful the whole time for the fact that I had conveniently fallen pregnant in Autumn and would give birth in Spring – mostly dodging the warmest, sweatiest weather of the year. I came to look forward to seeing weather forecasts full of cold fronts and bad weather (it meant that I could stay in without feeling guilty or left out of things). I liked the days where everyone else would whine about the cold, because it meant that I would be the most comfortable.

For all the bad moments, last winter I experienced some amazing life changing moments. Feeling my Little Mister kicking inside me, playing with his little feet, elbows and knees as he pushed them against the skin of my bump. He kept me company when I felt cumbersome and… stuck. He made the discomfort worth it. The few things I got to do was attend a good number of AFL (Australian Football League – Aussie Rules) games to cheer on my team, the West Coast Eagles. These days cheered me up immensely when I wasn’t well. They were special times – especially as our team was doing so well (proving a lot of naysayers wrong)! There was the game in Melbourne (our last real holiday before the baby came) and there were a couple of games at home – one being right after I found out that I had gestational diabetes on top of the rest of my damn problems! For a few hours I felt cute (wearing my maternity jeans – finally – it was cold enough for my rash to not be as much of an issue), normal and I could forget about my blood sugar (kind of – everyone was eating meat pies and drinking soft drink) while the team won and the Little Mister kicked whenever something exciting happened.

So this year, I realise that I don’t think I’ll hate winter anymore. I’m sure I’ll get sick of it over time (I feel like that about every season at least for a little while towards the end of it) and there will be days when the weather feels like it’s stopping me in my tracks, but I think it’s growing on me. I feel grateful that this winter I can wear jeans (first skinny jeans in a loooong time – got a little bit of tummy to hide but I’m cool with that). This winter I can wear leggings in fifty million different combinations of colours and designs with nice, big, comfy tops (when I can actually afford to go clothes shopping – the possibility is still nice though!). This winter I can snuggle up real close with my Little Mister and dress him up in the cutest outfits (he was always near naked in Summer because he’s sensitive to heat – I have a theory it’s to do with my pregnancy)! I can enjoy those winter comfort foods I love (within reason). I will save on my electricity bills – not so much air con running all the time. I can look after my skin, so it’s ready for a nice reveal next Summer.

I never thought this would happen. I actually think that Winter and I might become friends 🙂

What’s your favourite season?

Hallo…what?

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I admit it. I am not really a big partaker in the annual Halloween tradition. I’ve always let it pass me by, without feeling an ounce of regret. I suppose that growing up, it was never really on an Aussie kid’s radar. It was more of an American “thing” to us (and yes I am well aware that Halloween did not originate there but it’s the US version of it that is sold to us these days). Now of course there are kids dressing up everywhere, begging to be taken trick or treating by reluctant parents (some of who belong to my generation). It can’t be that fun for these mini trick or treaters because of a lot of us suburban home dwellers just aren’t prepared for those obnoxious knocks on the door come the 31st of October.

I say “obnoxious” because some kids just have no manners (well, the ones who aren’t being supervised by their lovely parents)! They aren’t polite. They’ll knock for what feels like hours – the same kids! I remember one kid who used to live on our street (at our previous home). When he would knock he sounded like he was falling down against the front door very violently. At least we always knew who it was.

I’ve never once been prepared for these knocks at the door. No big bowl of chocolatey, sugary treats. No leftover Tim Tams in the fridge. Not even some old cough lollies or ancient packets of lifesavers (the type you find in your car that you forgot about before opening the wrapper and gingerly placing one in your mouth even though you don’t remember buying Lifesavers any time since 1999 then declaring that it tastes a bit funny but you can’t remember if that’s just how they taste because it’s been so long).

I admit to being that Halloween grinch who turns the television up and pretends to not hear the loud knocking and giggling children. I just have nothing to offer. Even if I did find some scummy lollies in my handbag worthy of passing out, my husband would not be impressed. He shuns the idea of Halloween completely (Halloween Super Grinch)! He would probably admonish me for giving out treats: “Oh great – they’ll remember this next year and the cycle will never end!!”

Right now we can plead ignorance as a childless couple who don’t understand, but in a few years this might all change. Just wait until Little Mister (he finally has a moniker) comes home from school telling us that Billy and Bobby and Suzie from school are ALL going trick or treating and what am I going to make as a costume for him? Sigh.

I am really no fun this year. Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes is a bit of a downer on the whole junk food experience. Stocks at my house have plummeted. We’re in a non-diabetes friendly food recession. My husband even has to sneak out of the house for a sausage roll or a biscuit (otherwise my jealousy eats away at me and he almost dies a sudden death by the “look” – you know the “look” a wife can give a husband – I’ll slice you in half with my angry glare)! If someone knocks on my door tonight, I’m either going to do the ol’ turn up the TV maneuvre or I’m going to hand the kiddies an orange (if they’re lucky) or a sugar free fake bar of chocolate (half eaten) which tastes like that really cheap, nasty easter egg chocolate that old people give you when you’re a kid.

I think I may have got my Halloween Grinch-ness from my grandfather. I remember staying at his house over a Halloween weekend or two while growing up. There weren’t many trick or treaters back then but he really did a good job of deterring the kids who gave it a good effort. Once he offered them overly ripe bananas. Another time, a can of chicken soup and I have some sort of vague memory of him handing out a tomato or two. I am quite impressed that his car was never egged or that his house was never toilet papered.

Now don’t get me wrong, if I am invited to an adult Halloween party I will enjoy dressing up and playing the part for a fun evening with friends! I’m just not a trick or treating kinda gal! There’s something enjoyable about dressing up as the slutty version of something. Anything. Just make it slutty and you’re good to go. Or just raid the local lingerie shop for pre-made costumes – the type everyone is wearing (which will only make you feel worse when someone younger and hotter turns up at an event wearing the same thing). It’s great when you get your outfit from a costume hire place. It’s usually an ill fitting version of something slutty, one size fits all. Usually in some kind of cheap, scratchy fabric. The type of well worn costume where you wonder what happened last time someone wore it. Now that’s a scary thought for Halloween!

I don’t think I’ll need to dress up this year. I am scary enough as it is, with my tired face, my blotchy, itchy skin (yep – the rash is well and truly back and won’t respond to my normal treatment that worked so well last time) and my greasy ointment. Not to mention my truly round appearance. I look like one of those blow up toys that you punch, but they always somehow stay upright. What are they called? Never mind…I probably wouldn’t actually stay upright if you punched me, come to think of it…

So happy Halloween to those who celebrate it, and to those who do not – I feel ya! 😉

Getting reflective before giving out some unsolicited advice.

As I reach the pointy (stretchy, bumpy, achey) end of my first pregnancy, I am feeling a little bit reflective. It has been one big journey both physically and mentally. When talking to friends who are in the earlier stages of gestation, I realise that I have come a long way. It feels like only yesterday I too was overwhelmed and felt entirely clueless about the whole situation and now I am doling out advice (hopefully the useful and welcome kind) and trying to reassure others about the process – not that I’m some big ol’ expert know it all or anything. I guess I’ve just learnt a lot along the way.

Now, during and after childbirth? That’s a whole other matter!! Stay tuned!!!

Here are some reflections on some of the feelings and symptoms I’ve experienced so far.

Pre-conception

I was trying to play it cool. My pill prescription was due for a refill and I was going to head to the pharmacy for it when my husband said, “Are you sure you need to do that? That’s a whole four months more of the pill. Maybe we could start trying for a baby. It might take a while for your body to adjust so why not just leave it?”

Eek! I couldn’t believe we were having this conversation! I mean, we had always talked about it in an abstract kind of way and we knew we both dreamed of a family of our own, but this was REAL! Holy crap! I looked at him with wide eyes, he looked back at me and I felt a dangerous thrill.

I bought a couple of books online (OK so about four) for us to read. A couple for dads-to-be and a couple about pregnancy itself. I started having an excited browse of them, but soon realised I didn’t want to read far ahead because it was too overwhelming and I needed to stay cool. Conception might take a while and I didn’t want to pressure myself or become crazy about baby making. I wanted to be relaxed and peaceful about the process, not impatient or anxious.

I had occasions where I would have a “moment” and would need reassurance from my husband. I knew people (including my own parents) who had struggled with different fertility and pregnancy issues and while I tried to tell myself that it’s more common than people realise and that I was just being realistic, I realised just how important the dream of falling pregnant really was to me. Being adopted made me feel like I needed someone who comes from me. From my biological family tree. That is hard to admit because so much of my life is about knowing that love is thicker than water, not blood or genetics.

I stopped reading the books completely and the hubby and I booked a Contiki tour of Europe (something to look forward to if things weren’t happening on the baby front), which took the pressure off. Turns out we never went on that tour! 😉

Pic Oh crap! What now?!

First Trimester

I was nervous from the moment we found out we were expecting. The first trimester is when you’re at the highest risk of miscarriage and I was scared that I would have one. Reading statistics about 1 in 5 pregnancies failing doesn’t help! I almost expected that my first pregnancy would fail just because it was my first pregnancy (don’t ask me how that logic works). I just hoped that a second attempt would be successful (luckily this was not to be an issue).

I felt tired and overwhelmed. Suddenly I had a tiny being (or bean) on board. I’d heard the heartbeat early on (about 7 weeks in) and seen a scan of something that looked like a jelly bean attached to another jelly bean (the embryo and its little sac), but it still didn’t feel entirely real. I was excited but I didn’t want to let myself get carried away. I had a few weeks before I would feel safe to tell the world.

I was googling everything I felt. I was reading about all the foods I suddenly had to avoid (if you followed every tiny bit of written advice there is out there you wouldn’t be able to eat anything). I lost my appetite and I was losing a bit of (admittedly excess) weight. I felt so…dumb!

I started reading Up the Duff and What to Expect When You’re Expecting but nothing really sank in. I wasn’t quite ready for it all. Later these books would become my bibles (I highly recommend you keep them for when you’re ready to take their advice).

We told immediate family almost straight away. We figured we’d have support from them if things went wrong but everyone was sworn to secrecy. Their lives would not be worth living if they told even a soul!!!

We had a scare at 12 weeks (right before our ultrasound was due), with a bleed in the middle of the night. I had been stressed and that moment was confusing and scary. It was a long night for us as we waited to have an appointment with our doctor the next morning (it seemed a better option than sitting in ED with the drunk casualties at the hospital on a weekend night). We got our scan booking moved a few days early as we were quite anxious. We were so relieved when there was our little foetus looking more baby shaped, the technician telling us there was no bad reason for my bleeding (perhaps it was the placenta implanting nice and strong in my uterine wall) and that everything was looking great. There appeared to be no abnormalities and there was no likeliness of Down Syndrome too. We were in shock, but this time it was the happy kind. It was a wake up call for me to avoid lots of stress and for my husband to help out with that rather than hyping me up when I felt a bit overwhelmed. It was a big adjustment for the both of us.

I told a couple of very close friends earlier in the piece but it was hard. I never knew how to announce it! It felt embarrassing and weird! Eventually my mum told me it was getting a bit crazy (I started showing at 10 weeks) and that I really just needed to be brave and share the news. I realised she was right. Bottling it up and keeping things secret has never been my style and I just wanted to feel real and honest with those I care about.

It felt like such a relief and I felt ready to embrace the experience.

Second Trimester

This was a wonderful time. I could finally show off my bump and I was starting to gain confidence in what I could eat. My appetite and energy levels came back with a vengeance and although I stupidly started comparing myself to other pregnant people (bad idea) I was feeling excited and happy. I started running around like a madwoman – my version of nesting. I was making the most of my energy boost and I was really enjoying everything I felt in my body. Even the not always awesome symptoms – they meant I was pregnant and that was enough for me!

I was baking up a storm almost daily in the kitchen. I was organising things for people and getting my creative juices flowing. I had started this blog you’re reading right now and I was finally able to read my pregnancy books without freaking out. I made a rule that I would just take it all a week at a time. I would only read about the week of pregnancy I was in and would not dare to flick forwards to those scary parts about labour or breastfeeding! This strategy has been a fantastic one.

Our 20 week ultrasound was very exciting. We paid an extra $15 for a DVD and we delighted in showing our families. We were on top of the world. We now knew we were having a boy! Everyone expected a girl (including me) but it was yet another boy to add to ALL the males on both sides of our families. I was admittedly a teeny tiny bit disappointed but knowing the baby was healthy and he was all ours overshadowed that feeling. I guess the rebel in me had wanted to even up the scoreboard with a bit more oestrogen. Never mind! Maybe next time!

Right after the scan I developed a PUPPP rash. They believe about 1% of women will get this hormonal pregnancy rash. It was unbearable and it started in all the uncomfortable, undignified places you can think of. It itched and it made me crazy. It took 2 weeks to get a diagnosis and I felt so helpless and depressed (I don’t use that term lightly). Until I got a great treatment for it from a dermatologist, I had nothing that worked besides lukewarm baths. Let me tell you, living in the bath sounds like a great idea, but it really gets bad when you can’t cope without it. It would soothe my skin for maybe a couple of hours before I was scratching, crying and having the darkest, most saddest thoughts about my pregnancy (and then feeling more awful that my mind could go there). I wouldn’t wish that time on anyone.

My skin started to scar badly and I felt unattractive, no longer the glowing pregnant lady. I had no clothes to wear (it was winter and leggings or cheap fabrics were out of the question) and I was a shut in for weeks as I was constantly soaked in greasy steroid ointment or had no clothes to wear. Luckily my mum saved the day with a whole bunch of beautiful maxi dresses. Phew. I could leave the house again! Albeit wearing scarves and god knows what else in an attempt to hide my scars.

The itching died down with the ointment and I only needed to use it occasionally. I started living my life again and I felt quite good, although the fear of a flare up was always in the back of my mind.

This is a time where I’d like to point out that I realised there is no perfect pregnancy. I couldn’t control everything and I had to accept that this was my experience. It was OK to have some bad thoughts or experiences. It didn’t make me a bad person or a failure of a pregnant woman. I did feel misunderstood because not many people knew what the condition was, but eventually I was able to re-embrace my pregnancy and focus on the positives with a lot of love and support from family and my husband (who was AMAZING during this time). By being open about my condition, I felt liberated and I hope I educated people on what the condition is about. Even the fact that pregnancies are not always perfect and that’s just the way life is. I became determined to not feel ashamed. The rash was/is not my fault.

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Third Trimester

Sh*t gets real in this trimester. It’s like my focus went from “being pregnant” to “going to have an actual real live baby”. I finally felt ready to buy baby things and think about the end result of my pregnancy! It had been too overwhelming before but now I started to realise what all of this truly means (well I knew a baby is going to be born but there’s a difference between knowing it and feeling it).

I wasn’t just thinking or reading about pregnancy symptoms. I was finally ready to hear advice about actual babies and labour and all the rest of it!

The nursery slowly filled up with furniture and clothing and goodness knows what other supplies! A pram was purchased (something that had scared the bejeezus out of me a trimester or two earlier – who the hell knows what a baby needs?!) and a cot was assembled! I finally had a handle on what all these baby products are, what features I wanted and what the teeny tiny clothing sizes mean!

I had my glucose tolerance test at 28 weeks. What a downer that was! I had a gut feeling all along that I would test positive for gestational diabetes, despite everyone being optimistic.
“What are the odds? You’ve already been through hell with the rash. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

They meant well, but I just KNEW.

I got a bit grumpy having to see a dietician and test my blood four times a day. I felt horrible knowing that the condition was genetic (although relieved it wasn’t caused by my behaviour) because now I’ll be one of those people who have to watch out for Type 2 Diabetes for the rest of my damn life. That’s a lot to take in!!! Before this pregnancy I have always been healthy and taken for granted my smooth, tanned skin. Damn, reality can bite!

I felt hard done by. My diet would now be even more limited. I was having a pity party. 1% get the rash. 3-5% get Gestational Diabetes. I lost hope in all statistics. I no longer believe that if there is an extremely low risk of something happening that it means I’ll be right, mate. My body has proved that I can quite easily be in that minority.

I adjusted my diet over a week or so and finally feel confident in what I can eat or not eat. The hardest thing has been people in my life not understanding the limitations on my diet. Eating out can be difficult and people think that as long as I don’t eat cookies, cake or lollies then I’m fine. There is much more to it than that. I have to watch my carbs, the hidden sugars in almost everything we buy off supermarket shelves, even the natural sugars in fruit. All the condiments, sauces, salt content, proportioning of a meal, the timing of when I eat etc can have an effect on my blood sugar and at times I felt like I was repeating myself over and over and over. I don’t expect people to cater for me (I eat at home first or just watch them eat cake) but it did get frustrating trying to explain. I know everyone means well and I truly don’t blame them for not having the information (after all it’s not their problem). I think I just reached a level of annoyance about having the condition in the first place. Everything was getting to me. I withdrew socially for a few weeks so I could regroup and toughen up a bit. Perhaps, had I not had the rash, I might have handled it better psychologically.

This trimester we went to ante-natal class. I felt so much more relaxed afterwards. I now know more about the process at the hospital and about birth itself. How it all works, what the midwives are likely to do and different birthing positions and stories about natural births and C-sections. Taking some of the unknown out of the whole labour experience proved oddly reassuring, even though I’m sure to be in a whole world of pain and unexpected events when the time comes! The class made me realise I’m so ready for this baby.

One thing that really cheered me up socially was my baby shower! It was the first time I would see my friends in maybe a month. I was nervous about entertaining so many people at my house (I was getting to the really tired phase of pregnancy) but it was fantastic. There was SO much love in my house that day and I was on a high for days afterwards. The gifts were all gorgeous and useful. People were raving about the dessert buffet by Finn + Evie (which was planned before I found out I had diabetes) for days and I felt so spoilt. I felt overwhelmed by love and all warm and fuzzy that our baby is going to know this love soon!

Now I’m in the 36th week of pregnancy and my rash is trying to come back with a vengeance. It really loves my legs and my newly acquired stretch marks (please don’t give me advice on my skin unless you’ve had the condition – I know you mean really well and I love you for it but I can’t just whack on some bio oil or paw paw ointment yet – it’s going to be a long process and my skin is very sensitive at the moment – it’s not always that straight forward). This is difficult as I am already finding it hard to sleep. I thank my lucky stars I have my ointment this time. The weather isn’t helping at 94% humidity!!

I still have to pack my hospital bag (and one for the baby and one for the husband) but I feel ready. Once I know our little one is fully cooked, I can’t wait to get him out of me and into my arms! I want to meet him and love him and nurture him and show him off, but admittedly I am also SO over being pregnant! I want to eat what I like, wear high heels (or even nice wedges will do) and stop itching!

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My Two Cents Worth

I’ve had a big reality check with my first pregnancy. Life isn’t always smooth sailing and pregnancy is no different! I don’t want to scare any newly pregnant people with my tales of woe! It really is a lovely experience despite everything else. I just don’t believe in sugar coating it or making others feel inadequate by not being honest about my feelings and experiences. One thing that hasn’t changed through this whole process is my love for our baby. Love really can conquer all. I would tell anyone who is newly expecting that if you go with the flow and know it’s OK to not be in control, you’ll be able to get through anything. You might have dark thoughts, scary moments or feel particularly frumpy or spotty or clueless, but I promise you that you’re not alone. It’s a scary time as much as it is exciting. You just never know what will get thrown at you along the way! Just don’t beat yourself up if it’s not perfect or your thoughts aren’t all unicorns and rainbows. Everyone’s experiences are different. That woman you feel daunted by because she’s one of those seemingly perfect pregnant ladies might be hiding a multitude of conditions. She may have suffered miscarriages previously, she may be dressing so nicely to hide scars from a rash, she may not be able to eat what she likes (that might be why she seems so perfectly slim everywhere but the bump). She might just be paralysed by anxiety when she goes home at night. She might be able to keep up her paid day job forever while you feel like you can’t cope, but she may be throwing herself into work to avoid the inevitable list of baby related preparations that are seriously freaking her out.

You just don’t know, so don’t compare yourself. You’re good enough and you’ll be amazing even if there are some (big or small) bumps in the road.

I truly believe that if we’re all honest and we don’t buy into the bullsh*t that pregnancy is all glowy and blissful 100% of the time for everyone, if we take the time to listen to someone who is feeling confused or scared (or itchy!), then perhaps it won’t be so difficult and some of us might not feel so alone. Unconditional love and support has been what has got me through darker days/nights. We need to let people know they don’t have to be perfect just because it makes us feel better.

And, hey. If you have a terrifically blissful 9 months – good for you! I cannot express enough how much I am happy for you! You’re so lucky and so is your baby 🙂

Wish me luck for the next few weeks, lovely readers – we’re approaching crunch time!!

FAQ: Entering the Third Trimester. Holy crap.

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So, it’s all getting a bit serious now. I’m entering my third trimester. That means that at some point I have to think about that whole “going into labour” thing. Which quite frankly freaks me out. Of course it will all take its course (whatever, wherever, whenever that shall be) and hopefully everything will be alright in the end…it’s just getting a little bit real!

Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked lately:

How are you feeling?

I find this question to be so broad. I know people are referring to my pregnancy symptoms but I never quite know how to answer! Do they want the short answer? “Fine – a little bit squishy!”
Or the long answer where I list every single physical or psychological symptom I am experiencing that very moment?

Probably the first one haha.

In general I am feeling fine. I am definitely getting bigger and it’s harder to get off the couch or to bend down to get things off the floor, but I’m feeling good otherwise. I just have to know when I’ve pushed myself and need a rest. I also have to work on my fitness (pre-natal yoga is surprisingly nice to do) and remember my kegels! I missed out on a fair bit of exercise time when my rash took a hold a few weeks ago and I’m only now getting back on track.

Speaking of the PUPPP rash, how is that going?

I’m doing fairly well. I have a fantastic ointment from the dermatologist that has made a world of difference. When he first prescribed it, I was skeptical as I had tried so many things already to no avail. However, I followed his instructions that very day and by the next day I felt 100 times better. The itching had calmed itself considerably and the angry redness of the all over body rash had become a lot calmer. I kept using the ointment every day as prescribed and it is now so manageable that I only need to apply it on little outbreaks and itchy spots that arise occasionally.

My new challenge is getting past the scarring from those two weeks I went without proper treatment and the pimples the greasy ointment gave me. However, those things mean nothing to me in the big scheme of things – I’m just glad to be comfortable. Pregnancy is sooo not glamourous!

I just have to be careful of heat because it does tend to set things off again. I am so lucky to have been pregnant mostly over winter. I am a bit nervous with spring coming but I just stick to my maxi dresses and flowy clothing for now – hopefully that will help.

When is your next ultrasound scan?

To be honest, I’m not sure exactly but I’m having regular check ups with my doctor and I am sure he can tell me at my next appointment (this week). I have to admit, I’m hanging out for another one. I love seeing how the baby grows – it’s so mindblowing! The pictures give me such a boost 🙂

It’s also fantastic for your peace of mind when the technician tells you everything is going well.

Have you thought of a name yet?

We’re asked this a lot (click the link above for the last FAQ answer). We are NOT going to reveal this, you sneaky people! I usually just say, “No.” or “We have a shortlist but we won’t know which one to go with until we meet the little fella.”

I see people look at us with this, “Come on – spill!!!! What’s on the shortlist?!” expression, but seriously. We’re not going to let the cat out of the bag! Stop asking as refusal may offend!

Has your innie belly button become an outtie yet??

Nope! But each day I look at it and it’s getting more and more strained! It’s really funny. I think that my husband is going to lose the plot (in a hilarious way) when it does happen. He keeps checking every day, which cracks me up.

Can you tell me when the baby is kicking so I can feel?

I really don’t have a problem with this, especially as those who have asked are close to me (and not icky strangers). It’s really sweet of them to want to share in the experience. Problem is, the baby never performs in front of my mum or my best friends because usually we’re moving about a bit and I’m probably rocking the baby to sleep!

I hope no-one thinks I’m just lying to them. I really would love them to feel it. I just think that unless they hang out with me when I’m really hungry or when I’m falling asleep or when I’m first waking up, they aren’t going to get much of a chance! Perhaps as the end of my pregnancy draws near (and the baby’s movements are so much more pronounced) they’ll get a good opportunity.

I love sharing these moments with the Husband Man though. It’s awesome seeing his face light up when he sees my belly lurch around or when he feels a kick or a stretch!

How’s your nursery going?

Everything’s coming along quite nicely. We still have a lot of things to get, but we have a gorgeous cot and a change table. We need a chest of drawers and other storage stuff, but we’ve got gorgeous curtains (made lovingly by my mum) and wall decals in place, so it’s starting to look like a really cute room to be in. I love just walking in there – it feels so nice knowing our baby is going to live in there one day 🙂

We’ve also got some little jumpsuits hanging up and a few other practical bits and pieces.

I don’t want to sound like a hippie but that room has good vibes!

So, do you have any more questions? I’d be happy to answer them x

Sh*t Happens.

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Wow, things can really change in a week! Not long after I posted about becoming a sudden domestic goddess in the making, my nesting habits got a bit interrupted…

Sometimes there are things in life that you just can’t control. Things that you are Awesomely Unprepared for, despite your best intentions.

I am learning that I may be a little bit more of a control freak than I really like to admit. Me? A control freak? You must be talking about someone else

I hold myself to high standards, even though I know I shouldn’t. I compare myself to others, even though I know I shouldn’t. I blame myself for things that aren’t my fault when I know I shouldn’t. I expect that everything I do will turn out how I’ve predicted when really nothing ever goes perfectly to plan. It’s so much fun such a drag.

I guess I’m just human.

Now if there’s anything in life you can’t control, it’s pregnancy. Symptoms keep popping up and they have very little to do with you. Sure, you can stop doing hard drugs or chugging alcohol. You can try to stay fit and healthy and adjust your nutritional intake so it benefits the baby the best. But you aren’t going to be perfect at it (well I hope you stop taking hard drugs and drinking whiskey at the very least) and there are so many other things going on in your body that you really have no say in/control over! There’s something strangely liberating and exciting about that, but it can also be a little unsettling for a control freak.

We can’t stop stretch marks if we’re destined to have them. We can’t help if some pregnancy related medical condition pops up out of nowhere and needs dealing with. We can’t control the way our bump sits or how big it will get. We can’t help it if our skin doesn’t look like it’s glowing (even if everyone else’s seems to be) or if morning sickness decides to strike. We can only do the best we can to minimise any risks and leave the rest up to nature.

This “Aha” moment (thanks, Oprah – miss you already) came to me when I started breaking out in rashes all over my body lately. Itchy, unsightly and unbearably uncomfortable. I have never had a history of allergies, eczema or any other skin condition in my life. I have been using very natural (and pregnancy safe) products on my skin (and around the house) since I got pregnant and I have not changed my diet (other than a few stray cupcakes finding their way into my stomach – hey how did they get in there??) or anything else about my lifestyle. Yet, here I’ve been with these damn rashes and sleepless, itchy nights. At times I’ve felt like a leper. I keep hearing about/noticing how my pregnant friends (past and present) had/have perfect skin and look so great. I keep seeing those paparazzi pics of damn celebrities with their damn yoga mats looking radiant while up the duff. In my weak moments (aplenty) I’ve felt like a spotty, unattractive failure (even though my amazing husband – who values his life – keeps reminding me that he still finds me so beautiful).

I didn’t want to tell anyone about what I was feeling so I hid it inside for a little while. When people asked how I was feeling, I would say, “Oh awesome – so great – no sickness – tons of energy”. Sure, that answer was kind of true, but on the inside I’ve feeling down about my skin and worried about it. Stupid but true story.

It got to a point where it got too intense. I was sobbing in a cold shower (despite it being the coldest winter ever) in the middle of the night and scratching when I knew I shouldn’t. I told my family and I made the first doctor’s appointment of many. Finally, my discomfort overruled my shame/embarrassment.

I’ve got the ball rolling on some attempts at controlling my skin problems and while I haven’t got a solution (or even a way to keep things manageable) yet, I should have done this ages ago. I also realise I am not afraid to speak up about it anymore. So what if I have this ugly rash? I have a healthy baby boy inside me and everyone is different. It’s not my fault. I can’t control everything. It’s not even contagious. Therefore there is nothing I could have done differently other than not get pregnant (which I wouldn’t trade for the world). I AM NOT TO BLAME. I AM NOT A BAD PREGNANT PERSON. OK, so I won’t be having any glamour belly shots for the family album. I probably will cover up reaaallly well if I give AquaBump Aerobics a try (so as not to scare anyone). I will probably take a while to get rid of the marks the itching has given me. So what? I have other things to be grateful for (family, friends and the most supportive husband). And on a shallow note, I have a glowing complexion (my face has thankfully been spared) and I haven’t sprouted 15 chins yet. From the outside I look perfectly pregnant – which is kind of why I wanted to speak up in this blog post (and be all vulnerable and sh*t). I want other people out there to realise we never know what’s going on under the surface. Things aren’t always what they seem. Don’t beat yourself up or feel inferior over a mere perception of other people’s supposed perfection (that kind of rhymes – I should write lyrics for Panic! At The Disco or something).

I’ve got to step up and become less about my insecurities (and worrying about the things I can’t control) and more about the safety and happiness of my baby. I’ve got to get mentally strong even though this skin condition (whatever the hell it is) has a way of making me into the craziest lady. And I mean CRAYYY-ZEEEEE.

When’s the last time you had to be mentally strong? How did you find a way to cope? Seriously, I’m going to be taking notes…

Edited Update: I have been diagnosed with PUPPP or Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy (feel free to google it). I am now using an ointment which seems to give some relief, although it won’t actually cure it. Thanks for your comments and support x