Pass The Smelling Salts

February 27, 2008

The thing about pregnancy? It is comparative, as a physical and emotional experience, to being drunk, 24-7. But it veers, sometimes dramatically, between different varieties of drunk: the kind of drunk that is just barely-buzzed-but-a-little-off-kilter drunk, the full-on-happy-buzz drunk, the ever-amusing wobbly-and-weepy-drunk, the inevitable crouched-over-the-toilet drunk, and – in its worst incarnations – the collapsed-on-the-floor-while-world-spins drunk.

I had thought that I was well past the floor-kissing-spinny drunks, but apparently not. For the past week I have been having bad dizzy spells of increasing intensity, which culminated yesterday in multiple spells which ended with me crumpling to the floor, unable to get up. Which, when reported to doctor, resulted in the always encouraging immediate summons to hospital.

I’m fine, sort of. I am, apparently, pretty seriously anemic – and that’s even while being on iron supplements – and have very low blood pressure (low enough that they didn’t want to do blood tests, which is good, but also bad, because I have to go back and do them anyway when I’m not all faint-y), but the baby’s fine, which is, to my mind, all that matters. That said, it seems to me that maybe this baby is just a little bit, you know, too strong. Iron-sucking-strong.

My diet’s okay. I’m not big on the meats – hence the supplements – so it’s a bit heavy on the carbs and the dairy and the chocolate, but it’s really pretty decent, especially compared to the starved-out-wasteland of barfiness that was my first trimester. So how is it that I’ve become this pale, wan limp life-form, prone to buckling at the knees and slumping to the floor? (This would all be so much more compelling if I looked like Keira Knightley and wore filmy, lacy nightgowns and had a raspberry-velvet chaise-longue to fall upon backwards in a graceful faint. Sadly, I look nothing like Miss Knightley and do not own a chaise-longue and am much more likely to be wearing milk-stained yoga pants than filmy Victorian nighties as I crumple inelegantly to the floor, so. My spells are not so aesthetically compelling as they could be, I suppose.)

Assuming that I don’t have some sort of malignant brain tumor (*knocks wood furiously*), it must be that this alien life-form, this adorable-but-nonetheless-parasitic superbeing, is sucking every nutrient from my body and turning these to his own nefarious supergrowth purposes. I mean, I can feel him in there. He does not rest, he does not stop moving (that this is fully reminiscent of Wonderbaby’s fetal tenure is both wonderful and entirely disconcerting) and I’m guessing that all of those fetal gymnastics and marathon kick-sessions require high-level doses of mommy-juice. Sumo-level doses, that are sucking me dry.

How long this can continue before I waste away to a pale, bulbous shell, a dessicated old tulip petal, fallen and forgotten on the floor, of no use to anyone but the adorable little life-sucking vampiro-fetus growing inside me? Not that I wouldn’t give my life to him many times over, but still. I’d much rather remain conscious and upright, the better to enjoy the little WonderSprout and his equally energy-draining sister.

So what do I do? Embark upon an all-steak diet? Hunt down some iron-fortified chocolate and binge? Or maybe just invest in some Victorian nightgowns, a chaise-longue and a bucket of smelling salts?

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    Anonymous February 28, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Cast iron skillet= good. I have a hard time cooking in them though because they are HEAVY!
    Take the iron supplements at night, especially if you hate them, and have some vitamin c with your iron rich foods, the iron will absorb better. Skip the milk with the iron foods, it impairs absorbtion. And I cannot spell.
    If it helps, I too was incredibly anemic while preggers, and there just didn’t seem to be much that I could do to get the iron levels up to normal. My doctor was excited when I got mine up to a 7.

    Lisa-tastrophies February 28, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I had to send this to three of my girlfriends who are pregnant right now. It is the BEST description of being “preggers” that I have ever read!

    Angela February 28, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Oh, yuck. I hate being dizzy and motion sick more than anything else. I’m useless with the anemia verdict though…sorry.

    Rebecca February 28, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Drink Guinness.

    Her Bad Mother February 28, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Rebecca: OOOOH.

    Rebecca February 28, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Ah, what can I say. I’m pregnant (and vegetarian) and enjoy a pint now and again. Although, I just read it’s actually not that high in iron.

    ~Kat~ February 29, 2008 at 9:17 am

    I too had serious anemia when pregnant with both my kids… it was like they were sucking the very marrow out of my bones, the iron rich marrow. Anyways- I thought I would add to your list of unsolicited advice and tell you that my midwife suggested FLORADIX which is a liquid iron supplement that sources it’s iron from herbs and vegetables, therefore it assimilates and absorbs much better into your system…
    it turns out I actually had Celiac Disease, thus depleting my iron even further but I have to say- that Floradix really really worked. After a few days I felt like a new person with energy and vigor.

    Jenny February 29, 2008 at 10:45 am

    There’s a chart here: with lots of foods and their varying levels of iron (it lists their other nutrients too, but it’s sorted by iron level). It even includes human milk.

    Phoenix February 29, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I’m now having trouble not picturing you in the place of Keira in Pirates…the first one when she faints and Johnny Depp saves her. Now if you had Johnny Depp to save you fainting wouldn’t seem so bad.

    Um chocolate sounds good to me, but I also love steak. So…well good luck with that one.

    Catherine February 29, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Ah yes…I blacked out once per day for my entire second trimester. The most interesting time being in the canned goods aisle of the grocery store…

    Roz March 2, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    I’ve been anemic since I was a toddler and I have to agree with the meat-toters. Up until just a few years ago I hardly ate any, but when I was pregnant with my first I kinda crashed and decided I’d better start making it a regular part of the dietary routine. It really made a difference. Also (yes feel free to hate me), caffeine is a brutal leech for iron- coffee, tea, chocolate. Psoriasis is linked to low iron and mine started when I started drinking coffee. If I eat enough chocolate, same problem. Oh-I’m not done (yes, I hate me too)- dairy (specifically calcium) inhibits iron uptake so you shouldn’t have it with your supplements or iron-rich foods. I get around this by taking one of my supplements when I get up for an early morning pee. I have it on standby in the fridge with a high Vit C juice, which greatly aids iron absorption. I actually noticed a difference when I started doing that.
    BTW, I’m so not someone who can be bothered following that advice, but somehow I’ve forced myself during this pregnancy (you and I are racing) and it’s really made a difference. Good luck.

    Anonymous April 9, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I had anemia for several years, complete with passing out on a regular basis and getting sick all the time. I know exactly how you feel. I did all the things the docs told me to like taking iron supplements, cooking in iron, lots of red meat…etc. I had montly bloodwork with little to no improvement. Nothing worked….until I came across this book that totally described everything that was happening to me. It suggested to avoid animal and dairy producs. I was willing to do ANYTHING at that point to get better. Within a month my bloodwork came back normal and I've been a vegetarian ever since (over 10 yrs ago). I am pregnant now and told the doc about being a vegetarian, doc said it wasn't a big deal at all just to make sure I got the recomended protein & calcium. Hope this helps…I know it saved me. Feel better.

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