Just one more thing that Evonne Goolagong and I have in common

by Jen on February 15, 2008

in Does this baby make me look fat?

For starters, I’ve gained six pounds in the last month (and I was so proud of myself for only gaining one pound the month before). I had an OB appointment with the PA earlier in the week.

“How are you feeling? Do you have any questions?”

“Yes, I do. Have I really gained six pounds in the last month?”

“Well… yes you have. But you’re only up twelve pounds over all, so that’s fine.” However, she’s counting from the weight I was at when I had my first appointment at week 10. I had already put four pounds on at that point; she just doesn’t know that.

I can’t really complain. I’ve only gained sixteen pounds in 25 weeks. Even if I gain a pound a week from here on out, my total weight gain will still only be about 35 pounds, which is what I estimated it would have been if I would have gone to term with the Monkeyboy.

As for the Evonne Goolagong reference, it turns out that I, like she talked about in her Geritol commercials in the seventies, have “iron-poor blood.” That is, I’m anemic.

At my last appointment, I asked my doctor to run bloodwork because I thought I might be anemic. I am beyond fatigued. Not just exhausted, but I’ve even been feeling muscle weakness. I am cold all the time (I’ve been running a little space heater by my desk at work to try to get warm). I’m irritable. I have a hard time concentrating. I’m out of breath. The other night I walked across the house to check on the Monkeyboy before going to bed and when I laid down, my heart was racing. And I look like a corpse; I’m pale and have dark circles under my eyes that aren’t easily covered with makeup. Purpley-blue dark circles accentuated by my pale, pale, almost translucent skin. Call it vampire-chic.

Many of these are not unusual symptoms for pregnancy, but I’ve been pregnant before and the level of the symptoms was unusual for me. My doctor agreed, and because I’ve been feeling so cold all the time, he even said he’d throw a TSH check in with my CBC, just for fun. I doubted I was hypothyroid because I didn’t have any of the other symptoms (we used to have a dog that was hypothyroid, so I’m familiar with the symptoms), but I was willing to look for anything that was making me feel this way.

Due to a snafu with our home phone*, I didn’t get the message from my doctor’s office regarding my bloodwork. I assumed nothing out of the ordinary presented itself. Imagine my surprise when the PA opened my appointment with a glance at my chart and the question, “So, have you been taking the iron?”

My hemoglobin was 10.1, which is low, but not extremely low.** The normal range of hemoglobin in non-pregnant women is 12.3 to 15.3; the WHO defines anemia in non-pregnant women as less than 12. A level of 10.0 and 10.9 is considered mild anemia in pregnant women. I am low enough that I’m now taking iron supplements and will have it rechecked at my 28-week bloodwork (which also includes my glucose tolerance test).

I’ve already been taking an additional 250 mg of vitamin C, since there’s some evidence to show that vitamin C helps prevent pPROM. However, very high levels of vitamin C have also been found in women who’ve miscarried. (I cannot find my sources for this, though. I will keep looking.) That’s why I’ve only been taking 250 mg (which was the smallest dose I could find), instead of the usual mega-dose options available at the average grocery, health food or big-chain stores.

Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron, so I’m now taking them at the same time each day, a time which is at least two hours after I’ve consumed any dairy products and at least two hours before I will consume any more (since calcium blocks the absorption of iron). This has been difficult, because I drink — and I swear I am not exaggerating here — about two quarts of milk a day (much of it chocolate). I have a tall glass as part of my breakfast, a chocolate milk as my after-lunch snack, a glass when I get home from school/work and have a snack, sometimes another glass in the evening and then I wrap up the evening with my pre-bed glass-of-milk-and-a-cookie/brownie routine. Finding a dairy-free time to take the iron supplement has been the biggest challenge so far. Looking at my milk-drinking schedule, and knowing calcium’s anti-iron attitude, is it any wonder that I am anemic? But certainly not calcium-deficient, oh no.

Hopefully, the iron supplements will take hold and my anemia, along with its symptoms, will be a thing of the past. Then the only thing Evonne Goolagong and I will have in common is that we’re both retired international tennis superstars and daughters of itinerant sheep shearers. And frankly, isn’t that enough?

*It can take upwards of two weeks for two adults with cell phones to realize that their land line is not working; no dial tone, nothing. Ah, the blessing and curse of modern technology.

**Although a woman at work said her elderly mother was admitted to the hospital when her hemoglobin reached 9.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Valerie February 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Sorry that you are anemic, so am I. I have been drinking a glass of OJ with my iron to help it absorb.

2 Anonymous February 21, 2008 at 11:42 am

You all can visit our new patient education website on anemia:http://www.anemiainwomen.com

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