Saturday, May 30, 2009


Every few months for the last 13 or so years, I've had strange bouts of intense abdominal pain and vomiting. I wrote about this on my other blog, Fruitful, after I was hospitalized for a particularly nasty episode last October. We still don't know the cause, although I recently had a negative test for porphyria, a condition I was originally diagnosed with when I was 19. Whatever the root may be, it's a thoroughly sucky experience. But now at least I have a new way of dealing with it.

I was up most of last night with doubled-over pain, cold sweats, etc. I have a couple of medications that can take the edge off, but I found conflicting information online about whether or not they are safe during pregnancy--a bit scary, since I had taken one of them during my last episode, when I was newly pregnant and didn't know yet--so I decided to avoid them for the time being. I tried deep breathing to get through the pain, telling myself it was good practice for labor. I even tried blowing raspberries, which iconic midwife Ina May Gaskin recommends, especially during the pushing stage (I am totally digging her book, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by the way--if you are pregnant and only want to read one book, this is a good one!) I finally started to throw up around 5am. After the sound woke Michael, we decided to call our midwife, Karen, and see what she thought about the different medications. She assured us that one of them appeared to be safe during pregnancy, but then she also offered a non-medical option, as well.

We had mentioned to Karen that one doctor had thought these episodes might be the result of abdominal migraines, so she suggested we try an old migraine remedy: super-heating the hands and feet. She said it helps redirect blood flow and can provide relief. So Michael ran hot water in the tub and I sat on a towel on the edge of it, hunched over so both my hands and feet could be immersed. It was a bit uncomfortable, so Michael put an upended drink bucket in the tub and I sat on that instead. At first my belly griped at being folded over, but the hot water on my hands and feet was nicely distracting, and then eventually relaxing, and before too long, I was able to stumble back to bed and sleep for a few welcome hours. I am pretty wiped out now, and have a bit of residual unrest in my belly, but overall I feel so much better, and I didn't even take any medicine.

I was already happy about our choice of midwife, but I feel even more pleased about it now--Karen has such a wonderful mix of compassion and knowledge (plus she's an activist who helped lobby for legalization of midwifery in California.) If she can help me so thoroughly over the phone through one of these episodes, I know she'll be a superstar at the birth.


  1. I'm glad to know you made it through this okay -- it sounds just awful! That's interesting about the super-heating method; I'll have to try that next time I get a migraine.

    Sounds like you've picked up an amazing midwife!


  2. I wish you didn't have to go through that kind of pain but it is so good you have a midwife you both like. I have yet to find the right one. Everyone I meet seems wonderful and competent but I really am not sure if I want them near my bottom half...

  3. Thanks so much, Cati and About the book. :) I am very happy with our midwife, indeed. Good luck finding one that you love, About the book (that must mean that things are progressing well with the pregnancy--I'm so happy to hear it!)