Tourettes and Pregnancy – Trimester 3

Pregnancy and Tourettes - Trimester 3Fridays are always celebration days because they mean we’re another week closer to Jelly Bean’s arrival, and today marks our victory of 33 weeks! Between starting the nursery (which mean completely rearranging my house…which meant my husband completely rearranging the house), physical therapy for my back, a bit of substitute teaching, and a lot of writing, we’ve been pretty busy around here. I thought I’d take a few minutes and give you a report on how the Tourettes has been doing for Trimester 3.

(If you didn’t catch them the first time, here are my reports for Trimester 1 and Trimester 2.)

I’ll start off by saying that my tics have been noticeably more active this trimester, definitely more so than they were in the first two trimesters. I think this is for multiple reasons:

  • I had absolutely no energy with which to tic in Trimester 1.
  • I was still getting my energy back in Trimester 2.
  • I have a lot of great things going on in the coming weeks, but even good stress is still stress. And Stress=Tics.
  • Admittedly, my emotions are somewhat less balanced this trimester.

Anxiety

It’s hard to tell how much anxiety is due to the pregnancy, and how much is simply there like it always is. To be honest, I’m not finding myself super stressed over the idea of bringing a new baby into the world. God is in control, and I figure it’ll happen as He plans it. It’s the details (as always) that are getting me.

  • Husband has changed to a new schedule at work. Now he’s on call, which means he could technically be on call when I go in to labor sometime.
  • Our house still looks like we’re moving, due to the fact that we thought we were moving, and then didn’t. With my back out of commission and Hubby often gone to work, we haven’t been able to get the boxes out and the clutter cleared.
  • Clutter stresses me out big-time.
  • I’m working hard to get one of my books published before the baby comes. This means I love my work, but it also means my pregnancy nap attacks (which happen way more often than I’d expected) are often standing between me and my deadlines for the day.

I have no hard and fast answers for this part of pregnancy. I do, however, have some secret weapons I’m going to discuss a little further down.

Shortness of Breath

I recently wrote about how exercise can sometime induce anxiety attacks, particularly in people who struggle with panic anyways. I’ve noticed within the last week or two that I’ve begun to have periods of time where I randomly become breathless. I was told this would happen, and that’s it’s normal, as Jelly Bean is now 17″ tall and squishing everything (including her feet) up against my rib cage.

Still, it’s aggravating, as it feels like I’m having an anxiety attack multiple times a day. The only way I’ve really been able to combat this feeling is by telling myself over and over again that it’s just pregnancy, not anxiety. If you repeat something enough times, you’re more likely to believe it, and I have seven weeks left to believe it.

Emotional Ties

You hear all about those women on TV who are on emotional roller coasters all the time, and I’m sure it happens to some people. Personally, however, I’ve been pretty even keel throughout most of the pregnancy (well, as even keel as I ever am). In these last few weeks, however, I have noticed a jump in my emotions, those days when I have to warn my husband sometimes that it’s not his fault if I have a meltdown.

One of the perks of having Tourettes and chronic anxiety is that I’m constantly self-monitoring my moods. If you’re going to be on the lookout for anxiety attacks, it’s something you just learn to do. Interestingly enough, this has helped with noticing changes in my emotions pretty quickly, which in turn, can help me monitor my stress, which means monitoring my tics. Extra tics signals extra stress signals perfect storm for an anxiety attack.

The interesting thing is that my tics don’t always hit the moment I feel anxiety. I often notice them when I’m doing the mundane things in life, like brushing my teeth or driving my car. It’s when I start ticcing in all the margin moments of life that I know I really need to manage my anxiety.

My Secret Weapons

Exercise

I was thrilled to tell my physical therapist yesterday that I got a stationary bike for my house, the kind with the back support. An older patient chuckled and said I wouldn’t have to worry about using that after my little one comes. I smiled back to be polite, as I know he meant well, but deep down, I have to admit that it frustrated me.

People who don’t have chronic anxiety or tics often don’t understand why exercise is so important

I know I shared this picture in my last post, but I'm just so stinkin' excited about my bike and balance ball!

I know I shared this picture in my last post, but I’m just so stinkin’ excited about my bike and balance ball!

to me. To them, it might not mean a whole lot to stop exercising, but for me, it’s not just an activity – it’s a necessity. I’ve had to cancel at least half of my exercise plans during the second two trimesters because of back problems, nausea, and all the other fun things that pregnancy brings, but I could always tell when I’d cancelled too often. My tics would jump, and so would my stress.

Because simply getting to the gym can be a hassle (and will be even more after Jelly Bean arrives), I decided I needed to tackle my problem from another direction. I researched exercise bikes and then purchased a simple, somewhat inexpensive one for my home, along with a balance ball. Those, combined with the small sets of weights I already owned, made up my new home gym. It was pricey, but to me, keeping my stress levels down and my health up is worth it. That way, after Jelly Bean comes, I’ll be ready for some quick rounds of exercise whenever the time presents itself.

I’m not saying I’ll get in an hour every day, but from the first day I’m allowed back on that bike, I will be. Exercise will be a priority because I’m making it one. The only way I’m going to keep myself healthy and at peace enough to properly take care of my family is if I’m taking care of my own anxiety levels first.

Diet

No, I don’t mean going on a diet during pregnancy. I mean watching what I’m putting into my body to make sure it’s beneficial to me and to Jelly Bean. As far as cravings go, I get them, but not with the intensity that I did in Trimester 1 (back when I would eat practically anything because even getting crackers down was a victory). The interesting thing is that my cravings have changed as I’ve honed what I’ve put into my body. Rarely do I really crave ice cream or candy. (Okay, you’ve got me with dark chocolate, but that happened before pregnancy, too!)

I’ve noticed that while sugar doesn’t affect me as severely now as it does when I’m not pregnant, I can still tell a huge difference in how I feel when I make healthy food choices. When I make healthy choices, I can tell that my anxiety is better, which means my tics are better. It’s good for my brain, which means it’s good for Jelly Bean’s brain. Something I fear for women who use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever they want is that they’ll have to completely reset their bodies and their brains after the baby is born. I mean, who wants that shock after you’ve just given birth?

While the beginning of the pregnancy did have me craving mostly salty foods, I’m now craving foods I usually eat. I just want more of them. This translates into things like quinoa, cheese, oats, nuts, and fruit. I’ve also been forcing myself to try and drink a glass of low-sodium V8 Vegetable Juice every day. When I get a craving for something sweet, I’ll drink a glass of cranberry juice instead. Yes, I know it’s full of sugar, but it does have beneficial properties, such as the ability to help stave off certain infections, that candy bars just don’t have.

In order to keep myself on track, I’ve also begun to search for new foods, so that when I get blindsided by my appetite, I have a variety of options when I open the cabinet door. That way I’m not tempted to go after my husband’s snacks. (Because strangely, he doesn’t seem to appreciate cheddar rice cakes covered in Laughing Cow Cheese to the extent that I do. Oh wait…he’s a meat loving man. Lol.)

What To Expect When You’re Expecting with Tourettes

I honestly don’t know what to expect, either now or in postpartum period. It’s hard to find information out there about going through pregnancy with Tourettes, so I’ll try to keep you updated as I round these last few bends. It’s important to remember that my experience won’t be exactly the same as any other woman’s. I’m just writing to let ladies like (or their hubbies) know they’re not alone.

Have you ever experienced workout induced anxiety attacks? What did you do to address them? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear your comments and questions, so please post them in the Comment Box below. Also, don’t forget that if you sign up for my weekly newsletter, you’ll get extra resources on neurological disorders, as well as a gift in thanks for signing up. Thanks for reading!

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2 comments

  • Charley Rider on February 1, 2015 at 1:10 pm said:

    I think a home gym is the way to go with a baby. Lots of time for exercise during naps and early bed-time. But I agree with your fellow PT patient. For the first few months, you’re probably going to be looking for sleep when you can get it. But what that patient doesn’t get is that exercise is *your* way to relax. Not many people understand that.There are lots of awesome resources for quick HIIT home workouts on the web. Those with a stationary bike are all you need. Good luck with you last months and delivery – exciting time.

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on February 2, 2015 at 3:31 pm said:

      Thank you! It’s so nice to hear from parents with TS. I’m not really sure what to expect (as my body and its reactions like to surprise me), but I do know that sometimes I have difficulty going to sleep if I haven’t exercised recently enough. Last night I made the REALLY bad decision to take a short nap before bed (because I kept dozing off) and then to eat some dark chocolate chips. Caffeine plus nap apparently means I hardly sleep all night. Lol.

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