Pregnancy on the Autism Spectrum Part I

11:39 AM Moi Sanom 0 Comments

Pregnancy on the Autism Spectrum Part I

First I have to admit that I don’t really think that the subject of pregnancy (especially mine) is very interesting at all. I always wanted to have children but somehow the thought of actually having to be pregnant first never crossed my mind. Then I got pregnant and suddenly I wanted to know more about it and what mysterious changes might be waiting for me month to month.
So after reading a whole bunch of articles in the like of “Ten things I never knew before being pregnant”, or “Best and worst things about pregnancy” I realised that I can not relate to any of these tales of impending motherhood.
I then decided to research how pregnancy affects people on the Autism Spectrum and unfortunately could not find anything either.
That was of course the moment I knew I had to write this post. After all, how could I complain about the lack of info on pregnancy with ASD without sharing my own account for future searchers just like I was a few months ago.

So as a little background info. I am 9 months and one week while writing this (who knows how long it will take me to upload it of course) (update: Little monster was born a week after this was written. She is now 1 months old) and I waited this long because I am honestly still waiting for some of those pregnancy symptoms I am supposed to get (I didn't). But since my due date is imminent I wanted to at least get this down and if those symptoms still show up I can always edit this post (I did).

(Me being dorky at 9 months in the Karel Zeman Museum in Prague)

My point of view is basically this, I know I am a little odd and unique (people tell me all the time at least) and I am aware that since I am on the spectrum, neurotypical people and their life experiences are often a foreign concept to me. Yet, when I am told how things are or will be by a gazillion people my first thought is (though skeptical) “Well, that many people can’t be wrong, one never knows!”
So this is why I am sitting here today with a seemingly different pregnancy to the ones I have researched, yet am still prepared to get that typical pregnancy experience in the last few weeks everyone is talking about.
Don’t get me wrong though, I am still human!
That means that technically I have a lot of those wonderful and sometimes pesky pregnancy symptoms that one is suppose to have while trying to grow a tiny little alien creature inside ones belly.
Only that all those symptoms are physical. The ones that seem to have completely missed me are all those emotional types of changes and things that a soon to be raiser of bundles of poo is supposed to have. I guess the first one is easily noticeable already. I don’t really care for babies or find them cute, and being pregnant hasn’t changed that at all.
So here is a sort of coherent list of things that I have experienced that I think might be related to being on the spectrum and things that have missed me completely.

Everything baby Baby BABY!!!!

As mentioned above I never really cared. There is/was babies I liked, I even nannied one for two years. I don’t hate babies either, I just really don’t care. I don’t care how they look, how they dress or anything related to them. Mother was really affected by the baby craze. The moment I told her about my pregnancy, she went into super crazy grandma mode. My entire life I had never seen her do anything baby related unless she had someones (not a stranger's) baby in her arms until I got pregnant. I was around 6 months when I went to visit and while having dinner she kept doing these odd sounds and movements when I realised there was a baby behind me. I had never seen this happen before and that is what I imagined I was supposed to be like too. The weird thing is that since being pregnant I have actually become more critical about babies and baby related things instead. When going clothes shopping I start getting bothered at the lack of color selection (beige, white, pink and blue come on!) or getting annoyed that baby clothes are gendered everywhere. On the one hand I find that fathers are not being involved enough when it comes to pregnancy and baby stuff (magazines etc…) to the point where they get involved too much (such as most places assume there is a man in your life when you are pregnant). This is nothing new of course since I have always been very annoyed at over-genderization, ableism, wrong assumptions about ones sexual preferences, outdated norms, racism etc.. etc…

The famous pregnancy nose

I feel like this is a pretty obvious symptom that most people know about. When someone is pregnant they get sensitive to scents and lots of things make them feel sick.
Funnily enough I have been told I am like a pregnant women for most of my life due to my scentsitivity. Now I know of course that besides having an acute scent detector, I also get sensory overload since I am on the spectrum. So this little side effect actually did not affect me at all. 
I noticed so little difference about how I felt about scents that it is really negligible to mention. 

Pregnant ladies are so over emotional and cry at everything all the time!

I was expecting to be a huge mess to be honest. Even though I am not an emotional kind of person I do get very deeply emotional once something does end up affecting me.
To best sum it up, I did not actually change in that regard at all. 
Funnily enough I cried a total of four times during the entire 9 months, which is less than usual. 
Two of them were completely absurd (one of them was because of mental exhaustion) and the two others were because I was being really emotionally terrorised by someone (aka a fight).
I did not cry because I was out of peanut butter, I did not cry because my favorite show ended, or because I saw a baby bunny. According to my husband I had no changes in this regard, which sort of confirms that I am not being a delusional AND emotional mess (unless he is lying of course!).

All them cravings!

I am generally a very cravy person but somehow the moment I was inseminated all my cravings poofed away. I had a hard three first months to be honest and was not able to eat, drink or live hardly at all. Luckily I didn’t vomit but the nausea got the best of me and left me in bed for most of the time. I always had a very sensitive stomach though and not eating well and regularly, affects me a little worse than most. So I was not surprised when this happened. 

After the first trimester the nausea disappeared ( it felt like it was never going to though) and food was back on the menu. Strangely, until now, those famous cravings never really came. Maybe it is because I was so cravy before that this was a piece of cake or maybe because I am not depressed anymore and my previous cravings were of psychological nature. (Monster's out and still not cravy!)

Hormones really can be your friends, aka Goodbye Depression 

Here is an odd one that I never read about before, but from the moment of conception I wasn’t depressed anymore. Which is honestly an incredibly strange feeling since I had been depressed for the past 17 years. I admit that I had been doing a lot of work fighting depression the year before I got pregnant and with the help of a therapist I was doing some really good head work. 
Yet the depression disappeared the moment my breasts got sore and the nausea came over me. 
It is really strange to describe, but wow I did not remember at all how good it feels to be “normal”.
This made me realize that ASD is really not something I have issues with but depression and anxiety is what really messed with me and my life. 
Now that I know how much easier things can be when I am just being me sans depression, and how much self hatred and self doubt can take a toll on you, I am determined to not let this happen to me again. 
I am aware that when my hormones dissipate again that my depression could very well come back. (Luckily my hormones are still keeping me depression free and I didn't even get the baby blues!)
But now that I know how it feels without it I will fight tooth and nails to get rid of it as fast as possible.
So for all those peeps that have been depressed so long they can’t remember what it is like without it anymore, don't give up hope. Keep fighting and one day you will beat this sucker! 
I know it is easy to say, since it kind of magically happened to me, but one does not have to get pregnant for it (especially since you are more likely to get more depressed instead), yet can be achieved all on its own. And as I had mentioned I was really close to getting there myself before all of this, and honestly some life circumstances means that this depressionless state might have also come from changes and fulfillment of wishes instead of being 100% hormonal. I shall have to analyse this subject in the future though to be able to come to some better conclusions.

Pregnancy brain

Oh god pregnancy brain, it hit me hard it hit me fast! 
Strangely, this symptom was not mentioned by anyone or anywhere until I started getting more info on the last trimester. Does this mean that usually people don’t get it until month 7 or 8? 
Not sure. I certainly got it right away. 
Pregnancy brain is a constant source of entertainment and confusion. It can be bad if you actually need to do things that are important and keep messing up though. I figured out a way of doing things so that my mess up ratio was quite diminished (besides that time I had an appointment at a health centre yet went to the wrong health center wondering why the lady didn't show up…) yet plentiful in my day to day life.
It is hard to describe pregnancy brain but I feel like I am this very mad professor stereotype but without the genius.

My brain usually works fine and then bam, it's doing all kinds of weird things that make me more spaced out and scatter brained than usual. I forget things faster, my attention span is very small and I am just plain confused as heck. Johnny keeps telling me stories that I promptly forget, even a day later, and can not believe that my brain would actually do such a thing to me.
But alas, I now know the cause and have accepted it into my life. And as mentioned before it can be highly entertaining if you let it. At least it is to us.
I also have high hopes that my birth will be chill thanks to pregnancy brain and that it will make the first few weeks after easier to handle.

Nesting aka putting a label on completely normal behaviour

So pregnant women are supposed to get this nesting instinct. Not sure really what that means but from what I have seen on media it does not apply to me. At the same time people say I am nesting. 
I mean yeah I am deep cleaning the house (something we started before conception yet never finished), I am organising my place (have you seen this mess? We have been fighting our depressions for years to be a little neater), getting rid of stuff I don't want (my to sell piles have been steadily growing for two years, selling them with a newborn won’t be a priority), as well as both making more space while buying more stuff (new human in the house needs both space and stuff). So my conclusion is, why call it nesting when it is simply common sense to prepare your place for a new roomie? 
Is Johnny Clyde also nesting? Was I nesting when I started my to sell pile two years ago or decided to deep clean because our place is a mess? Not sure. 
Maybe I just don’t understand the concept of actual nesting or maybe it is a bogus word that they throw around. You tell me…

Fetal movements are the best thing EVAH!

I have to admit that before I felt the little parasite move I was incredibly eager to feel it. 
After all, this is my first child to be and everything is new and exciting. I tried to pay very close attention to my body and googled for days how the first movements feel. In the end everyone had a different description so here is how the very first movements felt to me. 
You know when sometimes random body parts start twitching, like your eye or other random bits. That is exactly how it felt to me. Sometimes it was just one twitch and sometimes it was several in a row.
That time was pretty neat! I was so excited every time it happened and couldn’t wait to let Johnny feel it, since he was on a month long work trip (we made a feature film actually!) at the exact time the little monster decided to make itself noticeable to the outside. 
But then it didn't stop anymore. And the movements became hard, so hard that by month 6 it was kicking my laptop off my belly. 

Yep, it felt like having a bear rave in my belly!

Now I don’t know how normal that is, but to me it felt like an incredibly active and strong creature, and I started to believe Johnny's promise from last year that he will put a demon in me. 
So ok, I admit it here and now, it kind of bothers me and people do not seem to understand that at all. 
I am saying this because there might be someone else being totally over that belly ruckus, feeling bad about it. The few people I told that I am not super happy with all these movements, reacted in a way that made me feel that they thought I was being crazy, and the movements are the best thing ever. 
So don’t let yourself get guilt tripped if you do feel this way. In the end, I am happy about the activity since it means the creature is strong and healthy and it is comforting knowing 24/7 that all is well, but this is still my body after all. I don't need someone kicking me in the ribs for months on end or forcing me to the bathroom because they think my bladder is a football. And honestly sometimes it is plain scary. At 6,5 months Johnny thought I was in labour because I exclaimed “Oh god, it's trying to come out” at a particularly weird and active kicking moment. Little demon simply liked to sometimes eel dance horizontally so strongly that it really felt like it was trying to bust out my belly right there and then. 

Besides feeling uncomfortable, that is really freaky and something I can do without. Also internet said that in the last few months it won't move as much as it has less room, but this little thing makes room for that!

Crankiness and mood swings galore

Not sure if this is an actually occurring symptom or simply a stereotype. But besides the usual sensory overload crankiness (which has actually diminished in the past months) I have had no mood swings or other irrational and strange new behaviours. I do have to say that I got a new and improved no-nonsense attitude though. It had been brewing before the pregnancy but since I was a depressed self-hating, self-doubting mess it was quite hard to implement. I always imagined myself to be a no-nonsense mom so that together with that new found insight, I was not surprised I was finally able to implement it better. How this manifests is that I am faster to say no to things or walk away in a negative situation. Before hand I was very patient and just tolerated most things since I don't want to hurt anyone. But if you are only negative to me and my life, I now see no point in going through that for no reason (besides being nice but is that really enough?). I guess the maternal protection instinct kicked in there too, since I really don’t want negativity in my future monsters life either.

Chillest of the Chill

Dem hormones I tell you! I have always been a calm person, but inside I am usually a hot mess. 
I worry too much and I stress a lot as well. I get anxious so easily that I banned myself from thinking 6 months ahead into the future because I would get too wrapped up to even realise what is happening around me. Now I am as chill on the inside as I am on the outside. Instead of stressing out how bad of a parent I might be and that I might drop the little demon on the first day and scar it for life, all I can think of is that babies have been raised by clumsier people than me and lived, so all is well. 
It is honestly astonishing the things I can brush off at the moment. 
It makes me quite happy since I expected to be a huge mess while being pregnant, plagued by horrible thoughts and worries day and night. That the opposite happened was a lovely surprise.
I am so chill that it swaps over to the people around me which made for a mostly calm and stress free pregnancy. All I could wish for really.

Even though I would have no issues with a tiny demon 

And then there was the pesky pulse

I read that pregnant women not only have more blood but also a stronger heart rate. That is dandy and all, until I started feeling and then hearing my own pulse. It's funny since I asked a few people (doctors and midwife) if what I was feeling was my pulse and most responses were that humans can’t feel their own pulse. It is indeed a weird answer since I can very well feel my pulse if I touch my wrist or neck. Any who, the new feeling was in my belly area. I could feel it on the left and right and it felt odd. The bad bit was when I tried to sleep though. I could hear my pulse and it was very distracting to be honest. Swish, swish, swish, it went while I was trying to listen to my audiobook at night. Sometimes a position change would make it less audible but mostly it just got louder the quieter the room became. 
My midwife told me that I must be quite sensitive since I notice so many subtle changes during my pregnancy. Well, yeah I am. 
I am on the spectrum after all, and noticing subtle changes is my thang. 

This is it for part I. In the next part I will talk a little about Pregnancy Regrets and Random Thoughts. So stay tuned!

If you have any thoughts on stereotypical or completely unexpected pregnancy symptoms let me know!