Overheating While Pregnant

Actual photo of Jersey, taken from space.

Actual photo of Jersey, taken from space.

This past Saturday I had a really scary incident where I overheated and almost passed out in a Dunkin Donuts. The heat is NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH, MOMS AND MOMS-TO-BE. Heed this cautionary tale:

I hadn’t felt right since the night before- there was an incident with a submarine sandwich gone horribly wrong that left my stomach in fits, and I woke up hot. Just. so. hot. It’s been 95-100 degrees Farenheit over the past week, which is both biologically and mathematically just too many degrees. The thick Jersey humidity surely doesn’t help. My husband is getting frozen out during the night, poor thing, because unlike me he doesn’t have crazy-making hormones thrashing about inside of him that make him ragey and always on fire. Our room needs to be Nunavut-level cold in order for me to sleep and be comfortable, and even then, by morning I am usually ready to roll out of bed and stand in front of an open freezer door. Babies are like little furnaces when you hold them, and are no exception when you’re holding them inside of you.

At least, this is the case for me.

So I went to bed feeling very bleeeegh, and woke up sweating and disoriented. The shower I took later was probably a bit too warm, and I noticed that afterwards I was beginning to feel quite overheated. I had to brush my hair while sitting down on our bed, because the bathroom was too hot. I scooped cold water from the sink while brushing my teeth and dumped it all over my chest and back. I flipped out on Steve because he had wanted to keep our AC steady at a comfortable 79 degrees while we were out visiting with family, and the cats enjoy nothing less than a crisp 74. This led to me ranting and crying on the couch about who even knows what. For me, the 20 week milestone was definitely a game-changer hormonally, I can actually feel myself losing my mind sometimes. Poor Steve 😦

We leave the house, and it’s hot and humid. The car is piping and doesn’t really cool down by the time we arrive at Dunkin Donuts, which is about 3-5 minutes away from our home. Iced coffee has been a major, daily craving for me for weeks now, and I wait allllll week for Saturdays so I can indulge. For the past two weeks this has been a ritual, and in that time I have perfected my order: Large, DECAF iced coffee, light, HALF SWEET. I was so ready to get my craving satisfied, and when Steve pulled up to the DD, I hopped out, said I would be right back, and walked/skipped inside.

The second I was in, I had a sense of doom- it was so hot in there. The line was long. Did I mention the heat? And I started yawning constantly, which is the first sign that I need to cool down. I thought to myself, the line’s moving pretty quickly, I’m just hot- I’ll get a water. I grabbed a bottled water from the cooler to purchase, which wasn’t as cold as it could have been, and started putting it on my body in what I thought were key places- on my neck, on both sides of my uterus (my belly is actually hot to the touch, all the time), my wrists, chest, backs of my knees. This normally does the trick, but it wasn’t helping this time.

I didn’t want to drink the water before purchasing it, but my ears began to ring a bit, and I started sipping the water- surely this would help? No. I consciously unlocked my knees and adjusted my stance as the line now slowly trudged forward.

I noticed two women enjoying donuts who were giving me very odd looks, a mixture of curiosity and disdain. I’ve come to know this look very well, it’s the look I get when someone thinks I’m a teen mom. I have much more to say about this and will discuss this in a full post soon, but for now I’ll just say that while usually I deal with it well, for some reason this time it triggered a sort of panic inside of me. They wouldn’t stop staring, and their eyes travelled from my more… ahem… prominent belly to my face. There were some smirks, some whispering. My ears began to ring louder, and then I began seeing some gray splotches in front of my eyes.

I know this feeling well, as it just occurred at a Mark Mulcahy concert a few weeks ago. First, the yawning, followed by the ringing ears, then splotches, then… well, after that I squatted next to a wall and was saved by a bouncer who brought me a water and chair, so I didn’t really know any alternate endings.

This time was a different story.

By the time I made it to the counter to order, my ears rang so loudly I could barely hear the cashier. I’m not sure what I ordered, but I know she brought me back a hot coffee. My eyes were now splotching with grays, yellows, and oranges, and I realized there was a good chance I was going to pass out. I mustered the words “Iced, please,” which in no way thrilled the cashier who started grumbling and did not notice while (I assume) my face went white. While she was making my new order, the room started to spin and I had a very clear thought: Grab the counter. You’re going down. I started to drop into a squat, but somehow knew that if I squatted there, I was going to wind up sprawled on the floor, and I didn’t want that. I saw a seat a few feet in front of me had opened up, and I magically made it there, put my head on the table and started to black out.

Wait. Black-out isn’t really the right word. I went into this strange gray area where I wasn’t totally with it, but knew a few things for certain. I knew, without a doubt:

  • I couldn’t speak. In my head, I was telling someone, anyone, to please call 911. But I couldn’t make my mouth move.
  • I didn’t have my phone. I had a debate in my non-functioning brain about whether, if I did have my phone, I would call Steve or 911. I decided I would call Steve.
  • Steve wasn’t going to come in and look for me, wondering why I was taking so long. I had irrational thoughts about him being upset with me for taking so long, while unknowingly, I slowly died in the middle of a Dunkin Donuts.
  • I was being reprimanded. I could hear “Hello? HELLO? Your order is ready, you have to pay for this!” I managed to turn my head and see the cashier looking frustrated, shaking around my iced coffee. I think I responded with ImsorryIhavetoskhfjegygwdivfcskdjag and then put my face back into the table.
  • I was sweating. I could feel the sweat pouring down my neck and back. It felt, well, hot.
  • No one was helping me. The place was packed, and not one person so much as asked me if I was alright.
  • I had to go #2. This was the oddest feeling I’ve ever had. I could feel something strange and new happening in my bowels. I could feel The Sensations that come right before you have explosive diarrhea all over yourself. I was literally seconds away from passing out in a Dunkin Donuts covered in my own feces when

the ringing in my ears began to subside. It was like a switch had been flipped, and my eyesight was restored clearly, I could talk, and I wasn’t on the verge of projectile anything. I lifted up my head and steadied myself as I took a moment to take slow, deep breaths and direct them down to the baby. I sloooowwly stood up and made it 4 feet back to the counter. The cashier who was talking to me while I was at the table said Are you alright? And then saw my belly. OH! She gasped. You’re pregnant! Are you okay? I’m okay now, I responded. It’s just so hot. I handed her money, she gave me change, I grabbed a straw and made it out of there without making eye contact with anyone.

From the time I initially reached the counter to the time I actually paid and left was probably only about a minute or two, but it felt like an eternity.

By the time I found our car I was in a panicked state of hyperventilation as I tried to explain to Steve what had happened. I was so hot that an iced coffee, water, and AC on full blast didn’t begin to cool me down internally until after about 20 entire minutes. I have never been so hot before in my life- I felt as I imagine women going through menopause feel like. Sort of like a really long, uncontrollable hot flash.

This is what I’m guessing happened: I was already over-heated from my shower, and didn’t cool my internal temperature before we left the house. This was a mistake. Then, I sat in a hot car and did not exit the car slowly once we arrived at Dunkin Donuts- instead, I bounded out with the energy and enthusiasm of a 6 year old at Disneyworld. The distance from the car to the door of DD was only a few feet, so by the time I made it inside, my blood pressure began to drop.

What I should have done:

nj heat wave

Also: a million other things. I should have rested and cooled off before we even left the house. As soon as I felt a little bit off,  I should have sat down. I should have made sure I had my phone on me, and Steve should have just come in there with me. I should not have remained on that long, hot line. No iced coffee is worth any of this. We are very lucky that Babby and I are doing just fine and rebounded quickly.

This was a real eye-opener as to my new, changing body, and the responsibility I have to keeping myself and the baby as safe as possible at all times. My blood volume has severely increased, my blood pressure is low, and there are a thousand incredible happenings occurring inside of my body at any given moment- thousands of reasons to make “keeping cool” a part of my daily self-care practice.


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