Pregnant Without Land Legs: The Second Trimester

As the first trimester faded away, I felt like myself again! All of the typical pregnancy things I had heard about second trimester were coming true. I was becoming more energetic and less fatigued. The awful motion sickness and morning sickness gradually disappeared. I was in a better mood! It was easier to be productive. It was a breath of fresh air.

I started to experience more of the fun aspects of being pregnant – seeing my belly grow, feeling the baby move, having a 20 week ultrasound, and learning that she is a girl! I will focus mostly on MdDS and VM symptoms in this posts because I know that’s what I was most curious about when deciding if I was ready to have kids, but there is so much more to pregnancy and daily life than that! I’ve felt so much joy and gratitude throughout this miraculous process so far!

It’s a girl! We surprised our parents with a virtual “beach party” and mixed a up pink drink to celebrate!

Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS) Symptoms

During the second trimester, it became easier for me to separate out what I perceive as MdDS symptoms and what I perceive as vestibular migraine symptoms. Luckily, the constant MdDS rocking, bobbing, and swaying sensations, which for me had been pretty distinct and linear, started to fade!

I received quite a few messages from women who experienced pregnancy after having MdDS first, all saying they felt quite good during their pregnancy! I am excited to report that this has been my experience on the MdDS side of things as well!

I’ve had short sections of time where I think the rocking/bobbing/swaying might be gone, but when I stare and the wall and get really still, they seem to be lurking there. When I tune into it, it feels more like a floating or slight instability instead of distinct “boat motions.” Most days, I usually forget about it. The only exceptions to this are when it’s raining or snowing, if I smell chemicals, if I’m stressed, or if I have even a little bit of caffeine. It’s much easier to identify specific triggers with a low baseline!

Overall, my MdDS symptoms improved in second trimester! Definitely another piece of anecdotal evidence for a hormonal component! I’m excited to share this aspect of my experience with the other women in our “crew” looking to get pregnant. There is hope, ladies!

Vestibular Migraine Symptoms

I had a really good stretch at the beginning of the second trimester. Some headaches here or there, some of those weird floor drops at the grocery store, but overall I was feeling really good!

Around week 17, something really weird started to happen. Every time I peed, I would see symmetrical flashes in my peripheral vision. It freaked me out at first, but I eventually I figured it was just a really bizarre migraine symptom. It faded away over the coming weeks and eventually stopped. It’s still a mystery!

Around that same time, I started to get brief vestibular migraine episodes, only every couple of weeks. All of a sudden, I’d move my head and feel a burst of spinning vertigo. I’d be sitting in a chair, feeling fine, and then suddenly I’d have to grip the chair, feeling like it was tipping over. I would immediately use the Cefaly device or Timolol drops, so these episodes passed quickly, but would leave me with some mild residual symptoms for the day (difficulty using computers, more light sensitive, head pain, difficulty scrolling, visual auras, dizziness, vertigo with head movements).

Aside from these episodes, most days I felt very good with low or manageable symptoms.

I went to a warehouse-style tile shop one day, and the big, overhead LED lights were flashing. I quickly looked around for what I needed and got out of the store in less than 10 minutes, but it was too late! My head started to hurt and feel swollen, and my face started to tingle. I was seeing and feeling false motion – circular, like a hula hoop. I used my Timolol drops immediately, plus the Cefaly when I got home. It didn’t get any worse, and improved with two hours of Cefaly use, but it took me a week or so to get back to baseline. Moral of the story: being pregnant did not make me immune to migraine triggers.

Also around week 17, I began to notice black spots in my vision. It started out happening only during exercise, whenever I was straining during a lower-body workout (lifting weights, wall sits, squats). Eventually, I realized I would get a big burst of them whenever I plopped down on our entryway bench to put my shoes on.

It slowly started to happen more frequently, and the spots seemed to change – sometimes black, sometimes clear, sometimes rainbow-edged.

At week 24, the spots became constant. All day long they would flash in and out. They we accompanied by a mild, constant, dull headache. Nothing I tried made it better.

My new motherly instincts must have kicked in, because I became really worried about my baby. My initial fear was an issue with blood flow or blood pressure that would affect her development. I called the doctor right away. My blood pressure and the baby’s heart rate were fine; the doctors were more concerned about my vision.

I met with my OBGYN, multiple ophthalmologists, and my neurologist. I had lots and lots of tests done. Honestly, the unknowns were stressful and scary, but, in the end, every single test came back NORMAL. After reviewing the testing, all of the doctors seemed to agree that these spots were most likely due to migraine. Probably a new version, brought on by pregnancy. I always seem to fear the worst, and in the end, isn’t it always “just a migraine?”

(Spots Update: I’m in my third trimester as I write this, and the spots finally seem to be improving after a month of being constant. I think there is some correlation between the baby’s movements and when I see them, but they are intermittent now, which is a big relief!)

The Good Stuff

I am so happy and excited to have our baby in my life! The best part of this trimester has been feeling her movements and kicks growing more frequent and stronger. I get excited every time I catch my big belly in the mirror, knowing she’s in there, growing and developing!

The ultrasounds are incredible. It’s nothing short of a miracle to me that my body, which for so long seemed “broken,” is capable of successfully creating another person. There is nothing quite like seeing her tiny body parts. I often look at the ultrasound photos and then stare at my husband, trying to guess what she will look like!

It’s funny for someone who has worked so hard to get rid of internal movement, I love feeling her move! It’s a whole different thing knowing that the movements are real, and that there’s another person making them!

I feel really blessed and lucky to be experiencing this, despite any challenges. I know a lot of you reading these posts are considering having a baby, and honestly, the good stuff makes all the challenges worth it.

I share all of the “bad” symptoms because I want to give you a realistic picture of my experience, but overall I spent the majority of days this trimester feeling good, less “boaty” and more stable. The hard days don’t overshadow the good ones!

I was a proud mom the day of her first kick!

If you are new to MdDS and/or migraine or are a more experienced “sailor” looking for support and a fresh perspective, I’d love to work with you! Learn more about meeting with me to create a personalized action plan for your dizzy daily life here!

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