September 24, 2008

Hanging on by a thread

Ok – disclaimers – this is an entire post of bitching. If you’re not interested don’t read. It’s cool. I’ll post some shiny knitting stuff and pretty photographs soon. Also I just want to say that I do know how lucky I am to even be pregnant and relatively healthy. Despite the tone of this deep down we’re beyond thrilled. But right now… well… Let’s just say that there are people out there that claim that pregnancy is awesome and so much fun and just the bestest ever. I am so NOT one of those people.

This kid is kicking my ass.

The Thursday before last I was hit with a major migraine. And I still have it right now. That’s almost 2 weeks of solid headache and serious pain. I’ve been back and forth with my doctor (including one particularly frantic middle of the night phone call where I was debating going to the emergency room the pain was so bad) but the bottom line is this: I’m pregnant. Anything I take at this point is probably not a good thing. So I’m going to have to live through the pain.

I’ve had my blood pressure checked (btw when you doctor’s office says “go get your blood pressure checked right now” it’s a bit scary) and that’s fine. There’s no question – this is just a migraine. Most likely set off by all of that crazy weather we had. Big changes in pressure were always a trigger for me – and now that I’m pregnant all of that is just turned up a notch. Or twelve. But because I can’t take anything good I just can’t shake it. It’s always there.

So here’s what I’ve learned so far about migraines and pregnancy and over the counter medicine. In case you were wondering. Obviously don’t just take my word for it – ask your doctor before you do anything when pregnant:

  • Normal Excedrin contains aspirin and caffeine. You can’t have aspirin at all when you’re pregnant. It causes all sorts of bad, bad things. So my normal migraine fix is OUT.

  • Tylenol is perfectly safe in over the counter doses for pregnant women. However, Tylenol is bull shit. Most useless drug on the planet.

  • Extra strength Tylenol is also safe in over the counter doses. And it kindof sortof maybe possibly takes the edge off a little tiny bit. For like 5 minutes.

  • Caffeine is good and bad for people with migraines. Depending on your situation it can cause withdrawal headaches. In my case I’m not really worried about that because I was completely and totally off of this drug before I was actually pregnant in preparation for the long haul w/o diet coke or coffee. So I’m not going to be having a withdrawal to something I haven’t had in a long time. However caffeine can be good in that it can help get rid of a migraine. It does something with the blood vessels (not sure exactly what). That’s why it’s included in Excedrin and a whole bunch more over the counter medications (full list here).

  • Excedrin-D (known in my household as Excedrin-BS) is a combo of Tylenol and caffeine. It has 65 mg of caffeine in it.

  • According to my doctor it is safe to have the amount of caffeine that is in a cup of coffee per day during pregnancy. Which is approx. 150 mg.

So based on all of that – and more importantly on my conversations with my doctor – I have been taking the Excedrin-BS as needed. It helps. Kindof. But I can only take 1 little pill before going over my 150 mg mark. Which, btw, the doctor told me to ignore and take 2 pill doses if I needed too. Because the risk/reward here is worth it.

But see then there is the guilt… because what if? What if this caffeine causes a problem? What if I cause some sortof damage that could have been avoided if I had just sucked it up? But on the other hand me being this sick for this long is no good for the baby either. And there’s sucking it up and there’s being in so much pain you can’t move, think, or even breathe. When I can feel every single heartbeat pounding in my head and all I can think about is the pain well… there’s only so much of that one person can take. So I’m damned if I do damned if I don’t.

So yeah. I’m hanging on by a thread here. But we’re hanging on. And on a positive note at least the puking stopped before the headache started. So all I need to do is shake this migraine and I should be feeling fine…. Right?


  1. Oh, Jeanne, big hugs! (((HUGS))) As a migraine sufferer, I feel your pain. Migraines while pregnant are horrible! The baby at the end will be worth it, but that doesn't mean squat right now when you want relief. You do have more options later in pregnancy when there isn't so much development happening with the baby. Ask about accupuncture!

  2. Sorry to hear about your migraine. When I suffered from frequent migraines my doctor use to say that to break the cycle you need a night of very restful sleep. He suggested taking Tylenol PM. You will obviously need to check with your doctor but Tylenol PM is acetaminophen and benadryl. I did not believe him until I tried it. It almost always worked for me. Good luck I hope you feel better soon.

  3. feel better, girlie...i know this has got to be so awful for you and i do feel ur pain as i also had migraines early in my pregnancy, but just do what you need to do and listen to your doctor and try not to let the guilt keep you from giving yourself some relief. oh yeah, and ask dr about the tylenol pm because i've also heard that's ok during pregnancy and it might just be what you need to break the cycle. good luck and hang in there! xoxo

  4. Man, pregnancy sucks. It's a relief when the baby's out. My suggestion is a visit to the chiro. Mine is a big help through all of my pregnancies. Hope you feel better soon.

  5. Ooo, ouch. The thought of having a migraine and not being able to do anything about it sucks ass. Will crank up the ODM (Out Damn Migraine) Vibe-o-meter 2000 and send the waves your way!

  6. I SO appreciate you being upfront and honest about what your pregnancy is like!!

    I hope the pea pod gives you some relief soon!

  7. Anonymous3:21 PM

    I had the same migraine problem when I was pregnant (both times). Whatever you do, don't take codeine. My doctor said it was safe, which I believed. The thing is, it made my nausea ten times worse, and I know you're already suffering! Try chocolate and Excederin BS at the same time.


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