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Home > VITAFRIENDSPKU > BLOGS > What Pregnancy Glow? Part Two

What Pregnancy Glow? Part Two



Second Trimester 

Week 14 was the best week ever. My protein level had increased to 11 grams of protein. The great part of being pregnant with PKU was starting to begin. Eleven grams of protein was more than double my usual daily protein allowance and it meant, more hot chips. Ha ha, sad but true! It also meant that I could add some extra things to my stir fry’s like a little soy sauce or some noodles. I was still sick and my appetite was decreasing so I still struggled. Fitting in FIVE medicines a day meant approximately 900mls of medicine. The smell of my medicine seemed to be a large trigger of nausea, and I had to find new and different ways of taking it. I spoke to some PKU ladies who had experienced the same. There were varying answers from drinking it ice cold to drinking it microwaved hot. I found drinking it ice cold was the way I could keep going as it seemed to mute the smell.  

Week 15 and I went up another gram. You’ve got to love those baby growth spurts. It was great, now on 12 grams of protein a day I could allow myself to try adding some other foods that I felt were easy to stomach. I’d finished my last teaching placement and was finished university. Every step of the way, I vomited. Every step of the way, I had family, friends and my metabolic team to support me.

Week 16 was another fantastic week. I had my check up with my metabolic clinic and PKU doctor and then was on my way to the MDDA retreat. A whole weekend with likeminded people – PKU friends, parents of PKU babies and kids. Since this was a road trip, we stopped at an “all you can eat” buffet. It was my favourite place (yes I know it’s risky but we arrived just as it was opening and ate only the newly cooked food). I had not heard what my level was from my clinic visit so I restricted myself to 5 grams, knowing that at the retreat there would be food of all allowances available. Just before we arrived at the retreat, I received a phone call from my dietitian to say I was jumping to 14 GRAMS OF PROTEIN. That was a huge jump and something I was not expecting. Two extra grams of protein a day was exciting. Arriving at the MDDA retreat I ate dinner and still had some protein left over. I spoke to a mother of a PKU boy who was on 14 grams and asked what they ate to get ideas and that’s when I had a TimTam for dessert to hit my allowance. Mmmmmm chocolate!

Week 20 and I was now up to 18 grams of protein. I was seeing the obstetrician at the hospital as they did not feel confident just having me with a midwife and he was working very closely with the metabolic team to ensure I was progressing safely. Living in a small town meant that my metabolic clinic was a 2 – 3 hour drive away, my obstetrician worked very closely with them and it was agreed I should do all my ultrasounds at the large city hospital. This was good because I got to have a large face to face meeting with my metabolic team. We discussed how pregnancy was going, how much medicine I was taking and what I was eating.

The 20 week ultrasound is the BIG one. They check the brain, the heart and all the important vital organs to make sure everything is tracking right and meeting the standards for a healthy baby in pregnancy. It was probably one of the more nerve-wracking ultrasounds because it was where I would find out if I had done everything ok. Thoughts such as, did my nausea and the two spikes in levels affect my baby? Has my baby gotten the things they say babies from PKU mothers can get? This is all normal to think and feel. We are warned our whole lives about what happens when you have a PKU pregnancy, the problems you may face, and I know it is ok to doubt yourself. My fears melted away when I saw my baby on the screen, kicking and sleeping peacefully. One thing did come back from that screen, a small left kidney but everything else was perfect. Thankfully, I learnt later this was not from PKU but a genetic issue. Trust me, I was feeling guilty that it had come back with anything other than perfect and of course I did blame myself having PKU.

Each time my protein increased I felt more and more confident that my baby would not have PKU. I know this is not exactly scientific, but it was the confidence boost I needed. Week 22 was my favourite week. It was the one week I did not feel sick and I was now eating 22 grams of protein. I started including real bread, real cheese (small bits) and was rapidly feeling like I was running out of room because I thought there was none left with a baby inside. Weekly phone calls with my dietitian continued, weekly bloods continued and daily frozen cokes continued!

It is so vital to have a support system when going through this. I had friends making me food that I could tolerate but not stand the smell of cooking myself. I had my husband going to McDonald’s to get me frozen cokes at all hours. Every single vomit, every single medicine I needed to drink, or re – drink after being sick, was with my husband by my side. I even kept making my husband eat foods I wanted but couldn’t due to PKU. I watched him eat and I was satisfied (such a creeper, I know!).

Each month I had an appointment with the metabolic clinic in Brisbane, an ultrasound and regular check-ups with my obstetrician at the local hospital.

Somehow, I found myself at the end of the second trimester and I had a new problem. Fitting in so much food and so much protein was a challenge! It would be the end of the day and I would not want to eat at all, and I would still have 7 grams of protein to eat. I needed to get there for the health of the baby, and it needed to be small. A cheeseburger without meat was my go-to. Thanks Maccas!

Thanks for reading, tune in next week for the final instalment in this 3-part series- Trimester 3!

Explorers Club

If you haven’t done so already, why not browse our Vitafriends Explorers Club – an education programme for families managing PKU in the early years.